Thinking about having a vacation in a Caribbean paradise? I mean, that sounds amazing, but with so many islands to choose from, it can often be hard to choose. Two of the most popular Caribbean islands, Barbados and Aruba, have so many pros to visiting, so how do they stack up against each other? Let’s find out!
If you’re thinking about adventuring in the great outdoors, then Aruba is going to be more your speed. With beautiful beaches and tons of shipwrecks to explore under the crystal-clear waves, there’s a little something for everyone.
On the other hand, if you want a holiday where all the major sights are within easy reach, Barbados might be up your street. With a tried-and-tested tourist infrastructure, Barbados is a great place to go with the family, or if you don’t want to hire a car during your trip.
A Quick Overview & Comparison: Barbados vs Aruba
Okay, so now it’s time for the big question – Barbados vs Aruba: Which is the vacation place for you?
Well, in my opinion, unless you’re going away with family who need a lot of entertainment, Aruba is the better option. The weather is great for much of the year, including much of the summer holidays, and the watersports and nightlife make it a great place for a fun vacation.
The majority of the time, we’re heading to the Caribbean for a good time, good weather, and quite frankly, amazing beaches. Aruba ticks all those boxes and more.
- Easier to get around the island
- More tourist-driven activities
- More of a British colonial vibe
- More historic sites
- Better diving scene
- More nightlife
- Better year-round weather
- Smaller island
First things first, both Barbados and Aruba are beautiful islands with stunning beaches, however, when it comes to truly gorgeous beaches with white sand, Barbados takes the edge here. Aruba might be better for watersports, but if you want to wander down a stunning beach at sunset, go to Barbados.
Barbados, however, is much easier to get around thanks to its experienced tourist infrastructure. Public buses are frequent and go everywhere you need to go. That being said, size-wise, if you want a more intimate island feel where you can easily access the hotspots, Aruba is a great shout.
In Aruba, the main attractions lie at the coast. With diving, snorkeling, and other watersports to be enjoyed, if you’re looking for water-based adventure, you’re spoiled for choice. Let’s be honest, there are so many shipwrecks to explore that you can spend your whole trip under the waves!
Finally, the two islands have very different vibes. Barbados can feel very family-friendly and geared towards tourists, whereas Aruba has a much bigger and better nightlife scene, which makes it ideal for a friend’s trip away.
Barbados vs Aruba: A Quick Guide to Choosing
Choosing between Barbados and Aruba? You can’t really go wrong, but here are our at-a-glance guides to help you decide.
Barbados Mini Guide
- Location Size – 430 km²
- Population – 281,200
- Rainy Season – July to November
- High Season – Mid-December to Mid-April.
- Top Sights – Harrison’s Cave Eco-Adventure Park, Bridgetown, St. Nicholas Abbey
- Major Airports – Grantley Adams International (BGI)
If you’re traveling with your family over the Christmas period or into the springtime, Barbados is a great shout. With so many routes flying into Barbados from all around the world, and so many tourist-friendly attractions, it’s easy to enjoy a vacation on this beautiful island.
History buffs will love Barbados for its colonial architecture around Bridgetown and hotspots like St. Nicholas Abbey where history comes to life. Barbados offers a great blend of stunning island beach landscapes and historic and cultural activities.
Suggested Reading: Barbados or St Lucia – An Honest Guide To Help You Choose
Aruba Mini Guide
- Location Size – 180 km²
- Population – 106,537
- Rainy Season – October to December
- High Season – Mid-December to Mid-April
- Top Sights – Butterfly Farm, Arikok National Park, Conchi Natural Pool, Eagle Beach
- Major Airports – Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)
The majority of Aruba’s most beloved activities take part in the great outdoors – and with beaches, national parks, and natural pools like these, who wouldn’t want to be outside? If you’re heading to Aruba, you’re not there for museums or tourist-heavy sights, you’re there to enjoy the stunning coastline.
Another huge benefit that comes with Aruba’s location is that it’s actually south of the hurricane belt. That means that like other Caribbean countries, including Barbados, you can actually travel there in the summer months. This is Aruba’s off-peak season where prices are a lot lower but the weather is still great!
