Aruba and Punta Cana are some of the top beach destinations in the Caribbean. Both are considered to be paradise getaways. But it also depends on what your idea of paradise is.
Are you looking for nice beaches? Do you plan to visit during hurricane season? Is great weather important to you? And are you planning to travel with kids?
There is no perfect destination, but there is the right one that meets all your travel needs. And between Aruba and Punta Cana, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.
Aruba is a small island, but despite its size, don’t think for a second that you’d run out of things to do in Aruba.
You might’ve heard from others or read on forums that Aruba is a flat desert, almost similar to Arizona’s geography. And while that might be true, the desert is only one face of the island.
Technically, Aruba is a beach and desert at the same time. Pretty cool, right?
The beachy side is where most tourists stay and it’s also where you’ll find duty-free shops, restaurants, resorts, hotels, and so on. Aruba’s desert is the rugged yet charming part of the island. This is where you can do ATV tours, go hiking, explore caves, and even swim at a natural pool.
When it comes to Aruba’s beaches, there simply aren’t enough words and adjectives to describe their beauty.
Eagle beach, known for its gorgeous sand and blue waters, is one of the most popular in the city. It was also voted by Tripadvisor as the 3rd best beach in the world in 2017. Palm beach, a paradise surrounded by hotels, casinos, and restaurants, is also famous for beach lounging and snorkeling.
Then there’s Arashi beach, perfect if you’re looking for a secluded retreat while enjoying the ocean breeze and view. That’s not all. There’s still Hadicurari beach, Boca Catalina, Baby beach, Flamingo beach, Andicuri beach, and tons more.
Plus, Aruba’s beaches are ideal for water sports activities like windsurfing, surfing, and kitesurfing. Jet skiing, snorkeling, wreck diving, and scuba diving are also popular activities to do at several of Aruba’s beaches.
So, you see, not so small, right? And if that’s still not enough to convince you, the next sections just might.
What Makes Aruba Unique?
The Sun Always Shines and the Sand Feels Like You’re Walking on a Tub of Sugar
If you love sunny weather, you’ll be happy to know Aruba has the sunniest days in the Caribbean. Clear skies. Dry weather. And trade winds strong enough to keep you cool, then there’s the occasional sandblast.
For the ultimate sunshine package, Aruba beats any Caribbean island that dares to challenge its claim. And that’s not even the best part yet.
Aruba is popular for its gorgeous beaches and seductive blue waters. But also, the sand is so soft it feels like walking on a tub of sugar.
That is a hard fact.
And with sand this barefoot-friendly, you have no excuse if you’re trying to hit your daily step goals. Because after all…
Who could say no to a morning walk full of gentle sunshine, cool sand, a beautiful view, and being able to jump in the water any time you want?
Hopping From One Beach to the Next Is Easy to Do
What makes Aruba such a favored beach getaway for many is that you can easily access many of Aruba’s beaches simply by walking. And with the cool sand by your side, walking barefoot is an experience in itself. Of course, some of Aruba’s beaches require traveling via bus or taxi, but the distance is by no means too far that it becomes exhausting.
In fact, you can even book hotels that are situated right across renowned and tourist-favorite beaches like Eagle and Palm beach. For a more exclusive and private experience, you can book a night at Renaissance Hotel. There, you’ll find one of the most popular tourist attractions in Aruba: Flamingo beach.
And as the name implies, it’s a beach where you can interact with pink, elegant flamingos. Only guests staying at the Renaissance Hotel are granted access to Flamingo beach. Day trippers are also free to access the beach, provided they buy a day pass in the hotel too.
Flamingos aside, Aruba offers more than being able to meet exotic wildlife right by the coastline. There are beaches in Aruba that offer unspoiled nature perfect if you’re looking for total seclusion. Beaches with calm waters ideal for kids to safely enjoy spending their time in. And beaches with optimal conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, and even sailing.
Overall, you’re spoiled for gorgeous beach options in Aruba, and the best part is they’re all within close reach.
