Almost invariably, the weather is wonderful -- warm, sunny, dry, and breezy. There's no monsoon season and no threat of tropical storms -- the island is far outside the hurricane belt. The average annual temperature is 82°F (28°C), and no month of the year has an average high temperature lower than 85°F (29°C) or higher than 89°F (32°C). Lows range from 76°F (24°C) to 80°F (27°C).
The sun can be hot, and its reflection off the white sandy beaches is blinding. Fortunately, the almost-constant trade winds make it easy to forget just how warm it is. Usually a godsend, these pleasant, gentle breezes can occasionally escalate to surprising gusts or sustained winds, so hold onto your hat. Better yet, buy one with a chin strap, and no they're not all dorky. With the right attitude, anyone can pull off a straw cowboy hat; these hats are readily available at most souvenir shops. In September, though, you'll wish the breezes were back. Tropical storms plaguing less-fortunate islands far to the north suck away the trade winds during that back-to-school month, making Aruba as hot as any other spot in the Caribbean. Unless you fancy relentless heat with no relieving breezes, avoid visiting in September.
The wind provides a collateral perk, too. It blows away annoying mosquitoes and other flying pests. That said, with the creation of so many new High-Rise hotels, the breezes aren't nearly as strong as they once were. So when the breezes wane, it's time to bring out the insect repellent. Aruba's dry, though, so you'll never encounter the number of bugs that infest more lush islands.
Rainfall averages about 46 centimeters (18 in.) a year, with most precipitation falling from October through January. Even then rains tend to be erratic and brief, and it's rare for the sun not to shine most of the day.
Another plus: The humidity is less oppressive in Aruba than in most of the Caribbean. Although not exactly Arizona, the island's more dusty than sultry.
Hurricanes -- The curse of much of the Caribbean, hurricanes are something you can pretty much ignore if you're vacationing in Aruba. The island is many miles from the storms that wreak havoc on much of the region from June to November. On rare occasions, storm activity far to the north is so violent that it causes wave action to ripple in Aruba. Some damage has occurred over the years, but it's relatively negligible.
The High Season & Off Season
Because the weather is consistently nice year-round, Aruba's high and low seasons reflect climates in the United States and Canada rather than the weather on the island itself. When it's cold and wintery in North America, demand for Aruba's warmth and sunshine peaks. Roughly speaking, the island's high season runs from mid-December to mid-April. During this period, hotels charge their highest prices, and you'll need to reserve a room well in advance -- months in advance if you want to bask on the beach over Christmas or in the depths of February. Guests during the high season tend to be older and wealthier, although there are plenty of families. The national mix weighs heavily toward Americans and Canadians.
The off season -- roughly from mid-April to mid-December (although it varies from hotel to hotel) -- is one big summer sale. All resorts routinely slash their room rates, which means you can get the same accommodations in the low season for 20% to 50% less than you would in darkest winter.
But if you think Aruba's a ghost town in the summer, think again. The deals are so attractive, and the season dovetails so nicely with Europe's traditional vacation time and South America's winter, that the island's resorts are still pretty full. The mix of visitors shifts in the summer toward families, Europeans (especially Dutch), South Americans, and the more budget conscious from everywhere. Americans still make up the largest national group.
Some activities and attractions scale back a bit in the summer, but not much. For example, instead of six excursions a day, a tour operator may offer only three; restaurants might close an hour earlier; and hotels may use the "downtime" for new construction or renovation (ask if work is scheduled; if it's potentially disturbing, request a room far away from the noise).
If you're single and want crowds, don't worry. Lots of potential playmates are around in the summer, as well.
Because the difference in high-season and low-season rates at most hotels is drastic, we've included both in the listings. That way you can compare how much you can save if you wait a bit for your fun in the sun.
Since the global economic downturn in early 2009, the travel industry worldwide has suffered, because people are more reluctant to indulge in a vacation. Aruba's tourist-based economy has at times been hit hard. But there is a silver lining; in uncertain times, fearless, opportunistic travelers can find significant bargains. For example, many restaurants are now offering early-bird specials, prix-fixe meals, and free appetizers or cocktails with a coupon. Some even let children eat for free. The offerings change weekly. When times are lean, keep an eye out for these deals, which are advertised in tourism brochures and fliers and on websites.
Most stores and restaurants close on official holidays. If you stay near the resort areas, however, you may not be affected at all. Here's a list of Aruba's holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day); January 25 (Betico Croes Day); February 20, 2012 (Carnival Monday); February 21, 2012 (Fat Tuesday); February 22, 2012 (Ash Wednesday); March 18 (National Anthem and Flag Day); April 6, 2012 (Good Friday); April 8, 2012 (Easter Sunday); April 30 (Queen's Birthday); May 1 (Aruba's Labor Day); May 17, 2012 (Ascension Day); December 25 (Christmas Day); and December 26 (Boxing Day).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.