Aruba and Bonaire are two beautiful Dutch Caribbean islands with similar languages and cuisine. Nevertheless, there are several differences between them.
In this article, we dive deeper into these areas to help you make a suitable decision for your upcoming Caribbean vacation.
As a general rule, Aruba is ideal for a visitor who is looking for entertainment, luxury high end shopping with an interest in visiting the iconic Flamingo Beach. Alternatively, Bonaire is perfect for a visitor who wants to enjoy shore diving in a quiet and laid back environment.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two stunning Caribbean Islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean national familiar with both islands.
Aruba Vs Bonaire- Which Island Is Bigger
Bonaire has the larger landmass of the two islands being 111 square miles.
The highest point of elevation is The Brandaris at 784 feet located at Washington Slagbaai National Park.
On the contrary, Aruba is a much smaller island with a landmass of 69.5 square miles with the highest point of elevation being Mount Jamanota which stands at 620 feet.
Aruba Vs Bonaire- Does The Currency Differ?
The currency of both nations differs. The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban Florin.
It was introduced on the island in 1986, replacing the Netherlands Antillean Guilder.
It is pegged to the United States (US) dollar at a rate of USD$1 to AFL$1.79.
The US dollar is accepted throughout the island.
Prices by most businesses are quoted both in US dollars and AFL. ATM machines in Aruba dispense US dollars.
On the other hand, despite being a dependency of The Netherlands, the US dollar is the official currency of Bonaire.
Aruba Vs Bonaire- Which Island Has Better Beaches
Both islands have gorgeous beaches but the island that is better for you truly depends on your desire.
If your priority is white sand beaches for sunbathing and relaxing, then Aruba is the ideal destination for you.
Aruba has white sand beaches with Eagle beach being well loved by visitors and locals alike.
It is located in Oranjestad, the island’s capital city and is over 1000 metres long. Additionally, Eagle Beach is the widest beach in Aruba.
It is known for its white powdery sand and there are shaded areas with parking available. Turtles are fond of nesting on Eagle beach
Alternatively, if your priority is shore diving, then Bonaire is the better island for you.
Corals and variety of fishes can be seen near the shore without taking a boat.
Te Amo Beach and Lac Bay are some of the best spots for snorkeling on the island.
Aruba Vs Bonaire- Which Island Is Better For Shopping
Aruba is the better of the two islands for shopping. In Aruba duty free shopping is available only on the airport where individuals tend to have less time to browse and make purchases.
However, there are a number of high end stores in the capital city of Oranjestad.
These high end luxury international brands typically do not have a presence in most Caribbean islands.
At The Renaissance Mall, there are shops such as Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade where you can buy luxury items.
On the contrary, shopping opportunities are extremely limited in Bonaire.
If you are traveling to the island, it is best to carry any specialist items that you may need during your trip.
Bonaire Superstore is one of the best places where you can find a range of products but even the range there is limited.
Aruba Vs Bonaire– Which Island Has Better Access To International Cities
Getting to Aruba is very convenient as there are several airlines provide direct and non-stop flights to Aruba daily and weekly.
Some of these airlines include American Airlines, Air Century, Avianca, Air Canada, Copa Air, Delta Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
Jet Blue Airways, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), Sunwing, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, TUI Netherlands, West Jet also provide service to the island.
There are also a large regional footprint from Aruba to other Dutch Caribbean and South American Countries via Insel Air.
In addition, if you are traveling to the United States (US) from Aruba, you can clear immigration in Aruba.
Therefore on arrival into the US, you only collect your bags. This makes traveling to the US extremely convenient.
Correspondingly, Bonaire also has easy access to major international cities.
However, the number of flights and range of airlines is much narrower.
Being a part of the Netherlands, KLM offers direct and non-stop flights to the Netherlands every week.
In addition with the introduction of American Airlines, there are now direct flights to Miami international.
Barbados however has more connections via American Airlines into the island than Bonaire.
Through Insel Air, there is also easy access from Bonaire to South American countries such as Brazil and Colombia.
Insel Air also offers flights to several USA cities many of which are via Curacao and Aruba.
Aruba Vs Bonaire- Which Island Has The Better Nightlife
Despite being the smaller island, Aruba has the superior nightlife environment. There are a number of options that visitors can enjoy.
Party lovers will enjoy the bars and clubs located along South Beach Aruba.
There are casinos, bowling alleys, cinemas and golf courses so visitors can enjoy a myriad of entertainment.
Contrastingly, Bonaire is a peaceful and laid back island. Generally, nightlife activities tend to be happy hour with live bands.
Some of the locations which are great spots for nightlife include Lucas Bar, Coco Beach Bonaire and Delfins Beach Resort.
Aruba Vs Bonaire- What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In Aruba
Arikok National Park- this stunning area occupies about 20% of the island and is home to natural pools and caves.
The appearance of the park is desert like and visitors can enjoy the park either by hiking or by driving. The cost of the visit is $11.00 per person at the time of writing.
Visit Renaissance Island– this is a private island that is owned and operated by the Renaissance hotel where you can get a direct and personal experience with flamingos.
Access to Flamingo beach as it is fondly called must be via the Renaissance hotel which provides boat transfer to the island. Visitors at the hotel can access the beach during their stay.
If you are staying at another location, you will need to purchase a day pass.
Some travelers opt to book a room for one day which gives you access to the beach twice which is the day that you check in and the day that you check out.
Explore The Butterfly Farm- if you are near the Palm Beach area, a unique attraction that you can enjoy is a visit to the butterfly farm.
Tours explain the metamorphosis of the creature from the egg stage to the butterfly. This attraction is perfect for amazing pictures and for multi-generational families.
Unique Things To Do In Bonaire
Washington Slagbaai Park– is a national reserve located at the northern part of the island. The park is over 40 years old and you pay about USD$25 to enter per person.
There are two routes- the short route and the long route.
It is best to go with an SUV vehicle and be prepared to enjoy some scenes that look like pictures out of a magazine. It takes about 3 hours minimum to enjoy the park and its beauty.
Kitesurfing– due to the island’s unique location, the trade winds in Bonaire are ideal for kitesurfing almost every day of the year.
Bonaire Kiteschool and Chogogo Kite are two of the main kitessurfing operators on the island.
Diving– Bonaire is one the best Caribbean islands for shore diving with Klein Bonaire being one of the favorite spots by divers.
According to Tourism Bonaire, there are 85 official dive spots on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire of which 54 are shore dive sites.
On a whole, Aruba is an ideal choice for a traveler who enjoys luxury high end shopping, white sand beaches and a vibrant nightlife environment. On the other hand, Bonaire is perfect for a visitor who wants to enjoy shore dives and kite surfing in a peaceful environment.
Need More Information?
Feel free to browse our website for more content on the Aruba, Bonaire and the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page.
The following are some of our articles which we believe may be suitable for you.
Aruba vs Turks & Caicos (Which Vacation Is Better)
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands (Which Vacation Is Better)
Anguilla Vs Aruba (Which Island Is Better For A Vacation)