Aruba remains the most popular island in the Dutch Caribbean and with good reason. Think clear turquoise water, long stretches of powdery white sand and a beautiful historic center dotted with pastel painted houses and colonial architecture. This island, though small, packs a lot of punch with its high rise resorts, vibrant nightlife, glitzy casinos, and everything in between. The nearby isle of Curaçao, in contrast, is known for its relaxed vibe and excellent snorkeling and diving. It’s the perfect antidote to the excitement of Aruba and a popular side trip for nature lovers seeking something less developed and more low-key. Travelling between the two islands is straightforward, though options are limited.
Quick and Easy: Flying
Flights between the two islands are fairly economical with the average fare falling between $120 and $160 USD. The two primary airlines are Insel Air and Aruba Airlines, running several flights daily that take just half an hour. Note that many of the time shares have check in and check out dates on the weekends. As a result, the Aruba airport is usually packed from Friday to Sunday, so it's best to plan your island hopping between Monday and Thursday.
If you fly from Aruba to Curaçao, you will pay taxes at the airport both when leaving Aruba and when returning from Curaçao. Expect to pay between $30 and $35 leaving Aruba and $20 and $25 leaving Curaçao. These airport taxes are usually not included in ticket prices, so factor them into the cost when planning your trip.
Slow and Scenic: By Boat
The only options for travelling between the two islands by boat is to rent a private charter or to do it as part of a cruise. Unfortunately, the ocean is too rough for smaller boats to travel between the islands, and due to lack of interest, ferries are no longer in service. Several yacht companies offer trips to Aruba, Curaçao and the nearby island of Bonaire. Once on the island of Curaçao, there is a free ferry service that makes regular trips between Willemstad and Otrobanda, the two main shopping areas on the island.
When to Go
It’s always a good time to visit the islands of Aruba and Curaçao. Both islands boast consistently warm weather with average temperatures of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, both lie far outside the hurricane belt, ensuring storms will not highjack your vacation. Aruba tends to be more crowded during high season from December to April, when North Americans flock to the Caribbean for respite from winter weather. During these months hotel prices spike and reservations should be made well in advance. For fewer crowds and lower prices visit during low season from April until November. In September especially, prices hit an annual low when the trade winds die and the temperature rises. If you don't mind the heat, it is a perfect time to take advantage of the deals.
Taxi service and rental car agencies are available on both islands, and roads are in good condition and easy to navigate. If you plan to rent a car and tour one of the islands on your own, be sure to reserve early. During peak season, it’s not unusual for rental agencies to be completely booked. Bus service is widely used by tourists on Aruba to travel from downtown to the beach resort areas, and the buses that travel between the beach and the historic center are clearly marked. Getting around most of the rest of the island requires a car. On Curaçao, public transportation is used mainly by the locals.