Aruba and the US Virgin Islands are two of the most frequented destinations by visitors especially from the United States of America to the Caribbean.
In this article, we share a comprehensive comparison of Aruba to the US Virgin Islands to help you make a suitable decision for your next Caribbean vacation.
As a general rule, Aruba is ideal for a visitor who is looking for sunny weather and entertainment with an interest in seeing flamingos. Alternatively, the USVI is better for travelers who are interested in hiking, enjoying white sand beaches and duty free shopping.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. Contribution to this article was made by individuals who visited both islands on vacation.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- Which Island Is Bigger
The US Virgin Islands is more than double the size of Aruba being 133 square miles.
Aruba is a much smaller island with a landmass of 69.5 square miles with the highest point of elevation being Mount Jamanota which stands at 620 feet.
Contrastingly, the US Virgin Islands Group is more mountainous than Aruba with the highest point of elevation being Crown Mountain at 1,555 feet in St Thomas.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- How Does The Landscape Differ?
The landscape of the US Virgin Islands and Aruba is extremely dissimilar. The US Virgin Islands are more mountainous and lush in appearance.
Also, St John is unique since two thirds of the island is protected as Virgin Island National Park.
On the other hand, Aruba is a coral based island and incredibly flat in topography. The island is dry and arid in appearance.
Additionally, Aruba is very windy due to its location near the equator which makes it an excellent spot for kite surfers.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- Does The Official Language Differ?
The official language of the US Virgin Islands is English while the official language of Aruba is Dutch.
Nevertheless, English is widely spoken on Aruba and locals learn the language in school. Spanish is also spoken on the island due to the multi-cultural nature of Aruba.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands: Which Is Better For Shopping
When it comes to duty free shopping, St Thomas in the US Virgin Island is the clear winner. Brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Little Switzerland, Diamonds International and Bebe have a presence on the island.
Yacht Haven Grande is a premium waterfront development which features a marina and a number of medium to high end stores.
In addition, to some of those previously mentioned, Coach and Bulgari have retail operations at Yacht Haven Grande.
On the other hand, in Aruba duty free shopping is available only on the airport where individuals tend to have less time to browse and make purchases.
However, there are a number of high end stores in the capital city of Oranjestad.
These high end luxury international brands typically do not have a presence in most Caribbean islands.
At The Renaissance Mall there are shops such as Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade where you can buy luxury items.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands: How Does The Weather Differ
Aruba has a longer dry season than the US Virgin Islands and hence sunshine is almost always guaranteed during a visitor’s stay in Aruba.
On a whole, the rainy season in Aruba is much shorter than other Caribbean Islands.
Annually, the rainy season begins in October and ends in January each year. Aruba also has the advantage in that it is located outside of the hurricane belt.
Alternatively, the US Virgin Islands are located in the hurricane belt.
The last major hurricanes to affect the islands were hurricane Maria and Irma both in 2017 which hit the islands as category 5 storms.
If you are visiting the US Virgin Islands and prefer to enjoy warm sunny days, consider planning your travels between the months of December to March.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- Does The Currency Differ?
The currency of both nations 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 US dollar is accepted throughout the island. Prices by most businesses are quoted both in US dollars and AFL. ATM machines in Aruba dispense US dollars.
On the other hand, being a dependency of the United States of America, the US dollar is the official currency of the US Virgin Islands.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- Can You Hop To Other Islands
The US Virgin Islands provides better opportunities for island hopping to other nearby locations.
The US Virgin Islands are only approximately 17.8 miles from the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
Due to this close proximity, ferry services are readily available for seamless transfer.
US citizens seeking to visit the BVI from the USVI must have a passport for immigration purposes.
Contrastingly, there are no ferry services available from Aruba to Bonaire or Curacao which are nearby.
Nevertheless, regional carrier Insel Air provides daily and non-stop flight to the other Dutch Territories.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- Which Has The Better Nightlife
Aruba is the clear winner when it comes to nightlife.
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.
Contrastingly, St Thomas is the best of all the islands when it comes to nightlife in the USVI.
There are several restaurants and beach bars in the Red Hook, Frenchtown and Haven Sight areas.
These are located near to each other so it is easy for individuals to bar hop.
Aruba Vs US Virgin Islands- Which Has The Better Beaches
When it comes to blue and turquoise waters, powdery white sand and pristine environment, the US Virgin Islands is the winner with Trunk Bay Beach in St John as the leader.
Trunk Bay Beach has over a quarter of a mile of white sand with underwater snorkeling trail.
There is an entrance fee as well as amenities such as beach chair rentals, restrooms, beach bars and life guards.
On the other hand, Aruba has white sand beaches with Eagle beach being the leader.
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 US Virgin Islands- 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 access to the beach for two days 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 The US Virgin Islands
St Thomas- Coral World Ocean Park– This Park is an amazing way to see and learn more about sea life in St Thomas.
There are activities available for all ages such as educational shark and sea lion tours. In addition, you can enjoy kayaking with the dolphins while at the park.
This is an excellent activity for multi-generational families.
St Thomas- Mountain Top & Drake’s Seat– These two areas are must visit spots to take in the panoramic views in St Thomas.
Mountain top is 1500 feet above sea level and provides a stunning view the other Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. From mountain top you can see a total of 20 islands.
St John- Hike-St John is unique in that two third of the island is National Park.
As a result, there are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulties.
Ram Head Trail is one of trails with a moderate difficulty level but features glorious and scenic views.
St John- Annaberg Plantation Ruins- St John was a producer of sugar in the 1780’s and Annaberg plantation was one of the 25 factories on the island.
The ruins are protected by the Virgin Island National Park and a key feature that stands today is a windmill. A historic must see if you visit St John.
St Croix- Ham’s Buff Lighthouse– is a fantastic spot for incredible views.
This lighthouse was designed and built by the Danish sometime between 1913 and 1915. In 1917, the Danish West Indies was sold to the United States of America.
St Croix-Point Udall- is a location of significance in St Croix as it is the most eastern point of the United States.
The Millennium monument was erected in the year 2000 as this is the first place that the American soil experiences the sunrise.
St Croix- Buck Island- this is a small uninhabited island about 1.5 miles off the Northern coast of St Croix.
Buck Island is a must do activity during your visit and it is the home to the Buck Island Reef National Monument.
Tours are available for a full or half day. There is an underwater snorkel trail and white sand beach called Turtle Beach.
This beach is also an award winning spot, voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
On a whole, USVI is an ideal choice for a traveler who loves beautiful natural scenery such as Virgin Island National Park, exceptional snorkeling and island hopping to the BVI. Alternatively, Aruba is an ideal choice for a traveler who enjoys warm sunny weather and a vibrant nightlife environment.
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