Aruba vs. Puerto Rico

Traveling to Aruba means more beach time, while Puerto Rico is more of nature, hiking, history, and a vibrant nightlife. If you want a long list of activities and things to do while on vacation, Puerto Rico may be the better choice. But if two or three excursions are enough and it’s mostly sunny, pleasant beach weather you’re after, hands down, go with Aruba.
Aruba vs. Puerto Rico

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Did you know Puerto Rico is 50x larger than Aruba? That should give you a pretty good hint of what’s in store for you when traveling to Puerto Rico.

Hot springs, forests, mountains, you name it. Puerto Rico is an outdoor paradise perfect for the active traveler. Whereas Aruba stands as the more laid-back, chill, happy island, palm-tree-swinging getaway.

Is it your first time visiting the Caribbean? Maybe you’re looking for a change of scenery perhaps? Or do you just want a big break from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life?

Either way, Aruba and Puerto Rico are great options, but which is the better fit for you depends on several factors. Below, you’ll learn the pros and cons of each destination, which is safer to visit, and more.

Aruba

Palm trees and sunny weather comes pretty close to the kind of vibe you get in Aruba. But it’s also all that and more. Regarded as One Happy Island, Aruba is full of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. It also happens to be one of the safest places in the whole Caribbean.

So, even female solo travelers will enjoy their time in Aruba without any discomfort or feeling of unsafety. Aruba boasts grandiose beaches, barefoot-friendly sand, and waters so clear you’d think you were in a dream. Or at least, that’s what the brochure says?

But actually, it’s true. The waters are dreamy. The beaches are stunning. And the sand? Even during the hottest days, the sand remains so cool you can walk barefoot from one beach to the next.

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What else is there to love about Aruba? Plenty. From inland tours and windsurfing to ATV excursions and lazy, calm days by the beach, Aruba offers more than you know. The next sections should give you a good idea of what that means.

What Makes Aruba Unique?

The Beaches Are Chock-Full of Dreamy, Happy Vibes

Aruba’s beaches are the cure for stress. One trip is all you need to serve as a vaccine for bad days and migraines.

For an even better experience, grab a photo by any of the fofoti trees at Aruba’s beaches. These plus the whitest sands and bluest waters make for a killer photo to upload on social. Or, you can simply lie under a fofoti tree and let the beach vibe take over.

So, just how great are Aruba’s beaches? If you want to know more, here are some of the most breathtaking beaches in Aruba:

  • Hadicurari Beach
  • Boca Keto Beach
  • Manchebo Beach
  • Boca Catalina Beach
  • Eagle Beach
  • Flamingo Beach
  • Palm Beach
Hadicurari Beach

Some of your best memories will be found at Hadicurari beach, whether it’s with family, solo, or on a romantic beach picnic. What makes this beach so popular is not simply because of its atmosphere. The waters are also calm and shallow, so even toddlers can enjoy their time in the water.

Also, Hadicurari beach is famous for its windsurfing competitions, which are held every year in June or July. Whether you’re here to break some waves windsurfing or still learning how to wind and kite surf, this is one of the best beaches to visit.

Boca Keto Beach

Not a lot of people know about Boca Keto beach, but as the word spreads, it may not be the “secret beach” it used to be. Boca Keto is known to have one of the most beautiful bays in Aruba.

Moro – a huge rock that sits in the middle of the bay – is often used as a landmark so that it’s easier to find. The name “Moro” translates to “the small Aruba” because of the rock’s shape. Because Boca Keto is a secluded beach, it’s perfect for families to visit.

Anyone in need of a quiet retreat or peaceful getaway will love the spirit and vibe of Boca Keto. Additionally, the waves here are good enough for bodyboarders and surfers.

Manchebo Beach

Think of Manchebo beach as a small oasis filled with turquoise water and surrounded by powdery soft sand. It’s one of the most favored spots among locals and tourists alike.

Not only that but the water here is also shallow and calm, so it’s perfect for children to safely swim in. What else is there to do at Manchebo beach aside from lounging in the sand all day? Just a few minutes from the beach, there are a ton of shops, restaurants, hotels, and bars nearby.

Even better, Spa Del Sol is a beachfront spa that sits right beside Manchebo beach. They offer all sorts of massage services, including facial and other relaxing treatments.

Boca Catalina Beach

The rich blue water at Boca Catalina is enough to make you want to go for a swim any time of the day. It’s also one of the better areas in Aruba to go snorkeling. There are all sorts of rich marine life here, from hundreds of tropical fish to sea turtles and dolphins.

Of course, you’re welcome to relax and enjoy the shade under a beach hut while admiring the view. In fact, Boca Catalina is a popular spot for beachcombing. For some family bonding time, finding seashells and corals with your young ones is a fun and heartwarming activity, wouldn’t you agree?

