Table of Contents
- What Should You Expect From Each Island?
- What are the similarities between Aruba vs Curacao?
- What are the differences between Aruba vs Curacao?
- Where are Aruba and Curacao Located?
- Aruba vs. Curacao: Which Island Has Better Weather?
- Safety in Curacao and Aruba
- Aruba vs. Curacao: Which Has Better Beaches?
- Aruba vs. Curacao: Activities & Things To Do
- Prices & Trip Costs: Which one is more affordable?
- Hotels & Resorts in Aruba & Curacao
- Curacao vs Aruba: Food & Restaurants
- Overall Verdict: Which Should You Visit?
If you’re planning a Caribbean vacation, you may be considering two popular destinations: Aruba vs Curacao. Both islands offer stunning beaches, exciting attractions, and plenty of activities to keep your family entertained. But which one is right for you? This guide will compare the two destinations and help you decide which one is the best fit for your vacation.
What Should You Expect From Each Island?
Aruba is a small island located in the southern Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Venezuela. It’s known for its white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and sunny climate. It’s a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, and sailing excursions, as well as relaxing beach days.
The island is home to dozens of resorts and restaurants that cater to tourists’ needs. There are also plenty of attractions to explore, such as the historic Dutch colonial-style buildings in the capital city of Oranjestad and the natural beauty of Arikok National Park.
Curacao is also located in the southern Caribbean Sea, just north of Aruba. This Dutch island is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and great snorkeling and diving locations. While there are plenty of resorts and restaurants to choose from, the island also offers plenty of opportunities for exploration.
You can explore the historic Dutch colonial architecture in Willemstad, visit the Hato Caves, or take a trip to Christoffel National Park. There are also plenty of museums and art galleries to explore.
What are the similarities between Aruba vs Curacao?
When comparing Aruba and Curacao, there are a few similarities. Both islands offer stunning beaches, plenty of resorts and restaurants, and exciting things to do. They both have vibrant cultures that reflect their Dutch colonial heritage. And the weather is fairly similar—both islands get an average of around eight hours of sunshine each day, although Curacao tends to be a bit windier than Aruba.
What are the differences between Aruba vs Curacao?
One of the main differences between Aruba and Curacao is the landscape. While both islands have white sand beaches, Aruba’s coastline is much flatter while Curacao has more rugged terrain with hills and valleys. The island of Curacao is also larger than Aruba, which means there’s more to explore and discover.
Curacao is also known for its vibrant culture and nightlife, while Aruba has a more laid-back atmosphere. The prices for food and drinks in Curacao tend to be higher than what you’ll find in Aruba. And while both islands have plenty of activities and attractions, Curacao tends to be more focused on history and culture, while Aruba is better suited for beach days and water sports.
Where are Aruba and Curacao Located?
Aruba is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Colombia and Venezuela. Curacao is also located in the southern Caribbean Sea, but it lies further north than Aruba. Both islands are part of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao).
Which Island Is Easier To Reach?
Both islands are easily accessible from the US, with regular direct flights from major cities such as Miami and New York. Aruba is a bit closer to the US, though, so flights tend to be shorter and usually slightly more affordable.
Aruba vs. Curacao: Which Island Has Better Weather?
Both islands have warm temperatures year-round, making them great destinations for beach vacations. Aruba’s temperatures are typically a few degrees warmer than Curacao’s, but the difference is usually only about two to three degrees Fahrenheit.
Rainfall is also similar on both islands – Aruba averages 23 inches of rainfall per year, while Curacao receives an average of 25 inches annually.
Safety in Curacao and Aruba
Both Caribbean islands are safe for travelers, with a low crime rate. However, it is important to take common-sense precautions when visiting either destination. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.
Aruba vs. Curacao: Which Has Better Beaches?
Both islands are known for their beautiful beaches, making it difficult to choose a clear winner in this category.
Aruba’s beaches are known for their soft, white sand and crystal-clear waters. They also tend to be more sheltered from the wind than Curacao’s.
Curacao is home to some of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking beaches, with a rugged coastline featuring caves and hidden coves. The beaches here tend to be less crowded than Aruba’s, making them ideal for those seeking a more private experience.
Beaches in Aruba
Aruba’s Eagle Beach is one of the most stunning destinations on the island and features sparkling white sand and crystal-clear waters. Other popular beaches include Palm Beach, Manchebo Beach, and Baby Beach.
Beaches in Curacao
Klein Curacao is a small island off the coast of Curacao and is known for its stunning beaches. Other popular beaches in Curacao include Mambo Beach, Cas Abou Beach, Playa Lagun, and Playa Kalki.
Related: Bora Bora vs The Maldives
Aruba vs. Curacao: Activities & Things To Do
Both Aruba and Curacao have plenty of activities to keep you busy. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach or an exciting adventure, there’s something for everyone.
