Barbados and Aruba are two beautiful Caribbean islands that are favorites of visitors to the region.
In this article, we complete a comprehensive review of these two destinations to help you decide which one is more suitable for your Caribbean vacation.
As a general rule, Barbados is better for travelers who are interested in a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Harrison caves. Alternatively, Aruba is ideal for a visitor who is looking for sunny weather, beaches, entertainment with an interest in seeing flamingos.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two stunning Caribbean Islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean national familiar with both islands.
Barbados Vs Aruba: Which Island Is Bigger
Barbados has the bigger landmass being 166 square miles.
The highest point of elevation in Barbados is Mt Hillaby which stands at 1,120 feet.
The island became a Republic on November 30th, 2021.
Alternatively, 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.
Barbados Vs Aruba: How Does The Currency Differ
The official currency of both islands differs. The official currency used in Barbados is the Barbadian dollar.
USD $1 is equivalent to BBD$2 and is also pegged to the US Dollar. The Barbadian currency is managed by its own local central bank.
Contrastingly, 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 both islands. In Aruba, prices by most businesses are quoted both in US dollars and AFL. ATM machines in Aruba dispense US dollars.
Barbados Vs Aruba: Which Has The Greater Threat of Hurricanes
Aruba has a longer dry season than Barbados 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.
Likewise, Barbados is also located outside of the hurricane belt. Despite this, it has not been spared of the effects of hurricanes.
The last storm that made landfall was Harvey in 2017. Tropical storm Gonzalo in July 2020 passed 12 miles to the southwest while hurricane Elsa passed south of the island in July 2nd, 2021.
Barbados Vs Aruba: Which Has The Better Nightlife
Both islands have fantastic nightlife atmosphere, however Aruba has a slight edge in this category.
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.
Likewise, Barbados has a vibrant nightlife atmosphere.
There are a wide range of restaurants, golf courses, clubs, casinos and other forms of entertainment especially on the South Coast.
Additionally, in Barbados, Oistins also provides a lively venue for visitors and locals to meet and relax on the beachfront every Friday evening.
Barbados Vs Aruba: Does The Language Differ?
The official language of Barbados 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.
Barbados Vs Aruba: Which Has Better Beaches
Both islands have awesome beaches.
In Barbados, the award winning Crane Beach and Miami Beach are two of the main spots loved by both locals and foreigners alike.
Along the same lines as Barbados, Aruba has white sand beaches with Eagle beach being well loved by visitors and locals.
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.
Barbados Vs Aruba: Which Has Better Cuisine
Barbados’s cuisine is primarily typical West Indian food. Its national dish is cou cou and flying fish.
Cou cou is made with corn flour which is allowed to simmer in coconut milk.
One needs to ensure and stir consistently to avoid lumps. Fish is usually featured in many Barbadian dishes.
One factor that may have contributed to Aruba’s exquisite cuisine is the dependency on the tourism sector.
As a result, restaurants ensure that their culinary experience is world class. Sea food plays a major role in the dishes served in Aruba.
There are many high end restaurants on the island as well as affordable ones.
Some of the well-loved places to eat by the locals on the island include O’Neil Caribbean Kitchen, Zeerovers, Peanuts restaurant and Red Fish restaurant.
Additionally, 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 Bonaire and Curacao. This drink is not served in Dutch St Maarten.
Barbados Vs Aruba: What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In Barbados
Harrison Caves- Barbados has a cave where you can enjoy a tour inside. There are stalactite and stalagmite formation.
Additionally, there is a bar and a gift shop on the property for added entertainment.
Be sure and wear clothes that are comfortable and walk with a change of clothing if you want to go elsewhere. I was water soaked after my exciting tour of the cave.
UNESCO Heritage Site- Bridgetown and its Garrison have been designated as a UNESCO Heritage site due to its excellent architecture.
These buildings were constructed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were well preserved until today. Some of the 30 sites and attractions include:-
- Barbados Museum & Historical Society
- National Heroes Gallery & Museum of Parliament
- George Washington House & Museum
Sandy Lane Gold Cup- is one of the biggest horse racing event in the Eastern Caribbean.
The race usually occurs every March at the Garrison Savannah which attracts jockeys, trainers and thoroughbred from other Caribbean islands and around the world.
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.
On a whole, Barbados is an exceptional choice for a traveler with an interest in horse racing and enjoying white sand beaches. Alternatively, Aruba is an ideal choice for a traveler who enjoys warm sunny weather and a vibrant nightlife environment.
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