Is Aruba expensive? Like most other Caribbean islands, Aruba is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The good news is I have a few secrets to help you plan an Aruba vacation on a budget. Save money while you visit paradise!
Aruba is a small Dutch Caribbean island located a few miles north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. Aruba is famous for its white-sand beaches, temperate climate and because it’s located just below the hurricane belt, the climate is dry, and they have very little rain.
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Read Reviews of the Best Hotels in Aruba on TripAdvisor
Aruba Vacation on a Budget
Aruba seems equally popular for couples and honeymooners as it does for families. You could pay a premium for hotels, food, and activities in Aruba. However, if you eat local food, stay in cheaper hotels, and cut a few other expenses, you can save money while you visit paradise and have an Aruba vacation on a budget.
16 tips to have a Great Vacation in Aruba on a Budget in 2022
Is Aruba expensive? It doesn’t have to be! When vacationing in popular destinations like Aruba or other Caribbean Islands, an important thing to understand is that it is possible to have a tropical vacation and not spend a fortune.
Below are my top tips to have an awesome vacation in Aruba on a budget. These are tips based on my trip to Aruba with my son for summer vacation. These are great budget travel tips and I guarantee them!
1. Travel in the off-season
While the weather in Aruba is fairly consistent year-round, they do have an off-season. As you can imagine summer and the winter holiday seasons are the most expensive time to visit. My first Aruba travel tip is to visit Aruba outside of the high season.
Avoid the higher prices of the high season, by visiting in September or October. These tend to be great months for budget travelers to vacation in Aruba and the best way to save money on everything from hotels to flights and tourist attractions.
2. Stay at a Budget Hotel
Look for budget lodging rather than inclusive resorts or luxury resorts.
Even in Aruba, you’ll find budget hotels. Dorado Eagle Beach Hotel, Sasaki Apartments, and the Coconut Inn all offer reasonable rates. Dorado Eagle Beach Hotel is located just a few blocks from Eagle Beach and just outside of the touristy Palm Beach areas.
When I visited Aruba we paid $88 per night for our room. The hotel offers 10 rooms and is more like a studio apartment than a hotel room. The room has a kitchenette with a refrigerator, sink, microwave, coffee maker, as well as dishes, cooking utensils, and silverware.
This brings me to my next tip!
3. Stay at a Hotel with a Kitchenette
Hotels like Dorado Eagle Beach Hotel or Tropicana Aruba Resort and Casino offer the convenience of a mini kitchen. Besides the cost of accommodations, food can be a major expense. I especially like to have breakfast in my hotel room. Just eating this one meal in the hotel room saves at least $10 per person each day.
Cook some (or all) meals at your hotel
You can save a lot of money if you don’t eat out for every meal. Or for that matter, having the convenience of a refrigerator also allows you to bring home leftovers for a meal or snack.
4. Pack Food in Your Luggage
Bring your favorite snacks in your luggage. I bring granola or nut bars and beef jerky to carry in my backpack on daily excursions. I also like to bring dried fruit and nuts which can also double for breakfast.
When I am vacationing on a budget, I’ll bring a box of cereal and almond milk (if you aren’t doing carry-on). I simply buy a box of almond milk and place it in a large Ziploc bag. I also like to bring chocolate and other sweet treats.
5. Shop at the Grocery Store
Now that you’ve secured a hotel with a kitchenette, it’s time to go shopping. If you happen to stay at the Tropicana Aruba resort, there is a Super Food grocery store within walking distance. Otherwise, it’s well worth a taxi to head to the store and stock up for your Aruba vacation. This store has everything you could want and quite a nice deli. Of course, the best time to do a grocery shop is early in the vacation, as it will save you the most money.
6. Eat at Local Restaurants
Instead of heading to fancy restaurants, do some research and find out where the locals eat. These local restaurants tend to be much cheaper than restaurants in the tourist zones or in hotels. As well as saving money, you’ll also have the chance to same true local cuisine.
7. Bring or Buy Booze
Bring a bottle of liquor or a few bottles of wine or beer in your suitcase (if you check your luggage). There are some great Portable Wine Bottle Protector Sleeves that are great for travel.
If you bring wine, don’t forget the wine opener. If you don’t bring the booze with you, you can find it at the Super Food grocery store. They have quite a good liquor store within the grocery store.
8. Bring Booze to the Beach
All the big hotels have bars and waiter service at the beach. If you fancy a drink or two while you are relaxing at one of Aruba’s beautiful white sand beaches and you want to save a lot of money, bring your own cocktails.
I saw people with coolers and picnics at many of the beautiful beaches. Do it like the locals and bring ice, a bottle of rum, and Coke. It seemed to be the drink of choice for many beachgoers.
9. Beach Towels
Most budget hotels do not provide towels for the pool or beach. Bring a beach towel, or if you are tight on space there are a few great brands like Lightload and GO! 100% Organic Bamboo towel, that can be used several times and then tossed. The towels are compressed, so they take minimal packing space and a great place to find them is on Amazon.
