What you Need to Know about Renting a Car in Aruba (and Why You Need to Rent One!)

Visiting Aruba and want to check out the island? The best way to get around Aruba is by renting a car. Renting a car in Aruba is super easy and a decision you’ll be glad you made!

This gorgeous Netherlands Antilles island has so much to offer; magnificent beaches, beautiful, rugged scenery, unique natural sights, and so much more. 

Aruba is by far the easiest country I have ever driven in. Driving in Aruba is very simple, especially for us in North America – and much of the world – since they drive on the right hand side of the road. 

Don’t let driving in a foreign country hold you back from experiencing this amazing island. There are a number of rental companies to rent a car from – many of which will pick you up right from the airport!

To truly appreciate what Aruba has to offer, a vehicle most definitely should be rented.

Let’s dig into the reasons why you should rent a car in Aruba – plus what you need to know before renting one!

car rental aruba

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Is it worth renting a car in Aruba?

It is absolutely worth renting a car in Aruba. If you want to get around to the beaches and check out some amazing scenery and attractions, renting a car is your best bet to get around the island.

It doesn’t take far to get anywhere on the island – its entirety is only 69 square miles (180 square km for us Canadian folk), 21 miles long, or 33 km, and 6 miles (9 km) wide.

In fact, it really only takes about 45 minutes to drive from tip to tip. But don’t let its small size fool you. Aruba has a TON to offer.

Compared to car rental prices in Canada, I found the rental rates to be very inexpensive to rent a car for two people. If you need a larger SUV or a jeep, of course, that is going to cost you more.

Do your research! Check out all of the incredible things Aruba has to offer, figure out how much time you have on the island, and plan away!

You may not need a car rental for the entire time (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t!), but you may also went to rent a jeep for a day or two to explore some of Aruba’s rugged terrain.

Plan an itinerary, use Google Maps to plot the distance and how long you want to be out each day, and see what fits best within a day. That will give you a better indication of how long you need a car or a jeep rental for.

tres trapi aruba
Having your own car means you can drive to all the neat places in Aruba yourself!

Is it hard to drive in Aruba?

Aruba is one of the easiest places I have ever driven, even more so than in Curacao.

It’s stress-free and as long as you have some good navigation to familiarize yourself with the island and know where to go (I have tips on that below!), driving in Aruba is a very enjoyable experience! 

By the end of the second day I didn’t even need navigation, except for downtown Oranjestad.

What side of the road do they drive in Aruba?

Driving is done on the right side of the road in Aruba, making this an easy place to get used to driving around if you’re from North America or most of Europe!

What kind of car do you need in Aruba?

Compact cars will be the cheapest option for renting a car in Aruba, and it’s an option that will get you safely around the island. You do have the option to also rent vans if you have a bigger group to accommodate. 

If you plan on doing any off-roading at Arikok National Park, you will need a jeep to navigate the unpaved roads.

Some rental companies will make you sign a waiver stating you won’t go offroading with a small car. We had a Hyundai Accent and it was great for what we were doing!

While some may report you can visit Arikok with a small car, we didn’t want to risk it. There are paved roads that small cars can traverse, but there are drainage ditches along the way that are quite deep.

Since I didn’t feel like paying for any missing bumpers or undercarriage damage, we opted to skip Arikok National Park this time. If you want to visit the park (and you should, it’s breathtaking!) but don’t want to rent a jeep, there are a number of guided tours to Arikok National Park you can join!

Reasons to Rent a Car in Aruba

So WHY should you rent a car in Aruba? Well, aside from it being very easy to rent a vehicle (all you need is your driver’s licence and a credit card!), it gives you the flexibility to explore the island at your own pace.

Let’s check out the reasons!

Renting a car in Aruba gives you freedom to explore

Plus, driving around Aruba is super easy and traffic is never really heavy, at least by Canadian standards.

If you really want to explore all the beauty Aruba has to offer, the best way to do that is to rent a car. You can travel around at your own pace and your own schedule, rather than being tied to scheduled departure and pickup times. It’s your vacation, right? Why stress!

sunrise aruba hooiberg
Renting a car means you can explore at your own pace, like catching the sunrise from Hooiberg Mountain!

