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Everyone dreams of a Caribbean vacation, but unfortunately for most people, this always remains a dream. A trip to the Caribbean is almost always associated with luxury 5-star resorts, exclusive boat tours to private islands and everything in between; all for a hefty price tag. If you check out the Google Flights destination explorer, however, you may notice that you can get super cheap flights to Aruba. Even round trip flights from Europe are very cheap compared to other Caribbean islands. So now that you know you can get a low cost flight, the next question becomes, is Aruba expensive?
Is Food in Aruba Expensive?
Absolutely, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the biggest mistakes most people make when visiting Aruba is going out to eat for every meal instead of buying groceries and making their own meals. If you book a hotel without any sort of cooking facilities, then you are almost forced to eat out for every meal. Don’t worry, we’ll show you the way around that in the hotels section. In case it’s not yet clear, our suggestion is to cook your own meals and pack your own lunches. With that in mind, you need to know where to buy your groceries. Whatever you do, you should avoid the enormous supermarket called “Super Food Plaza” at all costs. The prices here are double or even triple what they should actually cost and the locals do not shop here. Instead, you need to drive to Noord and shop at “Save More”. This is a smaller supermarket that still has everything you need at prices that you can actually afford. We flipped out after we made our first purchase at the giant tourist trap and were so thankful to have found “Save More” as it kept us under budget for the rest of the trip. So, is food in Aruba expensive? Not if you know where to go.
What About Hotels?
Mostly, yes. Again, this is a Caribbean island we’re talking about and people come here for the beaches and clear blue water. Therefore, hotels are mostly situated on the beach and the owners demand a much higher price for that luxury. However, not all hotels are located on the beach and since the demand is so high for beachfront accommodations, the other hotels can offer you a better price. Likewise, a hotel doesn’t have to be your only option; especially if you want to cook your own meals. In that case, we highly recommend staying in an AirBnB with a kitchen (almost all of them provide cooking facilities). Our AirBnB was way cheaper, yet way nicer than any hotel we could have booked. We’ve listed all of our favorite budget accommodations for Aruba in our main article.
Aruba is a very small island, but not quite small enough for you to walk or take a bike everywhere. Unfortunately, the bus system on Aruba is not very reliable and paying for a taxi to take you everywhere will add up quickly. Therefore, we highly recommend renting a car for Aruba. When you’re searching for a rental car, you will find the typical companies with normal to good ratings (and high prices) and you will find the local companies with rather poor ratings (and very low prices). Understandably, this can cause a dilemma in making your decision. We went with a local company and paid only €160 with full coverage insurance for 8 days. Naturally, we were nervous about the poor ratings, but everything went smoothly and the company was very professional. Just like with anything, you have to keep your head about you.
Activities in Aruba
Many people also make the mistake of thinking they have to pay for all of the activities that they want to do in Aruba. Depending on what you want to do, you may have to pay for some things. However, there are tons of free activities in Aruba that are definitely worth doing. If you love snorkeling, then there’s no reason to take an expensive snorkeling tour on an overcrowded boat, when you can go to one of the best beaches in Aruba and snorkel for free. If you do want to do a snorkeling tour, then we recommend one of those in our main article is well. We also list the rest of the free activities there.
Is Alcohol Expensive?
Last, but not least, we wanted to cover the topic of alcohol prices. Is alcohol expensive? Mostly, yeah. The beer is way overpriced and so are most other alcoholic beverages. However, you can get pretty good prices on rum and wine from “Save More”. We bought a $9 bottle of Caribbean rum, a lime and a two-liter bottle of cola and enjoyed Cuba Libres all week. That sure beats $55 for a 20 pack of 250 ml (<9 oz) bottles of beer.
So there you have it. If you plan your trip right, then you can have an affordable vacation on this beautiful Caribbean island. If you have any questions on where to stay, where to eat or what to do, then please feel free to leave a comment or read through our budget travel guide for Aruba. If you’re more interested in a luxury escape, then we’re also happy to point you in the right direction. Here are the 5 best all-inclusive resorts in Aruba that we recommend. Go make your dream vacation a reality!