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How to Explore Aruba on a Budget

Discover the beauty of Aruba without breaking the bank!

This guide offers tips and tricks for budget-friendly travel, including affordable accommodations, dining options, and exciting activities.

Get ready to explore Aruba on a budget and create unforgettable memories.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit

Choosing the right time to visit Aruba can make a big difference in your travel expenses.

  • Off-Peak Seasons: Traveling during the off-peak seasons, typically from mid-April to mid-December, can help you save significantly on flights and accommodations. The weather is still warm, and you’ll avoid the heavy tourist crowds.
  • Weather Considerations: Aruba boasts a year-round tropical climate, but the dry season (January to March) tends to be more expensive. The off-peak period, although slightly wetter, still offers plenty of sunshine and fewer tourists.

Booking Flights

Finding affordable flights is crucial for budget travel.

  • Flexible Dates: Use flight comparison websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights to find the cheapest dates to fly. Being flexible with your travel dates can yield significant savings.
  • Budget Airlines: Look for budget airlines that operate routes to Aruba. Airlines like JetBlue and Southwest often have competitive prices.
  • Deals and Alerts: Sign up for fare alerts and newsletters from travel websites. Websites like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Airfarewatchdog can help you spot deals.

Accommodation Options

Aruba offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget.

  • Budget-Friendly Hotels: Opt for budget hotels that offer basic amenities and are centrally located. Some recommended budget hotels include:
    • Talk of the Town Hotel & Beach Club
    • Perle d’Or Aruba
  • Hostels and Guesthouses: For solo travelers or those looking to meet new people, hostels and guesthouses are great options. Try:
    • Pista Q
    • Hostel Room Aruba
  • Airbnb and Vacation Rentals: Renting a private room or an entire apartment through Airbnb can be a cost-effective choice, especially for groups or longer stays. Look for places with kitchen facilities to save on dining out.

Budget Accommodations:

  • Talk of the Town Hotel & Beach Club: A charming, affordable hotel close to the beach.
  • Perle d’Or Aruba: Offers budget-friendly rooms and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Hostel Room Aruba: A social and affordable option for solo travelers.
  • Airbnb: Search for entire apartments or private rooms with kitchen facilities.

Exploring Aruba on a budget is all about smart planning and making informed choices. With the right strategies, you can enjoy a memorable and affordable trip to this Caribbean paradise.

budget Aruba travel

Getting Around

Public Transportation

Aruba’s public transportation system is reliable and cost-effective, making it easy to explore the island without spending a fortune.

  • Bus Routes and Schedules: The main bus service, Arubus, operates routes across the island, including popular tourist areas like Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, and Oranjestad. Buses run frequently, especially during peak hours.
  • Cost and Convenience: A single bus fare costs around $2.60, and day passes are available for about $10, offering unlimited travel. Buses are a convenient way to get around, with stops at major attractions and beaches.

Renting a Bike or Scooter

For a more flexible and eco-friendly way to explore Aruba, consider renting a bike or scooter.

  • Rental Options and Prices: Bike rentals typically cost around $10-$20 per day, while scooters range from $30-$50 per day. Look for rental shops near major hotels and tourist areas.
  • Best Places to Rent: Some recommended rental shops include:
    • Aruba Active Vacations: Offers a variety of bikes and scooters.
    • Wheels 2 Go Aruba: Known for their well-maintained scooters and friendly service.

Walking and Hiking

Aruba’s compact size makes it perfect for exploring on foot.

  • Exploring on Foot: Many attractions and beaches are within walking distance of each other, especially in areas like Palm Beach and Eagle Beach. Walking is a great way to soak in the local atmosphere and discover hidden gems.
  • Recommended Walking Routes: Try the Oranjestad walking tour, which takes you through the capital’s historic sites, colorful buildings, and local markets. Another option is the Palm Beach Boardwalk, offering scenic views and easy access to beachside cafes and shops.

Walking and Hiking Routes:

  • Oranjestad Walking Tour: Explore historical sites, colorful buildings, and local markets.
  • Palm Beach Boardwalk: Enjoy scenic views and easy access to cafes and shops.
  • Arikok National Park Trails: Discover Aruba’s natural beauty with trails suitable for all levels.

