Aruba Travel Tips
Aruba is part of the Netherlands Antilles. The white sandy beaches and clear waters filled with colorful fish make Aruba extremely beautiful while the pastel colored Dutch houses in Oranjestad are like being in Amsterdam on the beach. Like most other Caribbean islands, this island is very expensive. This is where grandma and honeymooners go relax so its no surprise prices are high. You will pay a premium for hotels, food and activities, but by eating local food and staying in guesthouses, there are ways to make your trip to paradise a bit more affordable.
- Accommodation: Accommodation is extremely expensive in Aruba. Hostels aren’t really an option here, but a night in a guesthouse will cost from $45 USD per night. A night in a budget hotel will cost $190 USD.
- Food: Lunch and casual meals cost less than $15 USD. Dinner in a moderately priced restaurant comes in around $20 – $30 USD with drinks.
- Transportation: The Arubus goes all around the island and a ticket will cost you $2 USD per ride. Taxis start at $5.50 USD.
- Activities: Jet skiing will cost you $40 USD for half an hour and parasailing will cost you $75 USD for 15 minutes. A two tank scuba dive will cost around $80 USD.
Money Saving Tips
- Eat local - Local specialties such as grouper, mahi mahi, and snapper are less expensive than other sea food options.
- Supermarkets - Buy food in the supermarkets and cook your own meals. Restaurants are expensive here as they cater mostly towards travelers with a large budget.
- Travel off season – September to November is the off season and accommodation and activities are markedly cheaper.
- Get free stuff – Many hotels offer free use of snorkeling equipment, free breakfasts, and excursions that can reduce costs.
Top Things to See and Do
- Snorkeling – Snorkeling is pretty much the number one thing to do on the island. The shores around the island are filled with brightly colored coral, angel fish, clown fish and even the occasional octopus. Many hotels offer their guests free use of snorkeling equipment.
- Scuba Diving – There are a few dive sites such as the Antilles wreck and sunken airplanes just off Renaissance Island. You’ll see a lot more coral and fish than you would just snorkeling. Expect to pay around 143 AWG for a two tank dive.
- Kayaking – For a relaxing way to explore Aruba’s coast, try kayaking. Many hotels offer their guests free use of kayaks. Otherwise, expect to pay around 36 AWG per hour for a rental. The coastline has a lot of little coves to explore.
- Sailing – Outside of snorkeling and diving, sailing is probably the most popular activity here. For the best experience, take a sunset cruise on board a catamaran.
- Get your bronze on – Chances are one of the main reasons you’ll be coming to the island is to lounge on one of its idyllic beaches. Try Palm Beach for a spot of parasailing or jetskiing and Eagle beach if you’d like to do a bit of bird watching as this place is home to a flock of green parakeets.
- Golf – Expensive holiday resorts and golfing go hand in hand. Expect to pay up to 250 AWG for a round at the island’s Championship course, Tierra Del Sol or just 18 AWG for a round at Aruba Golf Club.
- Oranjestad – Aruba’s capital city is styled in typical Dutch architecture with plenty of pastel colored buildings. The downtown area is good for shopping, with plenty of stalls and small boutiques, while the harbor is the place to buy fresh fish. There are a couple of museums in the city that highlight the history of the island.
- Jeep tours – One of the best ways to view the island is by taking a 4×4 tour. The tours will allow you to see parts of Aruba that lie off the beaten track, like the rugged north coast of the island. Renting a jeep is a better and cheaper way to do this though.
- The Collapsed Natural Bridge – Once extending over 100 feet across and 25 feet high, this bridge had been carved into the coral, naturally, by the sea, until it collapsed in 2005. A very popular tourist attraction, this is an awesome photographers hotspot. Despite the collapse of the main attraction, there are many smaller bridges surrounding it. Many of the island tours stop here.
- Peace Labyrinth – Sitting atop a bluff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea, is the Peace Layrinth; a place for ‘silent and respectful contemplation’.
- Rent a quad – A quad really lets you get off the beaten track and explore some of the smaller beaches and jungles on the island. While getting a guide is an option, you are also free to roam around the island on your own and with friends.
- Donkey Sanctuary – Once a major mode of transportation, donkeys now live primarily within the sanctuary. This is a fun place to spend the afternoon with your kids. Watch over 100 of them wander around, grab some munchies for yourself and the floppy eared creatures.
- Horseback ride – Another awesome way to tour the island is by horseback. There are various companies, many of which have very well-taken care of and very well trained horses. You will have the opportunity to travel through the hillside, as well as along the coast.
- Archaeological Museum – This museum exhibits a variety of stone, shell, and ceramic artifacts from the native population of the country. It is neat to look at this stuff because it gives you an idea of the customs here, as well as some deep rooted beliefs and old traditions.
- Numismatic Museum – This museum has a collection of more than 35,000 different pieces of currency, from over 400 countries. If you are interested in this kind of thing, than this is an excellent exhibit to hit.
- Hike Hooiberg – Also known as Haystack Mountain, this mountain is in the center of the country. Standing over 500 feet, this is the perfect place to look over the island and get panoramic pictures. On a clear day, you can see the coast of Venezuela.