A winding paved road in the cacti covered desert of Arikok National Park on a cloudy day. To the left of the photo, there is a large cactus taking up most of the frame. Beyond the distance of the photo, you can see a bit of the ocean, although it's covered by the fog.

Driving in Aruba: 13 Important Things to Know

Driving in Aruba is the best way to get around the island and discover hidden gems, but there are some things you should know before you hit the road.  

During my time in Aruba, I rented a car for a day to explore the more remote tourist attractions like Ayo and Casibari Rock formations and Natural Bridge.

Despite traffic rule differences, I found driving around Aruba fairly easy. You can reach most places by car and only really need a 4×4 if you’re going to Natural Pool. 

Let’s get right into everything I wish I had known before renting a car in Aruba!

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A line of cars parallel parked on the streets of a small town in Aruba on a sunny day. To the right side on one of the cars, there is a small stray white and grey cat. When driving in Aruba, most of the cars park over the curb.

1. Knowing What Vehicle to Choose

Roads in Aruba are not perfect, but you can easily get around by car despite the occasional dirt road.

I thought you’d need a 4×4 to visit Arikok National Park, but the roads were completely fine by car too. 

While you don’t need to rent a 4×4, don’t go for a rental car that’s too low either. There are potholes along the dirt roads that you’d want to avoid hitting with your car. 

The only area where you’ll want to have a 4×4 is the Natural Pool. The road leading there is unpaved, rugged, and has several hills. You don’t want to do it by car if you want to get your deposit back!

2. You Don’t Need an International Driver’s Permit

Renting a car in Aruba is simple since you don’t need an International Driver’s Permit unless your license is not in the Roman alphabet, simply because they won’t be able to read it.

That means you won’t have to apply for an IDP before traveling as you can simply use your driver’s license. 

While your driver’s license might not be a problem, your age could be. 

Driving age in Aruba is 18, but many rental agencies won’t even rent you a car if you’re younger than 23. Those who let you rent a car often apply quite a hefty young driver fee for those under 25.

An aerial view of the streets of San Nicolas, a city in Aruba, taken on a cloudy day. Since Aruba is a Dutch island, the roads are filled with large European-style roundabouts, wide pedestrian sidewalks, and colourful buildings.
Unsplash photo by Louis Luna

3. Roundabouts Are Everywhere

Aruba is a Dutch Island, so you’ll get to enjoy the European-style roundabouts everywhere.

Nearly every crossroad has a roundabout on it. While it takes some getting used to, it makes driving easier once you get a hang of it.

The traffic is more fluid, as you don’t have to wait for traffic lights, so you’ll get to your destinations quicker.

Vehicles in roundabouts in Aruba drive counterclockwise, and you’ll have to look left before entering the roundabout. Those already in the roundabout have the right of passage, and you need to wait for an opening when entering.

A one-lane road inside the desert known as Arikok National Park in Aruba, taken on a sunny day with some clouds. On the side of each road, there are some grass, weeds, and rocks. The road leads to Dos Playa, one of the beaches that can be seen at a distance. The beach is dark blue with a some cliffs behind it. Driving in Aruba is fairly easy as most roads have only one or two lanes.

4. Easy To Drive Around

Even if you’re a nervous driver at home you don’t need to worry about driving around Aruba.

Most roads in Oranjestad are one or two lanes – forget about speeding on 5 lane highways like in North America.

If you miss a turn or have trouble connecting, people are polite and stop when you are coming out

While some roads outside the cities aren’t in the best condition, there are no particularly dangerous roads or cliffs to drive off of. 

As long as you drive carefully, stay on paved roads, and respect the rules, driving around Aruba is a breeze.

The Royal Plaza, a pink coloured shopping mall in Oranjestad, Aruba with white and turquoise accents. There are some a few people walking down the mall with some cars, and the streets are shaded while the sun is out.

5. Minimal Traffic 

Another perk of driving in Aruba is that most roads on the island have minimal traffic.

Sure, the city center of Oranjestad can get crowded, but it gets better as soon as you leave downtown. 

Also, traffic jams here are nothing compared to the rush hour back home.

Roads can still get busy on Sundays with locals, and on days when cruise ships dock. 

You can even check cruise ship schedules to avoid the most crowded days when planning your itinerary. 

6. No Right Turns on Red

Turning right on red is a common practice around the world, but did you know it is not allowed everywhere?

Besides being dangerous for pedestrians, right turns on red are actually illegal in Aruba! 

You won’t see the signs explicitly saying you can’t turn right on red like in some cities in the US because it is considered common knowledge.

Even if you’re turning right, you’ll have to wait for the traffic light to turn green before you can take the turn if you don’t want to risk a hefty fine.

7. Drivers Have the Right-of-Way

Despite being a Dutch island, cars in Aruba have the right of way over bicycles and pedestrians.

You’ll still have to pay attention to the incoming traffic when driving, but it’s good to know that cyclists and pedestrians will be doing the same.

You should also remember this when crossing the street as a pedestrian. Make sure that the car stops and it is safe to cross before stepping onto the pavement.