Getting around Aruba on a budget is easy with a variety of transportation options that are both affordable and convenient. Whether you choose to take the bus, rent a bike, or simply walk, you’ll find that exploring the island can be both economical and enjoyable.

Affordable Dining

Local Eateries and Food Trucks

Eating out in Aruba doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of local eateries and food trucks offering delicious and affordable meals.

  • Popular Local Spots:
    • Zeerover: A popular spot for fresh seafood, where you can enjoy a meal with a view of the ocean. Try their fried fish and shrimp baskets.
    • El Mexicano Taco Truck: Offers a variety of tasty tacos at reasonable prices. Perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.
  • Budget-Friendly Meals: Look for daily specials and combo deals at local eateries. Many places offer hearty portions that are perfect for sharing.

Grocery Stores and Markets

For those looking to save even more, shopping for groceries and preparing your own meals can be a great option.

  • Shopping for Groceries:
    • Superfood Plaza: A large supermarket offering a wide range of groceries, including fresh produce, dairy, and baked goods.
    • Ling & Sons: Another popular supermarket with a good selection of local and international products.
  • Local Markets: Visit local markets like the Oranjestad Fresh Market for fresh fruits, vegetables, and local delicacies at lower prices.
  • Cooking Your Own Meals: Many budget accommodations, such as Airbnb rentals, come with kitchen facilities. Preparing your own meals can significantly cut down on dining costs.

Happy Hours and Specials

Take advantage of happy hours and daily specials to enjoy dining out without overspending.

  • Bars and Restaurants with Happy Hour Deals:
    • Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant: Known for its sunset happy hours with discounted drinks and appetizers.
    • Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill: Offers happy hour specials on drinks and snacks with live music and a lively atmosphere.
  • Daily Specials and Discounts: Many restaurants offer daily specials and discount nights. Check local listings and flyers for the best deals.

Budget Dining Options:

  • Zeerover: Fresh seafood with an ocean view.
  • El Mexicano Taco Truck: Tasty and affordable tacos.
  • Superfood Plaza: Wide range of groceries for self-catering.
  • Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant: Sunset happy hour with discounted drinks.
  • Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill: Happy hour specials with live music.

Enjoying Aruba’s culinary delights doesn’t have to break the bank. With a mix of local eateries, grocery shopping, and smart dining strategies, you can savor the flavors of the island while sticking to your budget.

budget Aruba travel

Free and Low-Cost Activities


Aruba’s beaches are its crown jewels and fortunately, many of them are free to access.

  • Best Free Beaches to Visit:
    • Eagle Beach: Renowned for its soft white sand and crystal-clear waters. Ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports.
    • Palm Beach: A bustling beach with plenty of space to relax and people-watch. The calm waters are perfect for swimming.
    • Baby Beach: Located in the southeastern part of the island, this beach is great for snorkeling and shallow water swimming.
  • Beach Activities and Amenities: Most beaches offer free amenities like public restrooms, picnic areas, and palapas (thatched-roof huts). Bring your own snorkeling gear, beach towels, and snacks to save on rentals and food.

Natural Attractions

Aruba’s natural beauty extends beyond its beaches, offering plenty of low-cost attractions.

  • Arikok National Park:
    • Entrance Fee: The park charges a nominal entrance fee, but it’s worth it for the extensive trails, unique flora and fauna, and stunning landscapes.
    • Highlights: Visit the Fontein Cave to see ancient Arawak Indian drawings, hike to the highest point at Jamanota Hill for panoramic views, and explore the Natural Pool (Conchi), a hidden gem surrounded by volcanic rock formations.
  • Natural Pools and Rock Formations: Apart from the Natural Pool in Arikok National Park, explore other natural attractions like the Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations, which are free to visit and great for a day of hiking and exploration.

Historical and Cultural Sites

Immerse yourself in Aruba’s rich history and culture without spending much.