Hardly Will You See a Stressed Aruban
There’s a reason why Aruba is also regarded as ‘One Happy Island.’
Aside from the pleasant weather and all the gorgeous beaches, you’ll easily be swayed by how friendly the locals are. Plus, Arubans are genuinely helpful and kind.
The locals are also easy to talk to, and if you need extra assistance, many are willing to extend help. Just take a stroll around Oranjestad and you’ll quickly notice the colorful town matches the joyful and light attitude of the people.
Isn’t that amazing? To be a tourist in a foreign city and feel welcome by the locals? Friendliness goes a long way when you’re visiting any country, especially if you need to ask for directions. And Aruba is one happy place you won’t have any problems interacting with locals or even making new friends.
Mouthwatering, Diverse Cuisine Awaits Any Traveler in Aruba
One of the best things you’ll definitely love about Aruba? The cuisine. There’s a strong Dutch influence in Aruba, but if you’re thinking seafood, Caribbean and Dutch cuisine are not all you’ll find.
Of course, seafood dishes are a must. But if you’re staying in Aruba for say, a week or longer, eating seafood and Caribbean dishes 3x a day can definitely lead to a dull palate. Luckily, you have options. A ton of cuisine options, like:
“Thai, Italian, African, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian, Argentinian, Japanese (even sushi), European (French, English, Spanish, and Dutch), North American (steakhouses, rib joints, burgers, etc.)”
There are a lot of fast-food chains around Aruba as well, but why bother when you have these many flavors?
It’s also worth trying local Aruban dishes like pastechi, which is similar to a Latin American empanada. This cornmeal-crusted pastry is stuffed with chicken, cheese, vegetables, and spices. Some are stuffed with different types of meat like beef, tuna, ham, or sometimes, a combination of two or three.
Other tasty local dishes you must try in Aruba include:
- Pan Bati (think pancakes but thinner)
- Stoba (Aruba’s version of beef or goat stew)
- Patacon (a many-layered Venezuelan sandwich)
- Aruban-style burgers (mixed with a Colombian influence)
- Bolita di Keshi (stuffed cheeseballs – mix of cheddar and ricotta or feta)
Don’t miss out on trying one of Aruba’s most famous local specialties either: Keshi yena. It’s a large ball of cheese stuffed with meat and other savory ingredients. Truly outstanding, experiencing Aruba’s diverse cuisine and gastronomy is a must for all, especially foodies.
If you’re looking for a dose of relaxation and adventure, you’ll find it in Punta Cana.
One of the best reasons to visit? All-inclusive resorts. Over 90% of the resorts in Punta Cana are all-inclusive. Outside the area, there are a few activities you can do. These range from national parks to swimming in sinkholes and visiting chocolate museums.
Yup – that’s right. Punta Cana has a chocolate museum on standby for any sweet tooth in need of their chocolate cravings. The beaches are great too, but you may also want to reserve your energy for similar beachy attractions, like the Hoyo Azul Blue Hole in Scape Park.
Beaches and excursions aside, Punta Cana is famous for its highly entertaining nightlife. Think smoke shows, disco lights, and a lounge-like club setup. Party animals, that’s your cue. After all, the Dominicans do love their music and dancing, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Punta Cana offers a vibrant nightlife scene.
After spending a wild night in Punta Cana, you can treat yourself to any of the fantastic spas available at the resorts. Zoetry Agua and Majestic Colonial are some of the best and most relaxing.
Beaches, outdoor activities, nightlife, and spas. A trip to Punta Cana is a guaranteed pampering experience that’s hard to resist. Not to mention, it’s a lot more affordable too. And when you’re on this side of the Caribbean, you’re getting a lot of sunshine to keep you in high spirits every time.
What Makes Punta Cana Unique?
It’s the All-Inclusive Break You’ve Been Craving for
You’re probably aware that Punta Cana is famous for its all-inclusive resorts. But knowing the facts and experiencing them for yourself makes a difference. You’re getting first-class amenities, beachfront access, gastronomic flavors, and spacious, luxurious rooms.
Could there be any better break for the family? Or for lovebirds on a honeymoon?
And if that’s not enough, just note. You have over 70 resorts to choose from. All of which cater to different needs, tastes, and budgets.
Want beachfront access without the premium expense? Prefer a resort that’s only minutes away from exciting nightlife scenes? Or are you hoping for a quiet resort where you can enjoy the spa benefits and exclusive lounge to yourself?
Punta Cana has it all. And to help you on your search among the 70+ resorts, here are some of the best on the island:
“Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro, Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa, Live Aqua Beach Resort Punta Cana, Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa, The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real Resort”
Perfect for Travelers Who Hate Rainy Weather
Throughout the year, expect Punta Cana to be full of sunshine and warm, tropical temperatures. The heat slightly spikes during the summer months, which is followed by the rainy season. But even when it’s time for the showers to pour, the rain barely lasts long and rainfall doesn’t frequent the island.
Mostly, Punta Cana offers tourists good weather no matter the month you visit. And despite the rain showers, well… there is some bonus to it. For one, it adds flare to the overall ambiance you get at the beach or pool.
Instagram reel, anyone? Go on. Make your friends jealous.
Punta Cana’s Nightlife Is So Contagious Your Body Can’t Stop Its Groove
Days in Punta Cana are spent relaxing in the sand, soaking in the warmth of the sun, and lazing in between palm trees. But as the sun sets, the music immediately turns on your party vibes, good enough to last into the wee hours.
Nightclubs, bars, and raves are definitely one of the best highlights of being in Punta Cana. The music is loud, but its pop, chill, classic, or rock remix will awaken something in you that may have been dormant for so long. Put simply, it will bring out the party animal in you.
But take note. Punta Cana’s nightlife isn’t just swaying your hips and jumping in the air to match the vibe of the music. Coco Bongo – one of the favorite local spots in Punta Cana – offers the most entertaining shows every night.
For something more sophisticated and classy, Pearl Beach Club ticks all the boxes if you want total party animal fun. And if it’s chill live jazz music you’re after, visit Onno’s Bavaro every Tuesday night. Balicana in Cocotal also has live music every Friday night starting from 8 pm. Last but not least, head to TOC bar located in the Playa Turquesa Complex for more live music.
For teens and adults with party animal spirits, be sure to check out Imagine, Drink Point, and Legacy.
Great Balance of Entertainment, Adventure, and Bliss
Beach charm, vibrant nightlife, and thrill-seeking outdoor activities are all found in Punta Cana. If it’s a balance between all three that you’re after, Punta Cana is worth visiting.
You could spend your early mornings by the beach, go on an off-road adventure in the afternoon, and move to the dance floor at night. If adventure suits you, there are several activities you can do. For starters, you can explore Scape Park and swim in the famous blue hole – Hoyo Azul.
Looking for an inland adventure? Take the hiking trail that leads to Anamuya Mountains full of lush vegetation. Around the area, you’ll also see a lot of coffee & cocoa plantations. If you have extra time, visit Montana Redonda as well.
That’s not all. There are several more activities to do around Punta Cana, and here are a few worth adding to your itinerary:
- Go on an off-road adventure in a Terracross buggy and ride through steep, muddy terrains
- Celebrate by going on a Punta Cana party cruise, which also comes with its own water slide
- Learn about the history of chocolate and how it’s made at ChocoMuseo – you even get to make your own
If beaches are more of your vibe, you cannot miss any of these while you’re in Punta Cana:
“Uvero Alto, Saona Island, Cabo Engano, Cabeza de Toro, Punta Cana beach, Arena Gorda beach, Bahia De Las Aguilas”
A Ton of Aquatic and Land Sports Activities
Aside from the dance floor and tours, there’s still a heap of aquatic and land activities for tourists to do. Tennis, golfing, surf yoga, parasailing, shark diving, and even power snorkeling are some of the activities available to tourists.
