To compare one over the other might take away their beauty altogether, and might leave aspiring travelers even more confused. The best thing to do is to look up and read up on each of their strongest draws and make a decision from there. After all, Aruba and Bermuda will always have reasons for you to visit, even if you end up picking one over the other.
You may know Aruba for its postcard depictions of its world-class beaches with fofoti trees, or its peculiar desert dunes, but make no mistake, those are just the tip of the iceberg — there is a whole other world beneath the surface waiting for your arrival.
Caribbean culture and hospitality have developed and evolved so much here that they have taken a life of their own. Whether it be in the form of Aruba’s kid-friendly appeal, nightlife, art and crafts displays, all the way to the ultimate showstopper — Aruba’s very own take of how Carnival should be done — you are guaranteed to have the time of your life.
If you just can’t figure out the next destination you should go to next, take the next flight out to one of the most well-rounded island experiences out in the Caribbean Sea. Why, you ask? Some of the reasons you seek you’ll find out below without a doubt.
What Makes Aruba Unique?
Not all tropical destinations have ways to keep your kids and folks young at heart entertained with other than the basic slew of beach activities. Such things can get way too repetitive in a short amount of time, especially if your group is not all that active.
Look at some of the attractions below that are surefire ways to tame even the most hyper of youngins:
In Aruba, people love to hug their animals. You probably find that funny, but actually, they have a seriously real practice called koe knuffelen, which descended from the Dutch custom of ‘cow hugging.’ It is a form of therapy or stress relief of the sort. It’s the perfect way to release any pent-up energies left over from an adrenaline spike earlier or tame the most hyper of children.
Hug and pet the donkeys that come rushing out of the gate, excited to meet and greet you or your kids with their moist muzzles. If that is not your thing, hang out in the visitor center or head to the porch with cold drinks in tow (courtesy of the sanctuary) while keeping a close eye on your kids in the middle of the koe knuffelen action.
At the end of the session, have a think about snagging some donkey-themed loot at the gift shop so you can continue the sessions back at your resort. It’s the best way to keep the peace without getting your hands dirty.
Big Bird Farm
Aruba’s Ostrich Farm is home to dozens of Ostriches and Emus where you can learn a lot about some big bird facts and get your hands dirty at the same time! Although it can be scary at first since they are the biggest birds in the world, after all, they are quite well-behaved even when towering over you.
The best thing about the farm is that you don’t just look at or feed the beautiful creatures from a distance; interact with them up close and personal — feed them by hand or pet them like any other domestic creature. Of course, being the wild creatures they are, give them the utmost respect when getting into their space.
For your kids who you don’t feel comfortable getting too close to these feathered giants, you can go straight to the hatchery for more manageable chicks and eggs interactions.
And after the tour, you can wrap things up with home-cooked meals at their Savanna Lodge Bar & Restaurant and sample some exotic Ostrich or Emu egg dishes. From farm-to-table, baby! Sure, it seems a bit macabre, but hey, you saw how well the animals were treated firsthand, right?
Nightlife in the Party Bus
Want a full timetable of nightlife done the right way without all the hassle of planning? Go with a local-curated itinerary so you don’t need to deal with the boring details. Aruba has a handful of these one-stop shops that will make your life easier, from hotel pickup to ultimately getting home safe and sound, and everything in between for the ultimate nightlife experience.
Choose from several tours that will address your crawling needs, whether it be laid-back fine dining, bars with happy hours, pubs that the locals swear by, sophisticated wine and food pairings, or a custom tour that should satiate your meticulous needs. After making your pick, all you have to do in between stops is to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Aruba Art Fair
This annual affair is a magnet for those who pride themselves as street artists. In fact, many international street-artist figures flock to Aruba, and together with their homegrown counterparts, create the next masterpiece that humanity has ever laid its eyes on in the streets.