Taxis are expensive

Now, I know I can be cheap, but it can become very cost prohibitive to take a taxi around Aruba. This is especially true when you start wanting to visit different parts of the island.

If you want to visit the gorgeous beaches and some awesome places to eat that aren’t within walking distance, it really is cost-effective to rent a car in Aruba!

The bus system can be time consuming

While taking the bus around Aruba is certainly an option (and a very affordable and reliable one!), it can tie up a lot of your day. You can get an unlimited bus pass for $10 USD/day.

I wouldn’t want to wait for a bus while I’m on vacation. Plus, if you take a bus, they may not always stop exactly where you want to be, so you will have to do some walking. In the heat of the day, it’s not a fun option.

Try to budget in a car rental, even if for a few days. It’s well worth it.

Renting a car is cheaper than taking a tour

Before we went to Aruba, I looked into taking organized tours as a possibility to visit some of the beaches and natural attractions the island offers. 

The tours are fantastic, but they can really add up if you want to do a couple of them. Plus, much of the island is easily accessible by compact car, except for Arikok National Park.

It pays to do your research! Of course, some places in Aruba can only be done by organized group tour, but if you want to beach hop and go on your own schedule, definitely rent a car!

What to know before renting a car in Aruba

There are a few helpful tips when it comes to renting a car in Aruba. Our car rental company told us most of these, but I had to figure out some of these the hard way.  😂

Book your car rental early!

Of all the tips, remember this one!

Car rentals are incredibly popular in Aruba especially during high season, mainly because if you want to see anything outside of Oranjestad, Eagle Beach, or Palm Beach, you need a car. 

As soon as you know your travel dates, secure your rental to avoid any disappointment! Rentals can book a couple months out in peak season, so don’t leave it until the last minute!

You may not even have to pay for your rental at the time of booking to guarantee your chosen vehicle. We didn’t put a deposit down for our car through Yess Car Rental and it went so smoothly.

If you are travelling with more than 2-4 people, this is even more important to remember. If you wait to book your car rental, you may not get a vehicle large enough to accommodate your whole group.

If you want a vehicle rental during your trip in Aruba, I implore you to secure a rental early!

car rental aruba
Our rental at the Red Anchor on the east end of Aruba.

Do a walkaround prior to taking the keys

Your car rental company will do this too, and likely take photos, but it’s good to have a second set of eyes as they’re doing this to ensure every scratch, dent, and mark is noticed. Once you have the keys, it’s all on you!

With Yess Car Rental, they did a video walkaround while we were there and emailed us the video so we had a record.

How to get gas in Aruba

If you’re from the USA, you may not find getting gas in Aruba confusing, but as a Canadian, it took me a hot minute to figure out how to get gas properly.  😅

There are gas stations dotted around Aruba – and if you’re renting near the cruise port, there’s a handy location right near the Cruise Terminal.

Self-service stations require you to pay for gas ahead of time. Remember your pump number when you go in to pay!

Gas stations accept both cash and card, so you have options.

When you take the nozzle out of the holder, you have to flip the holder up to activate the pump. This is apparently old technology, but not one I was used to haha. Maybe I’m just young. 😇

The gas is displayed in local currency but since USD is accepted everywhere, we paid in cash. I estimated how much gas I’d need and would put in $20 or $15 at a time. Get a receipt in case you overestimate how much you need so you can go back in for the difference. 

During our 5 days in Aruba, we only went through $35 USD in gas and we drove the whole island numerous times!

Make sure you refill your rental to what it was before returning it to avoid charges! 

Important to remember: When filling your vehicle, keep in mind the amount displayed is in Florin. When I gave $20 to the cashier, I was going by $20 on the display, but Dana reminded me it was local currency, so I kept pumping! The pump will cut you off at the amount you put on it.

Check your lights at night or early morning

I know I’m spoiled by modern conveniences of having my lights automatically come on. It’s been years since I had to manually turn my lights on.

