Aruba vs. St. Martin

Deciding between a vacation in Aruba and St. Martin can feel like a tough puzzle. Both Caribbean islands offer an enticing mix of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and vibrant local cultures. Aruba, known for its Dutch heritage and desert landscapes, paints a different picture from the dual-nationality island of St. Martin, split between French and Dutch rule. So, which of these Caribbean gems will give you the adventure you're seeking?
Aruba vs. St. Martin

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The choice between Aruba and St. Martin is like picking between two jewels in a treasure chest. Both islands shimmer with their own unique charm and attractions. But don’t worry, this guide will help you compare the experiences that await you on each island. Keep reading to find out more about what makes each destination special, and you might just find your perfect vacation match.

History & Culture

Choosing between Aruba and St. Martin can lead to fascinating journeys through rich histories and diverse cultures. Each island boasts a unique blend of traditions and customs shaped by their colonial pasts and vibrant indigenous cultures.

Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is steeped in Dutch influence. Its history is rooted in the Arawak heritage, a legacy you can trace in the local language, Papiamento, and the island’s cultural practices. Despite being small, Aruba’s cultural tapestry is incredibly rich, with customs and traditions from Africa, Europe, and the Americas all leaving their mark.

On the other hand, St. Martin offers a unique dual cultural experience. The island is divided into French Saint-Martin to the north and Dutch Sint Maarten to the south. This split results in a unique blend of European and Caribbean cultures that’s truly one-of-a-kind. You’ll see this duality in everything from architecture to local customs, making it a fascinating place to explore.

One isn’t necessarily better than the other—it really depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation.

If you’re interested in Dutch Caribbean culture with a dash of multicultural influence, Aruba could be your ideal pick. However, if the idea of exploring an island with a unique blend of French, Dutch, and Caribbean cultures excites you, then St. Martin might just be the destination for you.

In conclusion, both Aruba and St. Martin offer unique cultural experiences shaped by their historical influences. Your decision will hinge on what kind of cultural immersion you’re looking for in your vacation. Either way, you’re in for a fascinating journey through history and culture.

Attractions & Activities

Diving into the world of attractions and activities in Aruba and St. Martin can feel like stepping into an adventure novel. Each destination offers you a unique set of experiences that can make your holiday truly memorable.

In Aruba, your adventurous spirit might draw you to the Arikok National Park. Spanning around 20% of the island, this park is a treasure trove of desert-like landscapes, hidden caves, and indigenous wildlife. You could also find yourself riding a horse or mountain biking across the island’s rugged terrains.

If historical attractions are more your style, the 19th-century California Lighthouse, named after a ship that wrecked near the shore, offers panoramic views of the island that are second to none.

Meanwhile, St. Martin offers its own set of unique experiences. The Loterie Farm is a hidden secret on the French side of the island, offering zip-lining experiences through a lush, tropical forest. If history interests you, Fort Louis, overlooking Marigot Bay, is a remnant of the island’s colonial past, offering breathtaking views of the coastline.

For the artistically inclined, the Roland Richardson Art Gallery, located in an old Caribbean mansion, showcases the beauty of St. Martin through the eyes of a local artist.

At the end of the day, choosing between the two comes down to your personal preferences. If the idea of exploring a desert-like national park and historical landmarks appeals to you, Aruba might be your go-to choice. On the other hand, if zip-lining through a tropical forest, exploring a historical fort, and delving into local art interests you, then St. Martin could be your ideal destination.


When you think of a Caribbean vacation, breathtaking beaches are probably one of the first things that come to mind. Both Aruba and St. Martin boast a beautiful coastline that can make your beach vacation dreams come true.

Aruba’s most famous beach, Eagle Beach, spans about 1.1 miles (approximately 1.8 kilometers) and is renowned for its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters. It’s also home to the island’s iconic fofoti trees, creating a picture-perfect beach landscape.

St. Martin, on the other hand, offers a wide variety of beach experiences. Orient Bay Beach, stretching about 1.3 miles (roughly 2 kilometers), is a vibrant hub with watersports and beach bars. Alternatively, you can find peace and quiet at the serene Friar’s Bay Beach.

Whether you choose Aruba or St. Martin, you’re sure to find a beach that suits your taste. If you’re looking for soft white sand, clear waters, and iconic beach landscapes, Aruba’s Eagle Beach might be the one for you. But, if a vibrant beach hub or a serene getaway is more up your alley, then the beaches of St. Martin might be calling your name.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

Your culinary journey in Aruba and St. Martin could be as memorable as the golden sunsets and azure waters. Both islands promise an exciting blend of food, drinks, and nightlife that can make your Caribbean vacation unforgettable.

