Aruba is an island of paradoxes. Despite the presence of numerous luxury resorts and gourmet restaurants, much of Aruba remains uninhabited. For the tourist, this simply means that there is more to explore. For example, almost 20% of the island is dedicated to the extensive Arikok National Park. Inside and outside the park, you’ll find magnificent views, unique historical monuments, and ecological wonders. Roads that wind through Aruba’s distinctive desert landscape offer visitors the chance to enjoy the hidden Caribbean without the crowds. Jeep rentals and taxi tours are the most popular ways to explore the far reaches of this island and each has its benefits. This article should help you decide which method of travel is right for you.
Like anywhere else, you can certainly rent a car while on vacation in Aruba. However, an average car rental won’t get you through many of Aruba’s most interesting and scenic drives. Throughout the interior of the island and along the north coast, you’ll navigate dirt roads that provide great views and wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. Plus, many other travelers won’t bother you in these less populated areas. Jeep rentals are also often affordable, typically $55-$70 per day with discounts available for 3-day and 1-week rentals.
If you intend to go it alone with a rental jeep, be aware that most of the roads will be dusty, unpaved, and unmarked. However, this should not discourage you. Start with a good map of the island’s roads and enjoy your time away from the hustle and bustle. But if you get lost, sometimes that can be almost as much fun.
If you’re worried about driving around Aruba on your own, it’s also possible to travel with a jeep safari where you’ll be driving amongst several other vehicles and a guide. If you think you need help finding certain attractions or don’t feel completely confident with your off-road driving skills, this could be a good option. Be aware, however, that such groups of jeeps require you to move with a crowd, something many visitors and jeep enthusiasts hope to avoid. If you decide to rent a jeep or travel with a jeep safari, consider making reservations in advance to ensure you get the 4×4 of your choice.
As fun as jeep rental sounds, taxis certainly have their benefits in Aruba. All taxi fares are flat rate in Aruba, so you never have to worry about the meter or haggle with your driver. Most of the taxi drivers are well versed in the local history and certainly know the island. In fact, all the taxi drivers have participated in the government’s tourism awareness program.
The drivers are always flexible and can offer you private tours of the island, based on your tour suggestions. Such tours can last from a few hours to the whole day. Taxis also operate overnight in Aruba to get you home safely from any bar, casino, or nightclub. Fares range from $10 to $20 between the airport and most island resorts, with flat rates comparable to jeep rentals for self-driving tours. All drivers own their own taxis and you can find vehicles of any size for your family, from luxury cars to full-size vans. If you plan to take a taxi tour, be prepared for a heavy dose of friendly Caribbean attitude and some fascinating stories.
It has been stated in numerous guidebooks that all of Aruba can be explored in half a day. For a true explorer, that certainly won’t be the case. Try to spend some time at each site, enjoy the view and the privacy. Once you leave the Aruba hotel zone and the capital city, you will surely realize that there is much to see.
If you have time, experience the best of both worlds: take a guided tour, then spend more time exploring the sights on your own. However you decide to explore Aruba, you won’t be disappointed.