If you’re in a hurry or planning a last-minute getaway, Aruba is better if you’re after ravishing beaches and sugar-soft sand. Belize, on the other hand, isn’t known for its beaches. Rather, Belize is better if you’re looking for an active vacation trip – excursions, historical tours, and diving.
Aruba and Belize are both fantastic vacation spots, make no mistake. But it all depends on your budget and what you’re looking to do on your vacation.
Understanding factors like weather, safety, cuisine, costs, and accessibility will help you choose what’s better for you. For a detailed breakdown of what Aruba and Belize each have to offer, read on for greater insight.
Predictable weather and seductive, barefoot-friendly beaches are what make Aruba an exotic getaway for many. There’s something for everyone at Aruba, and it’s evident from the thousands of return visitors.
What’s more, Aruba is out of the hurricane zone. The chances of rain are bare and minimal. So much so that Aruba is known to have two faces: the touristy side and the desert. Aruba’s desert is exactly how one might imagine it to be: rugged and dry yet attractive and charming (thanks, cacti).
You’ll find a lot of hiking trails in Aruba’s desert, and riding an ATV around the area is a favorite pastime for locals and tourists.
But what many don’t know about Aruba is that it’s very windy year-round. So windy that even golfing here is a challenge. You’ve gotta aim accurately for that fore!
Compared to Belize, Aruba is busier and more commercialized. But in return, and thanks to a ton of American influence, you’ll find a wide mix of cuisines at Aruba:
- Argentinian steak houses
The prices at Aruba are fairly higher than average, but it’s not hard to find a restaurant with good bang-for-buck deals.
Excursions and activities at Aruba also appeal to a wide audience, whether it’s for kids, couples, families, or solo. Being one of the safest Caribbean destinations in the world, solo female travelers will feel at ease and comfortable the entire trip. As long as you don’t do anything reckless or flashy, you’re good.
A few activities worth doing at Aruba include the following:
- Relaxing at a spa with a hot stone massage
- Visiting the Donkey Sanctuary or Ostrich Farm
- Hopping aboard a luxury catamaran and watching the sunset
- Exploring underwater caves and reefs teeming with colorful fish
- Enjoying the sunny weather at Butterfly Farm or horseback riding by the ocean
- Splurging at a casino or living it wild on Aruba’s famous booze bus tour – Kukoo Kunuku
Aruba is also known as One Happy Island, and it’s not hard to see why. Despite being a small island, Aruba feels like a home away from home. You’ll meet a ton of the friendliest people here, and if that’s not enough, you can read more about Aruba’s gravitating qualities below:
What Makes Aruba Unique?
The Beaches Scream “Enjoy While It Lasts”
You don’t have to be an avid traveler to know how gorgeous a beach is or isn’t. Seriously, these beaches are a turn-on. Teasing to the eyes and bewitching to your skin as soon as you take your first dip.
But enough wordplay. If you haven’t been to Aruba, its beaches alone are a pretty darn good reason to go. And before throngs of tourists pack the shores, well…
You’d be wise to enjoy Aruba’s beaches while they’re still unspoiled and undisturbed. To save you hours searching for options online, here are some mind-blowing beaches to get you started:
- Arashi Beach
- Andicuri Beach
- Mangel Halto Beach
- Eagle Beach
- Boca Catalina Beach
- Palm Beach
- Daimari Beach
- Baby Beach
- Blackstone Beach
- Boca Keto Beach
Arashi beach sounds like a beach for samurais, but really, this is one of the best snorkeling spots in Aruba. If you want to explore the rich marine life Aruba has to offer, consider Arashi beach as one of the first to visit.
That’s not all. This premier coastline is also perfect for a lazy day. Whether it’s getting a tan, reading a book, searching for seashells/corals, or watching the sunset.
In case you get hungry, there’s also an on-site shack where you can easily buy refreshments and snacks.
Traveling with friends? Family? Andicuri beach’s coastline is beautiful, peaceful, and secluded. All you need is a cooler with your favorite drinks, a few snacks, and speakers to liven up the space.
