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Aruba is an island of paradox. Despite the presence of numerous luxury resorts and gourmet restaurants, much of Aruba remains uninhabited. For the tourist, this simply means there is more to explore. For example, nearly 20% of the island is devoted to the sprawling Arikok National Park. Inside and outside the park, you will find gorgeous views, unique historical landmarks and ecological wonders. The roads winding through Aruba’s distinctive desert landscape offer visitors a chance to enjoy the hidden Caribbean without the crowds. Jeep rentals and taxi tours are the most popular ways to explore this island’s outer reaches and each have their benefits. This article should help you decide which method of travel is right for you.
Like anywhere else, you can certainly rent a car during your vacation in Aruba. Yet, an average car rental won’t allow you to traverse many of Aruba’s most interesting and scenic paths. Throughout the interior of the island and along the northern coast, you will be able to navigate dirt roads providing excellent views and wonderful wildlife watching opportunities. Furthermore, you won’t be bothered by many other travelers in these less-populated areas. Jeep rentals are typically affordable, too – usually between $55 and $70 per day with discounts available for 3-day and 1-week rentals.
If you intend to go it alone with a jeep rental, keep in mind that most roads will be dusty, unpaved and unmarked. However, this shouldn’t discourage you. Start with a good map of the island’s roads and enjoy your time away from the hustle and bustle. But if you do get lost, sometimes that can be almost as much fun.
If you are concerned about driving around Aruba on your own, it is also possible to travel with a jeep safari where you will drive amongst several other vehicles and a guide. If you think you need help finding certain attractions or don’t feel entirely confident with your off-road driving skills, this might be a good option. Yet, keep in mind that such jeep groups require you to move with a crowd, something that many visitors and jeep enthusiasts hope to avoid. If you decide to rent a jeep or travel with a jeep safari, consider making reservations beforehand to ensure you get your 4×4 of choice.
As fun as a jeep rental might sound, taxis certainly have their benefits in Aruba. All taxi fares are flat rate in Aruba, so you will never have to worry about the meter or having to haggle with your driver. Most cab drivers are well versed in local history and certainly know their way around the island. In fact, all cab drivers have participated in the government’s tourism awareness program.
Drivers are always flexible and can offer you private tours of the island, based on your sightseeing suggestions. Such tours can last anywhere from a few hours to all day. Taxis also operate throughout the night in Aruba to get you home safely from any bar, casino or nightclub. Fares are between $10-20 between the airport and most resorts on the island, with set rates comparable to jeep rentals for driving tours. All drivers own their own taxis and you can find any size vehicle for your family, from luxury cars to large vans. If you plan on taking a taxi tour, prepare yourself for a strong dose of friendly Caribbean attitude and some fascinating stories.
It has been claimed in numerous guide books that all of Aruba can be explored in half a day. For a true explorer, that certainly won’t be the case. Try to spend some time at each site, enjoy the view and the privacy. Once you get outside Aruba’s Hotel Zone and the capital city, you will certainly realize there is plenty to see.
If you have the time, experience the best of both worlds – take a guided tour and then spend more time exploring sites of interest on your own. However you decide to explore Aruba, you won’t be disappointed.
write by Benedict