For the whole family, you can even visit the water parks and sign up for any of the dolphin activities inside the park. Other great things to do in Punta Cana whether as a family, solo, or with friends include the following:
“Basketball, Snorkeling, Scuba diving, Wakeboarding, White water rafting, Kite and windsurfing, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Fishing (inshore and deep sea)”
Which Is Nicer – Aruba or Punta Cana?
Aruba is nicer if you’re looking for the best beaches, pleasant weather, and want to be able to easily explore the city. Whether that be the restaurants, shopping, casinos, bars, or simply lazing by the beach.
Punta Cana is truly for the all-inclusive traveler that doesn’t mind spending most of their time at the resort and wants bang for their buck.
If you’re more of the adventurous type, Aruba and Punta Cana offer their fair share of activities and excursions. But between the two, there are more activities you can do in Punta Cana. Scape Park is a popular excursion, but that’s just one of the many other available tours.
Overall, Punta Cana is nicer for an active traveler who enjoys doing a ton of aquatic and land sports. For more budget-friendly options, Punta Cana also favors practical travelers.
What about nightlife? Well, both Aruba and Punta Cana do have their own versions of entertainment. In Aruba’s case, you’re looking at a few bars and clubs plus casinos. Punta Cana has a lot of options, in comparison – from bars and clubs to live music and beachside lounges.
Aruba also offers a lot of excursions, but most of these can be done in a short time. Put simply, Aruba suits relaxed and laid-back travelers that want a good balance of adventure and beaches. If you also want great shopping, food, easy transportation, and decent nightlife, Aruba is for you. And of course, when it comes to food, Aruba’s cuisine is so diverse foodies will love exploring restaurant after restaurant.
Aruba or Punta Cana for Honeymoon?
Both Aruba and Punta offer romantic spots perfect for couples to relax and celebrate their anniversary. However, Aruba is a much more romantic destination overall. Every night feels like date night in Aruba. With so many restaurants and beaches around the city, a romantic dinner or beach picnic is perfect at Aruba.
Not to mention, the sunsets are amazing in Aruba, so if you wanted to do a luxury cruise, it would definitely be a momentous experience.
Punta Cana’s all-inclusive resorts are romantic as well, and they have their fair share of perks and benefits. At the end of the day, it depends on what kind of romantic experience you’re after.
Is Punta Cana Close to Aruba?
Punta Cana is not close to Aruba. The distance is far enough that it requires a plane to reach either destination. The places that are closest to Punta Cana include the following:
“Isla Saona, Cayo Arena, Catalina Island, Cayo Levantado, Cayos Siete Hermanos”
Punta Cana to Aruba Distance
The distance between Punta Cana and Aruba is around 432.5 miles (696 km). Best case scenario, it takes about 5 hours to travel between Punta Cana and Aruba.
How Do I Get From Punta Cana to Aruba?
The best way to get from Punta Cana to Aruba is by plane. It’s also the fastest and safest way too. There don’t seem to be any ferries that offer traveling between the two destinations. The same goes for cruise ships.
Cruise ship routes mostly depend on the seasonality and demand of the tourism market. For instance, the majority of Caribbean cruises offered by Royal Caribbean include Aruba and Curacao on the same route. This happens to be the case based on data that cruise lines have collected over the years.
For the most part, cruise ships decide routes based on how mainstream the destination is for tourists. And judging from what is shown regularly on cruise line sites, it appears that tourists favor visiting Aruba and Curacao more. The same as how some prefer the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic in one route.
Punta Cana to Aruba Flights
There are no direct flights from Punta Cana to Aruba, but there are weekly flights from several countries to both destinations. What this means is, that if you wanted to take a direct flight from Punta Cana to Aruba, there will always be a stopover in between.
In truth, people are more likely to fly from the US, Canada, or Europe to Aruba rather than fly from Punta Cana to Aruba. And in that case, this is why flights from Punta Cana to Aruba and vice versa have stopovers.
Punta Cana to Aruba Flight Time
The average flight time from Punta Cana to Aruba is around 7 hours, with one stopover in between. In some cases, there will be two stopovers, resulting in a total flight time of 22 hours. Some even take longer and can take as long as 47 hours.