Sparkling cerulean water is also what Andicuri beach is well known for. And if you’re looking for a beach that’s far from tourists, you’ll strike gold when you visit Andicuri. The beach rarely draws in massive crowds. During the off-season, you have the entire beach real estate to yourself.
And if relaxation isn’t in your itinerary for the day, Andicuri is great for water sports activities like…
Mangel Halto Beach
Mangel Halto is Aruba’s premiere snorkeling spot. This petite beach is the kind of place you would go if you wanted a peaceful retreat in Aruba.
If you thought Andicuri was secluded, Mangel Halto feels even more exclusive. The best time to go? Early morning. And it’s also prime time to go snorkeling and spot octopi and parrotfish.
Even if you wanted a simple romantic picnic, the scenery at Mangel Halto is perfect.
You don’t visit Aruba and miss out on Eagle beach. Some say this beach is life-changing, especially if it’s your first time visiting the Caribbean. The waters here are as clear as day, but it’s the milky white sand that’s got the real spunk.
Eagle beach is perfect for families since the waves are also calmer here, making it safe for the little ones. There are no sudden drops or sharp rocks either. Even if you swam like a raging gorilla, the only bruises you’re getting are sand kiss marks.
Boca Catalina Beach
You’ll love the rich blue water at Boca Catalina beach. What’s more, marine life is rich and abundant here, so a snorkeling expedition at Boca Catalina is a must. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get the chance to see dolphins and sea turtles.
If you want, you can also relax under a beach hut at Boca Catalina, or go beachcombing for beautiful seashells that easily pass for souvenirs. Thinking of buried treasure? Yeah, maybe in a few centuries.
Palm beach and its palm trees are just the kind of island vibe you need on a beach holiday. The beach itself spans 2 miles (3.2 km), enough for you to enjoy its waters even on a busy, crowded day.
White sand and turquoise waters don’t do justice to defining how beautiful Palm beach is. Put it this way. If the apocalypse were to happen in a few weeks, Palm beach would shoot straight to the top of bucket list adventures. This beach is a bucket of bliss that will surely leave you stunned just as you step onto its barefoot-friendly sand.
And even better, the beach is within close reach of casinos, high-rise hotels, and a ton of food options. This also means Palm beach can get pretty crowded throughout the day, especially during peak season.
But nonetheless, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your time here. If you booked your stay at any of the hotels near Palm beach, try to visit early morning. That way, you have this entire beach kingdom to yourself.
Palm beach also offers a hub for several water sports activities you can do, such as:
Sorry, surfers. Palm beach’s waves aren’t exactly built for surfing. And if that’s what you’re looking for, check out the next beach:
Grab your surfboard, and hold on tight because the waves at Daimari beach aren’t like what you’re used to back home. If you’re looking for phenomenal surf action and a spine-chilling challenge, this is the place to be.
Take note, though. The waves here can be rougher than you expect. And you need to have a strong back to be worthy enough to swim on these shores. It’s as if Poseidon himself possessed the waters.
Of course, you could also sit back and enjoy the panoramic view at Daimari beach. But there isn’t any shade in the area either. See, Daimiri is part of Aruba’s desert terrain so unless you want a chicken-roast tan, sure go ahead and sunbathe here.
You’ll probably hear about “Baby Beach” a couple of times throughout your stay at Aruba. Its crescent-shaped coastline is one of its most attractive features. But as the name says, Baby Beach offers shallow waters ideal for kids and toddlers to spend hours in.
Some might say Baby beach is quiet and secluded, but over the years, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s not as busy as Palm beach, but it still attracts a good number of families throughout the day.
If you want something more active, there’s great snorkeling just offshore. However, the currents in this area are fairly strong, so stay vigilant.
The only downside to Baby beach? You can catch a whiff of petrol in the air as the beach is just a small distance away from a petrol plant.
One of the most unique beaches in Aruba, what stands out is the black rocks that envelop the shore and coastline. But here’s the dealbreaker. This isn’t a place to go swimming.
Blackstone beach suits photographers who want to add oomph to their portfolio or simply want to capture an excellent view. Another great reason for visiting Blackstone is it’s ideal for romantic activities like a picnic or watching the sunset.
