Is It Safe To Vacation In Aruba?
Nestled in the Lesser Antilles, smack dab in the middle of the Southern Caribbean Sea, only 772 km off the coast of Venezuela is the closest thing to an island paradise that you can find. I'm of course talking about Aruba. It is a small desert island with a lot of things for tourists to do. However, before you pack up your bags and head out on this next island adventure. Let's ask ourselves...how safe is Aruba?
Well the good news is that from both personal experience, official reporting and tourist accounts; we can confidently say that Aruba is a very safe vacation spot, especially for tourists. However, there are are some petty crimes and criminal activities (i.e. petty theft), that should keep every traveler guard. The following article will collate a variety to sources (both official and unofficial) to better answer the question "Is Aruba Safe," in detail. So just sit back, relax and let the lecture begin.
Crime Statistics and Hazards:
The General Safety Situation:
As stated before, Aruba is generally considered a very safe destination for vacationers from all countries and backgrounds. Locals and tourists alike generally feel safe to travel around most areas of the country without fear of bodily harm or violent threat. And while there is the threat of petty theft, especially around Aruba's larger communities; it is important to remember that the problem is not rampant nor endemic to the whole island. Like most places, most petty theft is committed by those on the fringes of society who are looking for an easy buck. Now for those wondering is Aruba safe in terms of the murder/ homicide rate, lets look up some quick facts
While it is not a perfect proxy for the amount of crime on the island; the murder rate of Aruba from 1992 to 2006 is shown in Figure 1 above. Given that the population on the entire island is around 115,000; the murder rate on Aruba is low, averaging 3.84 homicides per 100,000 people. This beats out the United States (@ 4.96 homicides), and puts Aruba on par with many other Western and European nations.
What Government Organizations Say:
As of May 2018, the United States State Department currently has a travel advisory level of 1 for the island of Aruba. This is the lowest advisory level for any country/territory on the State Department's list. In fact, the only precautionary advice for travel to Aruba list on the State Departments site is the following:
- Exercise normal safety precautions in Aruba [See Ref. 1].
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently considers the great majority of visits to Aruba as "trouble free." And while the FCO acknowledges that there is petty theft and potential violent crime related to the drug trade; these activities "rarely affect tourists." Additionally, the "main tourist areas a generally safe." [See Ref. 2]
Places of Concern:
While crime on Aruba is relatively low, obtaining crime statistics about Aruba is actually not an easy process. The reason for this is chiefly due to the fact that close to 70% of Aruba's GDP comes in some form or another from tourism. Therefore, authorities work hard to limit the amount of negative press that the island receives.
However, since the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway the Aruban government has worked hard to be more transparent about crime and criminal activity on the island. For example, Aruba's Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) publishes an occasional press release detailing the ongoing efforts of Aruba's safety officials to collect and analyze crime stats. One of the most important insights of the 2014 Future of Crime Statistics report shows which areas of Aruba may suffer from the most crime.
Figure 2. above shows the results of vicitimization surveys and census data collected on the island. These numbers show the 5 zones in Aruba that report experiencing the highest amount of household crime. Also, definitions are important here. "Experiencing crime" according to the report, includes inconveniences that arise from criminal activity not related to one personal activity.
Lastly, I could not get a hold of more recent activity due to the nature of Aruban bureaucracy mentioned before. But I still hope the aforementioned information helps.
The Zika Risk:
Zika is a form of flavivirus that is spread by mosquitoes. For the great majority of individuals, Zika does not pose a serious threat (Most people won't even develop symptoms from the infection). However, Zika has been identified as a cause of microcephaly in developing fetuses. It has also been implicated in the development of Guillain-Bare, an auto-immune disease. Therefore during 2015/2016, when Zika's rapid spread was detected in the Americas, pregnant women in both North American and South American countries were told to avoid certain areas and to exercise extreme caution in others. So what about Aruba. Is aruba safe from Zika?
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) identifies Zika as a risk for pregnant women. Thus in accordance with their policies, they have moved Aruba's Alert Level to 2 (the second highest alert level for Zika). Alert level 2 essentially advises would be travelers that they should "practice enhanced precautions" in regards to Zika when visiting the island. The alert notice goes on to say the following:
"Zika virus (or Zika) has been reported in Aruba. Public health officials have reported that mosquitoes in Aruba are infected with Zika and spreading spreading it to people......Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, travelers should take steps to prevent getting Zika during travel. They should also take steps to prevent spreading it when they return home."
Safe Travel Tips:
Now that we've covered most if not all the potential hazards of a trip to Aruba, let's go over some basic safety tips. With these safety tips on your travel check list, maybe you can worry a little less about "Is Aruba Safe?":
- Tip 1: Do not your bags and backpacks unattended. And do not agree to carry bags for anyone else.
- Tip 2: Just avoid poorly lit and remote areas at night. This really applies to any place you are unfamiliar with.
- Tip 3: Do not take your valuable items with you to public places like the beach. As mentioned before, petty theft can be an issue. Also, do not leave valuables inside your car.
- Tip 4: By Dutch, and therefore Aruban law; you should always carry an ID on you. Therefore, it is wise to have your passport with you at all times.
Are You Planning To Vacation In Aruba Anytime Soon?
The Good News:
Now, instead of worrying about is Aruba safe, let's concentrate on all the benefits this island paradise has to offer. And trust me, there are plenty.
First of all, Aruba is a small and easily navigable island. In fact, there is one road (Route 1) that can take you from one end of the island to the other end in no time at all. In most cases, a simply road map is all you need to get to where you need to go.
Gambling in Aruba is not only legal, it is very popular. Pretty much every single resort on the island has its own in-house casino where you can play classic games such as black jack and baccara. There is even a casino that is in operation 24/7 called Stellaris.
Impeccable Water Quality:
Among other things, Aruba is known for its clean drinking water. Unlike some vacation spots where water treatment is lacking or simply not invested in, Aruba has been deeply invested in water desalination since 1932. This means you really never have to worry about buying bottled water or bringing it with you on long treks.
It Lies Outside of The Hurricane Zone:
Unlike other Caribbean destinations that have the threat of hurricanes every year, Aruba largely lies outside of the Hurricane zone / corridor that affects Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, etc.
1.) U.S. State Department - Country Information - Aruba:
2.) UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office - Foreign Travel Advice - Aruba: