Aruba is a favorite Caribbean destination because it’s not just beaches and sunsets. The island, located in the Lesser Antilles, has its share of those beautiful beaches, and plentiful water sports, but its attractions also include great shopping, dining and nightlife. If you’d like to visit a Caribbean island but you’re afraid you’ll be bored, Aruba is a good choice.
Aruba is less than 20 miles north of Venezuela. That means that your flight to the island won’t be short, but it’s still only three hours from Miami.
The island is in the Southern Caribbean, far enough south that it’s outside Hurricane Alley. So if you’re traveling during hurricane season, you may be better off visiting Aruba than another island further north.
Aruba can get hot, with temperatures staying in the high 80s year-round. But the climate is dry, and pleasant trade winds come off the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to its white-sand beaches and marine sports, you’ll find horseback riding, Jeep safaris, hiking and biking, four-wheeling and rock climbing. There are also a few museums, an ostrich farm, a butterfly farm, a bird sanctuary and a donkey sanctuary. At the major resorts, you’ll find luxury shopping, high-end spas and casinos.
Getting to Aruba
With more than 100 nonstop flights from 14 North American gateways, award flight availability to Aruba is usually good. Look for flights to Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA).
Here are your airline options:
- From Atlanta: Delta
- From Baltimore: Southwest
- From Boston: JetBlue
- From Charlotte: US Airways
- From Chicago: United
- From Fort Lauderdale: Spirit Airlines
- From Houston: Southwest and United
- From Miami: American Airlines
- From New York (JFK): Delta and JetBlue
- From New York (LGA): Delta
- From New York (EWR): United
- From Orlando: Southwest
- From Philadelphia: US Airways
- From Washington, D.C.: United
Round-trip tickets on American Airlines, US Airways, Delta and United cost 35,000 miles in economy and 60,000 miles in business class. First class tickets cost 80,000 miles, but can’t be purchased with Delta SkyMiles. Award flights on JetBlue and Southwest are based on the current cash price of a ticket.
If you can travel during the low season between September 7 and November 14, American Airlines offers off-peak MileSAAver awards for only 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy.
Spirit Airlines awards are determined by distance. Fort Lauderdale to Aruba falls into the shortest flight category, and the standard award costs 20,000 points roundtrip. Peak awards are 30,000 points, but if you have the Free Spirit Mastercard you could potentially score an off-peak flight for only 5,000 points roundtrip.
Where to Stay
The nice thing about Aruba is that there are a lot of hotels that can be booked on points. Below are a few options.
If you have limited points:
- Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino: This is really the best deal on Aruba. You can spend as little as 25,000 points per night, but for only 8,000 more points you’ll get an upgraded room with access to the Regency Club.
- Holiday Inn Resort Aruba—Beach Resort & Casino: From 15,000 points plus $70 per night; 20,000 points plus $40 per night; or 25,000 points.
In the midrange:
- Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino: An excellent choice if you enjoy gambling. From 45,000 points per night, with the option to upgrade your room for more.
- Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino: Also a great casino option. From 40,000 points per night, with the option to upgrade your room for more.
- Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club (Marriott Vacation Club): From 45,000 points per night, with the option to upgrade your room for more.
A good splurge:
- Ritz-Carlton, Aruba: This is a beautiful resort that is worth spending a few extra points on if you’re interested in staying at a luxury property. From 60,000 points per night, with the option to upgrade your room for more points.
You Can Enjoy Aruba for Nearly Free
The cheapest way to get to Aruba is to snag an off-peak award on Spirit Airlines. Remember, you must have its branded credit card to be eligible. An off-peak round-trip award is just 5,000 miles from Fort Lauderdale. Pair that with a stay at the Hyatt Regency Aruba, and you’ve got a fantastic vacation for only a few miles and points.