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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Aruba

Aruba travel guide

About Aruba

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.

Key facts

Area:

193 sq km (74.5 sq miles).

Population:

104,263 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

573.4 per sq km.

Capital:

Oranjestad.

Government:

Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Head of state:

King Willem-Alexander since 2013, represented locally by Governor Alfonso Boekhoudt since 1 January 2017.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes since 2017.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Aruba on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Check with your travel company for the latest information on flights to and from Aruba.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Aruba.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. Contact the local authorities in Aruba to receive information on getting tested for travel purposes.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Aruba

The Government of Aruba has put measures in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic. such as the mandatory wearing of face masks in all public indoor spaces. All measures and updates can be found on the website of the government of Aruba.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Aruba

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Aruba announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Aruba national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. British nationals resident in Aruba are eligible for vaccination. Further information on the vaccination programme is available here.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Aruba, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Crime

Most visits to Aruba are trouble-free. However, petty theft and street crime occur. There is violent crime in association with drugs, but this rarely affects tourists. The main tourist areas are generally safe, but you should take sensible precautions:

  • avoid remote areas at night.
  • don’t take valuables to the beach or leave any valuables in your vehicle.  
  • make sure purses and handbags are closed and not easy to snatch.  

Local travel

When taking a taxi, always check that it is a registered one and negotiate the price before taking the ride. Most taxis do not have meters.

Road travel

Driving is on the right. Main road conditions are relatively good, but roads can become slippery when wet.

Political situation

Aruba is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It shares the same status as Curaçao and St. Maarten.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Aruba, attacks can’t be ruled out.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

By Dutch law, you must always carry your ID. You should have a copy of your passport with you at all times.

English is the dominant language in Aruba although Dutch, Papiamento, and Spanish are also spoken. The Creole language, Papiamento, is a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English and French.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Aruba set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Aruba

You must get approval to travel to Aruba through the embarkation/disembarkation card online before arrival. Visit the website of the Government of Aruba for the latest information on entry requirements.

Testing/Screening on arrival

All travellers over the age of 15 must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result when entering Aruba. The test must have been carried out no more than 72 hours before departure. A health screening and temperature check will be carried out on arrival. Further information on testing and screening is available on the website of the Government of Aruba.

The public health authorities of Aruba also advise you to download the Aruba Health App on your smart phone prior to your travel. This is to assist you and inform you about COVID-19 measures and instructions in Aruba. See the website of the Government of Aruba for more information about the Aruba Health App.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British passport holders do not need a visa for stays of up to 3 months. For further information about entry requirements, contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Further information on visa requirements can be found at the Netherlands and You website.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay in Aruba. You will be permitted entry as long as your passport does not expire before the end of your stay.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Aruba.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Aruba on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Aruba.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

UK health authorities have classified Aruba as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Aruba. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

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.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

The hurricane season in the Dutch Caribbean normally runs from June to November. Monitor local and international weather updates from the Meteorological department of Curacao and the National Hurricane Centre, and follow the advice of the local authorities.

See our Tropical cyclones page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a hurricane or tropical cyclone.

Most hurricanes pass well to the north of Aruba, which has no record of a recent major hurricane. There are occasional tropical storms.

The official local currency is the Aruban Guilder (AWG), fixed to the US dollar at approximately 1.80 AWG to 1 US dollar. US dollars are accepted throughout the Island. Local currency and US dollar ATM machines (Maestro/Cirrus) are situated all over the islands. Major credit cards are accepted in most tourist establishments.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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