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Aruba vs Curaçao: Which Dutch Caribbean Island Is Right for You?

Aruba and Curacao are part of what is known as the ABC islands. They’re located off the coast of Venezuela in the very southern part of the Caribbean.

There are three islands that make up the ABC group are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. All of these islands are territories of the Netherlands and are, therefore, Dutch Caribbean islands.

Bonaire is not as developed as Aruba and Curacao and is much less popular than the other two islands, so here we’ll focus just on the differences and similarities between Aruba and Curacao.

There are some direct flights to Bonaire from Curacao or Aruba, but it’s more difficult and less frequently visited.

While they’re in the same family, it’s not super easy to visit one of the islands from the other. There is no ferry that runs between the islands, so you must fly.

There are direct flights that are short and only about 35 minutes, so if you have the opportunity to take direct flights, you definitely should go this route.

That is if you decide to visit both islands.

What Are The Similarities Aruba And Curacao?

The first major similarity between Aruba and Curacao is that they’re both territories of the Netherlands.

They’re both Dutch Caribbean destinations and have a Dutch heritage in common, for one thing.

The ease of accessing each of these countries is also similar.

Flights take roughly the same amount of time and cost about the same whether you’re going to Aruba or Curacao, though there are more flight options for visiting Aruba.

Who Has Better Culture? Curacao Wins

Starting with the culture, both islands are Dutch, but Curacao has more of a distinguished culture than Aruba.

Aruba is more popular among tourists, and it tends to feel more touristy. You’ll find American restaurants, chains, lots of people speaking Spanish, and a lot less Dutch.

Whereas in Curacao, more Dutch transplants live here, so you’ll hear a lot more of the Dutch language.

  • Curacao is also more charming when it comes to architecture with bright, colorful colonial buildings
  • Willemstad is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

The capital city of Willemstad, Curacao, is much nicer than the capital city of Oranjestad, Aruba.

Willemstad is bright and colorful and looks like Amsterdam. It’s also lively and a great place to walk around.

Oranjestad is very touristy, and it does have colorful buildings, but it doesn’t feel as European or cultural as Willemstad does.

Pink flamingos walking on the Caribbean island of Aruba

Which Island Is Has More Tourists? Aruba Wins

Aruba is smaller than Curacao but has almost twice as many visitors. It has a much more developed tourism industry and more amenities than Curacao.

Aruba wins because there are more direct flights into the country, if you like more off-the-beaten-path places, stick to Curacao.

Two girls inside of a tree

Which Island Has Better Landscape? Both

This depends on what you are looking for.

The landscape of the islands is also quite different.

Aruba is flat and desert-like, with cacti growing all over the island, while Curacao is mountainous and much greener, but still covered with cacti growing everywhere.

Both these Caribbean islands are relatively dry, so not full of lush jungle greenier that you are used to.

The Sunrising over the caribbean sea in Aruba

What Island Has Better Beaches? Aruba Wins

Both islands have incredible, mesmerizing, unbeatable beaches in the Caribbean. It doesn’t get much better than the soft, powdery sand and turquoise waters of these islands.

However, Aruba’s beaches tend to be nicer than Curacao’s beaches.

The reason Aruba’s beaches tend to be better than Curacao’s is that the beaches tend to be longer in Aruba, while Curacao has shorter beaches.

The long beaches allow it to feel much more expansive and open. You can also find a private spot all of your own when the beach is much larger.

However, both have gorgeous white sand beaches, and the two islands are both great places to visit and relax.

Grab your beach chairs and get ready for a gorgeous day on the white sand beaches.

The Best Beaches on Aruba Island include Eagle Beach, Baby Beach, and Palm Beach.

The Best Beaches on Curacao is Playa Kenepa Beach and Playa Lagun.

Both Aruba and Curacao have the prettiest white sand and the starkest turquoise waters, it doesn’t get much better.

Colorful Sign of Aruba on Aruba Island

Which Is Easier To Get Around? Aruba Wins

It’s much easier to get around Aruba than it is in Curacao.