I just expected them to come on automatically.

I learned this from when we set off to hike Mount Christoffel in Curacao earlier in the year. Our rental wasn’t exactly new, but it didn’t even occur to me as we set off at 5:00 am that only my meager daytime running lights were on.

That was until I almost drove right into a roundabout.

THAT woke us up. 😂

It was a quick lesson to learn and fortunately there wasn’t much traffic at that time of day, but let this serve as a reminder to you that you really do need to check your lights if you’re driving in the early morning or after sunset.

california lighthouse aruba
California Lighthouse

Get the full insurance

I learned this lesson from my dad a long time ago with all the rentals we’ve had over the years: always get the full insurance.

Just get it.

If it costs a few extra bucks a day, it’s worth getting so you can just walk away from an accident or mishap rather than being saddled with expensive repairs. You may never get into an accident – and hopefully you don’t! – but do you really want to risk it?

Car repairs are not cheap. I’m in the auto industry for my day job and I know this from experience. 

Our rental with Yess Car Rental included liability insurance, but it’s the damage insurance you want to check out. Car rental companies offer this and I will always encourage you to get the maximum insurance available, but before you do – check what your credit card offers for coverage!

P.s. If you do happen to get into an accident, you will be instructed what to do by your rental company prior to taking the keys. Our rental company told us the numbers to call in the event of an accident were on the sun visor, and they said to leave the vehicle exactly where the accident happened – even if it is in a live lane!

Note: Most car rental companies in Aruba include liability insurance in their pricing, which can lead to huge savings. Ask what it includes and if there are any additional charges or other insurance options available.

car rental aruba westpunt boca
At Westpunt Boca – we opted for this instead of Arikok since the road was flat and easy for small cars.

Don’t leave any valuables in the car – at any time

This tip goes without saying, but whether we’re naive to being in a new country on vacation or perhaps not thinking theft happens in Aruba, it can (obviously) happen. Never leave any valuables in your vehicle, especially ones in sight!

We never faced any instance where we felt like our car may have been a target.

Still – it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re heading to the beach, bring only the necessities with you on your journey and bring everything with you to the beach. 

Never leave your wallet, or loose change, or anything of value in plain sight, but that’s kind of common sense, eh? 😉

Download Maps.Me or Google Maps for offline navigation

I am SO glad I knew about Maps.Me prior to travelling earlier this year – so now it’s my mission to let everyone else know about this amazing free app.

Maps.Me allows you to use navigation offline – without a signal. All you need to do is download the map within the app ahead of time, and you’re golden!

This will easily navigate to major attractions and sites, but for smaller places like not-so-frequented restaurants that we had to drive to, I did find I had to flip back to Google Maps.

Still, Maps.Me provides a fantastic, free alternative so you don’t have to dip into your data package.

You can also download offline maps from Google! I didn’t even realize this until Google prompted me to do so – I guess I was looking at Aruba so much it figured I needed it!

To download an offline map with Google, search for your desired location on your phone in Google Maps – in this instance, Aruba 😉 – and at the top right there are three dots. Select that and hit download offline map. You can even select the radius you want to download, but since Aruba is so small it hardly takes up any space.

aruba offline maps
Screenshot from my phone of where to find the offline maps.

Google Maps didn’t fail us once! Highly recommend it!

What I wish I had prior to driving in Aruba: I forgot my phone mount for the car at home! I needed something to prop my phone up for navigation and didn’t want to have it near the shifter the whole time. Remember to bring one with you to clip into the vent or on the windshield. My husband ended up holding it for me. Haha!

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Learn the Road Signs

It’s important to note the speed limits when driving in Aruba, because it’s probably slower than what you may be used to. 

Urban areas usually have a speed limit of 30 km/hr, and 60-80 km/hr outside of town. 

Side note – I loved that Maps.Me AND Google shows the speed limit of where you’re driving, too!

Road signs are pretty self-explanatory, and many are the same as where you’re from, but there may be one you don’t recognize. Especially considering I maybe saw 3 stop signs the whole time we were there.