10. Happy Hour
Happy hour is a great way to save money on both food and drinks. Do a bit of research and find out who is offering the best happy hour deals during your visit.
11. Rent a car
Instead of doing a group tour to see the small island of Aruba, rent a car for a day. You can rent a car starting at $40 per day. Tours run about $100 per person. Simple math will tell you that you are saving a lot of money with this Aruba rental car travel tip.
12. Bring a Water bottle
Every hotel I visited during our trip to Aruba provided fresh, cold water in the lobby. In fact, most hotels offered cold water infused with herbs or fruit. You can fill your water bottle with fresh water daily at your hotel instead of buying bottled water.
13. Limit Taxi’s or Take a Bus
Taxies are a simple way to navigate the island, but it does add up. Much of the tourist areas are within close proximity, so fares are fairly reasonable. Be aware they charge an extra $3.00 per direction on Sundays.
Arubus N.V. is the major public transportation of Aruba. Arubus provides public transportation over major areas of the island. The main bus station is right across the street from the Cruise Terminal.
The lines that can take you from Oranjestad to the beach and hotel areas are: Line 10, Line 10A, and Line 10B. A single bus trip costs 2.50 florins with your Smartcard or $2.50 U.S. dollars.
14. Bring Snorkel Gear
Snorkeling is one of the best things to do on an Aruba vacation. You can certainly hop aboard one of the many snorkel cruises, but if you bring your snorkel gear, you can head to any beach on the island and find brightly colored coral, angelfish, clownfish, and even the occasional octopus.
Note: Some hotels offer their guests free use of snorkeling equipment. Check in advance of your Aruba vacation to see if your hotel offers this service.
15. Aruban Florin Vs. US Dollars
Aruba’s currency is the florin, but the US dollar is widely accepted. You can get dollars or florins at most ATM’s or banks on the island. Your best bet, is to use the Airport ATM when you arrive. You don’t save money by using Florin over dollars. Of course, make sure to keep an eye on any bank or ATM service charge.
16. Cheap Flights to Aruba
The cheapest way to visit Aruba is from Florida or the East Coast of the United States. I live in San Diego, so getting to most Caribbean islands is a haul. Unless I want to drive to Los Angeles, I usually have a layover when flying from the West Coast to the Caribbean.
As I said above, if you can incorporate a trip to Aruba during a visit to Florida you’ll find many direct flights. When I visited, we flew Jet Blue, with a layover in Fort Lauderdale.
Jet Blue is one of my favorite budget airlines. A great first step is to search for cheap flights by with Expedia.
Those were my top 16 Aruba travel trips for a budget trip to paradise.
If you liked this article about an Aruba Vacation on a budget, you’ll love 52 Top Tips For Budget Travel.
What are your favorite tips for saving money when you travel? Please share in the comments below.
Top Tours in Aruba
Where To Stay In Aruba
During my trip to Aruba, I stayed at four hotels ranging from budget to luxury so I could write an Aruba Hotel Guide. If you’re wondering where to stay in Aruba below are my suggestions. Also, remember your best bet for finding a good hotel rate, is to book in advance. Average price per room tends to go up when you book closer to the arrival date. much money
Dorado Eagle Beach Hotel – Run by a local family, the Dorado Eagle feels more like a motel than a hotel. It has 10 rooms that are similar to a studio apartment. The room has a kitchenette with a refrigerator, sink, microwave, coffee maker, as well as dishes, cooking utensils and silverware.
Major pluses were wifi in the room and it was only a two-block walk to Eagle Beach.
Cost: Rates will vary by season, but when I visited Aruba we paid $40 per night for our room. To check current rates, I suggest visiting Hotels.com.
Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino – Tropicana is more than a hotel but, not quite a resort. This a perfect if you are on a budget, but want a bit more than a basic hotel.
The rooms are huge, in fact, they are more like suites. A one-bedroom also includes a kitchen and separate living area. Besides the size of the rooms, the huge feature they offer is their waterslide. It is the best on the island.
To check current hotel rates for the Tropicana Aruba Resort, I suggest visiting Hotels.com.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino – The 357-room property is located in Palm Beach and directly on the sand. The grounds are stunning with rivers, tiny waterfalls, geese swimming in a freshwater lagoon, parrots in ornate cages around the property.
Not to mention several pools including a three-tier pool with waterfall, whirlpools tucked away in little alcoves and a great waterslide.
To check current hotel rates for the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, I suggest visiting Hotels.com
Arrange your travel insurance
Read More About Aruba
52 Reasons to Visit Aruba
20 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Aruba
Aruba Hotel Guide: Budget to Luxury
Have any questions about Aruba? Want to know more about cheap holidays to Aruba? Leave me a message in the comments below!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.