Located just off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean and it’s easy to see why people want to explore Aruba on a budget. With a one of a kind blend of Dutch and Caribbean influence, white sand beaches and rugged natural parklands, and luxury resorts alongside budget-friendly accommodations, Aruba truly has something for everyone – including budget travelers.
Normally, Aruba isn’t considered to be one of the cheapest places to travel to. But while Aruba’s expensive excursions and pricey meals can put a serious dent in your travel budget, it’s definitely possible to visit Aruba on a budget if you plan ahead.
The best time to visit Aruba is from April to August, making it a great place to visit in July. During this ‘off-season’ the weather is still incredible but room rates drop steeply. And because Aruba sits outside the hurricane belt, you don’t need to worry about tropical storms ruining your trip during hurricane season. If you live near multiple airports, try to be flexible, as airlines regularly offer affordable flights out of major travel hubs like New York City and Miami.
For more tips on saving money on your trip to Aruba, read our budget travel guide below and see for yourself why this incredible place lives up to its title of One Happy Island.
Free and cheap things to do in Aruba
Soak up the sun on Aruba’s best beaches
This stunning stretch of white sand is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. As Aruba’s broadest beach, there’s plenty of space to rent a chair and unwind under the shade of a thatched palapa. If you’re looking for a more high energy way to enjoy Eagle Beach, there are ample opportunities for watersports activities like renting a jet ski or going parasailing.
Not to be outdone by nearby Eagle Beach to the south, the famous Palm Beach can regularly be found on lists of the best beaches in the world. Known as the High-Rise Area, you’ll find the majority of Aruba’s most famous resorts along Palm Beach. The vibe here is more about swimming than watersports, so it’s a great spot to take a more relaxing dip in Aruba’s crystal blue waters instead of getting your adrenaline pumping. Once you’ve had enough sun for the day, the wide array beachfront bars and restaurants along Palm Beach mean you’ll never be far from an ice-cold refreshment.
Explore the breathtaking nature of Arikok National Park
While, Aruba’s beaches are certainly incredible, Arikok National Park might just be Aruba’s must-see destination. The massive park comprises about 20% of the island of Aruba and can take multiple days to fully explore. In addition to an abundance of wildlife that includes everything from snakes and iguanas to donkeys and goats, Arikok is also jam-packed with stunning natural attractions.
Inside the park, you can swim amongst the rocks in the famous Conchi natural pool, admire the Caquetío Indian rock paintings inside Fontein Cave, catch the sunlight peeking through the roof of the Quadiriki Caves, and savor the pristine unspoiled coastline at Dos Playas.
Arikok National Park charges a modest $11 admission fee, though children up to 17 years old can get in free. Due to the rugged terrain in some parts of the park, visitors recommend renting a 4x4 vehicle.
Climb atop the Ayo and Casibiri rock formations
The Ayo and Casibiri Rock Formations are perfect for those who want to swap sand, sea, and surf for massive monolithic boulders, expansive desert, and bright green cacti.
Scientists believe this cluster of boulders was a sacred religious site to the native Arawak people, though they still have no concrete (no pun intended) explanation for how these massive rock formations ended up on this vast expanse of flat land.
Visitors can climb atop both the Ayo and Casibiri rock formations for some of the best panoramic views of the island. If you look closely, you can also see ancient paintings and petroglyphs carved into the rocks.
The Ayo and Casibiri Rock Formations are both free to visit. There’s also free wifi and a BBQ Bar & Grill selling snacks and cold drinks.
Feed and learn about the donkeys of Aruba
Though they’re not a native species of the island, Donkeys have been a part of Aruba’s history for more than 500 years. They were once the primary mode of transportation until cars became increasingly popular on the island, significantly reducing both the need for them and their population numbers.
Today, a nonprofit organization called Donkey Sanctuary Aruba is devoted to saving and caring for Aruban donkeys while also educating the public about them. The sanctuary invites tourists to visit with a few apples and carrots in hand to feed and interact with these sweet and occasionally stubborn creatures.
