St Martin and Aruba are two extraordinary Caribbean Islands and visitor to the Caribbean will be delighted visiting either one of these destinations.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into these two awesome islands to help you make a great decision for your upcoming Caribbean vacation.
St Martin is ideal for a visitor who loves food, island hopping to nearby islands and enjoying tranquility on Tintamarre Island. Alternatively, Aruba is perfect for a visitor who is looking for sunny weather, beaches, entertainment with an interest in seeing flamingos and butterflies.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean National who visited both St Martin and Aruba.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Which Is Bigger
Aruba is almost double the landmass of St Martin. Aruba is 69.5 square miles while St Martin is only 37 square miles.
On the other hand, St Martin has the highest point of elevation being Paradise Peak or in French Pic Paradis which stands at 1,391 feet. Mount Jamanota in Aruba is only 620 feet.
St Martin is a unique island because it shares its landmass with the Dutch island of St Maarten.
St Martin is the larger of the two sides with St Maarten being only 13 square miles.
Visitors to St Martin arrive at the Princess Juliana International Airport which is in St Maarten which is the Dutch Side.
From there, individuals can drive across to St Martin which is the French side.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Does The Currency Differ?
The currency of both Aruba and St Martin is different. As an overseas territory of France, the best currency for St Martin is the Euro which is managed by the European Central Bank.
Bank notes are available in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euro dollars. Coins are available in 1 and 2 Euro dollars and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent pieces.
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. Nevertheless, US dollars are accepted widely on both islands.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Which Island Has The Better Nightlife
Aruba has the better nightlife of the two islands. South Beach is one of the hottest spots where you can bar hop and party. The island also has casinos, bowling alleys, cinemas and golf courses.
St Martin is quiet, laid back and more peaceful island. However, St Martin as stated above shares its landmass with St Maarten which has a vibrant nightlife atmosphere.
One of the popular spot in St Maarten is the Red Piano.
Church on Mondays is a famous band on the island that performs at this location with the centre of the room being a Grand Red Piano.
Lotus Nightclub is another hot spot for those who enjoy parties.
Therefore, while Aruba is great for parties, St Martin may be better for the visitor who wants the best of both worlds which is a quiet atmosphere when required and easy access to the Dutch side for entertainment.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Does The Languages Differ?
The languages of both islands vary. The official language of Aruba is Dutch whereas the official language of St Martin is French.
Nonetheless, English is widely spoken on both islands. Due to Aruba’s multicultural population, Spanish and Papiamentu are also spoken.
St Martin Vs Aruba: How Does The Landscape Differ
The landscape of St Martin and Aruba is extremely dissimilar. St Martin is more mountainous and lush in appearance.
On the other hand, Aruba is a coral based island and incredibly flat in topography. The island is dry and arid in appearance.
Also, Aruba is very windy due to its location near the equator which makes it an excellent spot for kite surfers.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Which Island Is Better For Shopping
St Martin is the better destination when it comes to shopping due to its easy access to St Maarten.
A short drive over to the Dutch side gives visitors access to one of the best shopping experiences in the Caribbean.
Front Street, St Maarten is a paradise for individuals who love to shop. You can find a variety of shops selling 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.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Which Island Has The Better Cuisine
Both islands have fantastic and world class cuisine.
Nevertheless, St Martin as the culinary capital of the Caribbean has a slight edge and is known for its fine restaurants and bars.
On the French side, foodies can enjoy items such as croissants and French pastries, johnny cakes and several types of street foods.
Popular restaurants in Grand Case include The Villa Restaurant, Le Cottage and Spiga Restaurant. Be sure to try several of the lobster dishes on the French side.
Aruba has fantastic cuisine as well which is mainly due to its strong tourism sector. Sea food plays a major role in the dishes served in Aruba.
There are many high end restaurants on the islands 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.
If you are a fast food lover, Aruba has a number of the American fast food chains present on the island such as Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Domino’s Pizza and Mc Donalds.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Which Has The Better Beaches
Aruba having a bigger landmass has 40 beaches while St Martin has 37 beaches.
Nevertheless, both islands have beautiful beaches. Orient Bay is a popular beach for both locals and visitors to St Martin.
As the most popular beach in St Martin, expect there to be a crowd at Orient Bay Beach.
There are several beach bars such as Waikiki Beach, Kakao, Perch Bar & Grill, Bikini Beach and Kontiki Beach in this area. There is a clothing optional area.
Alternatively, Baby Beach, Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are some of the well-loved beaches in Aruba.
However, if turquoise waters are your priority, then Aruba is the better destination.
St Martin Vs Aruba: Can You Hop To Other Islands
St Martin is the island that offers better island hopping opportunities. From St Martin there are ferry services available from Marigot to Anguilla and St Barts.
St Martin with its easy access to St Maarten also gives visitors the option of taking a ferry to the Dutch Caribbean islands of St Eustatius and Saba.
On the other hand, from Aruba there is no ferry service available to nearby Dutch Caribbean islands.
Insel Air, the regional airline provides daily non-stop flights to from Aruba to Curacao and Bonaire.
St Martin Vs Aruba: What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In St Martin
Explore Loterie Farm– located on the French side, this paradise is perfect to relax and reconnect with nature.
While at this sanctuary, one can enjoy drinks, the pool, great meals and tree top adventures.
Visit Tintamarre Island– this small remote island also called Flat Island can be reached via a boat shuttle from St Martin.
Visitors and locals usually frequent the island to enjoy the beach and relax.
The beach is beautiful and perfect for snorkeling and swimming. There are turtles in this area so you may swim with them while there.
Visit the Scenic Fort Louis– this is a perfect attraction for history enthusiasts and for those who love panoramic views.
Located on the French side, Fort Louis offers scenic views of Marigot and even Philipsburg and Simpson Bay.
The access to the Fort is via steps and it is an uphill climb. Nevertheless, it is not a stringent hike.
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.
On a whole, St Martin is the perfect choice for a traveler who loves food and wants a laid back vacation while relaxing in nature at Loterie Farm. Alternatively, Aruba is an ideal choice for a traveler who enjoys high end luxury shopping, unique cuisine, beaches and a bustling nightlife experience.
Need More Information?
Feel free to browse our website for more content on St Martin, Aruba and the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page.
The following are some of our articles which we believe may be suitable for you.
Best Currency For St Martin (The Ultimate Guide)
Best Currency For Aruba (The Ultimate Guide)
Living In Aruba (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)
St Maarten Vs St Martin (Which Is Better For A Vacation)
St Lucia Vs Aruba (Which Island Is Better For A Vacation)
St Thomas Vs Aruba (Which Island Is Better For A Vacation)