Bon Dia! After going through travel withdrawals and A LOT of research, I finally built up the courage to take a 5-day trip to Aruba. If you didn’t know, Aruba has been open to US travelers since July 10th. With the fear of getting travel shamed, I honestly wasn’t going to tell anyone, but as my trip got closer, I felt it would be a disservice to not share my experience. I recently did a quick Q&A in my Instagram stories, but if you missed it here are some things to know when traveling to Aruba after its reopening.
Before Traveling to Aruba
As previously mentioned, Aruba has been open since July 10. For now, gone are the days where you can just book a trip and go. Like other countries, Aruba has provided new government-mandated procedures for potential visitors. Here’s what to expect after booking your flight to Aruba from the US.
Complete an Embarkation/Disembarkation Card Online
The first step is to complete the Embarkation/Disembarkation Card online. Most travelers are used to Embarkation/Disembarkation cards being handed out on flights before landing or in the airport. To reduce the spread of germs Aruba has digitized the process. The online embarkation/disembarkation card consists of five components which include
- basic traveler information
- a personal health assessment
- uploading a negative Covid-19 test result
- purchasing Aruba’s visitor insurance
- consent to Aruba’s health protocols and procedures.
Once you’re done completing the Embarkation/Disembarkation card, you will receive a receipt and confirmation of approval for travel via email. You can save it to your phone to present at the airport before boarding.
Present a Negative Covid-19 Test Result
Aruba provides three testing options depending on where you’re traveling from:
- Take a test prior to arrival (highly encouraged)
- Take a test on arrival in Aruba (for a fee)
- Testing prior to travel and a mandatory test at the airport in Aruba
72 hours prior (or closer to departure), Covid-19 testing with a negative test result is required. If you reside in a high-risk state, being tested prior to travel AND at the airport is mandatory. Being tested in the airport requires quarantine in your hotel or place of lodging for up to 24 hours and testing isn’t required for children 14 and under. In NYC the demand for testing is pretty high. I was told my results would come in 5-7 days and was prepared to be tested on arrival to Aruba. Luckily it came at midnight the day of departure and I presented the results on arrival. A temperature check is also given before leaving the airport.
When traveling to Aruba, a mask is required during the duration of the flight (4-5+ hours direct from NYC). JetBlue‘s safety procedures include disinfecting tray tables and bathrooms before every flight and other high-touch areas during overnight cleanings. We didn’t receive any cleaning agents traveling to Aruba but were given wipes traveling back to NYC. I HIGHLY suggest bringing your own wipes to clean your seat, tray table, and other high-touch areas on your own. The flight was spaced out with the middle seat empty unless people traveled together. Snacks and water were also handed to travelers in a sealed bag.
Visitors traveling to Aruba (as well as locals) are encouraged to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. Masks were required in indoor public spaces, shops, public transportation, inside taxis, and other areas. There was also a mandatory curfew to be on the resort property between midnight and 5 AM.
Best Time of Year for Traveling to Aruba
Due to its location, Aruba doesn’t get threats to hurricanes and tropical storms, but the best time to visit is April to August. This is the time of year hotel prices are low and temperatures are moderate. The weather from January to March is great for a winter escape, but hotels and lodging area prices are very high. If you’re a budget traveler, prices are the cheapest in September and October, but the weather is extremely hot.
Where to Stay in Aruba
When traveling to Aruba, make sure your hotel or resort has an Aruba Health & Happiness Code Certification. Certified businesses have ensured they have taken every measure to provide a safe environment for employees and guests. During this time, Hotels in Aruba have been offering special discounts to encourage potential travelers to stay there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba which is a beach-front property located in Palm Beach, near lots of restaurants, shops, water activities, and nightlife. We also visited The Renaissance and the Divi Aruba Phoenix which are also beach-front properties. All of these resorts required a temperature check and hand sanitizing on arrival as well as mandatory masks indoors.