While the view is jaw-dropping, there are too many rocks in the area. Not even your adventurous side would take the risk. So, stick to romance and digital photography.
Boca Keto Beach
New memories await any traveler who visits Boca Keto beach. A photo of Boca Keto’s unique rock formations and the bedazzling coastline is enough to boost any photographer’s ego. But unlike Blackstone beach, it’s an excellent spot to go for a swim, too, even for kids.
If you want, spend your day reading a book or soaking up the sun for a great tan at Boca Keto beach. Or, visit in the afternoon if you’re looking for a quiet place to ponder and reflect on life.
Before nightfall hits, it’s also worth doing a short side excursion around the area. Just close by (a couple of minutes away) is one of Aruba’s main highlights: the Conchi Natural Pool. It’s not as awe-inspiring as Eagle beach, but it is one of a kind. Surrounded by volcanic rocks, the natural pool at Aruba is an experience that cannot be missed.
A quick dip is enough to say you’ve bathed at a pool that’s practically in the desert. Kind of like an oasis, you know? That aside, expect there to be a fair number of people too, as it’s also a popular excursion that a lot of tour operators offer.
Gain Newfound Perspective at the California Lighthouse
What in the world is a lighthouse doing in the middle of a desert? No one really knows. But as the lore goes, the lighthouse was named after the sunken ship: S.S. California. It was also one of the first steamships to tour the Pacific Ocean and travel from Central America to North America.
Because of Aruba’s flat geography, the California Lighthouse is quite easy to spot. It only costs 9 Aruban Florin (USD 5 at 1.80 AWG a dollar) to enter.
What you’ll find here is a gorgeous 360-panoramic view of the island, which is bound to inspire quite the perspective. How so? Well, the view from the top is teasing to the eyes. At that exact moment, your eyes can capture the entirety of Aruba. Standing on top of the world that is Aruba, you’re likely to find some inspiration here.
For anyone who’s been meaning to go on a vacation to clear their head of worry and stress, this is the place. Great ideas can be born here, and although the moment is fleeting, it may just be enough to ignite a spark in your soul.
Free Hugs at the Donkey Sanctuary
Ever heard about cow hugging? Well, Aruba’s got their own version with an Aruban twist: donkey hugging. These gentle and affectionate creatures will put a smile on your face, and fill your happiness reservoir to the brim.
Stressed? Anxious? Frustrated? Go hug a donkey and you will easily turn into the jolly kid free of worry and problems. Aruba’s Donkey Sanctuary grants visitors up to 30 minutes of free donkey hugs and a petting session.
Now, mind you. This isn’t just an activity for kids. There are plenty of donkeys to go around as the sanctuary is home to over 100 of these warm and extremely affectionate creatures. So, what are you waiting for? Get a free donkey hug and consider it your new addicting endorphin hit.
You Can Walk Barefoot in the Sand Even When the Temperatures Are Scorching Hot
For a tropical island like Aruba, you’d expect the sand to be as warm as the bacon mushroom filling of a Hot Pocket. But that’s not the case. Aruba is famous for its barefoot-friendly beaches because of how cool the sand stays even in scorching temperatures.
Now, you’re probably thinking… that’s possibly not true. But there’s an easy explanation for this. It’s mostly due to Aruba’s sand composition, which is crushed shell and coral. This allows it to somehow stay cool 24/7.
Looking for a way to hit your daily step goals while on vacation? Aruba’s barefoot-friendly sand is simply perfect and definitely a motivation to get up every morning.
Aruba’s Cuisine Is a Sensational Adventure That Tickles Your Senses
Which cuisines are available at Aruba? Aside from seafood and Caribbean, the kind any foodie would love, such as:
For any foodie, dining at Aruba’s restaurants is an adventure every time. And that’s also what makes it so unique because, normally, you’d expect seafood and Caribbean cuisine most of the time, right?
Without a doubt, the seafood at Aruba is great. And it rhymes well too. But why limit yourself to just fish, crab, shrimp, and lobster? (No hard feelings, seafood lovers).
From Dutch pancakes and poke bowls to mouthwatering steaks and juicy jumbo shrimps, you’re in for a culinary treat in Aruba.