This event is a full-on celebration in itself. Art expositions in every nook and cranny pop up in San Nicolas, and not just painting graffiti; there’s music, dance, poetry, live entertainment, and every other expression of creativity you can imagine — plus, there’s food and drink at the ready for the spectator in you who wants to see how inspiration transforms into finished masterpieces.
You can check the organizer’s website, “arubaartfair,” when planning to attend. There you’ll see who’s who in the attendees and what kind of sick art they’ll be showcasing. Last 2020, they had on artists renowned for their large-scale imagery, realistic portraits, photorealism, pop surrealism, and last but not least, graffiti.
Those styles of art may sound alien to you, but once you look over the shoulders of these virtuosos in real time, you can’t help but be amazed at how they make something so complex look so easy to do. Try and do it yourself to either fail miserably or realize you have some untapped potential. Or just hang for the local chow and beverages [wink].
Carnival Aruba Style
The party doesn’t stop in Aruba, for one month, at least. Pageants, parties on the street, and parades profuse with color fill Aruba’s atmosphere with intense energy during this special season. Carnival the Aruban way — one could argue — rivals even what some would call the frontrunner of the pre-Lenten festival, i.e. Brazil.
The spectacle that is the Carnival in Aruba is a composite of many parades leading up to the pièce de résistance, the Grand Carnival Parade in Oranjestad. Here are some of the parts of the greater whole that make up the overall Carnival experience:
Lighting Parade. You could say that the stars of the show in this parade are the twinkling lights that embellish the décor — costumes, roads, floats, and whatever you can put a light on.
Children’s Parades. Who said the adults only get to have fun? Here you’d dress up your kiddo in the most flamboyant garb with matching headdress. Who knows, they might get that coveted Carnival-queen win. “Toddlers & Tiaras” doesn’t hold a candle to Aruba’s Children’s Carnival Children & Youth Carnival Queen accolade.
Jouvert Morning Pajama Party. If you can wake up at 4 a.m. after being wasted the night before, props to you. Your reward? Party hard! Dance the morning away with live-music caravans lining the streets with their soundtracks full of soca and calypso music reverberating the air in the early morn.
Bermuda is more than the infamous Triangle that it is normally associated with when you look at it from the outside. Rather, it is a dynamo of a destination packed into a small island. It is the perfect escape that is not that much of a commitment to travel to with it being relatively close to the US east coast. Therefore, there is no reason to miss out on what it has to offer — and boy, what an offer it has for you!
Conquer the abounding water adventures on the water and under it, satiate your eyes in the British colonial town tagged as a UNESCO world heritage site, shop until you drop in the commercial capital–slash-dockyard, hike to your heart’s content on the whole-island-long trail, all of these and more are great ways to get lost in Bermuda’s splendor (and not in the triangle)!
Why is Bermuda so Unique?
Beaches for Every Sitch
Bermuda’s beaches provide the perfect backdrops to make your photographs the talk of the town. You best believe that the level of these iconic shores can make the Caribbean’s finest have a run for their money.
Whether it be for a photoshoot, water sports, family activities, or simply getting away from it all, Bermuda has all the beach configurations to accommodate you and/or your group for the best experience possible. Here are some of what you can expect in these slices of heaven:
Horseshoe Bay Beach
This classic crescent shore is iconic for being a pink paradise. And because of that pinkness, it adds that extraordinary touch to your photos.
Its light-pinkish hue is the result of spent microscopic organisms’ reddish-pink shells washing onto the beach, bringing with them an otherworldly reflection to the otherwise standard sand color.
Warwick Long Bay
Another one of Bermuda’s sands gifted with a photogenic pink, Warwick Long Bay brings to the table the crown of the longest beach in Bermuda. Take a light jog along the pink prior to your adventures in the water. Snorkeling, anyone?
On top of the curious color, the place is pristine for the whole half-mile; you won’t find any concessions so find your perfect spot and start snapping without the pesky unnatural stuff in the background.
Tobacco Bay Beach
With its seawater lagoon almost fully encircled by a smattering of coral rocks. The shore is hugged by these coral juts, almost like an alien landscape … well, almost. The unearthly view is sure to make for some interesting shots.
