Aruba, is a small Dutch Caribbean island located a few miles north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. Aruba is famous for it’s 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. Like most other Caribbean islands, Aruba is expensive. The good news is I have a few secrets to plan for an Aruba vacation on a budget.
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, by eating local food, staying in cheaper hotels, and cutting a few other expenses, you can save money while you visit paradise and have an Aruba vacation on a budget. Here are 14 tips to vacation in Aruba on a budget.
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 is the most expensive time to visit. My first Aruba travel tip is to visit Aruba after the summer season such as September or October.
Stay at a Budget Hotel
Even on 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 refrigerator, sink, mircowave, coffee maker, as well as dishes, cooking utensils and silverware. This brings me to my next tip!
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.
Bring your favorite snacks. I bring granola or nut bars and beef jerky to carry in my backpack on daily excursions. I like to bring dried fruit and nuts which can also double for breakfast. I also bring a box of cereal and almond milk (if you aren’t doing carry on). I simply buy the box of almond milk and place it in a large Ziploc bag. I also like to bring chocolate and other sweet treats.
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.
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.
Bring or Buy Booze
Bring a bottle of liquor or 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Rent a car
Instead of doing a group tour to see the island, 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 travel tip.
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.
Limit Taxi’s or Take a Bus
Taxi’s 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 Sunday’s.
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.
Bring Snorkel Gear
Snorkeling is one of the best things to do on an Aruba vacation. You can certainly hop aboard one of they many snorkel cruises, but if you bring your snorkel gear, you can head to any beach on the island and find brightly colored coral, angel fish, clown fish, 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.
Those were my top 14 Aruba travel trips for a budget trip to paradise. What are your favorite tips for saving money when you travel? Please share in the comments below.
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.
If you liked this article about an Aruba Vacation on a budget, you’ll love 52 Top Tips For Budget Travel.
Where To Stay In Aruba
During my trip to Aruba, I stayed at four hotels ranging from budget to luxury so I could write the Aruba Hotel Guide: Budget To Luxury. If you’re wondering where to stay in Aruba here’s my advice:
Dorado Eagle Beach Hotel – Run by a local family, the Dorado Eagle feels more like a motel than hotel. It has 10 rooms that are similar to a studio apartment. The room has a kitchenette with refrigerator, sink, mircowave, 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.
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 or Booking.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? What about other suggestions? 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.