The small southern Caribbean island of Aruba may not have been in your travel plans this year, but perhaps it should be. While Aruba did have an uptick in COVID-19 infections during the fall, it has managed to get a handle on them and has seen a decrease in cases. In order to keep its residents and visitors healthy, Aruba has several safety measures in place. They are straightforward and will help you travel to the island with more confidence. Here is everything you need to know about planning a trip to Aruba right now.

Who can travel to Aruba

As of November 1, Aruba will no longer ask residents of US hotspots to comply with different coronavirus regulations. Residents of all US states will need to adhere to the same rules and guidelines, noted below. Travelers from Central and South America (except Venezuela) will be able to travel to Aruba as of December 1 while residents of Canada and European and Asian countries have been welcome for some time.

Filling out an online ED card

Anyone hoping to travel to Aruba will need to fill out the online ED card, or Embarkation/Disembarkation Card. Similar to travel to Hawaii, this form is a good way for the government to keep track of the health of visitors but also to be able to reach them if necessary — for example, in the event of contact tracing.

This ED card will ask you to fill in your personal information and provide a personal health assessment. To complete the ED form, you must also buy compulsory Aruba Visitors Health Insurance for a flat-fee premium that is quite reasonable. Check the insurance website as the premiums can change, but they’re currently $10 for children up to age 14 and $30 for anyone 15 and over. The fee is charged for every new entry to Aruba, provided the insured is staying fewer than 180 days.

The most important part of the ED card is a negative COVID-19 test, which must be completed within 72 hours of travel to Aruba by all visitors aged 15 and up but at least four hours before departure. The government is quite specific about which tests will be accepted, and rapid tests will not be accepted; please check the COVID-19 testing requirements page. You will also have to consent to follow all the mandates of the government of Aruba with respect to controlling the coronavirus.

While you should begin filling out the ED form right away, completion will require the negative coronavirus test and purchase of the Aruba Visitor Health Insurance, which must occur in that time window of 72 hours prior to travel. Once you have filled out the ED card, you will receive an email with a link to your card/pdf with the designation “Qualified to Board.”

Arrival in Aruba

Travelers who do not have documentation showing a recent negative COVID-19 test will receive a PCR COVID-19 test at the airport and be asked to quarantine at their accommodation until they receive a negative test result.

After my arrival at Oranjestad Airport, and after I was through customs, my temperature was taken, I presented my test results, and I was free to go. The whole process was seamless and a hint of what I could expect during my time on the island.

The government recommends downloading the Aruba Health App, so you can keep up on the latest regulations with respect to fighting the pandemic. Should you require a COVID-19 test while in Aruba, you can also get faster results if you have the app.

What to expect while in Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Photo: Steve Photography/Shutterstock

On the ground in Aruba, you’ll have practical regulations to keep both residents and visitors healthy. Beyond wearing a mask on the plane on the way to Aruba, you’ll be asked to wear one at the airport and en route to your accommodation, until you have arrived in your room. You should also wear a mask at all indoor public spaces, like markets, shops, and museums.

At the Divi Aruba All Inclusive where I stayed, the many procedures in place made me feel like my health was a priority. With such a consistent approach to keeping people safe, I felt more at ease in Aruba than I had in the US in months. Before entering the resort, as well as restaurants I visited outside the resort, there were temperature checks and hand sanitizer stations available at every entryway. All staff members wore masks at all times and, while it was not compulsory during my stay a few weeks ago that guests wear masks, some guests wore masks around the resort as well.

When I was being shown my room, the gentlemen that brought my luggage wiped the handle of my door with an antibacterial wipe before opening it. There was even a seal placed on the door of my room for quality assurance that it had been cleaned and sanitized before my arrival.

I spent a little bit of time outside the resort to visit a couple of small shops and grab a coffee. Masks were required in both the stores and the coffee shops, though only the coffee shop checked my temperature.

Some things to do in Aruba

Beach, Oranjestad, Aruba

Photo: Birdiegal/Shutterstock

An activity that I highly recommend is an electric bike and snorkel tour. This was my first time on an electric bike, but it was the highlight of my trip. We rode about 12 miles one-way on our way to the California Lighthouse. About three-quarters of the way there, we stopped for a short swim and snorkel in the ocean. It was a very cool experience, and if you have the time and skillset to ride a bike, it is a must-do.

A mural tour with Tito Bolivar of Aruba Art Fair showed me how talented and special the artists are in San Nicolas, Aruba, an area of the island that was the site of a former oil refinery and is now the art capital of the country. As expected, masks were worn during both activities — except for in the ocean, of course.

Some other things that you could enjoy on your next trip to Aruba include the butterfly farm, windsurfing, any of the hotel’s water amenities such as kayaks, or any of the several playgrounds around the island if you’re traveling with small children. And if all else fails, the beach is always a good idea.