Aruba is known as "One Happy Island" for a reason. The Caribbean nation is widely celebrated for its white-sand beaches, sparkling blue waters, and trade winds that make for consistently warm and breezy weather. But packing the wrong items or forgetting to bring something essential can easily make any visitor feel less than happy. Avoid all of that and check out our Aruba packing list, so you can feel as sunny as the island.
With additional reporting from Katherine Alex Beaven
It’s completely safe — and even encouraged — to drink the tap water in Aruba. The island’s H2O comes from a saltwater desalination plant and meets the World Health Organization’s highest standards for drinking water. That being said, we recommend packing a high-quality water bottle and filling it up as needed. S’well water bottles are a solid choice, since they feature triple-walled construction that’s designed to keep beverages cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. They’re made from BPA-free stainless steel and have a one-year money-back guarantee. Plus, you can choose from over 20 colors and patterns to personalize your bottle.
Aruba is only 70 square miles, and almost every square inch is gorgeous. Whether you’re sailing on the bright blue water, walking on the white-sand beaches, or exploring the rockier northern shores, the backdrop is going to inspire plenty of vacation photos. Be prepared for all those breathtaking photo ops with a bold new swimsuit (or two). We especially love this vibrant off-the-shoulder one-piece from Summersalt. It can be paired with shorts for breakfast or worn on its own in or by the water. Get your selfie angles ready!
Aruba consistently receives the least amount of rainfall in the southern Caribbean. And it’s located outside of the hurricane belt, so rainy days are few and far between. That said, the sun can be relentless and a hat is a definite requirement. Eric Javits makes a packable knit fedora that’s equal parts practical and fashionable. Plus, since it’s made of soft and resilient fabric, you can toss it in a suitcase without crushing it.
As mentioned, the sun is intense in Aruba, so SPF 15 just won’t cut it. Instead, go for Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen. In addition to having an SPF of 40, its formula is completely invisible, scentless, and weightless. Users rave that the jelly-like consistency is easy to apply and instantly absorbs into skin. You might actually want to reapply sunscreen.
If you plan on embarking on any underwater adventures, consider packing your own snorkel gear. This OMORC set features a leakproof and anti-fog mask that’s far more dependable than the leaky and uncomfortable versions usually provided at resorts and on dive boats. Plus, not having to put a communal snorkel in your mouth is a huge upgrade.
The eco-friendly Evolve towel is made from approximately 20 recycled plastic water bottles. The anti-microbial material is completely sand-repellent and odor-free, even when damp, so you can pack it back in your suitcase without bringing the beach (and a musty smell) home with you. We love the four tropical prints, and that the towel folds up small for easy portability to and from the sand.
Aruba’s weather stays pleasant year-round, with temperatures mostly in the 80s. And although there are some very nice restaurants and bars on the island, you won’t need to wear anything formal. Enter: the maxi dress. It’s fashionable and lightweight, while providing a bit of comfy coverage after a full day in a bathing suit. This one comes in super fun colors. You can even pair it with a cardigan or denim jacket if it gets breezy on the beach.
Sure, you could put your smartphone in a waterproof bag to take photos, but for peace of mind and better quality pictures, consider buying an underwater camera. This waterproof camera is pocket-sized, lightweight, and has dual screens for underwater selfies (good thing you packed a new swimsuit, right?). Plus, the camera floats.
Skin isn’t the only thing that can burn if it’s not protected from the sun. Be sure to pack a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection to keep from damaging your peepers. These Aviator-style glasses have polycarbonate lenses with 100 percent UV protection and sleek, thin-lined metal frames that are perfect for flaunting on the beach or just walking around town.
Aruba’s arid climate and breezy trade winds can kick up dust, especially if you’re exploring the island’s stunning Arikok National Park. Tourists in ATVs and jeep tours often leave a cloud of dust in their wake, so we recommend packing a light scarf to help keep your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose free of all the small particles. You can also drape this accessory around your shoulders as extra sun protection, if you’re in a pinch. We love this scarf because it’s made from at least 20 percent recycled plastic that has been turned into polyester fibers.
We are strong believers of protecting the habitats that we enjoy visiting and this includes slathering on biodegradable sunscreen whenever we go snorkeling or take a dip in natural waters. Again, the sun here is strong, so we recommend packing a reef-safe sunscreen that also has a high SPF level and offers protection against UVA and UVB rays. This sunscreen is marketed for babies, but it’s also great for anyone with sensitive skin. It’s also vegan and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
There are plenty of water-centric adventures in Aruba, from snorkeling to scuba diving. If you think you’ll be heading out for an aqua-based activity, it’s a good idea to pack a waterproof dry bag. This one packs down flat, taking up nearly no room in your suitcase. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your wallet, phone, money, and other important items dry while in the water. No matter which size you choose, it’ll come with a see-through waterproof cell phone case — perfect for snapping underwater pics. Bags can be used over and over.
The versatility of a sarong should never be overlooked, especially in destinations where the weather is hot and the beaches are plentiful. This stylish Tina Turk sarong has several different configurations that will instantly give you convenient outfit options. Wrap it around your waist when you go from beach chair to beach bar, twist it into a dress for dinner, or throw it over your shoulders when the temperature lowers and the breeze picks up at night. It’s also easy to clean on the road — just handwash and hang it out to dry.
Aruba is known for its smooth waters, but that doesn’t mean the waves don’t have rough days. If you’re unlucky enough to book that snorkeling trip or catamaran cruise on a choppy day, you’re going to wish you had packed a pair of motion sickness bands to help you get through the ups and downs. These bands use pressure point therapy to help relieve nausea, including seasickness and — ahem — hangovers. Unlike motion sickness pills, sea-bands don’t expire, won’t make you drowsy, and don’t interfere with medications.
If you’re planning on joining a tour — particularly one where you’ll be in a jeep or ATV — pack a travel pillow. The rocky roads can be extremely bumpy and these large vehicles are not known for their superb shock systems. This inflatable travel pillow will pack down to nearly nothing, but it can be blown up to give your tush a little extra cushion or help support your lower back. It’ll also come in handy at the beach or on the basic bench seating of a catamaran.
Located in Oranjestad’s bustling cruise port, the upscale Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is packed with features not many Aruba hotels can match. Highlights include two casinos, eight bars and restaurants, two pools, and a luxury mall. The hotel is actually a massive resort complex with two distinct properties inside: the adults-only Renaissance Marina and the family-friendly Ocean Suites.
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