Which Island is better Aruba, Curacao or Bonaire?

Exploring the Caribbean Gems: Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire.

The Caribbean is a treasure trove of beautiful islands, each with its unique charm and allure. Among these gems, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire shine particularly brightly. If you’re planning a Caribbean getaway, you might be wondering which of these islands is the best choice for your vacation. To help you decide, we’ll take you on a thrilling journey through these islands’ sandy shores, major attractions, unique areas, shopping havens, and vibrant dining and nightlife scenes. So, buckle up for an adventure as we explore Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire!

Unveiling Aruba: The Beach Lover’s Paradise

Beaches (Aruba): Aruba is often hailed as one of the Caribbean’s beach paradises, and for good reason. Its beaches boast powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and simply basking in the sun. The iconic Eagle Beach is a must-visit, with its famous Divi Divi trees providing natural shade.
The Divi Tree famous in Aruba.
The famous Divi Divi Tree which is Aruba’s natural compass, always points in a Southwesterly direction due to the Trade Winds blowing across the island.
Major Attractions (Aruba): Beyond its beaches, Aruba offers a range of attractions for adventure seekers and history buffs alike. Explore the Arikok National Park, go windsurfing at Hadicurari Beach, or visit the California Lighthouse for panoramic views. Don’t forget to check out the colourful streets of Oranjestad, the island’s capital.
Colorful downtown Aruba.
The Vibrant Downtown Aruba.
Unique Areas (Aruba): One unique aspect of Aruba is its arid landscape, quite different from the lush greenery often associated with the Caribbean. The Arikok National Park, with its desert-like terrain, cacti forests, and rugged coastlines, provides a fascinating contrast to the island’s beaches.
Shopping, Bars, and Restaurants (Aruba): Aruba offers excellent shopping opportunities in Oranjestad, with stores selling everything from luxury goods to local crafts. After a day of exploration, enjoy delicious cuisine at beachfront restaurants like Barefoot, and don’t miss the local seafood dishes and refreshing cocktails.

Discovering Curacao: The Blend of Culture and Adventure

Beaches (Curacao): Curacao is known for its unique beaches, boasting a mix of white sandy shores and rocky coves. Playa Kenepa Grandi and Playa Kenepa Chiki are two stunning options for beach lovers. The snorkelling and diving here are world-class.
Beautiful Blue Bay Beach in Curacao.
Blue Bay Beach in Curacao.
Major Attractions (Curacao): Curacao offers a rich blend of history and adventure. Wander through the charming streets of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and explore the historic forts like Fort Amsterdam. The Hato Caves and the Curacao Sea Aquarium are also worth a visit.
Unique Areas (Curacao): One of Curacao’s most unique features is its colourful architecture. The pastel-hued buildings lining the streets of Willemstad create a vibrant and picturesque backdrop for your explorations.
The Gorgeous Dutch colonial colourful buildings in Williamstad, Curacao.
The pastel-hued buildings lining the streets of Willemstad are a perfect picture opportunity from your cruise ship usually docked on this side. These are mostly Tax and duty-free shops, bars and restaurants.
Shopping, Bars, and Restaurants (Curacao): Willemstad offers an excellent shopping scene with boutiques, markets, and local crafts. For a taste of the island’s cuisine, try Krioyo, where you can savour traditional dishes like stobá and keshi yena. The island also boasts a lively nightlife scene, with bars and clubs to suit every taste.

Unwinding in Bonaire: The Diver’s Paradise

Beaches (Bonaire): Bonaire is renowned for its underwater wonders. While it may not have extensive sandy beaches, it more than makes up for it with its world-class snorkelling and diving opportunities. The Bonaire National Marine Park is a haven for marine life enthusiasts.
Major Attractions (Bonaire): Besides its aquatic attractions, Bonaire offers unique experiences on land. Visit the Washington Slagbaai National Park, home to diverse wildlife and rugged landscapes. Explore the island’s history at the Bonaire Museum or simply enjoy the tranquillity of the Gotomeer.
Unique Areas (Bonaire): One of Bonaire’s most unique features is its commitment to preserving its natural beauty. The entire coastline is protected as a marine park, ensuring that the underwater world remains pristine and thriving.
Shopping, Bars, and Restaurants (Bonaire): Shopping in Bonaire is a laid-back affair, with boutiques selling local crafts and artisanal goods. For dining, try Kralendijk, where you’ll find a mix of international and local cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy fresh seafood by the waterfront.
This is downtown Bonaire.
This is downtown Bonaire here you will find boutiques selling local crafts and artisanal goods. For dining, try Kralendijk, where you’ll find a mix of international and local cuisine.

