Boating and Sailing Near Aruba

If sailing and yachting strike your fancy, learn more about chartering options when traveling to Aruba

Photo credit: © Beatrice Preve |

Many sailors from around the world visit Aruba for the popular tournaments or for nearby fishing; still others use their own ships to carry them to the shores of this unusual island. Whatever the reason for your sail to the island, Aruba's main port provides a welcoming feel for all.

On the way to Aruba sailors may run across a few safety issues. Watch for coral reefs, especially near islands, and unfavorable trade winds if traveling in from the east. Sailing around Aruba may be dangerous, especially in shallow waters near the beaches. Sailors should become familiar with sailing precautions specific to the area of Aruba to which they plan to sail.

Also consider these things when setting your ocean course:

Oceanic Activity The strongest currents and largest waves are most often on the northeastern sides of the islands, in the Atlantic Ocean. The waters of the Caribbean Sea, where Aruba lies, are generally much calmer and make easier sailing.
Time of Year The best time of the year to sail in the Caribbean is from January through March, although this is near the Caribbean's peak tourist season, so prices will be higher on the islands.
Weather The summer rains and hurricane season, July through November, do not always make for easy sailing. However, the sailing may be easier around Aruba than around other Caribbean islands at this time due to its location outside the hurricane belt and its annual rainfall of less than 20 inches.
Where You Go Which islands you choose to visit is, as always, a consideration. Aruba is a unique island due to its desert-like climate and tropical personality.

If you are just wanting to spend a few hours on the water, without the stress and cost involved with renting a boat you should take a day sailing excursion. Check out the chart that follows for names and phone numbers for area excursion services.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location
Black Pearl Sailing (297) 593-1554 The vicinity of Palm Beach
De Palm Tours (297) 522-4400 142 LG Smith Boulevad - 0.9 mi. (1.4 km) Northwest of Oranjestad
Jolly Pirates (297) 586-8107 The vicinity of Palm Beach
Pelican Adventures (297) 587-2302 232 J.E. Irausquin Boulevard - Palm Beach
Red Sail Sports (297) 586-1603 J E Irausquin Boulevard 348 A - Palm Beach
Snorkeling Aruba (297) 592-6373 Palm Beach
Strea Charters (297) 600-2503 Cuquisastraat 8B - 0.5 mi. (0.9 km) South-Southwest of Oranjestad
The Tranquilo (297) 594-2173 Renaissance Marina - Downtown Oranjestad
Wave Dancer (297) 582-5520 Ponton 90 - 0.9 mi. (1.4 km) Northwest of Oranjestad

Boat Rentals and Charters

If you don't choose to sail your own craft to Aruba, there are plenty of options to choose from within or near the Caribbean for you to charter. When chartering there are three rental options available to sailors: bareboat, skippered bareboat, and crewed charter.

Bareboats are the rental option for experienced yachters. You'll find all the equipment you need to travel, but no crew. Bareboat charters are only done once the charterer has proved his or her qualifications, and may also include a tutorial of the Caribbean region, including important safety information like reef and safe harbor locations.

The charter company may also reserve the right, based on your own knowledge and experience, to insist that you travel with a skipper. However, you will be responsible for paying for the skipper's assistance for as long as he is required to travel with you. This is also the option for travelers who know their way around a yacht, but have yet to learn their way around the Caribbean. Skippers will lend their knowledge of sailing to travelers, and this can be especially useful when traveling to Aruba, which has a particularly difficult harbor.


Chartering a crewed yacht means you'll be traveling with a skipper and a full crew, including a cook. However, it's important to remember that the captain calls the shots on a crewed charter. While you can decide where you'd like to go, the captain may need to alter the route if any kind of danger presents itself.

Charter companies may also offer travelers the option of having the food provided for them for an additional fee. While buying food for oneself is less expensive, it can be somewhat difficult, depending on where you sail from. Remember that you will be responsible for feeding the crew as well as yourself, and fruits and vegetables must be bought on any Caribbean islands on which you charter.

Charter Companies

When picking out a charter travelers will want to consider the differences between such companies. There are two types of ratings, company size and "tiers." Neither of these distinctions are about quality or service.

First tier companies have the newest boats and equipment. Yachts older than 4 or 5 years will no longer be used by first tier companies. The best of these yachts are often sold to second tier companies, which offer the use of these older yachts for a lower price. However, items like GPS and cell phones may not be available on second tier yachts.

Company size says little about a company, however, first time charterers are recommended to use a larger company, because there are simply more guarantees. Should a yacht become unavailable, a large company will usually be able to offer a replacement or upgrade at no additional cost, but smaller companies may simply not have the yachts available. Still, some smaller companies feel that their small size adds to the quality of their service.

If you are serious about chartering a vessel, you can reserve one from the following agencies:

Charter and Rental Services
Name Phone Location
Adventure Sports Aruba (297) 561-4310 1.6 mi. (2.6 km) Southeast of Oranjestad
Sea Transportation Services (297) 584-3987 Pastoor Hendrikstraat 91 - San Nicolas

Being compatible with the crew is one of the more important aspects of a crewed charter. Finding such a compatible crew is easiest through a broker. Brokers act like travel agents, matching travelers with the best options in their price range. Further, the boat owner pays for the services of the broker. Brokers can also help you find a bareboat charter.