Take note, though. Boca Catalina is a fairly secluded beach, so on some days, you might even have the entire beach to yourself. There aren’t a lot of shops and restaurants nearby either, so bring a few snacks and refreshments if you plan to stay long.

Eagle Beach

As touristy as Eagle beach is, it’s also one of the most jaw-dropping beaches you’ll find in Aruba. Not to mention, it has the broadest coastline too, so even on a crowded day, it doesn’t feel packed at all.

There’s a lot to love about Eagle beach.

For one, it has the whitest stretch of sand in all of Aruba. Second, this is the safest beach for kids since there are no small rocks or sudden drops. Third, at the right time, you’ll find a lot of turtle nests in the area. And last but not least, it’s the best spot to visit if you plan to chill by the beach the whole day.

Water sports activities are also common in Eagle beach. Snorkeling, jet skiing, windsurfing, kayaking, and more.

Flamingo Beach

As the name implies, you can clearly guess what you’ll find here, right? They have bright pink feathers, an S-shaped neck, and sweet dance moves. Say hello to one of the best beaches in Aruba and what it’s popularly known for: flamingos!

And they’re only available on a private island, known as Renaissance beach. It’s only accessible if you book a night at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. There, you can feed the flamingos, pet them, and even take photos to show off to your friends.

After you’ve had your fill with these exotic birds, you can relax at any of the cabanas in the area. Or, you can grab a margarita or beer at the beach bar. If you stay long enough, you’ll even catch the sunset atop a hammock. That and flamingos? What could be more romantic, right?!

Palm Beach

Palm beach is where you’ll find a lot of tourists by the coastline almost every day. Rarely is there a day it’s empty. Know why? Because this beach isn’t just beautiful, it’s also close to Aruba’s entertainment center. Put simply, this area is where you’ll find high-rise hotels and casinos in Aruba.

Along Palm beach’s 1.8-mile (3 km) stretch of sand, there are also several cafes, bars, and stores to grab refreshments or take a break in the shade. Overall, Palm beach is a prime example of what it means to relax at a gorgeous beach.

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And guess what. It’s only in Aruba.

Explore the Depths of Aruba’s Waters in a Submarine

When you board the Atlantis Submarine in Aruba, you’ll hit depths of roughly 40 meters (130 feet). How deep is that? Put it this way. Only 1% of the population has been able to reach depths this far down the ocean.

While inside the submarine, you’ll get an up-close view of the teeming marine life in the area. That includes sea turtles and even the SS Antilla – a WWII German sunken ship.

Now, if you’re concerned about safety, don’t worry. This submarine has been operating successful dives since 1990. And there have been no complications or issues either. That means even your kids can join along for the ride. The entire tour lasts for 90 minutes.

After that, you can explore the town of Oranjestad, which is also the capital of Aruba. What’s the best way to describe Oranjestad? In a word, it’s colorful.

Not only that but there’s also a tourist trolley you can ride for free so you can get a good feel of what’s available in the area. At Oranjestad is also where you’ll find several souvenir shops, cafes, duty-free stores, jewelry shops, and more.

Aruba is Half Beach and Half Desert

Aruba has plenty to offer tourists. You can spend a day relaxing by the sand and another in the rugged terrain riding an ATV.

Put simply, Aruba has the best of both worlds. One side is dedicated to tourists who enjoy spending a quiet retreat in soft sand and sparkling waters. The desert, on the other hand, is for travelers looking for adventure and the thrill of the wild side.

ATV tours, horseback riding by the ocean, and taking a refreshing bath at Aruba’s Natural Pool are some of the many activities you can do.

The Sunniest Beach Weather You’ll Ever Find

When traveling to any beach destination, one of the most frequently asked questions is… “How’s the weather?” In Aruba, you’ll get the same answer across the board: sunny, dry, and pleasant weather year-round.

This is one of the best things to love about Aruba. The weather isn’t humid and sunshine passes through the entire day even during the rainy season. Aruba is also situated outside the hurricane belt. This means hurricanes rarely land in Aruba, making it one of the safest destinations to visit even during the hurricane season.

As for rain? Aruba only gets an average of 15 inches (381 mm) of rainfall annually. So, forget the raincoat. You don’t even need to pack a jacket or sweater if that’s what you’re worried about.

The Best Beaches Are Easily Accessible by Walking

As you’ve learned in the previous sections, Aruba is famous for its tranquil beaches. The best part? You can easily hop from one beach to the next without having to travel long distances.

In fact, some are easily accessible just by walking from coast to coast! Of course, the closest you’ll ever get is staying at any of the high-rise hotels by Palm beach. If you’re staying at any of these hotels, right after walking outside the main lobby, it’s only a few steps until you reach the sand.

