Aruba travel guide
Lean back and take it easy on Aruba, which combines the best that Caribbean sea, sand and sunshine have to offer. Aruba's balmy breezes and relaxed pace are just the tonic for any frazzled visitor; just like the soothing aloe vera plant that is found everywhere on the island.
The surrounding waters are populated by colourful creatures such as parrotfish splashed with teal and gold, while bright pink flamingos populate the national park. Aruba's capital, Oranjestad, also dazzles – it's great for shopping. Orange facades brightly array the architecture, indicating the island's historical ties with The Netherlands – Aruba's head of state is still the Dutch ruling monarch.
Favoured by Americans keen to escape extreme weather in winter, Aruba is one of the most popular touristic islands in the southern Caribbean. Sometimes the mob has it right. This island's beautiful beaches, pristine resorts and charming city of Oranjestad are difficult to knock. You'll also find a lively nighttime scene, with glittering casinos, gourmet restaurants and beach-side diners.
Many come on day-trips as part of a cruise, but it's really worth spending a bit more time in Aruba, soaking up its nature, all rugged coasts and gorgeous beaches. In the interior you'll find rocky deserts, expanses filled with cactuses and the iconic divi-divi tree. It's a good idea to hire a car to really make the most of it. Many tourists don't stray far from Oranjestad, but a drive to the northern and eastern shores comes highly recommended. Look out for the California Lighthouse and Seroe Colorado. Modern road signs are still being developed here, so try not to get lost.
As for history, Aruba's first inhabitants are thought to be Amerindians from the Arawak tribe. The island was later colonised by the Spanish, before being taken over by the Dutch in the 17th century. Today's Arubans are for the most part an interesting mix of Amerindian and European heritage, with the island boasting the strongest Arawak heritage in the region. There is also a considerable black population, as well as more recent Venezuelan immigrants. Altogether this makes for a lively local scene that's both welcoming and distinct.
193 sq km (74.5 sq miles).
104,263 (UN estimate 2016).
573.4 per sq km.
Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
King Willem-Alexander since 2013, represented locally by Governor Alfonso Boekhoudt since 1 January 2017.
Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes since 2017.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics.
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
Aruba is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It sets and enforces its own entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Netherlands Embassy in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Aruba. The authorities in Aruba may test you when you arrive before letting you into the country.
Passport validity requirements
If you’re visiting Aruba, your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
You can visit Aruba for up to 3 months without a visa.
To stay longer (or to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Aruban government’s entry requirements.
It’s illegal to overstay the entry period or to work without a work permit.
You must complete an embarkation card up to 7 days before you arrive. You’ll need to show proof of approval to travel to your airline before you can fly.
Applying for a visa
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Aruba guide.
Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever certificate.
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Aruba. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
Travelling through Aruba
If you’re travelling through Aruba, you need to fill in the embarkation/disembarkation card.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Aruba
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Aruba, attacks cannot be ruled out.
Protecting your belongings
There is a risk of petty theft and there are occasionally incidents of street crime.
To reduce the risk to yourself and your belongings:
- avoid walking in remote areas at night
- do not take valuables or cash to the beach
- do not leave bags in your vehicle
- make sure purses and bags are closed and not easy to grab
Aruba is used as a drug passageway from South America to Europe and North America. There can be drug-related violent crime.
Laws and cultural differences
It’s a legal requirement to carry ID. Always keep a copy of your passport with you.
There are severe penalties for all drug offences. Do not leave bags unattended or agree to carry a package for anyone.
If you’re planning to drive in Aruba, see information on driving abroad.
You’ll need to have both the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) and your UK driving licence with you in the car.
Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as 2 years of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an IDP.
Drink-driving is a serious offence in Aruba. If you are tested and found to have just over half of England’s legal limit of alcohol in your system, you may get a fine and possible imprisonment.
Taxis are not metered. To avoid being overcharged, agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. Only use licensed taxis.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
See extreme weather and natural hazards for information about how to prepare, and how to react if there is a warning.
The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. Most hurricanes pass to the north of Aruba, which has no record of a recent major hurricane. There are occasional tropical storms.
Monitor local news and check the World Meteorological Organization weather reports for Curaçao and St Maarten and US National Hurricane Center.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccination recommendations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Aruba guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Health insurance cards
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Aruba. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Aruba
Ambulance and fire: 911
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- dealing with a death abroad
- being arrested or imprisoned abroad
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are in Aruba and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in The Hague who provide consular assistance for Aruba.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).