Let’s delve into the exciting tours and shore excursions that cruisers can enjoy when visiting Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire:

Aruba Adventures:

  1. Aruba Beach Day: Start your visit with a relaxing day at one of Aruba’s famous beaches like Eagle Beach or Palm Beach. Sunbathe, swim, or try water sports like snorkelling or jet-skiing.
  2. Natural Pool Off-Roading: Embark on an off-road adventure to Aruba’s rugged north coast, where you’ll discover the iconic Natural Pool (Conchi). Swim in this secluded oasis formed by volcanic rock formations.
  3. Arikok National Park Tour: Explore the unique arid landscapes of Arikok National Park on a guided tour. Discover ancient caves, admire stunning vistas, and learn about the island’s flora and fauna.
  4. Snorkelling and Diving: Aruba boasts vibrant coral reefs and shipwrecks that make it a top snorkelling and diving destination. Join a guided underwater tour to explore these mesmerizing underwater worlds.
  5. ATV Island Tours: Get your adrenaline pumping with an ATV tour that takes you through Aruba’s scenic landscapes. Zoom past cacti forests, sand dunes, and rugged trails.
Adventure tours in Aruba.
If you are an adventure junkie then take the ATV tour that takes you through Aruba’s scenic landscapes through cacti forests, sand dunes, and rugged trails.

Curacao Crusades:

  1. Willemstad Walking Tour: Start your day with a guided walking tour of Willemstad’s historic district, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Admire the colourful architecture and visit landmarks like the Queen Emma Bridge.
  2. Ostrich Farm Adventure: Visit an ostrich farm for a unique experience. You can feed these large birds, learn about their habits, and even ride them if you dare.
  3. Diving and Snorkeling: Curacao offers fantastic diving and snorkelling opportunities. Join a guided excursion to explore vibrant coral reefs and underwater caves teeming with marine life.
    Curacao is famous for great diving.
    Book your guided diving trip to explore vibrant coral reefs and underwater caves teeming with marine wildlife.
  4. Christoffel National Park: Discover the natural beauty of Curacao by hiking in Christoffel National Park. Climb Mount Christoffel for panoramic views or explore the park’s flora and fauna on a guided tour.
  5. Sea Aquarium and Dolphin Encounter: Visit the Curacao Sea Aquarium and enjoy interactive experiences with dolphins, sea lions, and other marine animals. It’s a family-friendly adventure.

Bonaire Bliss:

  1. Bonaire Marine Park Snorkeling: Bonaire’s underwater world is a paradise for snorkelers. Join a guided tour to explore the vibrant coral reefs, abundant marine life, and crystal-clear waters of the Bonaire Marine Park.
  2. Klein Bonaire Island Boat Tour: Take a boat trip to Klein Bonaire, a nearby uninhabited island known for its pristine beaches and exceptional snorkelling. The island’s underwater beauty is a magnet for marine enthusiasts.
  3. Bonaire Mangrove Kayak Tour: Paddle through the serene mangroves of Bonaire on a guided kayak tour. This eco-friendly adventure allows you to spot exotic birds, fish, and other wildlife.
  4. Washington Slagbaai National Park: Explore the natural wonders of Bonaire’s largest national park. Hike, bike, or drive through the park to encounter diverse flora and fauna and breathtaking landscapes.
  5. Donkey Sanctuary Visit: Visit the Donkey Sanctuary and interact with these gentle creatures. Learn about the sanctuary’s conservation efforts and enjoy a heartwarming experience.
  6. Buddy Dive Resort Bonaire’s waters offer something special for every diver. Novice divers will appreciate the calm waters while diving in Bonaire, reefs that run parallel to shore, and minimal currents. These conditions make it an ideal location to work on improving those buoyancy skills! The shallow drop-off area of the reef slope with an abundance of marine life allows for a maximum bottom time while allowing new divers to develop a level of comfort and confidence in their newly learned skills.  
Diving in Bonaire is excellent.
Divers underneath the pier in Bonaire.
These tours and excursions offer a taste of the unique experiences each of these islands has to offer. Whether you’re into water sports, nature exploration, history, or simply soaking up the sun, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire have something extraordinary in store for cruisers and adventure seekers alike. So, get ready to make unforgettable memories in the Caribbean!

