Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

If you’re looking for the best information on whether to visit Aruba vs Curaçao, then you’ve come to the right place. Both islands are breathtaking and perfect holiday destinations – but, there’s always going to be one island that probably fits your ideal travel plans a little bit better than the other. And that’s what I’m here for. You’re welcome. Whether Aruba is better than Curaçao – or the other way around – depends on you. The island that is nearest to Aruba is Curaçao and after that Bonaire. Mainland Venezuela is very close to all ABC islands.


Aruba or Curaçao: Which is the better pick for your trip?

Is there ever a Caribbean island that is the wrong choice to visit? No – absolutely not. This article on Aruba vs Curaçao is not a competition as both are incredible. But, there might be an island that you have a preference for. Maybe you prefer to visit a smaller or larger island – or like a more mountainous area as opposed to pretty flat land.

The Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curaçao are both beautiful, each with its unique charm and allure. If you’re seeking a tropical paradise with a touch of European influence due to The Netherlands’ colonial past, these islands are perfect. In this guide, I’ll dive a bit deeper into the differences between Aruba and Curaçao, helping you make an informed choice for your next Dutch Caribbean adventure.


1. Geography, climate and location

One of the primary factors that differentiate Aruba and Curaçao is their climate. Aruba boasts a more arid climate with consistently warm temperatures and low rainfall throughout the year. On the other hand, Curaçao experiences a semi-arid climate with slightly more precipitation but still enjoys plenty of sunshine.

To understand the distinctions between Aruba and Curaçao, it’s crucial to start with their geography and location. Aruba and Curaçao are both part of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, but they vary significantly in size, shape, and proximity to the mainland. Aruba is a petite, flat island located about 29 kilometres off the coast of Venezuela, while Curaçao is larger and situated approximately 80 kilometres east of Aruba.

The best time to travel to Curaçao depends on your wishes. From February until June you will see almost no rainfall.  But, if you prefer the warmest temperatures, then you need to visit Curaçao from May until October. The months when there is the most precipitation in Curaçao are October, November and December. 

The best time to travel to Aruba is from January until April. If you prefer to visit Aruba when the island is at its hottest, then you can visit anywhere from June until August. But, there is still rainfall during that time (the short, but heavy kind). Most rain in Aruba falls in October, November and December, but it’s truly not as bad as it sounds. It’s again the short, but heavy kind and that is honestly perfectly fine.

Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao very rarely deal with hurricanes. The hurricane season of the Caribbean starts on the 1st of June until the 30th of November. The islands lay south of the hurricane belt, which is honestly fantastic.

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Situated just 29 kilometres off the Venezuelan coast, it’s part of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea. Aruba’s predominantly flat terrain spans approximately 180 square kilometres. Contrasting with typical Caribbean islands, it lacks towering mountains – its highest ‘mountain’ is the only 188 meters high Jamanota. Aruba does offer a stunning landscape adorned with pristine beaches, like the world-famous Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. Its arid climate, characterised by abundant sunshine and low rainfall, enhances its appeal, making Aruba a haven for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts.


When comparing Aruba vs. Curaçao, the geography of Curaçao reveals its unique charm. Spanning approximately 444 square kilometres, it’s way larger than Aruba. Curaçao’s terrain can be pretty hilly as well as flat (depending on where you are). The highest point of Curaçao, Mount Christoffel (or Seru Christoffel), reaches around 372 meters. Also located in the southern Caribbean Sea, about 80 kilometres east of Aruba, Curaçao has a semi-arid climate, providing a pleasant blend of sunshine and moderate rainfall. This diverse geography contributes to Curaçao’s appeal, offering travellers a larger canvas to explore, from its vibrant capital Willemstad to its captivating beaches and scenic landscapes.


2. Cultural influences


Aruba boasts a rich cultural tapestry with a prominent thread of indigenous influences. The island’s history is marked by the presence of the Arawak people, who inhabited the region long before European colonisation (first the Spanish, later the Dutch). Because many Arawak populated the island, the Dutch colonisers didn’t use as many African slaves as on the other islands. Today, their legacy can be seen in Aruba’s art, music, language use and even its cuisine. And, there are even petroglyphs from the Arawak that you can visit. These indigenous cultural elements blend seamlessly with mainly Dutch and Latin American influences as well as African influences, creating a vibrant and unique culture that is more than worth diving into. Most people from Aruba are descended from the Arawak, but the last full Arawak unfortunately passed at the end of the 19th century.