The 4 Key Differences Between Barbados and Aruba
So, both Aruba and Barbados are amazing Caribbean islands, but what are the four key differences that set them apart? Let’s dive in and find out more!
Which Is Better For Activities?
If you’re looking for activities that happen in or around the coastal regions, Aruba wins hands-down. The sheer amount of shipwrecks makes it one of the best places in the Caribbean for snorkeling and scuba diving. With relatively calm waters, it’s also a great spot to try this amazing sport for the first time as well!
On the other hand, if you want more traditional vacation activities like eco-cave walks, history abbeys, and rum distilleries, then Barbados is going to be more up your street. While Aruba is better for outdoor adventure activities, Barbados definitely has more tourist attractions for you and your family to enjoy.
Which Is Better For Families?
This all depends on what your family is into. As we’ve said, Barbados has way more family-friendly attractions to start with, but if your kiddos like exploring the waves and coastline, then they’re also going to love Aruba.
Barbados is definitely more geared towards families with more kid-friendly resorts, activities, and eateries. Aruba, on the other hand, has a bustling nightlife scene that we’re going to go into more detail about in just a moment.
Which Has The Better Nightlife?
Visiting the Caribbean with your friends and loved ones and looking for a good time? Head to Aruba. There are a ton of tourist-driven bars, clubs, restaurants, and casinos to check out during your time there. It’s definitely catered toward US travelers who are the most common visitors to the island.
On the other hand, Barbados has much more of a local nightlife scene. There are clubs and bars, but it’s not as touristy as other islands, including Aruba. In fact, if you’re looking for casinos in Barbados you’re out of luck – they’re illegal here!
Which Is Easier To Get To?
This depends on where you’re flying from. Each day, there are around 42 flights to Aruba, but they’re pretty much all from the US or from the Caribbean, with some from South America. In fact, the only transatlantic route is from Amsterdam, which makes sense considering it was colonized by the Dutch.
If you’re traveling from the UK or Germany, there are a number of direct flights to Barbados, as well as plenty of routes from the US and within the Caribbean. So, if you’re coming from Europe, Barbados might be easier to get to, but if you’re coming from the US, there are plenty of routes to both islands. If you’re coming from South America, Aruba is going to be the easier option.
Suggested Reading: Barbados or Bermuda – The Honest Comparison You Need
3 Questions to Help You Decide to Travel to Barbados vs Aruba
So, let’s round this comparison guide off with a few final questions to help you work out which is the island for you – Barbados or Aruba.
Which Flights are Cheaper?
On the whole, the flight prices for both Aruba and Barbados are within around $100 of each other from different locations. However, Barbados is normally the cheaper option. That’s likely because it’s further north, so the flight times are shorter for major routes from Europe and the US.
Average flight times from Europe to Barbados are around the 9-hour mark, whereas flights to Aruba are an hour longer. When you take the extra distance into account, the prices are pretty comparable. The other reason why Barbados flight prices may be cheaper is that they’re often sold as part of a resort package holiday, especially where families are concerned, so you might be able to get a cheaper deal that way.
Who Are You Traveling With?
We’ve covered this slightly, but who you’re traveling with matters when it comes to choosing between Barbados and Aruba. If you’re looking for a fun and vibrant getaway with your friends where you can let your hair down, Aruba is your island. On the flip side, if you want a relaxing trip with your family that has a blend of natural beauty, beaches, and entertaining tourist attractions, Barbados is the better option.
When Are You Traveling?
As Aruba is below the hurricane belt, it’s a great place to visit in the summer months when other islands – including Barbados – are not an option. If you’re looking for a summer vacation or a September getaway, Aruba is going to be the place to be.
However, if you’re traveling around Thanksgiving, Barbados’ rainy season does finish slightly earlier than Aruba, so you might be able to get a winter getaway for less before the peak season hits in mid-December. Grab some winter sunshine and a deal at the same time! It’s a win-win.