Both Aruba and St Maarten are two destinations that are well loved by visitors to the Caribbean.
In this article, we compare and contrast Aruba with St Maarten to let you determine which destination is better for your upcoming vacation.
As a general rule, Aruba is perfect for a visitor who is looking for sunny weather and white sand beaches with turquoise waters. Alternatively, St Maarten is ideal for a visitor who is seeking a bubbling nightlife atmosphere, white sand beaches and to experience jet blast at Maho beach.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean Islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean national familiar with both destinations.
Aruba Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Is Bigger
Aruba is approximately five times larger than St Maarten at 69.5 square miles with the highest point of elevation being Mount Jamanota at an elevation of 620 feet.
Additionally, Aruba is very windy due to its location near the equator which makes it an excellent spot for kite surfers.
Alternatively, St Maarten is only 13 square miles and is a unique country in that it shares it landmass with the French Caribbean island of St Martin which is 37 square miles.
Aruba Vs St Maarten- What Are The Official Currencies
Both destinations have their own official currencies which are issued and managed by their respective central banks.
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.
Contrastingly, the official currency of St Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean Guilders or Florin.
The Antillean Guilder exchange rate is US$1 equates to $1.80 ANG. The Guilders is also the official currency of Curacao.
Despite the difference in currency, US dollars is accepted everywhere on both islands.
Aruba Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Has Better Beaches
Again both islands have amazing beaches but if your motivation is basking on beautiful beaches with turquoise waters, Aruba is our destination of choice.
Eagle beach located in the capital city of Oranjestad is considered the best beach by both locals and visitors alike.
It is over 1000 metres long and is the widest beach in Aruba.
Eagle Beach is known for its white powdery sand and there are shaded areas with parking available. Turtles are fond of nesting on Eagle beach.
There are certain beaches on the northern side of the island that have strong undercurrents.
Usually there are sign on the beaches to indicate this and therefore it is wise to read before proceeding.
Alternatively, one of the favorite and well-loved beaches in St Maarten is Mullet Bay Beach. This beach has white sand, clear turquoise waters and great landscape.
Mullet Bay Beach is a good option for beginner snorkeling as you can see fishes near the shoreline.
There are no full restrooms but there is a port-a-potty available and usually there is a crowd on weekends. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and local foods can be found at Rosie’s Snack Bar.
St Maarten is well known globally for Maho Beach.
Also known as Airplane beach, airplanes approaching the Princess Juliana Airport fly at an altitude of less than 100 feet.
Individuals from all over the world usually flock to this spot to take pictures, make videos and experience the thrill of jet blast.
Great care must be exercised as persons have died in the past due to the effects of the jet blast.
The beach itself has suffered significant erosion due to the jet blast. As such there is little vegetation.
Aruba Vs St Maarten- Is It Easy To Visit Other Countries
Peradventure you are traveling on a budget and want to spend some time in many islands, St Maarten is the better destination.
St Maarten’s international airport connects travelers to the smaller Dutch territories of Saba and St Eustatius via Makana Ferry Services.
This service provider also has services to the English speaking island of St Kitts. There are also ferry services from St Maarten to St Barths and Anguilla.
Contrastingly, there are no ferry services from Aruba to other Dutch islands of Bonaire and Curacao.
However, Insel Air provides daily non-stop flights from Aruba to both destinations.
Aruba Vs St Maarten-Which Island Has Greater Threat of Hurricanes
St Maarten has the higher threat of natural disasters of the two destinations due to its location in the hurricane belt.
Consequently, St Maarten has experienced its fair share of destruction due to hurricanes the last major one being Irma in 2017.
Contrastingly, Aruba is located outside the hurricane belt and therefore the risk of a hurricane making landfall in Aruba is extremely low.
Furthermore, the island does not receive a significant amount of rainfall. Thus, there is a greater level of assurance that your days in Aruba will be filled with sunshine.
Nevertheless, if you are visiting the Caribbean during the hurricane season, it is extremely wise to consider travel insurance in the event of natural disasters which could cause travel disruptions.
Aruba Vs St Maarten- Which Island Has The Better Nightlife
Both islands are destinations for party lovers but St Maarten will get the slight advantage.
In Aruba, 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.
On the other hand, St Maarten has a variety of options to choose from movie theaters, restaurants, casinos, night clubs and discos. There is something available for everyone.
Lotus Night Club is one of the leading spots for dancing and partying on the island in Simpson Bay.
Ocean Lounge Bar in Philipsburg is another venue that attracts visitors as well as business professionals with live music, wine, cocktails and a delicious tapas menu.
Aruba Vs St Maarten-Which Island Has Better Shopping Opportunities
Both destinations have opportunities for shopping but St Maarten has the edge over Aruba.
Front Street in St Maarten is like heaven for a shopaholic with endless stores selling a variety of clothes, perfume, electronic equipment and jewelery. Most importantly, these are all untaxed.
You can find selection from international brands such as Gucci and Versace.
International businesses such as Little Switzerland have a presence on this street which offers the best names in watches and jewelery design from Omega and Breitling.
On the other hand, Aruba has the presence of several high end luxury international brands.
At The Renaissance Mall, there are shops such as Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade where you can buy luxury items.
Aruba Vs St Maarten- Unique Things To Do In Both Destinations
Alto Vista Chapel, Aruba– this small church is said to be the first in the Caribbean.
Located in Noord, the chapel is an excellent spot to stop and enjoy the desert-like landscape of the island. Visitors are welcomed to pray and light and candle.
Seaside Nature Park, St Maarten– this park consists of 30 acres of untouched real estate which was a former plantation.
There is a beach as well as numerous trails with an ambiance perfect for the entire family.
Seaside Nature Park is also the home of the Lucky Stables where you can get a horseback riding tour as well as riding lessons for every skill level.
On a whole, St Maarten is an exceptional choice for a traveler whose priority is duty free shopping and enjoying the thrill of jet blast at Maho Beach. Alternatively, Aruba is an ideal choice for a traveler who enjoys high end luxury shopping, white sand beaches and a bustling nightlife experience.
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