This beach not only has the full glory of nature under its belt, but it also has a family-friendly restaurant and bar on prime real estate a few steps up the shore. The establishment lights up the nights on this Bermuda beach with bonfires and outdoor string lights to make the party and fun nonstop.
A walking trail leads up to craggy cliff faces tightly embracing a few pools of pure bliss. Because of the limited space and effort to get there, it should deter most tourists; it’s perfect for that coveted alone time.
At one vantage point, there are even graffiti-like petroglyphs left by the most brazen of tourists (or locals — god knows who) … don’t even think about it [winks].
West Whale Bay
Head on over here in March and April to ensure you get unobstructed front-row seats to the grandeur that is the humpback whale breaching the water like a boss for the epic climax of a Giga splash. Too bad you’ll need binoculars to really make the most of the experience.
Dive! Dive! Dive!
Diving can get bland real fast if all you ever get to see are endless coral reefs and schools of marine life. But not in Bermuda, that’s for sure!
Bermuda is heralded as one of the heavens for divers. Like the spheres in Dante’s Paradiso, it has got practically every environment to tickle any diver’s fancy — submarine caves and grottos, sunken air and sea vehicles, and the classic coral reef courses for the first-timers.
Here is a rundown on the nonstandard spheres of diver paradise you can get into in Bermuda:
The Submariner’s Caves
You a frogman? Or a frogman at heart? Bermuda’s got you covered with its number of cave systems ripe for exploration for the ever-curious adventure types donning their diving gear, ever-ready to make the proverbial leap of faith into the great unknown.
Such an intro may sound frightening at first, but rest assured that many have come and conquered these caves before you — paving the way for your epic journey, as safe as can be.
Get into these caves quick, adventure awaits!
Green Bay Cave. Superlatives always make for hype marketing that’s what you’d get in this place; it is the ‘longest’ cave in Bermuda after all. Although, it is not to say that it is all hype. It has got its quirks, such as being 100% underwater (you should pack some serious O2 for this 1.3 mi / 2 km run), clearer water as you go deeper into the tunnel, and a life-forms-all-over-the-walls type of atmosphere.
Walsingham & Palm Cave Systems. This is a two-for-one type of deal for a frogman’s delight; these two caves are virtually interconnected. Unlike Green Bay, this pair of caves have a handful of entrances you can start in — five and seven respectively, to be exact.
Tucker’s Town Cave aka Crystal Caves. This cave’s unique feature is its massive underwater chamber filled with dune-like sand at the bottom curiously funneling into somewhere else, implying that there will be more to explore in the future. But as it is, it is glorious in its own right.
Descend the steps unto a trifling network of catwalks atop the crystal clear water’s surface and peer into the depths. Don’t be fooled by the clarity, though, it is deeper than it appears.
Having 300 wrecks is no small feat, not by a long shot. Just the thought of the sheer number does not make sense … however, you’re dealing with Bermuda here. Bermuda Triangle ring a bell? Supranatural aside, these dive spots are excellent artificial accumulators of marine life with a somewhat eerily silent atmosphere.
Put on your frogman suit and investigate these literally one-of-a-kind locations. Get to venture into some of the following iconic Bermuda wrecks below.
Mary Celestia. This Civil War relic is one of the many ‘heroic’ vessels of the infamous blockade runners who ran the gauntlet to provide wartime supplies to the Confederacy. Not really as massive or as fancy as warships and such, it was more of a small-scale stealth operation with its paddlewheel serving to hide it in plain sight.
Swim the entire length of the 100-foot (30.5 m) wreckage with ease. The great thing with these runners is that you might find a bottle of unopened wine, like some divers in 2009; that would be a perfect way to wrap up your Bermuda trip, theoretically.
B-50 Bomber. Open the bomb bay doors! Is what you would say if you were there in 1963. If you are afraid of heights, diving this wreck is the next best thing to riding a military-class plane.