Belize is very different from Aruba. Larger, yes. Island, technically it’s more than that. In truth, Belize is actually a country that lies on the western edge of the Caribbean Sea.
For the backpacker and avid outdoor enthusiast, you’ll love Belize. The country is diverse, rainforests, Mayan ruins, caves, jungles, and amazing dive spots all make up Belize. Compared to Aruba, here’s how you can easily tell how different they are:
Aruba’s landscape is flat and desert-like, while Belize’s is fifty shades of green, lush, and mountainous. Just by this distinction alone, you can already tell… Belize is truly for the adventurous. And if doing a ton of activities, be it on land or water, is your idea of a vacation, Belize is undoubtedly a better option.
Not to mention, the locals are one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Food-wise, you can expect good diversity at Belize, along with freshly caught seafood.
What Makes Belize Unique?
Mayan Caves and Human Sacrifices
You’ve probably read this online or heard about it: Belize has 900 Mayan sites. But what many don’t know about is ATM cave, which is short for Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. The cave had been inhabited by Mayans back in AD 300 and was used as a place for human sacrifices.
Why ATM cave, you might wonder? Because the Mayans believed the cave was a gateway to the underworld. Inside the cave, you’ll find a lot of human skulls, artifacts, and preserved sacrificial sites. In fact, exploring the ATM cave is the #1 highly rated tour in Belize.
And just so you know. This tour is a wet cave tour, and if that’s not adventurous enough, wait for the narrow tunnel. You’ll know what “narrow tunnel” means during the tour because of a certain passageway. It’s so narrow that a 15 ft (4.5 m) rock touches both sides of your neck as you’re passing through. Adrenaline pumping enough for you?
Belize Is Home to the 2nd-Largest Barrier Reef System in the World
Also known as The Great Mayan Reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is a haven for divers and snorkelers. It’s a world-class diving destination you wouldn’t feel contented to visit only once or twice. Over 500 different species of fish live in the Great Mayan Reef. This is on top of the following:
- 60 coral species
- Saltwater crocodiles
- Four types of sea turtles
- Largest number of whale sharks and manatees
It’s definitely a bucket list adventure and a treasure trove of marine life. Around the area is also a humongous blue hole, known as the Great Blue Hole. In 1971, naval officer Jacques Cousteau was the first to dive into this sinkhole. Cousteau’s testimonial of his diving experience at the Great Blue Hole led to a tourism boom.
Doyle’s Delight Is the Highest Point in Belize
Doyle’s Delight measures 1,124 meters (3,687 feet) high and is more than just a mountain delight for tourists. Visiting Doyle’s Delight is also a fulfilling hike, perfect if you’re after stunning scenery and hitting past your daily step goals.
The lush green enveloping the mountain is not to be missed while in Belize. Breathtaking and eye-opening, you’d also be wise to visit Doyle’s Delight early in the day and anytime before nightfall.
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary Is the Only Jaguar Preserve in the World
Now, before you start thinking you’re at risk for touring around a jaguar preserve, don’t worry, you’re in safe hands. Although this sanctuary is highly populated with jaguars, your chances of seeing one are very low. Let alone, jaguar attacks are highly unlikely.
See – here’s what you need to understand about jaguars. They prefer to do the seeing and not the other way around. These cats are masters of stealth, so the last thing a jaguar would do is to be seen. Apart from jaguars, there’s a rich array of wildlife at Cockscomb, such as:
- Howler monkey
- More than 300 bird species
Should you decide to join the tour, the entire excursion lasts for 7 hours. Up for a hike? Or just looking for a way to stay active even while on vacation? Consider this jungle tour part of your itinerary.
Remarkable Dive Spots Unlike Any Other
You already the Great Mayan Reef as one of Belize’s remarkable diving spots. But what you have yet to discover are the several unique atolls and reefs spread throughout the country.
If Aruba is famous for its beaches, then Belize is a haven for anyone looking for spectacular dive sites. Some of which include the following:
- Glover’s Atoll
- Shark Ray Alley
- The Great Blue Hole
- Turneffe Atoll
- Gladden Spit
Diving is an option at Glover’s Atoll, but a more common activity to do at this dive site is snorkeling. With clear visibility year-round, you don’t need a scuba suit to capture every beautiful living organism at this atoll.