The most important charter broker trade organizations are the American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) and Charter Yacht Broker's Association (CYBA). The following listing includes companies that are members of the AYCA and/or the CYBA.

In The Caribbean
Charter Broker
Telephone Number(s)
Crewed Charters (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Nicholson Yachts Worldwide (Antigua)
Paradise Connections (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Regency Yacht Vacations (U.S. Virgin Islands)
284-495-1970 (in the BVIs)
Stewart Yacht Charters (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Yates Yachts (U.S. Virgin Islands)


In Florida
Charter Broker
Telephone Number(s)
Broward Yacht Sales Charter Division
Charter Specialists
Fraser Yachts Worldwide
June Montagne Yacht Charters
Marine Group of Palm Beach, Inc.
Nicely-Dunn Yacht Charters
Paradise Yacht Charters
Rikki Davis, Inc.
RNR Yacht Charters
Tom Collins Yachts Worldwide
Whitney Yacht Charters, Inc.
Yachtstore, Ltd.

Choosing a yacht can be difficult, but there are a few more considerations to make before you've chosen one. Remember to choose based on cost, style, and amenities.

The most popular size of bareboat is the three cabin, two bath monohull, ranging in size from 36 to 50 feet. However, monohulls have thin, plywood walls. This makes the ship lighter, but may not be great for families with children. Traveler's Tip: Choosing a boat with one more cabin than you intend to use can be a luxury worth considering.

Larger ships with more amenities are more costly than smaller ships, or those with fewer amenities. However, some amenities you may find particularly useful include extras like a power windlass to help you anchor, and a canvas top to keep away some sun in the cockpit. Other amenities include windsurf equipment and kayaks, or even GPS.

When choosing between a monohull or a catamaran, most newer sailors and those with families would likely do best with a catamaran. This is because catamarans experience less roll in port. Children and those prone to seasickness may appreciate this feature, but everyone may appreciate their cabins, which are usually more comfortable than those of a monohull.

Costs and Paperwork

While crewed yachts are more expensive than bareboats, they also include more extras. However, you will also need to remember that the crew should be tipped at approximately 10 to 15 percent of the charter's total cost. This tip makes up approximately 30 to 50 percent of the crew's income, so it is important to factor this in. Food will also need to be provided, but may be provided by the charter company. Skippers on bareboats will have their own fee, approximately $80(USD) to $100(USD) per day.

Before signing check for deposit and insurance fees. It is often suggested that any charges be placed on a credit card, in case of mistakes or problems. And remember to look into a company's cancellation policies. Most charters are locked in within 60 days of the departure date. Chartering a yacht, and your visits to the islands, will usually cost a bit more during the high season than in the off-season, but if multiple couples travel together the cost of a bareboat can add up to some savings.


Though there are three major ports around the island of Aruba, nearly every boat comes in at the Renaissance Marina in Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba. The Marina is part of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino hotel, though all are welcome to dock there.

The two other Aruban ports are located in Barcadera and San Nicolas, or Sint Nicolaas. Both Oranjestad and Barcadera's ports are operated by the Aruba Ports Authority, but the port at San Nicolas is operated by the Coastal Aruba Refining Company and includes oil terminals and reef berths. Barcadera is an industrial port.

Private yacht travelers approaching Oranjestad should call channel 16/11 to contact the Aruba Port Authorities in order to pass through Clearance, Customs, and Immigration. The Renaissance Marina monitors channel 16 and offers fresh running water, 110, 220, and 360V as well as 60H electricity, satellite TV, and 24-hour security. There are also laundry facilities, showers, and ice machines. Visitors using water and electricity should be aware of the fees. There is a nominal fee for water, and $0.29 (USD) per KWH of electricity.

Once they have cleared Customs, visiting yachtsmen are allowed full use of the Renaissance Aruba Resort's facilities. Here you can sample everything from beaches and swimming pools to the Resort's own private island, and, of course, the casino.

Those interested in sailing to and around the Caribbean can find their perfect choice in charter yachts available throughout the region. Aruba welcomes yachting and sailing visitors with open arms.

Starting to research sailing to Aruba in your own vessel, or a boat you charter elsewhere? Take a look at the chart that follows for information on area marinas.

Name Phone Location
Aruba Nautical Club (297) 585-3022 4.7 mi. (7.5 km) Southeast of Oranjestad
Bucuti Yacht Club Aruba (297) 582-8026 Barcadera 38 - 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) South-Southeast of Oranjestad
Fisherman Pier -- Downtown Oranjestad
Hadicurari Marina -- The vicinity of Palm Beach
Renaissance Marina (297) 583-6000 Downtown Oranjestad
Nearby Anchorages
Location Latitude Longitude
0.7 mi. (1.1 km) South-Southwest of Oranjestad 12.5082745518 -70.0315547016
Eagle Beach - Eagle Beach 12.55218136 -70.0587415695
Hadicurari Beach - The vicinity of Palm Beach 12.591197036 -70.0490587943
Seroe Colarado 12.4163660411 -69.8850846186

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