All things Aruba: Where to stay, how to get there and COVID-19 protocols
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated
Aruba, a Caribbean island just north of Venezuela, remains an attractive tropical destination for tourists, with no proof of vaccination or quarantine required for those who take a pre-travel COVID-19 test.
The country offers many hotels redeemable with points, including one with access to a private island.
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Predeparture steps: Online ED Card
All visitors to Aruba, including children, must complete an online application to obtain a digital Embarkation and Disembarkation Card with relevant traveler information. Through that digital card, travelers will submit a personal health assessment, upload results of a negative PCR test and agree to the Aruban government’s COVID-19 rules.
Additionally, travelers 15 and up must purchase Aruba Visitors Insurance, which covers COVID-19-related medical expenses like testing and isolation, for a flat-rate fee of $15 per person per stay. Those younger than 14 are exempt from the insurance requirement. Insurance must be purchased in advance of travel as part of the online application process for the aforementioned ED card.
“To maintain the safety and well-being of visitors and locals, one of the new requirements put in place for visitors to be admitted to Aruba is the mandatory Aruba Visitors Insurance, which helps to protect you against medical- and non-medical expenses incurred if you test positive for COVID-19 during your stay in Aruba,” said IASA, Aruba’s immigration service. “The Aruba Visitors Insurance covers all eligible foreign nationals from pre-approved regions or countries. The Aruba Visitors Insurance is mandatory and meets the Aruba government’s minimum requirements.”
Read more about the mandatory COVID-19 travel insurance here.
COVID-19 test: Predeparture or on arrival
All visitors 12 and older must take a COVID-19 test to enter Aruba. Only molecular tests, including PCR tests, are accepted. Those traveling from certain countries deemed “very high-risk” must submit negative test results within one day of travel to Aruba, while those from “high-risk countries” may do so within two days to four hours of travel. The Aruba Health Department outlines countries based on risk designation here. The United States is currently labeled a “high-risk country.”
Alternatively, travelers from countries that are neither “very high-risk” nor “high-risk” have the option to schedule a PCR test to be taken upon arrival at the airport for $75. You must quarantine for up to 24 hours while awaiting receipt of negative test results.
Note that at-home rapid COVID-19 tests are not considered valid for entry into Aruba. JetBlue passengers wishing to test prior to travel can take an at-home PCR test via the airline’s partnership with testing company Vault. For an acceptable list of test types, read the latest guidance from Visit Aruba.
Upon arrival: Face masks, curfews, no dancing
Face masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces, including retail shops, supermarkets, museums and casinos, and all businesses (except hotels) are required to close by midnight. Both indoor and outdoor dining is limited to six people per table, and live entertainment is capped at a maximum of five performers. Sorry to report that no dancing is allowed at such venues.
“An alcohol ban is temporarily in effect in certain public places in Aruba. Hotel guests can order alcoholic beverages on the beach as long as they stay on the hotel property, and can bring their beverages to their palapa or beach chair as long as they order from the hotel bar,” said Visit Aruba. “Alcoholic beverages can still be enjoyed at beach bars or restaurants not affiliated with a hotel, as long as patrons stay within the grounds of the establishment. It is currently prohibited to consume alcohol on any other beaches, parking lots, parks or in any public place unless it is a licensed establishment.”
How to get to Aruba: Limited nonstop flights
Although flight schedules have been altered due to COVID-19, there are many flights to Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) in Oranjestad from U.S. cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C. Check out the Visit Aruba website for a complete list of airlines currently offering service to Aruba.
While airlines like JetBlue, United, American and Delta offer nonstop flights either to or from Aruba, carrier availability for round-trip, nonstop flights remains very low based on a test search conducted for this story. As a result, you may want to consider paying extra to make the entire trip nonstop and/or on the same carrier. If you’re sticking to a tighter budget, try booking separate tickets with a stop or two factored in to keep the price down.
For example, the cheapest round-trip, nonstop flight from JFK to AUA in late January was a ticket in Delta’s main cabin for $621.
This same flight would cost you 39,000 Delta SkyMiles, plus $85 in taxes and fees. Delta’s main cabin includes seat selection, one free carry-on and no change fees.
However, you could get a similar nonstop flight to Aruba for just $235 by booking separate tickets through Delta and AA.
To reserve separate tickets, simply book the outgoing flight through Delta and the return flight through AA, as shown below.
Each ticket is for the carrier’s lowest class, basic economy, but note that you could pay just $20 to upgrade to Delta’s main cabin or $40 to AA’s.
If you are dead set on flying nonstop or using points for a certain airline, try adjusting your travel dates to see if more options become available.
Where to stay: Plenty of points options
For Marriott Bonvoy members looking to splurge, we suggest The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, where a limited view room with a balcony and a king-size bed starts at 70,000 points or more than $1,000 per night this January. Using Bonvoy points, in this case, would save you nearly $500 based on TPG’s valuations.
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Although that’s a great redemption, you could spend less at either Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino or Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort, where limited view queen rooms for one night start at 60,000 points or $852 and king rooms for one night start at 50,000 points or $371, respectively. Keep in mind that you get a fifth night free when you book four award nights at Marriott hotels.
The Renaissance property is also where the aforementioned private island comes in. Guests at this hotel have exclusive access to a 40-acre private island called Renaissance Island, where flamingos flock on aptly named Flamingo Beach. Plus Renaissance Aruba is offering a 24-hour cancellation policy for all reservations through Dec. 21, 2022, so guests can receive a full refund.
A standard room with two queen beds at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino in January starts at 25,000 World of Hyatt points or $494 per night, while a limited garden view room at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino currently costs 80,000 points or $600 per night.
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Featured photo by Federico Cabello/Getty Images.
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