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  • Writer's pictureabbey & elliot

Aruba: Making an Island Paradise Affordable


Eagle beach sunset views

Year-round sunshine, blue spotted lizards, and a whole coastline of beaches – Aruba is an ideal choice for your laid-back island vacation. However, while flights typically run cheap, all the necessities you need to survive once on-island can easily run up an enormous tab.


But fear not! During our 10 days in Aruba we discovered plenty of ways to make visiting this island paradise affordable on a backpacker’s budget.


Getting to Aruba


As a major tourist destination, especially for those based in the US, many major airlines offer direct flights to Aruba. If you plan in advance and choose the right dates, these can run as low as $300 roundtrip, especially from April-August when there’s a slight break in the tourist season.


Aruba was our last stop on a six-week trip, so we happened to be flying from South America. If you find yourself conveniently in the same predicament, your ticket could be as low as $150.


Prior to take-off, make sure you have your yellow fever documentation on hand. You’ll also need to complete Aruba’s entry documents, (or you could find yourself scrambling to complete the multi-part questionnaire at 3am in a boarding line in Ecuador…).


As an island of just 70 square miles, Aruba only has one major airport, so there should be no confusion where you’re flying into. When you arrive at Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) in Oranjestad, be prepared for LONG security lines. We didn’t have to wait to grab checked luggage, and it still took us roughly two hours!


One thing to look forward to though – there’s no need to exchange currency in Aruba if you’re coming from the US. Both the Aruban Florin (Afl) and USD are equally accepted throughout the country. If you do, however, need to take out some cash for your imminent taxi ride, ATMs are readily available at the airport.


Nighttime waves at Eagle Beach

Getting Around On-Island


If you intend to work your way through the various parts of the country rather than staying in the Oranjestad or Noord area, you may want to look into a rental car. While it may be worth it for a few days of your trip, the most cost-effective rentals we found were roughly $55/day. And because we’re cheap, we opted to just plant ourselves in one location for our stay.


Bike rentals are a great option for those willing to do some exercise in the heat. There are a number of shops you can rent from off of Eagle Beach (we found the going rate was $20/day).


Additionally, we felt extremely safe walking around the island and regularly made the twenty-minute trek from our Airbnb to the beach and back, even after sundown.


Eagle Beach

Where to Stay


If you’ve read even one article on visiting Aruba, you’ll know there are two main beaches tourists tend to gravitate toward: Palm Beach and Eagle Beach.


The Big Differences:
  1. While both are calm, white sand beaches, Eagle Beach tended to have more waves to wade around in while we were there (don’t expect you’ll be surfing at either though!).

  2. Palm Beach is definitely the more popular location for tourists, with resorts lining the beach. While this makes for a better nightlife scene, it also means the beach is packed in comparison to Eagle Beach.

  3. Price-wise, Palm Beach tends to be more expensive for lodging, food, pretty much everything.


For us, Eagle Beach was hands-down the winner.


Lodging

The view from our Airbnb in San Miguel

While there are countless hotels and a few hostels in Aruba, we’re confident that Airbnb is the way to go when visiting the island. However, the closer you get to the beaches, particularly Palm Beach, the more expensive Airbnbs become.


Our top recommendations for choosing an Airbnb in Aruba:

  1. A 20-minute walk from the beach is NOT too far. We decided to stay between the two beaches in the San Miguel neighborhood and it was still a great location.

  2. Stay near a supermarket and make sure there’s a kitchen (we’ll cover why next).

  3. Opt for a pool. Aruba is HOT and if you’re not a short walk from the beach, it’s very worthwhile to be able to jump in a pool at all hours of the day.


Food


Probably the biggest downside of a trip to Aruba is the price of eating out. A typical dinner anywhere in the vicinity of Eagle or Palm Beach runs roughly $40 per plate. (This also goes for the airport – $26 Panda Express!)


We cannot stress enough how important it is to stay near a grocery store if you want to keep it cheap, especially if you’re not renting a car.


We stayed a few blocks from the Super Food Plaza, which has pretty much everything you can think of at roughly US prices. This meant we could easily grab groceries on our way home from the beach. In fact, we chose to solely purchase groceries and cook for ourselves during the entire trip because we couldn’t justify spending that much to eat out.



All in all, Aruba is a stunning island with some of the best beaches and sunsets you’ll ever see. The country is very worth the visit, and it’s very possible to make that visit affordable. Just prioritize location, avoid eating out, WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN, and you should be a-okay.


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We're Abbey and Elliot.

We began our travels in

2022 with just our small backpacks and started this blog to share everything we've learned along the way. We hope we can help inspire your next trip.

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