Donkey Sanctuary Aruba is free to visit, though you are encouraged to make a donation. If you’re really interested in donkeys, need an excuse to stay in Aruba, and don’t mind scooping some poop, the sanctuary also has a volunteer program.
Where to stay on a budget in Aruba
Hostel Room Aruba
You’ll have a hard time finding a better value than Hostel Room Aruba. As its straight forward name suggests, this is a no-frills option for those uninterested in expensive luxury resorts.
The vibe at Hostel Room Aruba is more ‘welcoming family’ than ‘rowdy backpacker hangout’. Owned by a charming husband and wife, guests here are cared for with the utmost attention. The hostel is conveniently located near several shops, pharmacies, local restaurants, and the beach. There’s also a shared kitchen complete with a fridge, freezer, and cooking utensils to prepare your own meals, which is a great way to save money in Aruba.
Aruba Blue Village
Set just a 5-minute drive from popular Eagle Beach, Aruba Blue Village is a cozy, laid back option for beach bums on a budget.
The simple rooms are apartment-style and come in studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom suite options, each with their own private porch and kitchenette. The kitchenette is a huge bonus for budget travelers, as Aruba Blue Village is located near the local supermarket. So you can pick up some snacks and groceries and save money by cooking at your hotel.
However, you may want to keep some beer money in your budget, as guests often rave about Aruba Blue Village’s reasonably priced outdoor bar.
Pauline’s Apartments is another cozy apartment-style accommodation with 10 studio and 1-bedroom apartments. The property also has a full vacation house. The rooms here are clean, bright, and airy. Each unit comes with its own kitchen, allowing you to save money by doing your own cooking.
In addition to the friendly staff and beautiful property, guests especially love the location of Pauline’s Apartments. Situated in the residential Keito neighborhood, you can reach the center of the bustling Palm Beach tourist area in just a 15-minute walk or a 4-minute drive.
How to find cheap flights to Aruba
In the last few months, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Aruba. On average, our members spent $213 on their tickets to Aruba and saved over $289 per ticket.
Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
Atlanta (ATL) to Aruba (AUA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $219
Average Price: $550
Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Aruba (AUA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $223
Average Price: $482
Pittsburgh (PIT) to Aruba (AUA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $195
Average Price: $473
Houston (IAH) to Aruba (AUA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $221
Average Price: $522
Austin (AUS) to Aruba (AUA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $210
Average Price: $482
Best cheap eats in Aruba
Situated near the popular Baby Beach, Kamini’s Kitchen is a hot spot for both locals and tourists seeking authentic Caribbean food on a budget. The colorful exterior, savory local cuisine, and smiles from cheerful owner Kamini make it a must-visit for anyone in the area. The menu is extensive enough to suit all taste buds and allergies (gluten-free travelers rejoice) but the succulent curried goat with homemade roti is what keeps guests coming back for more.
If you find yourself around Palm Beach, Scott’s Brats is the spot to go for a delicious cheap meal, especially if you’re missing the taste of home. As the name suggests, the budget-friendly menu here focuses on different styles of hot dogs and brats, though they also serve simple classics such as quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches. If you’re more of a morning person, be sure to stop by for a bagel or breakfast burrito and the make-your-own bloody mary bar.
The Pastechi House
Countries all over the world each seem to have their own unique version of an empanada and Aruba is no different. Located just a few blocks from the main cruise ship depot, the Pastechi House serves small but filling Aruba-style empanadas in a variety of flavors. Starting at around $1.50, you can take your pick of the classic offerings or try creative concoctions like the pizza or samosa pastechis.
Start planning your trip to Aruba
There’s so much to love about the One Happy Island known as Aruba. Friendly locals, miles of world-famous beaches, exhilarating activities, and year-round perfect weather – the list goes on and on.
So whether you’ve always wanted to scuba dive World War 2 era shipwrecks or you’re eager to experience how Aruba celebrates Carnival, be sure to save this budget travel guide, sign up for cheap flight alerts, and start planning your Aruba vacation today.
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.