By: Jonna Royer
Aruba: 7 Things to Know Before You Go
1. You will need a passport, and you will go through customs.
Make sure you have a valid passport, because you’re not getting on the plane without it. Upon arrival in Aruba, you will go through an automated booth where you slide your passport into a screen reader and get your picture taken. If you have trouble with this, there are agents monitoring the booths that can assist you.
When leaving Aruba to go to the United States, you will go through customs before you even get on the plane. You will need to check in for your flight at the ticket counter and give up your luggage before going through security. At this point, you would be done at most airports and you are in an eating/shopping area, just waiting to get on the plane; however, this is not the case. Once you are through security and you finish your duty-free shopping, you need to pick up your luggage and go through U.S. Immigration where you will be asked if you have anything to declare. After this, you will once again hand your luggage over and it will now be loaded onto the plane while you go through security again. At this point, you are finally done and just waiting to board your plane, so it's a great time to grab some food or have a drink.
2. There is no need to exchange money or learn a new language.
While Aruba has its own currency, U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere on the island- and are often preferred- so exchanging your money would be pointless. The people of Aruba speak anywhere from 2-5 languages, including their native tongue Papiamento. However, most islanders speak English or Spanish as their first-choice language, and English is required in the school systems when students reach 5th grade.
3. Uber doesn’t exist in Aruba.
Your Uber app is useless there, but you can get everywhere you need to go by taxi. Just don’t try to hail one by raising your hand. If you desire taxi service, it is customary to call for one; many hotels or restaurants are willing to assist you in this process. Also, taxis do not have meters because rates are based on the destination. These fares are regulated by the government and you can ask your driver to show you the rate sheet.
4. The forecast is 82 degrees and windy, with a chance of rain every day.
Being this close to the equator has its advantages. The temperature rarely moves outside the 80-90 degree range all year, but the ocean breezes make the heat comfortable and pleasant. Aruba only averages 18 inches of rain per year, but these come in short erratic bursts. The good news is the showers won’t last long, if you do happen to get caught in one.
5. You will see cacti everywhere.
Aruba is a desert island. There are a lot of palm trees adorning their picturesque beaches, but you will also find quite a bit of cacti. In fact, the prickly plants are often used as hedges to mark property boundaries.
6. Sunscreen is a must, even if you never use it at home.
It is advisable to get a base tan before going on any beach vacation, but that doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind once you get to Aruba. The island is close to the equator so the UV rays are a lot stronger than what you may be used to, and, while those wonderful ocean breezes do a great job of cooling you off, they may also hide the fact that you are beginning to burn. In addition, those gorgeous white-sand beaches and clear Caribbean waters act like a mirror bouncing the sun’s rays back onto you. This means you are not exempt from applying sunscreen just because you are under a shady umbrella.
7. Tipping is already included in the bill at most restaurants and bars.
When you get your bill, you may see a service charge of around 10 to 15 percent. This extra fee is split among the chefs, hostesses, and servers. If you are pleased with your service, you are welcome to leave more specifically for your bartender or waiter.
Jonna is a travel writer and photographer driven by a curiosity usually reserved for kittens and small children. On sunny days, she can be found on her motorcycle with a backpackfull of camera equipment looking for the perfect shot and meeting new friends along the way. Follow her adventures at