Activities in Aruba
In Aruba, visitors can take a tour of Arikok National Park, explore the shops and restaurants of Oranjestad, relax on the beach, or go snorkeling and diving in crystal-clear waters. There are also plenty of water sports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding.
- Exploring the Natural Pool: Also known as “Conchi,” this natural pool is nestled in the rocky terrain of Aruba’s east coast. It’s surrounded by volcanic rocks and is an excellent spot for snorkeling.
- Visiting the California Lighthouse: This iconic landmark offers panoramic views of the island’s western coastline. It’s a great spot for watching the sunset.
- Touring the Aruba Aloe Factory: Learn about the island’s aloe industry, which dates back to 1890. The factory offers guided tours that provide insights into the aloe cultivation process.
- Hiking in Arikok National Park: Covering nearly 20% of Aruba, the park offers opportunities to see native flora and fauna, ancient cave paintings, and beautiful natural formations.
- ATV Tours: For adrenaline junkies, renting an ATV and exploring the island’s backroads and desert landscapes is a must-do.
- Butterfly Farm: A tropical oasis that houses hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world. An ideal spot for a family visit.
- Donkey Sanctuary: Spend time meeting and feeding donkeys at this animal rescue center. It’s a great place for animal lovers of all ages.
- Deep Sea Fishing: Aruba’s waters are teeming with a variety of fish, making it a popular spot for deep-sea fishing.
- Golfing: For golf enthusiasts, Aruba hosts world-class golf courses, including the famous Tierra Del Sol.
- Shopping in Oranjestad: The city is home to a wide array of shops selling everything from designer fashion to locally made crafts.
Activities in Curacao
In Curacao, visitors can explore the colorful streets of Willemstad, take a day trip to Klein Curacao, visit the Hato Caves, or explore Christoffel National Park. There are also plenty of water sports like kayaking, sailing, and deep-sea fishing.
- Visiting the Curacao Sea Aquarium: This interactive aquarium is one of the island’s top attractions, offering an up-close look at a variety of marine life, including sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and more.
- Exploring Fort Nassau: Offering panoramic views of Willemstad and the harbor, this historic fort also features a restaurant where guests can enjoy dinner with a view.
- Discovering the Blue Room: Also known as “The Cave”, this is an underwater grotto that’s one of the best snorkeling spots in Curacao.
- Touring the Chobolobo Liqueur Factory: Learn about the production of Curacao’s famous Blue Liqueur, with the opportunity to sample different flavors.
- Hiking in Christoffel National Park: Home to local flora and fauna, the park provides a range of hiking trails, including a challenging route up to the highest point on the island.
- Curacao Ostrich Farm: One of the biggest ostrich farms outside Africa, it offers an opportunity to feed and even ride these fascinating birds.
- Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue: Visit the oldest continually used synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to 1732.
- Shopping at Floating Market: A unique market where vendors from Venezuela sell fresh produce and other goods from their boats.
- Museum Kura Hulanda: This anthropological museum provides a deep dive into the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impact on Curacao.
- Tugboat Beach: A popular spot for snorkeling, famed for the sunken tugboat wreck that lies just a few meters offshore.
- Dining in Willemstad: Enjoy local and international cuisines in the colorful, UNESCO-listed capital city.
Related: Beach Vacation Packing List
Prices & Trip Costs: Which one is more affordable?
When it comes to trip costs, both islands offer reasonably priced accommodations and activities. However, Curacao tends to be more expensive than Aruba when it comes to food and drinks. While the cost of hotel prices are comparable, you may find that renting a car in Curacao is slightly more expensive than in Aruba.
In both Aruba and Curacao, accommodation costs can vary greatly depending on the type of lodging you opt for. On average, a night in a mid-range hotel in Aruba costs around $150-$200, while in Curacao, the average is around $100-$150. Note that these prices can increase during the peak tourist season and decrease during the off-peak season.
Food & Drink Prices
Culinary enthusiasts will be delighted by the vast array of dining options available in both Aruba and Curacao. In Aruba, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs around $15-$20, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs around $70. In contrast, Curacao is slightly more expensive, with a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costing around $20-$25, and a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant coming in at around $80-$100.
Transportation costs are an important factor to consider when comparing Aruba vs. Curacao. In Aruba, a one-way ticket on local transport costs around $2, while a monthly pass costs about $60. Taxi start rates are around $7, with an additional $3 per kilometer. In Curacao, a one-way ticket on local transport costs about $1.50, and taxi start rates are around $6, with an additional $2 per kilometer. Car rental prices in Curacao can be slightly higher than in Aruba, with an average daily rate of $40-$60 compared to Aruba’s $30-$50.
Hotels & Resorts in Aruba & Curacao
For the ultimate island vacation, both Aruba and Curacao have a range of luxurious hotels and resorts to choose from.
