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Barbados vs. Aruba: Which Caribbean Island to Visit?

16 July 2021

For people who love sunny weather, warm turquoise sea, palm-trimmed beaches, and hot days, the Caribbean sounds like a perfect destination for everyone where they would want to spend a fantastic vacation. Tourists from all over the world come here to celebrate life, enjoy the colorful nature, and relish a melting pot of Caribbean cultures. 

You can easily be at a loss when planning your trip to this incredible region as the Caribbean is a region that consists of sixteen countries and more than 700 islands. Suppose you want to visit the most magnificent beaches in the Caribbean, see fascinating places, spend time at local bars, restaurants, or nightclubs. In that case, we have two excellent options for you—Barbados and Aruba.  

These two countries might not be your typical destination. Although Barbados and Aruba are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists from all corners of the globe, they are not on the bucket list of an average traveler. Barbados and Aruba are the places for those who want to explore something new, even in such a famous region as the Caribbean. Here are the things to consider before you decide which country to choose for your next vacation: 

Beaches in Barbados vs Aruba

Barbados has quite a few famous beaches that are well-known to people globally. Crane Beach, Carlisle Bay, Bathsheba Beach, Bathsheba Beach, and many more offer breathtaking views of the island and comfortable places to try different activities such as kayaking, scuba diving, and marine life watching. You can find a lot of tourist services that offer fantastic coastal sightseeing tours to show you around. 

The white-sand beaches of Barbados are clean and have many sunbeds, a lot of space, swimming pools, and local cafes so that your stay on the island could be pleasurable and carefree. 

Aruba has fewer beaches than Barbados. The most popular are Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, Boca  Cataavlina, Baby Beach, and Druif Beach. White sands, azure waters, multiple resorts, and many water activities make these places a desired destination for everyone. 

All the beaches are family and kids friendly so that you can visit the countries alone, with your partner, or with an entire family. Eagle Beach and Palm Beach of Aruba are more popular with tourists than beaches of Barbados, so if you want to spend more time in solitary, you should choose a beach in Barbados. 

Nature of Barbados vs Aruba

Barbados is a beautiful island — palm-ringed beaches, white sand, coral reefs, amazing marine life. You can meet here sea turtles, sea horses, giant eels, and frogfish. Scuba divers can observe these amazing creatures as well as multiple shipwrecks. For instance, Carlisle Bay has more than two hundred wrecks to observe.

What’s more, Barbados has absolute natural wonders. The Crystal Room in Harrison’s Cave is something that comes directly from a work of fiction. In-cave waterfall, tall stalactites and stalagmites, streams, and lakes. This cave is open to tourists who want to observe this marvel. 

Also, you can find more than two hundred species of tropical plants on the island, visit a mahogany forest, and observe the diverse animal life in the country. 

Aruba, by no aspect, concedes to the beauty of Barbados. The same amazing palm-trimmed beaches, crystal clear water, white sand. And the marine life here is diverse. You can meet leatherback sea turtles, green sea turtles, queen angelfish, flying fish, green moray eels, brain coral, and blue striped grunt fish.

As for the other natural wonders, you can visit Arikok National Park, which is the only park in the country, where you can observe Aruban burrowing owls, Aruban whiptail lizards, Baker’s cat-eyed snakes, sea turtles, and Aruban parakeets. Besides, here you can also visit multiple caves, some of which have ancient paintings of the pre-Columbian era. 

Both Barbados and Aruba are unique places to visit if you enjoy wildlife, marine life and want to explore them to the fullest. 

Watersports in Barbados vs Aruba 

As for the watersports in these countries, Barbados and Aruba offer the same things—scuba-diving, waterskiing, snorkeling, kayaking, etc. Particularly in Barbados, you can try your hand at jet blading. You can easily have an instructor who’ll help you master any of these water activities. But Aruba has more companies that provide such services. You can have private or group snorkeling trips, hire your cruise yacht where you’ll have a fantastic lunch and private scuba-diving lessons. 

If you want to spend your time trying and doing watersports, then Aruba will be a preferable place for you as the island has many options for tourists who love spending their time actively.

Food and Nightlife in Barbados vs Aruba

Barbados and Aruba are both well-known for their nightlife. Nightclubs, local pubs, and bars, festivals, party cruises are waiting for you every day. You can visit posh venues such as Limegrove bar in Holetown, where you can easily stumble upon a celebrity, or choose more quiet ones such as First Avenue Holetown, St Lawrence Gap, Mullins Beach Bar, and Harbour Lights. 

In Aruba, you can have fun at multiple nightclubs, test your luck in top casinos of the country, eat at the best late-night restaurants, or even have a party in a party bus! If you want to have more options for spending your evening, then Aruba also wins here. 

As for the local food, in Barbados, you should try the following things: 

  • Cou Cou and Flying Fish — is cornmeal grain, fresh okra, and flying fish
  • Fish cakes 
  • Conkies is a traditional dessert made from banana leaves, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, coconut, cornmeal, and spices. 

While in Aruba, you should taste these dishes: 

  • Pan Bati — flatbread that melts in your mouth as soon as you taste it
  • Seafood, especially red snapper, mahi-mahi, lionfish,  shrimps, and grouper
  • Keshi Yena — a traditional Aruban meal consists of cheese, spicy neat, and covered in Gouda
  • Ayaca — steamed mean with cashews and different types of dried fruits in banana leaves

Sightseeing in Barbados and Aruba 

The best sightseeing spots can be found in the capitals of Barbados and Aruba —Bridgetown and Oranjestad, respectively. Bridgetown, you can visit Barbados Museum & Historical Society to know the island’s rich culture, George Washington House, where the United States’ first president spends a few months. 

In Aruba, you can also visit a historical museum Museo Historico Aruba, National Archaeological Museum Aruba, and Aruba Aloe Factory Museum and Store. 

Accommodation Options and Getting Around

In Aruba and Barbados, you can find a lot of options where to stay. Multiple hotels, hostels, Airbnb apartments, and houses for various budgets. Getting around these countries is pretty easy. You can take a bus in Barbados and Aruba or hail a taxi. 

So, where would you want to spend your vacation — Barbados or Aruba? Both of these countries are beautiful, have many unique places to visit, and offer a wide variety of foods and activities. But if you want to have more options in terms of activities, more tourists, you should visit Aruba as Barbados is a little calmer. Nonetheless, these are two breathtaking islands that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. 

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