A winding paved road in the cacti covered desert of Arikok National Park on a cloudy day. To the left of the photo, there is a large cactus taking up most of the frame. Beyond the distance of the photo, you can see a bit of the ocean, although it's covered by the fog.

8. Drive on the Right Side of the Road

If you’re used to driving on the right side of the road, you’ll be happy. They drive on the right side of the road in Aruba, same as Canada and the US.

That makes navigating the roads easier, as you don’t have to worry about driving on the opposite side of the road like when driving in Antigua!

A road in leading to Palm Beach in Aruba. On the right side of the photo, there is a large blue sign that says:

8B
Palm Beach
Cumana

And then there are some arrows with roundabouts, with a left arrow leading to Sabana Blanco, and the right arrow leading to Primavera. RIght in front of that sign, there is a round white sign with  a thick red outline that says "60", which indicates the speed limit. There is also a red fire hydrant  and four red and white bollard posts. At a distance, there are some cars lined up heading towards Palm Beach. A few meters behind the blue sign, there is also another speed limit sign, with the speed limit being 40. There are some trees to the right of the photo and on the left side beyond the distance, along with some buildings and cars in a parking lot. The photo was taken on a cloudy day.

9. Know the Speed Limit

Speeding on Aruba roads will get you a fine, so you must respect the speed limit when driving.

Speed limits and distances in Aruba are shown in kilometres, so familiarize yourself with conversions before travelling to the island.

If there are no different road signs, assume that the speed limit is 30km/h in urban areas, 60 km/h outside the cities, and 80 km/h on faster roads.

A blue and yellow bus called Arubus, which is the main mode of public transportation in Aurba. It's under the San Nicolas bus station on a sunny day.

10. Renting a Car Isn’t Required

I only rented a car in Aruba for a day because the island is also easy to explore without a car.

Public transit works great, and you can reach many cool places in Aruba by bus. It is cheaper than renting a car too. I took the bus the rest of my trip and saved all the places the bus doesn’t go to for the one rental car day.

Alternatively, you can always join a tour.

For example, joining Arikok National Park tours is great if you want to enjoy the hikes without worrying about catching a bus to your accommodation or driving tired after a day of exploring.

Still, having a car gives you the freedom to enjoy at your own pace and take detours when you see something you like.

Melissa standing on top of Casibari Rock Formation in Aruba, in awe of the views which include tons of trees, houses, and hills at a distance. It's also a sunny day with a bit of clouds splattered across the sky.

11. Roads Aren’t Well Marked

You might need to ask for additional directions in Aruba because the roads aren’t well-marked. 

Sure, the island’s main road is quite straightforward, but the smaller paths leading to snorkelling beaches and through the National Park might be harder to navigate.

However, you don’t need to worry much as locals are happy to help and show you the right way.

A path lined with cacti on a sunny day with blue skies and no clouds. At a distance and in the center of the photo shows the California lighthouse in Noord, Aruba, which is white and 30 metres high.

12. Everything is Less Than An Hour Away

Aruba is a small island, only about 20 miles (32 km) long and 6 miles (10 km) wide across at its widest point.

If you want to drive from the north to the island’s south end, it will take roughly 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the traffic. 

Most routes between tourist attractions take less than 20 minutes, so you can easily visit multiple places in one day in Aruba. You can fit so many adventures into your quick getaway!

13. Most Gas Stations are Full Service 

If you’re spending a week in Aruba or longer, you’ll probably have to stop at the gas station once or twice.

It is good to know that most gas stations in Aruba are full-service – meaning gas station attendants will pump the gas for you, and you have to tell them how much they should fill. 

You’re not expected to tip and you’re not allowed to do it yourself.

You don’t have to drive around checking gas prices at different stations, the government regulates the price, making it the same everywhere.

Driving in Aruba FAQs

Can US Citizens Drive in Aruba? 

Yes, US Citizens can drive in Aruba. You don’t even need an international permit in Aruba. Some rules are different like no right turns on red, so familiarize yourself before travelling.

Is It Easy Driving in Aruba?

Driving in Aruba is fairly easy. The traffic is manageable, there are no large highways, and they drive on the right side of the road, so you’ll quickly adapt if you’re used to driving in the USA or Canada.

Is It Safe to Rent a Car and Drive Around in Aruba?

Renting a car in Aruba is a safe and easy way of getting around in Aruba, so many tourists opt to rent a car. Check Aruba driving rules before hitting the road, get the right type of vehicle, and you’ll be good to go.

How Long Does It Take to Drive Around Aruba? 

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from the north end to the south of Aruba, a road distance of about 35km. The west coast of the island is much more suitable for driving. The east coast doesn’t have a coastal road, as the terrain is too rough. 

Final Thoughts on Driving in Aruba

Driving in Aruba is safe and easy once you get a hang of the few quirks. The island is small, you can drive with your US or Canadian license, and locals are happy to help if you get lost.

Ultimately, having a car makes exploring Aruba on your own easier as you can visit multiple tourist attractions and go on fun Aruba activities on the same day.

You can also easily get around Aruba without a car, it just depends on your itinerary, the places you want to see, and how many days in Aruba you have.

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