In Curaçao you can find a beautiful and interesting blend of African and European cultural influences, making it a vibrant destination to travel to. Due to colonisation, the island’s identity is home to music, dance and religious practices that came from enslaved Africans. The most European influence you’re able to spot in Curaçao is in the island’s stunning architecture. Combine the warm and welcoming soul of the island with its influences and you’re sure headed towards a culturally rich island.

view on a street of colourful colonial buildings and cars in willemstad curaçao in the dutch caribbean

3. Language and communication

When it comes to languages and communication there is hardly any difference between Aruba vs Curaçao- and that’s a good thing.


Even if you’re monolingual, then Aruba is still a great island to visit. People from Aruba are well known for their multilingualism, with people easily speaking four to five languages. Dutch and Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, but Papiamento is generally used the most and understood the most. Papiamento is a blend of Arawakan, Dutch, African, Spanish and Portuguese influences. English and Spanish are also languages that most people tend to understand.

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Curaçao has three official languages: Dutch, Papiamento and English. Papiamento is – just like in Aruba – the most popular with most locals. Just like in Aruba, people often also speak Spanish. So if you’re worried about your language skills, then you don’t have any problems in Curaçao, but also not in Aruba.

view on a sandy white beach on the right side with trees and the crystal clear blue ocean on the left side in Curaçao the Dutch Caribbean

4. Visitors and tourist attractions

Aruba vs Curaçao: It’s not an easy decision to make, but sometimes you simply have to choose. In this part, I will talk to you about the main visitors of both of the Dutch islands – as well as some of the things that the islands are known for and their popular sights and things to do.


Aruba gets around 2 million tourists a year and with a population of around 106,000, that means that Aruba has 18 tourists per inhabitant. Aruba is on average more popular with US Americans, which you will also see at tourist attractions, but also in how the island has developed itself. It also has a bit of a US American atmosphere in quite some tourist areas, as that’s what the people who work in tourism cater to.

The main tourist attractions in Aruba are its stunning beaches. Even though Aruba is a relatively small island, its climate has created the most spectacular beaches everywhere you look in this piece of paradise.

Besides its beaches, Aruba is also known for the Arikok National Park, the colourful flamingos on Renaissance Island, its capital city Oranjestad, the shipwrecks of SS Antilla (and more; Aruba is perfect for shipwreck diving!) and the two beautiful lighthouses. It’s at parts more of a romantic island, but at the same time, if you compare the nightlife of Aruba vs Curaçao, Aruba has a very centralised and bustling nightlife with tons of clubs and also lots of casinos.


Curaçao gets around 500,000 tourists a year and with a population of roughly 155,000, it has less than 3 tourists per inhabitant. Generally, most tourists are Dutch, but the percentage of Dutch people is decreasing. The number of North American visitors has increased by at least 40 per cent in the last few years. And, Curaçao is also getting more popular with people from the Caribbean and South America.

As Curaçao only gets a small fraction of the tourists that Aruba gets – and has a way larger island – Curaçao is a lot wilder. You will be able to explore hidden bays and secret spots easily when you drive across the island. Or take a tour with one of the local tour companies and get local insight, while being alone in a magical place. Curaçao is a great island to visit if you like change: the island has so many different things to do and see that it keeps you busy.

The island of Curaçao is like I said a great mix. You have incredible dive locations with a lot of natural diversity, amazing beaches and also great nightlife. The clubs and bars are more spread out over Curaçao with each having a different atmospheres making it less central than on Aruba. But because the island is the larger one, there are also more day trips that you can take that will show you another side of the island.

The most visited attractions in Curaçao are its capital Willemstad, as well as the lighthouses on the island and its beaches. Besides that, you’ve got the small, but stunning island of Klein Curaçao nearby as a great day trip. Or, perhaps you want to explore the stunning world underwater and go diving. The main difference between Aruba vs Curaçao when it comes to diving is what you’ll see underwater and where you’ll start your trip. For wreck diving, you have to visit Aruba.

view on a turtle swimming in the ocean during a dive in Curaçao an island in the Dutch caribbean

5. Which Caribbean island is more expensive?

This is for me one of the most important things to know when booking a trip to a destination. In general: Aruba is the most expensive out of the two. It gets the most visitors and things are simply more expensive on Aruba and cheaper on Curaçao. Flight tickets (depending on where you come from) are often cheaper for Curaçao than Aruba as well. The cheapest months to visit either Aruba or Curaçao are either May or June – or October and November. 

Accommodation-wise, you have everything on both islands that you can want: from resorts to small homestays to hotels and apartments. It all depends on your preference, but Aruba is again in general the most expensive island out of the two. 

view on one of the best beaches in Curaçao: blue water and sandy white beach, with green mountainous hills in the background.

I hope this travel blog about Aruba vs Curaçao has helped you make a more informed decision on which island you’d prefer to visit. Which island is better, Aruba or Curaçao completely depends on your preferences. Enjoy your trip!


By Lala