One of the main highlights of Glover’s Atoll? Huge manta rays with a wingspan of 9 meters (30 feet). And if that’s not enough underwater sightseeing for you in one day, you’ll still find a ton of megafauna here, like:
- Eagle rays
- Green sea turtles
- Blacktip reef sharks
- Atlantic bottlenose dolphins
It’s also worth noting that Glover’s Atoll became a World Heritage Site in 1993. This means the entire reef, along with the coral life are all perfectly healthy. That includes the gorgonian fans, tube sponges, and staghorn coral you’ll see in the area.
If you prefer to stay in the shallower sections, don’t worry about missing out. Even in the shallows, you can still take excellent snapshots of wrasse, octopus, and parrot fish.
Shark Ray Alley
For an unforgettable experience with family and non-diving friends, visit Shark Ray Alley. Don’t worry. There’s nothing vicious here at all. Shark Ray Alley is but a shallow sand plateau where any tourist can enjoy unique marine life without the need for special gear.
It also happens to be a famous spot where fishermen throw and discard fish guts. Yes – that’s right. Because who would eat fish guts, after all? Well, there’s a happy bunch of marine creatures that love them: nurse sharks and stingrays.
Now, before you start to feel uneasy because of the word “shark,” you’ll have to know. Nurse sharks are considered the puppies of the ocean. Do they bite? Why would they when they’ve got their favorite food floating right in front of them? Just don’t disturb them while they’re eating, of course.
In fact, you should thank Belize’s fishermen for constantly discarding fish guts at Shark Ray Alley. Because this is what led to nurse sharks and stingrays becoming so friendly to tourists. It’s almost as if they’ve been completely domesticated.
All you need to interact with a flurry of stingrays and nurse sharks? Snorkeling gear.
The Great Blue Hole
Ever wondered what it feels like to be in space? Now you can by diving at The Great Blue Hole, one of the most sensational dive sites in the world.
It’s not the marine life that makes The Great Blue Hole, such a wonder. It’s an experience that can’t be put into words. One of the most common marine creatures you’ll see in the area, though, are blacktip reef sharks. They typically circle around the shallow sections, searching for reef fish.
If you descend further down The Great Blue Hole, you’ll notice humongous stalactites. And they’re as fascinating as watching a sunset aboard a luxury catamaran. If Yoda were here, he would most certainly say: “Glorious The Great Blue Hole is.” Overall, it’s a diver’s bucket list experience you cannot miss while in Belize.
Turneffe Atoll will make you wish you had gills so you could stay underwater all day. Not only is it a spectacular dive, but it’s also home to several enchanting coral canyons and gardens. You could spend hours at Turneffe Atoll and still be just as eager to come back the next day.
Sounds overrated? Maybe to those who have yet to experience its rich marine beauty. Every day is a different and unique diving experience at Turneffe Atoll. It’s become a haven for fascinating marine creatures. Reef sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles are just the teaser. Stay a bit longer or come back the next day and you just might catch something you haven’t seen before.
What makes Gladden Spit remarkable and unique? Swimming alongside whale sharks. You’re almost guaranteed this unique swimming experience at the right time of the year. This happens to be at least 2 days before the full moon in Belize and 10 days after.
The full moon phases vary every year, but for the year 2022, it usually occurs between the 2nd and early 3rd week of every month. Watching whale sharks is a spectacular performance on its own. What do you think swimming beside one feels like? Magical? Awe-inspiring? Breathtaking?
Either way, Gladden Spit is the best dive spot to visit if you’re after this incredible experience. One thing to note, though, is that the currents can be strong here sometimes.
If you still have it in you to visit more dive sites around Belize, apart from the ones mentioned, check these out too:
- Spanish Bay
- Half Moon Caye
- Esmeralda Canyons
- Long Caye Aquarium
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve
- South Water Caye Marine Reserve
Which is Better – Belize or Aruba?
Belize boasts world-class diving spots and unique outdoor activities. Aruba, on the other hand, is famous for its jaw-dropping beaches. Between the two, it’s clear that Belize favors those with a heart for adventure, and Aruba suits thalassophiles. Or in simpler terms, someone who loves the sea.