Famous beaches like Flamingo beach though are a different story. Why? Because it’s only accessible to guests staying at the Renaissance hotel. You could get a day pass too, but staying the night at Renaissance hotel gives you the ultimate convenience.

And by the way, the sand on Aruba’s beaches is so cool you don’t even need to wear sandals. There’s a term for it, actually: barefoot-friendly. Even when Aruba’s weather is at its hottest, the sand stays cool all throughout the day.

Puerto Rico

There are more than 100 things to love about Puerto Rico. Being 50x larger than Aruba, you’re spoiled for adventure, activities, history, and culture in Puerto Rico.

If Aruba is a flat-like landscape with a desert and beaches, Puerto Rico is lush, green, mountainous, and a lot more diverse. But what exactly can you find in Puerto Rico? Here’s a glimpse:

  • Lighthouses
  • State forests
  • Nature reserves
  • Bioluminescent bays
  • Several gastronomic routes

Like Aruba, Puerto Rico also offers year-round sunshine and good weather but is more likely to have rain. That said, tourists can still enjoy Puerto Rico throughout the year. For those who love to stay outdoors, Puerto Rico is also regarded as a hiking paradise.

If you want to learn more about what Puerto Rico has to offer you, the next sections go into full detail.

What Makes Puerto Rico Unique?

Unrivaled Natural Beauty

Did you know Puerto Rico has 36 nature reserves? And its most famous reserve, El Yunque is the island’s main highlight.

At first, you’ll be amazed by the sheer size of El Yunque, which spans a total of 28,000 acres (11,331 ha). And guess what. That’s bigger than the Walt Disney World Resort, four golf courses, and 100 football fields combined.

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Speechless? Wait, there’s still more. El Yunque is also home to 240 different types of trees, 25 waterfalls, and thousands of birds & wildlife.

Now, remember: El Yunque is only one nature reserve out of the 36 total reserves found all over Puerto Rico. If you thought that was impressive, Puerto Rico still has more nature in store for you.

Paradores Are Puerto Rico’s Ultimate Charm

Puerto Rico is indeed famous for its lush rainforests and great beaches. Exploring its other areas also reveals championship golf courses and charming cobblestone streets.

But for the ultimate enchanting experience of culture, gastronomy, and hospitality? None can compare to Puerto Rico’s Paradores. These family-owned hotels are found all over Puerto Rico and offer the value of luxury resorts. Think luxury villas but smaller and more affordable.

The Paradores or “En la isla” as locals call it is perfect for destination weddings, families, and even with friends. Not only are they affordable, but they’re also the true embodiments of Puerto Rican hospitality.

Part of the experience of staying at any Paradores includes picturesque and panoramic views of the city. Plus, its gastronomic cuisine is sure to satisfy your palette.

Puerto Rico Is Home to Three Bioluminescent Bays

And there are only five of these bays in the entire world. But first, what are bioluminescent bays really? Put it this way. If the ocean had stars and they shined blue at night, that’s what you’d see at a bioluminescent bay.

How these bays came to be is a matter of science and microscopic living organisms known as dinoflagellates. As for the blue light? Well, whenever you agitate the water with these guys around, they light up.

Amazing, right? And here’s the best part of it all: bioluminescent bays are supposedly seasonal, but not the ones in Puerto Rico. All three have that rich blueness you’re dying to see year-round, and these are…

  • La Parguera
  • Mosquito Bay
  • Farjardo’s bio bay

Fun fact: Mosquito Bay is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world and was recognized by the Guinness World Records in 2006.

Experience the Beauty of Black Sand at One of Puerto Rico’s Award-Winning Beaches

You’ve probably heard about pink sand beaches. Well, there’s something even more unique than that: black sand at Playa Negra.

When it rains, the sand turns into a black beauty. Nearly as decadent looking as dark chocolate, there have even been times when wild horses are seen running by the coast.

But the most mind-boggling question in your head right now is probably… “how is there even black sand?” The answer lies in the region’s geology. The sand at Playa Negra is a mixture of sandstone, limestone, and volcanic rock.

The only downside? Finding Playa Negra is difficult. It’s an off-the-beaten-path that first-time visitors would be hard-pressed to find. Instead, you’re better off booking a tour for safety reasons. Highly recommended tour operators for this experience include Puerto Rico Day Trips and Aqua Sunset Tours.

What Is Better – Puerto Rico or Aruba?

Both Puerto Rico and Aruba are fantastic destinations to visit but suit different types of travelers. Deciding between the two is simple really. If you’re after a beach vacation, Aruba is the better choice. If it’s an adventure and thrill-seeking activities you want, go with Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a better island to visit if you’re looking for more culture, history, and more things to do in general. Aruba offers a lot of activities and excursions, too, but doesn’t compare to all that’s available in Puerto Rico.