The priority intersection sign essentially means the road you’re travelling on has right of way, whereas the cross-streets have to wait until you’ve gone through. 

Since you won’t see a lot of stop signs, you will have to really pay attention at cross-streets!

street art san nicolas aruba
Street art in San Nicolas

Know how to use Roundabouts

Roundabouts are everywhere in Aruba. This is instead of having traffic lights and they keep traffic flowing so well. I’m used to them from driving in England (and they’re becoming more popular in Canada now, too), but many people aren’t familiar with how to use them.

Fortunately, roundabouts in Aruba are very simple to use.

Painted lines on the road indicate which lane to be if you want to go right, straight, or left. My favourite thing about the roundabouts was the lanes were divided by a small curb, so someone driving next to you couldn’t just switch lanes at will.

We felt really safe and never had an issue.

sunset aruba
Sunset on Eagle Beach – a quick drive from hotels, Palm Beach, and Oranjestad.

Renting a car from Aruba Airport

While it is easy to just hop off the plane and go to the car rental counter at Queen Beatrix Airport, renting a car from the airport in Aruba is expensive. 

Renting a car from the airport in Aruba will cost you more money than using a company downtown. 

Why?

Airports generally charge a premium for the convenience of picking up and dropping off your rental right at the airport. 

While it can be argued that the added cost is worth the convenience, I resent paying more for something when I know I can get it less elsewhere, haha. If you’re more comfortable renting from the airport, know that all the rental agencies are right across from the arrivals hall. It’s so easy!

Car rental companies in the city offer pick up and drop off for free, so it’s juuuust as convenient booking with them, and will save you a few bucks! 

Actually, a lot of bucks, when you compare an economy car at $225/week from Yess Car Rental a couple minutes from the airport (with free pickup!) vs $400/week from the airport!

ayo rock formations aruba
Ayo Rock Formations

Is it cheaper to rent a car in advance or on the spot?

Given that car rentals are very popular in Aruba, you will want to rent a car in advance if you can. 

When it comes to renting a car in advance or on the spot, the pricing will oftentimes be the same. 

However, some companies may offer a discount for booking in advance online, so if you know  your travel plans (and want to get the type of vehicle you want!), it’s best to book in advance.

Is it cheaper to rent a car by week or by day?

Renting a car just for one day will often come with a short-term rental charge. 

It would be more economical to rent a vehicle for a few days or a week than a day or two sporadically during your trip.

Car rentals pay for themselves if you factor in where you want to go in Aruba and what it would cost for a taxi.

The good news is, parking is free at all the beaches, attractions, and most of downtown (plus free on Sundays and holidays in Oranjestad)!

Car rental companies near the Aruba cruise port

If you are looking to rent a car in Aruba at the cruise port, your options are limited to Hertz and JeepAruba.

You can, of course, reach out to independent car rental companies in Aruba to arrange pick up and drop off of your rental if you want to explore other options (and will be much cheaper).

aruba cruise port
This sign is right by the cruise terminal.

Best car rental in Aruba

There are a number of fantastic car rental companies in Aruba that come highly rated by past visitors and extended-stay visitors.

I can firstly vouch for Yess Car Rental. The convenience of having them pick us up from the airport, drive two minutes to their office, quickly have the paperwork done, and on our way was priceless. They also leave instructions on how to return the vehicle at the airport. Plus, of all my research they’ve had the best rates!

Note: Many of these rental companies offer free pick up and drop off at the airport or at hotels in Aruba. Ask them prior to booking if they offer this service if you cannot find it on their website.

Other car rental companies in Aruba include:

Things to keep in mind: Some rental companies have a minimum rental requirement. Some companies also require a gated/secure parking area, so be sure to check the websites fully before booking!

Now that you know all about how to rent a car in Aruba and why you need a rental to get around this incredible island, hopefully it gives you the confidence you may need to drive in a foreign country, if you never have before.

Driving in Aruba is fun and easy and there is so much to explore. Enjoy!

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