Shopping in Aruba

Aruba Shopping

Duty-free is a magical term in the Caribbean—but it's not always accurate. The duty-free shopping zone in Aruba closed several years ago, so the only true duty-free shopping is in the departure area of the airport. (Passengers bound for the United States should be sure to shop before proceeding through U.S. customs in Aruba.) Downtown stores often advertise "duty-free prices," with markdowns

of up to 25%, but that doesn't mean comparison shopping should go out the window. Major credit cards are welcome virtually everywhere, U.S. dollars are accepted almost as readily as the local currency, and traveler's checks can be cashed with proof of identity.

Aruba's souvenir and crafts stores are full of Dutch porcelains and figurines, as befits the island's heritage. Dutch cheese is a good buy, as are hand-embroidered linens and any products made from the native aloe vera plant—sunburn cream, face masks, or skin refreshers. Local arts and crafts run toward wood carvings and earthenware emblazoned with "Aruba: One Happy Island" and the like. Since there's no sales tax, the price you see on the tag is usually what you pay. (Large stores in town and at hotels include the value-added tax of 3%, but tiny shops and studios may add it separately.) Don't try to bargain. Arubans consider it rude to haggle, despite what you may hear to the contrary.

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