You’ll want to rent a car or an ATV in Aruba if you plan to travel around the island because you’ll save more money than taking a taxi.

You can get used to the streets pretty quickly with a map and find your way around easily and safely.

Curacao is much more difficult to get around. The Capital has a ton of one-way streets that make it super difficult to get around if you’re not familiar with the area.

Hopefully, you have a passenger who is a good guide in helping you find your way around the city. If you plan to venture outside of the capital, you’ll have better luck getting around because you won’t be boggled down by confusing one-way streets.

Just be sure to plan your drive ahead of time, be prepared, and give yourself time because you may take wrong turns along the way and you don’t want to be in a rush.

Once you’re out of the capital city, the streets are comparable to those in Aruba. You won’t have any problem driving around.

Which Island Is Safer? Aruba Wins

Aruba or Curacao are both fairly safe places to visit.

There is always petty crime and risk wherever you go, and whenever you’re traveling, but these islands are pretty similar in safety and are overall safe compared to other places in the world you could visit.

Aruba tends to be slightly safer than Curacao. Curacao has more minor incidents, including car break-ins. Car break-ins and petty theft are the two most common petty crimes on the islands.

Both are relatively safe Caribbean Islands.

Which Island Is More Remote? Curacao Wins

Curacao is much more remote. The island is larger than Aruba, and it’s much less crowded because it receives almost half the number of visitors that Aruba does.

Curacao is a bit more difficult to fly into. There are fewer direct flights to the Curaçao International Airport than there is the Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba.

There is also a lot more cruise ship traffic in Aruba than in Curacao, which also leads to more tourists.

If you want to choose the island with the least amount of people so you can enjoy the most natural beauty, Curacao is your best bet.

Turtle swimming in Curacao

Which Island Has Better Scuba Diving and Snorkeling? Curacao Wins

Aruba vs Curacao is pretty comparable when it comes to scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities.

However, Curacao is the better choice for snorkeling and scuba diving because there are many places you can do it right from the white sand shoreline.

Another reason is that Aruba is windier than Curacao, so the water can often be a bit rougher, which decreases the clarity when snorkeling.

The best places to scuba dive in Curacao include Curacao Marine Park and Tugboat Beach. The best dive sites in Aruba are the wrecks of the SS Antilla and the Jane Sea, and snorkeling is great at Catalina Cove and Arashi Beach.

Both Aruba and Curacao have coral reefs, but Curacao has better opportunities overall to see unique sea life.

On both Aruba and Curacao, you have the opportunity to see marine life at various diving sites, snorkeling spots, and coral reefs.

You’ll spot colorful and unique underwater life and maybe even sea turtles if you’re lucky.

Which Island Has Better Windsurfing? Aruba Wins

The winds in Aruba both hurt and helped the water activity conditions. Because of the wind, it is a great spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Parasailing and surfing are also popular water sports in Aruba.

Girl Standing on Top of a mount with the ocean in the background

Which Island Has Better Hiking? Curacao Wins

Both Aruba and Curacao have great hiking and are beautiful places to explore. There are national parks on both islands.

If you visit Aruba, be sure to check out Arikok National Park, which covers almost 20% of the island. Here, you’ll find deserts, rocks, caves, and more.

In Curacao for national parks, Christoffel National Park is a must-visit. It’s mountainous and forested, and Mt. Christoffel is the highest point on the island, so it offers great views of the beautiful beaches and Blue Bay.

There is more to explore in Curacao making it our winner.

Group of college students standing in front of a bar in the street in the Caribbean

Which Island Has Better Nightlife? Aruba Wins

Aruba has a lively nightlife and more nighttime establishments than Curacao. Aruba has many more people visiting the island, and it’s a smaller island, so the nightlife area is more congested.

Making it a great spot if you want to party. Curacao is more laid back and has fewer tourists and therefore gets less rowdy.

Aruba is known for its nightclubs, music venues, and cocktail lounges. Curacao has a young crowd and especially attracts young Europeans.

The nightlife in Curacao is great, too, but it’s different than it is in Aruba.