  • Museums and Monuments:
    • Aruba Aloe Factory Museum and Store: Learn about Aruba’s aloe cultivation and its significance to the island’s economy. The tour is free and includes product samples.
    • Fort Zoutman Historical Museum: Visit Aruba’s oldest building and learn about the island’s colonial history. The entry fee is minimal.
  • Local Festivals and Events: Time your visit with local festivals like Carnival, Dera Gai (St. John’s Day), or the Bon Bini Festival, which showcase Aruba’s vibrant culture through music, dance, and food. Many of these events are free or low-cost.

Free and Low-Cost Activities:

  • Eagle Beach: Soft white sand and clear waters.
  • Arikok National Park: Trails, caves, and the Natural Pool.
  • Ayo Rock Formations: Great for hiking and exploration.
  • Aruba Aloe Factory Museum and Store: Free tour and samples.
  • Local Festivals: Experience Aruba’s vibrant culture.

Exploring Aruba’s natural attractions and cultural sites can be both affordable and enriching. With so many free and low-cost activities available, you can enjoy the island’s beauty and heritage without straining your budget.

budget Aruba travel

Budget-Friendly Tours and Excursions

Snorkeling and Diving

Aruba is known for its incredible underwater life, and you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy it.

  • Affordable Tour Operators:
    • Jolly Pirates: Offers reasonably priced snorkeling and sailing tours. Their half-day tours include multiple snorkeling stops and a fun pirate ship experience.
    • Red Sail Sports: Known for their budget-friendly snorkeling trips to famous spots like the Antilla shipwreck and Catalina Bay.
  • Best Spots for Snorkeling on a Budget:
    • Mangel Halto: A shallow reef with abundant marine life, perfect for snorkeling right off the shore.
    • Boca Catalina: A popular beach with clear waters and vibrant coral formations.

Boat Tours and Cruises

Enjoying a boat tour or cruise around Aruba can be an affordable and memorable experience.

  • Low-Cost Boat Tours:
    • Tranquilo Sailboat Tours: Offers reasonably priced half-day and full-day sailing tours, including snorkeling and lunch.
    • Aruba Kayak Adventure: For a unique experience, try a guided kayak tour along the coast, which is both affordable and adventurous.
  • Sunset Cruises and Island Hopping:
    • Pelican Adventures: Offers budget-friendly sunset cruises that include drinks and snacks, providing a beautiful view of the Aruban coastline.
    • Octopus Aruba: Known for their affordable catamaran cruises with snorkeling stops and refreshments.

Adventure Activities

For those seeking a bit more adventure, Aruba offers a variety of budget-friendly activities.

  • Hiking and Nature Tours:
    • Arikok National Park Guided Tours: Join a guided tour of Arikok National Park to explore its trails, caves, and natural pools. These tours are reasonably priced and offer deeper insights into the park’s natural beauty.
    • Hooiberg (Haystack Hill): Climb the 500+ steps to the top of Hooiberg for panoramic views of the island. This activity is free and offers a great workout.
  • Budget-Friendly Water Sports:
    • Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP): Rentals and guided tours are available at reasonable rates from places like Aruba SUP.
    • Windsurfing and Kitesurfing: Aruba is famous for these activities, and budget-friendly lessons and rentals are available from companies like Aruba Active Vacations.

Budget-Friendly Tours and Excursions:

  • Jolly Pirates: Affordable snorkeling and sailing tours.
  • Mangel Halto: Free snorkeling spot with abundant marine life.
  • Tranquilo Sailboat Tours: Reasonably priced sailing and snorkeling tours.
  • Arikok National Park Guided Tours: Inexpensive nature tours.
  • Hooiberg: Free climb with panoramic views.

Aruba offers a wealth of affordable tours and excursions, allowing you to explore its stunning underwater world, scenic coastlines, and adventurous activities without overspending. Whether you’re snorkeling, sailing, or hiking, there’s an exciting and budget-friendly option for every traveler.

budget Aruba travel

Money-Saving Tips

Currency and Payment Methods

Managing your money wisely can help you stay within your budget while exploring Aruba.

  • Using Local Currency vs. USD: Aruba’s official currency is the Aruban Florin (AWG), but U.S. dollars are widely accepted. However, you might get better exchange rates and avoid conversion fees by using the local currency for smaller purchases.
  • Credit Card vs. Cash Usage: Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for small vendors, local markets, and tips. Avoid using ATMs that charge high withdrawal fees.