In fact, you could spend two to three days doing activities and excursions around Aruba. After that, your entire trip will mostly be centered around beaches, shopping, or gambling/partying.

In contrast, it almost feels as if you don’t have enough time to do it all when it comes to excursions and tours around Puerto Rico. From historical ruins and jungle tours to coastal inland explorations, it’s a full-on adventure in Puerto Rico.

That said, this mostly depends on personal preference. Some might prefer a relaxing vacation and lounging on beaches the entire day. In that case, Aruba wins by a landslide. Not to mention, Puerto Rico may have a few stunning beaches, but it hardly compares to the beauty of Aruba.

FAQ

Is Puerto Rico Safer Than Aruba?

Puerto Rico is a safe island to visit, and it’s one of the safer destinations in the Caribbean too. The same goes with Aruba, being one of the safest Caribbean islands as well.

Most of the crime in Puerto Rico is drug trafficking, not to mention it also has a high murder rate. But don’t let this discourage you. Victims are typically gang members involved in drugs and illegal trafficking-related activities.

Tourists who have visited Puerto Rico are mostly unharmed, so it’s still safer even than most US countries. These crimes also happen far from tourist areas. In contrast, there are a couple of the safest neighborhoods in Puerto Rico as well. These places are definitely far from any crime and even solo female travelers can explore the area:

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10 SNEAKY TRAVEL MISTAKES YOU'RE PROBABLY MAKING RIGHT NOW

This guide highlights the most common mistakes many travelers make – so you can easily avoid them.

You will also get tips and travel “hacks” that will help you save time and money so you can enjoy an adventure of a lifetime without sweating the small stuff.

Get the guide and checklists now so you can avoid the travel mistakes that can ruin your precious vacation.
  • Dorado
  • Vieques
  • Luquillo

With regards to Aruba in safety, it’s one of the safest in the Caribbean and only petty crime happens like pickpocketing. Generally, you can explore Aruba at your own pace and alone but always exercise common travel sense.

Is Aruba Part of Puerto Rico?

Aruba is not part of Puerto Rico as both also belong to different countries. Aruba belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Puerto Rico is an overseas territory of the United States of America.

Is Puerto Rico Near Aruba?

Puerto Rico is quite near to Aruba. If you take a direct flight from either destination, the total flight time would only be roughly an hour.

Aruba to Puerto Rico Distance

The distance between Aruba and Puerto Rico is 452 miles (727 km). Traveling by plane will take you approximately 0.81 hours (48.6 minutes) to reach.

How Big Is Puerto Rico Compared to Aruba?

Puerto is 50x bigger than Aruba, with a total area spanning 3,515 sq miles (9,104 sq km). Aruba is only about 69.4 sq miles (180 sq km), so it’s a lot smaller than Puerto Rico, without a doubt.

How Do I Get From Aruba to Puerto Rico?

There is only one way to get from Aruba to Puerto Rico: by plane. Some might suggest taking a ferry or boat, but the circumstances can be unfavorable. Why? Mainly because crossing the Caribbean Sea can be a dangerous expedition during the hurricane season.

Small private boats won’t do either. You would need a fairly large boat to handle any violent waves when the Caribbean Sea gets all nasty.

Aruba to Puerto Rico Flight

Several airlines offer flights from Aruba to Puerto Rico, such as:

  • United
  • Avianca
  • Copa Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • American Airlines

Note that flight times vary for each airline. The average cost for a flight from Aruba to Puerto Rica or vice versa is USD 380. However, flight costs can easily surge to USD 500 or even as high as $1,000.

Are There Direct Flights From Puerto Rico to Aruba?

There are no direct flights from Puerto Rico to Aruba no matter which airline you fly with. For the most part, expect at least one layover if you want to fly direct from Puerto Rico to Aruba.

How Far Is Aruba From Puerto Rico by Plane?

The distance from Aruba to Puerto Rico by plane is 452 miles (727 km). The total flight time, on average, is 8 hours. But take note. Not all flights will be this long. Some are even longer and will have at least two stops. In fact, flight times can be 21 hours long, with some even lasting an entire day.

In cases like these, it usually means that the stopovers are at least 11 or 12 hours long.

Aruba to Puerto Rico by Boat

There are no ferries you can take from Aruba to Puerto Rico. Even with a private boat, you’d need a fairly large vessel to cross the Caribbean Sea.

If you’re thinking of cruise ships, there haven’t been any so far that include both Aruba and Puerto Rico on the same route. Every cruise line follows its own routes and largely varies depending on internal agreements. Mostly, it also has to do with what destinations tourists prefer most while on a cruise vacation.

How Far Is Aruba From Puerto Rico by Boat?

Whether you’re traveling by boat or plane, the distance between Aruba and Puerto Rico is the same: 452 miles (727 km). The distance may change depending on the route that a plane or boat chooses to follow.

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