Most of Aruba's major attractions are fairly easy to find, and there are great maps and apps all over the island to find out-of-the-way spots. International traffic signs and Dutch-style traffic signals (with an extra light for a turning lane) can be confusing, though, if you're not used to them; use extreme caution, especially at intersections, until you grasp the rules of the road.
Gas prices average a little more than $1.25 a liter (roughly a quarter of a gallon), which is reasonable by Caribbean standards. Stations are plentiful in and near Oranjestad, San Nicolas, and Santa Cruz, and near the major high-rise hotels on the western coast. All take cash, and most take major credit cards. Unlike in the United States, gas prices aren’t posted prominently, since they’re fixed and the same at all stations.
There aren't any parking meters in downtown Oranjestad, and finding an open spot is very difficult, especially now that a lot of downtown is closed to vehicular traffic because of the eco-trolley and new pedestrian malls, but if you are lucky, there is free parking in the Renaissance Marketplace.
In Aruba you must meet the minimum age requirements of each rental service. (Budget, for example, requires drivers to be over 25; Avis, over 23; and Hertz, over 21) A signed credit-card slip or a cash deposit of $500 is required. Rates for unlimited mileage are between $35 and $65 a day, with local agencies generally offering lower rates. Insurance is available starting at about $10 per day. Try to make reservations before arriving, and opt for a four-wheel-drive vehicle if you plan to explore the island.
Avis (330 J.E. Irausquin Blvd, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/586-2181 or 800/522–9696. www.avis.com. Airport. 297/582-5496.)
Budget (Camacuri 10, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/582–8600 or 800/472–3325. www.budget.com.)
Economy (Bushiri 27, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/582–0009. www.economyaruba.com.)
Hertz (Sabana Blanco 35, near airport, n/a Aruba. 297/582–1845 or 800/654–3001. www.arubarentcar.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/.)
Thrifty (Wayaca 33-F, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/583–4042. www.thriftycarrentalaruba.com. Airport. 297/583–4902.).
Everyone who rents a car wonders whether the insurance that the rental companies offer is worth the expense. No one—including us—has a simple answer. If you own a car, your personal auto insurance may cover a rental to some degree, though not all policies protect you abroad; always read your policy's fine print. If you don't have auto insurance, then seriously consider buying the collision- or loss-damage waiver (CDW or LDW) from the car-rental company, which eliminates your liability for damage to the car. Some credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it's usually supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers SUVs, minivans, or luxury models. If your coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company. But no credit-card insurance is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill. It's sometimes cheaper to buy insurance as part of your general travel-insurance policy.
Discuss with the rental-car agency what to do in the case of an emergency. Make sure you understand what your insurance covers and what it doesn't; let someone at your accommodation know where you’re heading and when you plan to return. If you find yourself stranded, hail a taxi or speak to the locals, who may have some helpful advice about finding your way to a phone or a bus stop. Keep emergency numbers with you, just in case. Because Aruba is such a small island, you should never panic if you have car trouble; it's likely you'll be within relatively easy walking distance of a populated area.
Aside from the major highways, the island's winding roads are poorly marked (although the situation is slowly improving). Keep an eye out for rocks and other debris when driving on remote roads. When in the countryside, also keep your eyes open for wild goats and donkeys that might wander onto the road.
Rules of the Road
Driving here is on the right side of the road, American-style. Despite the laid-back ways of locals, when they get behind the steering wheel they often speed and take liberties with road rules, especially outside the more heavily traveled Oranjestad and hotel areas. Keep a watchful eye for passing cars and for vehicles coming out of side roads. Speed limits are rarely posted, but the maximum speed is 60 kph (40 mph) and 40 kph (25 mph) through settlements. Speed limits and the use of seat belts are enforced.