Even though this site is iconic, it may be underwhelming to some people because it is the epitome of the colloquial term ‘rekt.’ With it being an airplane, it had suffered a gruesome crash, scattering the majority of its parts over a sizeable area.
Explore this site and piece together the scattered puzzle pieces that once were part of a fearsome aluminum bird in the sky raining terror upon its foes.
Other Classic Configurations. Cristobal Colon, Montana, Constellation, and King are some of the more known iconic wrecks that you should get to see. They are basically a luxury cruise liner, paddlewheel steamer, wooden schooner, and tugboat, respectively.
Ye Olde Rattle and Shake
Believe it or not, Bermuda had a railway as its primary means for islanders to move from point A to point B. 18 of 22 miles (29 of 35.4 km) of old railway was converted into the ultimate scenic trail the island has to offer — The Bermuda Railway Trail National Park. It runs from St. George’s Station to Somerset Station, from east to west in one fell swoop.
This trail is somewhat an endurance trail. Challenge yourself by speedrunning the entire length of Bermuda like a boss … or just take it easy and hike from section to section (nine in total) at a leisurely pace until you can’t take the punishment from your calluses and corns.
But the trail is not simply all about the active human in you that’s testing and perhaps exceeding limits. Meander the trail and it will surely lead you to some photo-worthy canvases you can work with for your budding socials. Encounter sweeping ocean views, bright beach sands, an old drawbridge, and verdant greenery with highlights of blooming flowers astride the trail.
The Symbol of British Military Power
In the days gone past, Bermuda’s Royal Naval Dockyard, aka Gibraltar of the West, reigned for 150 years as the British crown’s symbol of military might. It had been used in the siege of the US capital at a time when Britain was in conquer mode, and its strategic location served Britain well during WWI and WWII, making mobilization of troops easy as one-two-three.
But even as the fog of war had lifted from an era not too long ago, the dockyard remains to be a force to be reckoned with … from the modern standpoint of an entertainment and capitalistic center, that is. The place is packing some serious economic firepower with its string of bars, shops, restos, a cinema, and a cruise ship pier.
The place is filled to the brim with tourist attractions, events, and activities left and right. In fact, you can multitask several of them —
Clocktower Shopping Mall. Admire the historic significance of the clocktowers in Clocktower Shopping Mall while unleashing the shopaholic in you with all the boutique offerings inside that you’re not going to find anywhere else in a mall.
Check out their glasswork (with glass-blowing + flame-throwing demos in a mall, of all places), claywares, metalwork, along with the other more common touristy wares.
The Spirit of Bermuda. Sail the high seas with this replica of a three-masted Royal Navy sloop-of-war. Charter the ship for your personal events [yarrr, matey!]. Or you can just take one of their tours emphasizing maritime heritage and sailing instruction [ship ahoy!].
Other than those already mentioned, check out the Dockyard’s National Museum of Bermuda, Royal Naval Cemetery, marine life interactions at Dolphin Quest Bermuda, and so much more!
Is Aruba or Bermuda Better?
While Aruba and Bermuda both boast a splendid combination of beauty, history, and the right amount of quirkiness, at the end of the day it will always depend on how one would want their vacation to go. The quality of a place will solely depend on the flow you want to ride in.
Aruba is best for those looking for a lovely beach scene, beautifully gifted nature with a certain diversity in its terrain, an obligatory interesting nightlife, and entertainment, as well as the upscale delights that dazzle the well-heeled. The Dutch Caribbean Island is known to be neat and well-developed, thanks to the high prices, and the virtually hurricane-free weather all year long.
While Bermuda, being an obviously spectacular place to visit is hot on history, architecture, and delightful thrills, especially the famous pink sand beaches and ridiculously scenic views wherever you look.
The archipelago is best for people who are looking for more than just the cosmopolitan highs, and the uber-gorgeous beach scene, but who seek the adventure under the waters, and the accounts of histories past as well. You need to be well-rounded, and ever-curious for Bermuda.