Fun Things to Do in Aruba
Aruba is a small island so five days was more than enough to find things to do. Aruba is known for its beautiful beaches but is geographically a desert island. Here are some popular things to do in Noord Aruba, around the island, and activities we were able to do on our extended holiday weekend trip.
Explore Downtown Oranjestad – Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba. Here you can walk around to explore on your own or learn about the city from a tour guide. Oranjestad also has tons of local and luxury stores for shopping.
Visit San Nicolas – San Nicolas is Aruba’s second-largest city and old capital which offers historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and bars. If you’re a fan of street art, there are a number of art murals here to view.
Take a Sunset Cruise – Our Sunset Sail cruise with Jolly Pirate was within walking distance from our hotel and sailed from Palm Beach to Eagle Beach where cruisers enjoyed the views, music, and unlimited alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. Jumping off the boat for a nice swim is optional.
Visit the Private Islands – Aruba has two private islands: Renaissance Island and De Palm Island. Renaissance Island is geared towards adults offering spa treatments and the famous wild flamingos. De Palm Island is great for families and individuals looking for an adventure offering Seatrekking, SNUBA (a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving), zip-lining, and other water activities.
Enjoy the Beach – Aruba is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Since the island is surrounded by water, you can take a trip to the most popular beaches like Palm Beach and Eagle Beach or Baby beach which has more shallow and calm waters.
Go to Arikok National Park – 20% of Aruba is designated to the National Park. Arikok National Park is home to home to various species and plant life indigenous to the island. We took a private Jeep Tour with ABC Tours Aruba which included several stops within the National Park like Moro, Boca Prins, and Dos Playa. If you rent a car, you can spend a few days exploring the park or do it in one day.
Explore the Caves – Within Arikok National Park are Fontein Cave and Guadirikiri Cave. The caves include markings left by the Caquetio Indigenous people, as well as quartz and limestone formations.
Swim in the Natural Pool – Conchi Natural Pool is a swimming hole protected by a wall of volcanic rock. Due to the rough terrain leading to the pool, visitors are encouraged to take a Jeep Safari.
What to Eat in Aruba
Aruba is a very diverse country that offers a variety of food from traditional Dutch to Asian, African, Italian, American, and more. Most restaurants also offer fresh local seafood. If you want to try traditional Aruban cuisines, order pan bati or keshi yena with some papaya hot sauce.
The majority of restaurants in Aruba are in Palm Beach and downtown Oranjestad. We dined at several restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner including Iguana Cantina, Moomba Beach Bar & Restaurant, The Pelican Nest Seafood Grill, The Dutch Pancake house, Che Bar, and Chillout Island. Our favorite place to eat was Eduardo’s Beach Shack which has the BEST smoothies, açai bowls, and poke bowls.
Enjoying Aruba While Social Distancing
A big question about traveling to Aruba was how we enjoyed our trip while social distancing. Here are some ways to enjoy a vacation in Aruba while still practicing social distancing.
Get up early – Our mornings were spent pool or beachside while afternoons were spent doing activities. If the beach became more crowded, we moved to the pool towards the back of the resort.
Stay out Late – The Holiday Inn Aruba had gazebos, lounge chairs, and sitting areas throughout the property. In these areas, we enjoyed sunset views and late-night talks with little to no one outside.
Rent a Car – While we didn’t rent a car, it is considered the best way to get around the island. Getting a rental allows you to explore the least popular areas and decreases the risks of being in contact with someone versus if you took public transportation.
Do a Private Tour – If your budget allows, consider taking a private tour. Private tours can include horseback riding, full-day island tour, snorkeling or other water activities, and more. You can get an idea of different private tours to book before traveling to Aruba or during your trip below.
Coming home quarantine is not required, but it is the responsible approach. As mentioned in a previous post, if you decide to travel do what is best for you and your family. Make sure to practice the guidelines set in place for the safety of yourself and others. Don't travel if you are sick, wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer if hand washing is unavailable. Reconsider travel if you are immunocompromised, elderly, or take care of either population.
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