Let’s explore the recommended shopping experiences in Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, where you can find unique souvenirs and local treasures:

Aruba’s Retail Delights:

  1. Oranjestad Shopping District: Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad, is a shopper’s paradise. Stroll along the vibrant streets lined with shops, boutiques, and markets. You’ll find everything from designer brands to local crafts.  Don’t forget to visit Diamonds International and pick up your FREE charm.  Click here for your Map and coupons.  Let us know when you are cruising and I will get you up-to-date coupons.
  2. Renaissance Mall and Marketplace: Located in downtown Oranjestad, these shopping complexes offer a mix of high-end fashion, jewellery, and electronics stores. It’s a great place to indulge in duty-free shopping.
  3. Aruba Aloe Factory and Store: Discover the world of aloe vera products at the Aruba Aloe Factory. You can purchase skincare and wellness products made from locally grown aloe vera.  
  4. Street Markets: Don’t miss the opportunity to explore local street markets like the Bon Bini Festival Market. Here, you can shop for unique souvenirs, handcrafted jewellery, artwork, and more.
Read more about unique shopping in Aruba in the below Blog. What is the best shopping in Aruba?
Street Tram.
Aruba’s downtown shopping area is so cool, there is a mall and a street tram. Such a quaint place to shop.
Curacao’s Shopping Extravaganza:
  1. Willemstad’s Punda District: The Punda district in Willemstad is famous for its colourful buildings and excellent shopping. Visit the Floating Market to purchase fresh produce and fish, and explore boutiques for clothing, accessories, and souvenirs.
  2. Rif Fort: Located in the Otrobanda district of Willemstad, the Rif Fort is a shopping and dining complex within a historic fort. It’s a great place to shop for luxury items, fashion, and unique gifts.
  3. Curacao Souvenirs: Look for locally crafted souvenirs such as intricate lacework, pottery, and hand-painted tiles. The markets in Willemstad and the artisans’ stalls in Otrobanda offer plenty of options.  You must try the famous Blue Curacao liquor it is delicious and gives a fabulous Caribbean Blue color to your drinks.  If you haven’t tried it yet treat yourself to a bottle using this link. 
  4. Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino: This resort complex features boutique shops with duty-free shopping, including jewellery, fashion, and electronics. It’s conveniently located in downtown Willemstad. Click here for your Map and coupons.  Let us know when you are cruising and I will get you up-to-date coupons.
This is big bridge.
WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO – APRIL 18, 2017:The Marriott Renaissance Carnaval Resort & Casino with Queen Emma Bridge in the background.

Bonaire’s Shopping Charms:

  1. Kralendijk’s Main Street: The main street of Kralendijk, Bonaire’s capital, offers an array of shops and boutiques. Explore stores selling local crafts, artwork, and souvenirs, including the famous Bonaire salt. Top tip visit SunSmiles to design your own Sandals | Beachwear Boutique to know more Click here for your Map and coupons.  Let us know when you are cruising and I will get you up-to-date coupons.
  2. Kas di Arte: Visit this charming shop to discover local art and handmade crafts, including paintings, ceramics, and jewellery created by Bonairean artists.
  3. The Cadushy Distillery: Bonaire is home to the Cadushy Distillery, where you can find unique liqueurs made from local cacti. It’s an excellent place to purchase one-of-a-kind beverages and souvenirs.  
  4. Dive Shops: For divers, Bonaire is known for its underwater treasures. Explore dive shops where you can purchase diving gear, apparel, and mementoes of your aquatic adventures.
Remember to explore local markets and shops to find authentic Caribbean products and support local artisans. Whether you’re seeking jewellery, art, clothing, or souvenirs, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire offer a wide range of shopping experiences to satisfy your retail desires. Happy shopping!
Island Liquors
Island Liqueurs – It all started with the idea to make a Liqueur out of the plentiful cacti of Bonaire, the Kadushi.  A Liqueur for every Island of the Dutch Caribbean.

So, Which Island Should You Choose?

Choosing the best island among Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire depends on your vacation preferences:
  • Choose Aruba if you’re a beach lover looking for powdery sands, a vibrant nightlife scene, and arid landscapes that provide a unique contrast to the Caribbean norm.
  • Opt for Curacao if you’re interested in exploring a blend of culture, history, and adventure, all while enjoying colourful architecture and unique beach experiences.
  • Select Bonaire if you’re a diving enthusiast or someone seeking a quieter, unspoiled escape with pristine marine life and natural beauty.
In the end, the best island for you is the one that aligns with your travel style and interests. Whether you’re seeking beachfront bliss, cultural discoveries, or underwater adventures, each of these Caribbean gems has something incredible to offer. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the magic of Aruba, Curacao, or Bonaire – your tropical paradise awaits!
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  3. What do you do on Cruise Port Days?