Bargaining and Deals

Knowing how to find deals and bargain effectively can save you a lot of money.

  • How to Negotiate Prices: Bargaining is common in local markets and with street vendors. Always be polite and start by offering a lower price than what you’re willing to pay. Be ready to walk away if the price doesn’t fit your budget.
  • Finding the Best Deals and Discounts: Look for coupons and discount booklets available at the airport, hotels, and tourist information centers. Websites like Groupon Aruba and often have deals on dining, activities, and tours.

Packing Essentials

Packing smart can help you avoid unnecessary expenses during your trip.

  • What to Bring to Save Money:
    • Reusable Water Bottle: Tap water in Aruba is safe to drink, so bring a reusable bottle to avoid buying bottled water.
    • Snorkeling Gear: If you plan to snorkel frequently, bringing your own gear can save rental costs.
    • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are more expensive on the island, so pack enough for your entire trip.
    • Snacks: Bringing snacks from home can save money, especially for day trips and beach outings.
  • Packing Light and Smart: Pack versatile clothing that can be layered and used for multiple occasions. Limit the number of shoes and bulky items to avoid extra baggage fees.

Money-Saving Tips:

  • Using Local Currency: Opt for local currency to avoid conversion fees.
  • Bargaining: Negotiate prices at local markets.
  • Packing Smart: Bring reusable water bottles, snorkeling gear, and sun protection.

By being mindful of your spending and packing smart, you can make the most of your budget while enjoying everything Aruba has to offer. Implementing these money-saving tips will help ensure you have a fantastic trip without overspending.

Safety and Travel Tips

Staying Safe on a Budget

Ensuring your safety while traveling on a budget is essential for a stress-free trip.

  • Safety Tips for Budget Travelers:
    • Stay in Safe Areas: Choose accommodations in well-reviewed, safe neighborhoods, even if they cost a bit more. Safety should never be compromised for a lower price.
    • Avoid Flashing Valuables: Keep your valuables out of sight to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Use a money belt or hidden pouch for important items.
    • Travel Insurance: Invest in a basic travel insurance plan that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and theft. It’s a small cost for peace of mind.
  • Health and Travel Insurance Considerations:
    • Health Insurance: Check if your health insurance covers international travel. If not, purchase a short-term health insurance plan.
    • Travel Insurance: Look for budget-friendly travel insurance plans that cover the essentials, such as medical emergencies and theft.

Local Etiquette and Customs

Respecting local customs and etiquette can enhance your travel experience and help you avoid misunderstandings.

  • Respecting Local Culture:
    • Dress Modestly: While Aruba is generally laid-back, it’s respectful to dress modestly when visiting religious sites or local neighborhoods.
    • Greeting Locals: A friendly greeting in Papiamento (the local language) like “Bon dia” (Good morning) can go a long way in showing respect.
  • Avoiding Tourist Traps:
    • Do Your Research: Before booking tours or dining out, research and read reviews to ensure you’re getting value for your money.
    • Ask Locals: Locals can offer great advice on authentic experiences and places that are not overpriced tourist traps.

Safety and Travel Tips:

  • Stay in Safe Areas: Choose well-reviewed accommodations.
  • Avoid Flashing Valuables: Keep important items hidden.
  • Respect Local Culture: Dress modestly and greet locals politely.

Additional Travel Tips

Maximize your Aruba experience with these practical travel tips.

  • Stay Hydrated: Aruba’s climate is warm, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
  • Plan Ahead: Create a loose itinerary to make the most of your time while allowing for spontaneity. Book popular activities in advance to secure the best prices.
  • Public Restrooms: Public restrooms can be scarce, especially on beaches and in natural parks. Plan accordingly and use restrooms when available.

By following these safety and travel tips, you can enjoy a secure and enriching experience in Aruba while staying within your budget. Prioritizing safety, respecting local customs, and planning ahead will contribute to a memorable and hassle-free trip.

Aruba on a budget pin
Aruba on a budget pin