Both Aruba and Belize are great vacations. However, the differences between the two are undeniable. It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re worried about the people, both are friendly places to visit.
Aruba is better for travelers looking for gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and a relaxed time overall. If you want to do some shopping on the side or are in need of great nightlife, Aruba is also an excellent choice.
At the end of the day, it mostly boils down to whether you want an active trip or not. If the main purpose of your vacation is to have some downtime for yourself or travel with family for an easy, relaxed trip, Aruba is definitely for you.
Take note as well that Aruba is relatively more Americanized than Belize. Not only does Aruba feature some of the best beaches in the world but it has also grown to have casinos, high-rise hotels, and even shopping centers.
At Belize, you’re looking at an emerging country. More of an island feel kind of vibe. Jungles, caves, ruins, outdoor explorations, you name it. Belize is well suited to adventurous and active travelers looking for a lot of activities to do, from hiking down to diving. In fact, one of the main highlights of visiting Belize is its spectacular dive sites, making it a haven for snorkelers and divers.
There are a lot of things to do in Aruba, but it’s not nearly as abundant as what you’d be able to do in Belize. Plus, a trip to Belize is more economical and price-friendly. However, staying active throughout your stay in Belize undoubtedly means more excursions and tours. And in that case, this can lead to higher costs if you’re not careful.
Is Aruba Safer Than Belize?
Aruba is safer than Belize, according to visitor data on Numbeo. Belize scores a total safety rating of 47.78/100, while Aruba scores 77.74/100.
However, Belize’s numbers should not be interpreted as dangerous. There is a moderate level of crime going on in the city, but nothing too violent that you should be scared for your life every time you step outdoors.
What’s important to remember when visiting Belize is to refrain from wearing expensive jewelry or anything too flashy. Don’t make yourself a target, basically. The safest part of Belize lies on the northern side of Haulover Creek. Their streets are wider and wealthier people also live here. There’s also almost zero crime here.
Should you venture to the southern side of Belize, this area is fairly safe too. But you should avoid any narrow streets or dim alleys. Trust your instincts. While walking alone during the day, you’re fine and no harm should come to you. At night, take more precautions and don’t wander off in areas you know you aren’t supposed to be in.
Aruba isn’t perfectly safe either. The same as how no city, island, or country ever fully is. Be sure to be wary of scams and never leave your valuables anywhere.
Is Belize Close to Aruba?
Belize is located in North America, while Aruba is in South America. In most circumstances, this would be considered quite far. However, the distance in miles between Aruba and Belize isn’t that far apart.
How Far Is Aruba From Belize?
The total distance between Aruba and Belize is about 1,279 miles (2,059 km). Although the distance isn’t too far, there are no direct flights from one destination to the other.
How Do I Get From Belize to Aruba?
The best way to get from Belize to Aruba is via plane. This is also the quickest way to fly from one destination to the other. There may be some cruise lines that stop at both Aruba and Belize, but it mostly depends on the ship’s itinerary.
For instance, Royal Caribbean offers several cruises along the Caribbean. On a 7-night Caribbean cruise, most of the stops include Roatan, Cozumel, and Puerto Costa Maya.
Belize to Aruba Flights
There are several airlines available that offer flights from Belize to Aruba and vice versa, like…
- Delta Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- American Airlines
However, there are no direct flights available. Expect at least one stopover every time should you decide to book a direct flight online.
How Long Is the Flight From Aruba to Belize?
On average, the flight time from Aruba to Belize is 19 hours long, and the best-case scenario will have only one stopover. In most cases though, airlines like Delta and JetBlue will have 2 stopovers. These trips will easily have a flight time of 22 to 24 hours long.
Worst-case scenario, and according to flight schedules listed on Expedia, a flight from Aruba to Belize could last 48 hours. You’d essentially have two stopovers with one destination having a total layover of 23 hours.
Due to these circumstances, it may not be best to book a direct flight from Aruba to Belize or vice versa. You may be able to save a few hundred dollars, but the length of your trip would also be exhausting, overall.