Dinner menu on the table with a beer

Which Island Has Better Food? Curacao Wins

The food in Curacao is more authentic and Dutch because the cultural influence is stronger here. If you’re looking for more traditional food, this is the island to choose from.

Whereas Aruba caters more to American tourists. Both islands have unique flares to their food scene, but if we had to choose Curacao is the winner.

Which Island Is More Affordable? Curacao

Aruba is a little more expensive than Curacao when it comes to dining, transportation, etc. This is something to keep in mind when you’re choosing which island to visit.

It’s not a huge cost difference, but it can make a difference to your budget.

Your budget can vary drastically depending on which kind of traveler you are. Whether you’re a budget traveler or a luxury traveler will make a huge difference.

It will also make a difference if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort where your meals and drinks are included.

Curacao is a bit cheaper than Aruba, which is another thing to consider. The restaurants, taxis, and grocery stores are more affordable than they are in Aruba. It’s not a huge difference in cost, but it does save you some money.

What Time Of Year Is Best To Visit These Caribbean Islands?

Aruba or Curacao are great places to visit in the Caribbean any time of year. They’re known for their warm weather and mild conditions.

In general, the weather in Curacao is better than the weather in Aruba. Both places have great sunny, warm weather, but Aruba is extremely windy.

The island is mostly flat, and there are trade winds going across it constantly. The wind does give you a nice break from the heat, but if you have long hair, it will constantly be knotted or in your face, and it can get a bit annoying at times.

Another general thing to consider is that Aruba and Curacao are outside of the hurricane belt, so you don’t have to worry about hurricane season.

Making these Caribbean islands great in August. You also don’t have to worry about heavy rain storms. It does rain during the wet season, but it’s not as intense as on other islands in the Caribbean.

The ultimate best time of year to visit Aruba and Curacao is from February to June when it’s warm and has the least chance of rain. Though, again, any time of year is good for these islands.

The beaches of Curacao

Curaçao vs Aruba: Which Is The Better Choice?

Aruba or Curacao are both amazing choices when picking an island in the Caribbean.

It’s honestly quite difficult to say which island is better because they both have their pros and cons. For both being in the ABC family of islands, part of the Netherlands, and not located that far apart, they’re both similar and very different, which is quite interesting.

Let’s go over some of the findings one more time before making a decision on the better island:

  • Culture: Curacao is more traditionally Dutch than Aruba
  • Beaches: Aruba has better beaches, they’re longer, and Curacaos beaches are mostly located in coves
  • Safety: Aruba is a bit safer than Curacao
  • Scuba Diving & Snorkeling: Curacao has better conditions than Aruba
  • Nightlife: Aruba has more exciting nightlife than Curacao
  • Weather: Curacao is less windy than Aruba

As you can see, the results are 50/50, which tends almost always to be the case when trying to decide the better of these two islands.

It all comes down to personal preference and what the most important factors are to you when considering where you want to spend your vacation.

Now that you have all the facts, which island is better? Aruba vs Curacao? The choice is yours.

Where to Stay in Aruba

Aruba is the more developed island of the two. Here you’ll find more all-inclusive resorts.

Some of the best all-inclusive resorts and hotels in Aruba include Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort, Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Hotel Riu Palace Aruba, and Aruba Ocean Villas, to name a few.

Depending on what type of accommodation you’re looking for, from hostels, hotels, and resorts, to all-inclusive stays, there are numerous options to choose from.

Where To Stay In Curacao

Curacao has fewer all-inclusive resorts compared to Aruba and more boutique hotels.

Some of the best beach resorts in Curacao include Sunscape Curacao Resort, the newly opened Sandals Royal Curacao, and Dreams Curacao Resort.

Sandals is a very popular all-inclusive resort company, and there is a location on Curacao Island but not Aruba.

If you want to visit Curacao, these are some of the best places you can stay, to name a few. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, there are many other places available.

Conclusions On Arbua vs Curacao

As you can see both islands will make a great choice for a vacation. In the end, it depends on what you are looking for out of your holiday and what is most important to you.

But we hope this list helped you make your decision on where you should take your next vacation.

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