Both Aruba and Jamaica are amazing Caribbean islands perfect for a destination vacation.
Nonetheless, there are several differences between these popular vacation spots which make both islands unique.
In this article, we dive deeper into areas where the islands vary to help you make an informed decision in planning your Caribbean vacation.
As a general rule, Aruba is ideal for a visitor who is looking for sunny weather, beaches, entertainment with an interest in seeing flamingos. Alternatively, Jamaica is better for travelers who are interested in jerk foods, a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Dunns river.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. Contribution to this article was made by Caribbean national who visited both of these islands in excess of three times.
Aruba Vs Jamaica: How Does The Size & Landscape Differ
Jamaica is significantly bigger of the than Aruba having a landmass of 4,244 square miles.
On the other hand, Aruba is only 69.5 square miles.
Jamaica is hilly, mountainous, green and lush in appearance.
If you have ever visited the Caribbean island of Grenada and love its topography, then you will love Jamaica as the appearance is similar.
On the other hand, Aruba is flat and dry in look and feel as the other Dutch Caribbean islands of Curacao and Bonaire.
This is due to the fact that the level of rainfall in Aruba is significantly lower than in Jamaica.
If you are deciding which island is better to visit and you prefer sunshine all the time, then Aruba will be the ideal choice.
Aruba will also be the easier for driving due to its flatness. Driving is done on the right hand side of the road.
Additionally, Aruba is very windy due to its location near the equator which makes it an excellent spot for kite surfers.
Aruba Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has Greater Threat of Hurricanes
The hurricane season in the Caribbean starts on June 1st and ends November 30th annually.
Nevertheless, Aruba is not in the hurricane belt whereas Jamaica is in the hurricane belt.
Therefore, there is a greater chance that you may experience delays or interruptions in your travel if you visit Jamaica during this time of the year compared to Aruba.
It may be prudent to consider travel insurance if visiting the Caribbean during the hurricane season.
Aruba Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has Better Beaches
Both islands are known for having incredible white sand beaches with turquoise waters.
Therefore, if enjoying the beach is your priority, then either island is an amazing choice.
Jamaica has a variety of beaches both black and white sand.
Seven Mile Beach also knows as Negril beach is Jamaica’s most famous with white sand and beautiful water.
This location is excellent for snorkeling and water based activities.
Doctor’s Cave beach and Frenchman’s Cove beach are also excellent and well-loved beach options in Jamaica.
Along the same lines as Jamaica, 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.
Aruba Vs Jamaica- How Does The Currency Differ
The currency of the two islands 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 currency is issued and managed by the Central Bank of Aruba which began its operations in 1986.
Nevertheless in Aruba, the US dollar is accepted throughout the island. Prices by most businesses are quoted both in US dollars and AFL.
Some businesses may provide you with change in US dollars while others will give you the local currency.
There are ATMs on the island that dispense US dollars.
Alternatively, the official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar since 1969. It is issued and managed by its own Central bank.
The Bank of Jamaica which is the Central bank is responsible for the island’s monetary policy.
Unlike the Netherland Antillean Guilders, the Jamaican dollar is not pegged to the US dollar and hence there has been massive devaluation against the US dollar over the years.
With this comes increased uncertainty when doing business on the island.
Aruba Vs Jamaica- Which Has The Better Nightlife
Jamaica is the clear winner in this category.
The nightlife in Jamaica is superior to Aruba with the island having countless restaurants, casinos, night clubs, theaters and beach bars.
Margaritaville is a one of the popular spots on the island which is built above the sea with a bar and restaurant.
Pier1 is also a very well loved place for locals and visitors which feature an open restaurant which serves Jamaican cuisine with live music and dancing.
Moreover, Aruba for a smaller Caribbean island also has a bustling nightlife atmosphere.
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.
Aruba Vs Jamaica- Which Has The Better Cuisine
Both Aruba and Jamaica are Caribbean islands that are well known for having unique cuisine.
If you prefer authentic creole food such as curry goat and rice and peas then Jamaica is the perfect island for you.
Additionally, Jamaica is well known for jerk food, festival, ackee and salt fish as well as bammy.
The jerk chicken as an example is specially cooked over pimento wood and has a unique flavor which you can only get in Jamaica.
Jerk food is prepared in other Caribbean islands but the Jamaica cuisine in this area is extraordinary.
Festivals are served as a staple with many meals. There is packet festival mix which you can buy at local Jamaican supermarkets.
Island Grill is one of the local restaurants that you can visit for real Jamaican jerk experience.
Devon’s House as well is a nice location to take in some history as well as delicious locally made ice cream.
Likewise, Aruba is also known for having fantastic cuisine.
Dutch snacks such as Frikandel and Bitterballen are unique to the Dutch Caribbean and you should try them if you visit Aruba.
If you love cheese, then the national dish, Keshi Yena which is a traditional meal made by Arubans is one that you will enjoy. Cheese is added to leftovers to create a casserole which is baked.
In Aruba the main and popular fruit drink is Awa di lamunchi.
This is a local Antillean drink made with lime that is also served in Curacao and Bonaire.
Aruba Vs Jamaica- 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 Jamaica
Explore Dunn River Falls- this world renowned water fall is one of the most visited attractions on the island.
Located near Ocho Rio, there are several activities that you can do at the falls and water park which includes zip lining, climbing the falls and purchasing souvenirs at the craft shop.
Visit Bob Marley Museum– for reggae enthusiasts and fans of the legendary singer site see at his former home.
Bob Marley lived at this location in Kingston until his transition in 1981. A tour of his former home features his studio as well as several memorabilia.
There is a theatre, record shop and café located at this premises.
On a whole, Aruba is an ideal choice for a traveler who enjoys unique Dutch cuisine, white sand beaches and a bustling nightlife experience. On the other hand, Jamaica is an ideal choice for a traveler who wants to enjoy authentic jerk food, reggae music, amazing nightlife and excellent beaches.
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