Aruba – Navigating One Happy Island

Friendly. Warm. Relaxing. Desolate. Rocky. Unpaved. Alien.

All ways to describe the amazing island that is reputed to be the happiest in all the Caribbean. All things you should keep in mind when traveling here.

Here are a few key tips that will make getting around Aruba much easier:

  • Don’t trust Google Maps! Many things are mapped incorrectly, multiple times, or not at all. Our hotel was placed in two different locations, as was a bar we wanted to visit. Other points of interest seemed to not be on Google’s radar at all. When you arrive, grab maps from the airport and/or the car rental locations. Before you leave home, download some maps to your phone as well. Arikok National Park’s site has a great map here.
  • Know that there are VERY few street and highway signs. When I say very few I mean nearly none. I consider myself a good navigator with a great sense of direction, but I was glued to my phone (where the GPS worked sans wifi, thank goodness) in order to find our way around.
  • The roads are rough, especially inside Arikok National Park. You can drive through most of it with a good ‘ol rental car but if you can get your hands on a Jeep, SUV or 4×4 vehicle, it’ll make your driving around a lot less stressful. There are roads and paths where only a Jeep is appropriate. There are also paved roads that are well maintained. These paved roads however, contain these brilliant cobblestone drainage dips (pictured below, great for preventing flooding, horrible for the bottom of your vehicle) every few feet. These dips force you to go slowly and more cautiously than you ever thought possible (dips pictured below).
Photo Credit: Wells Birding

This all being said, the island is only 20 miles long and 6 miles wide, so you really can’t be lost for long. The locals are also very friendly and keen to give directions and help if you ask!

Featured Photo Credit: Tara Turner

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