Hotels & Resorts in Aruba
- The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba: Located on Palm Beach, this 5-star property offers a stunning beachfront resort experience. Guests can enjoy an array of facilities including a private beach, two outdoor pools, and multiple restaurants.
- Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino: A luxurious resort located on Palm Beach offering guests a range of activities from golf to kayaking. Facilities include six swimming pools, a fitness center, and a spa.
- Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort Aruba: This adults-only resort offers a romantic escape. Private balconies overlook the beach and amenities include two oceanfront pools, a spa, restaurants, and bars.
- Holiday Inn Resort Aruba: Ideal for families or groups of friends, this resort offers spacious rooms with private balconies overlooking the sea or gardens. There’s an outdoor pool, kid’s club, and onsite dining options available.
Hotels & Resorts in Curacao
- Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino: Located in the capital Willemstad, this hotel boasts an infinity pool, spa, and a range of onsite restaurants. Guests can also enjoy complimentary access to the nearby Cas Abou beach.
- Papagayo Beach Resort Curacao: This family-friendly resort offers 4-star accommodation near Mambo Beach. Facilities include swimming pools, a kid’s club, a fitness center, and tennis courts.
- Avila Beach Hotel Curacao: This upscale resort offers a blend of Dutch colonial architecture and contemporary comfort. It features two private beaches, two restaurants, and a full-service spa. Its convenient location in Willemstad allows guests easy access to explore the local shops and historical sites.
- Lions Dive Beach Resort Curacao: This eco-friendly, 4-star resort is located directly in the National Curacao Underwater Park. It is a popular choice for families, thanks to its four swimming pools. The resort also offers a range of dining options, including the beachfront restaurant Hemingway and the popular Piazza ice cream and espresso bar.
Curacao vs Aruba: Food & Restaurants
Both Aruba and Curacao offer fantastic opportunities for food lovers. From casual beachside eateries to fine-dining establishments, each island has something unique to offer.
Dining in Aruba
Aruban cuisine is a mix of Caribbean, Latin American, and Dutch influences. Popular dishes include the national dish keshi yena (a cheesy stew), pan bati (corn meal pancakes) and stoba (goat stew). There are also plenty of seafood restaurants offering fresh catches such as grouper, snapper, kingfish, and wahoo. Visit the outdoor markets located around Aruba’s capital Oranjestad for delicious sandwiches and snacks prepared with local ingredients.
Best Restaurants in Aruba
- Papiamento Restaurant: An iconic dining destination in Aruba that serves local and international dishes. Housed in a 126-year-old “Cunucu” (Aruban farm) house, it is renowned for its friendly service and atmospheric setting.
- Flying Fishbone: This innovative eatery offers a unique dining experience with tables set directly on the beach. Famous for its fresh seafood and stunning sunset views.
- Barefoot Restaurant: A relaxed, beachfront restaurant known for its blend of Caribbean and international cuisine. Diners can enjoy their meals barefoot in the sand, truly embracing the island vibe.
- Screaming Eagle: Offering a French-fusion menu, this chic restaurant is often dubbed the “best dining experience in the Caribbean.” Also known for its extensive wine list and unique dining option of ‘dinner in bed’.
Dining in Curacao
Curacao is the perfect destination for those who love seafood. Dishes like kadushi cactus soup and sopi maise (corn soup) are popular staples, while fresh catches such as grouper, snapper, kingfish and wahoo are readily available at local restaurants. The colorful capital of Willemstad is home to many excellent dining establishments, offering a range of cuisines from French to Fusion.
Best Restaurants in Curacao
- Fort Nassau: This restaurant, located in an old fort, provides panoramic views of the harbor along with a menu of international and Caribbean cuisine. It’s famous for its lobster thermidor and exquisite desserts.
- Jaanchie’s Restaurant: A staple in Curacao for over 60 years, Jaanchie’s serves traditional cuisine in a charming setting. Known for its goat stew and freshly caught mahi-mahi, it’s a must-visit for those who want to sample authentic Curacaoan food.
- Restaurant & Café Gouverneur: Situated in a beautifully restored colonial house in Willemstad, it offers a mix of Caribbean and international dishes. The deconstructed apple pie is a popular dessert choice.
- Kome: A contemporary eatery where food is considered an art form. It offers a diverse menu inspired by flavors from around the world, with dishes like red snapper ceviche and duck confit tacos.
Overall Verdict: Which Should You Visit?
Both Aruba and Curacao are great destinations for a Caribbean vacation. Both islands offer stunning beaches, plenty of activities, and easy access from the US. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference – if you’re looking for a more relaxed beach vacation with plenty of water sports, then Aruba is probably your best bet. If you want a destination with more nightlife and culture to explore, then Curacao might be the perfect choice.