In Aruba, you’ll find a delicious blend of Caribbean, Dutch, and international cuisines. Seafood lovers can rejoice at Zeerovers, a local favorite where you can savor freshly caught fish and shrimp. If you crave Italian, Gianni’s Ristorante in Oranjestad is a must-visit.

As for drinks, Aruba is the birthplace of the famous Divi Divi cocktail. This refreshing beverage, made from local ingredients, is best enjoyed while watching the sun set over the Caribbean Sea. Many beachside bars, like Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill, offer a wide range of local and international drinks.

Aruba’s nightlife is as vibrant as its beaches. Clubs like Gusto and The Mill Resort & Suites Aruba offer a lively party scene where you can dance the night away.

St. Martin, too, boasts a rich culinary landscape. Here, you can experience a fusion of French and Caribbean cuisines. L’Auberge Gourmande and Bistrot Caraibes are renowned for their exquisite French dishes. St. Martin also has its own unique drink – the Guavaberry rum.

For the night owls, St. Martin’s nightlife thrives on live music and beach parties. La Bamba Beach Bar and Kontiki Beach are popular spots to soak in the island’s vibrant nightlife.

In the end, your food and nightlife preferences might sway your decision. Aruba might be your perfect destination if you fancy a diverse mix of cuisines, local cocktails, and clubbing. However, if French-Caribbean fusion, unique rum, and beach parties sound more appealing, St. Martin might be the island for you.


Whether you’re a shopaholic or just looking for a unique souvenir, Aruba and St. Martin offer a shopping experience that you won’t forget.

Aruba is known for its high-end shopping with a plethora of luxury boutiques. The Renaissance Mall, located in the heart of Oranjestad, houses brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. For locally made goods, the Aruban Artisan Market is a great place to find handcrafted items and local produce.

St. Martin, on the other hand, is famous for its duty-free shopping. The island’s capital, Marigot, is filled with boutiques offering jewelry, perfumes, and designer clothing at duty-free prices. For local crafts and souvenirs, the Marigot Market is a must-visit.

Your shopping preference could influence your choice between the two. If you’re after luxury brands and local crafts, Aruba’s shopping scene might be just what you’re looking for. But, if you’re keen on duty-free shopping for international brands and local souvenirs, then St. Martin could be your ideal shopping paradise.


When it comes to resting your head after a day of Caribbean adventures, both Aruba and St. Martin offer a range of accommodations to suit your needs and budget.

In Aruba, you’ll find a mix of all-inclusive resorts, budget-friendly hotels, and vacation rentals. The high-rise area of Palm Beach boasts luxury resorts like the Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt Regency. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Brickell Bay Beach Club in the same area.

St. Martin, on the other hand, offers a blend of luxury villines, boutique hotels, and budget accommodations. The French side of the island is known for its luxury villas, like the ones at La Samanna. For more affordable options, the Pasanggrahan Royal Guesthouse on the Dutch side offers value for money.

Both islands also have vacation rentals, perfect if you’re seeking a home-away-from-home experience. So, depending on your preference for resort-style luxury, budget-friendly options, or a cozy vacation rental, you could lean towards Aruba or St. Martin.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Your family vacation to the Caribbean can be filled with fun and adventure, whether you choose Aruba or St. Martin. Both islands offer a variety of family-friendly activities that kids and adults alike will enjoy.

Aruba is known for its kid-friendly beaches and activities. De Palm Island offers a water park that your kids will love. You can also take a submarine tour to explore the underwater world.

In St. Martin, Loterie Farm is a hit with families, offering zip-lining and a tree-top adventure course. The Butterfly Farm is another must-visit, where kids can learn about and interact with various butterfly species.

Both islands also offer family-friendly accommodations and dining options. Therefore, whether you’re seeking a fun-filled adventure in Aruba or a nature-oriented experience in St. Martin, both islands ensure a memorable family vacation.

Getting There & Getting Around

Reaching and exploring Aruba and St. Martin can be quite straightforward. Both islands have international airports and a variety of transportation options.

Flights to Aruba land at Queen Beatrix International Airport, located about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Oranjestad, the capital. Once you’re on the island, getting around is easy. Taxis, buses, and rental cars are readily available.

Flights to St. Martin arrive at Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side, or Grand Case Airport on the French side. The island offers taxis and rental cars for transportation. An interesting fact – the island also has a water taxi service in Marigot Bay and Simpson Bay.

In summary, both Aruba and St. Martin offer ease of access and convenient local transportation. Your choice might depend on whether you prefer the convenience of taxis and buses in Aruba or the unique experience of water taxis in St. Martin.


Looking at the weather for your Caribbean getaway? Aruba and St. Martin, while both tropical, do have some differences.

Aruba enjoys a dry climate year-round, with temperatures averaging around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). It’s located outside the hurricane belt, which means you’ll experience less rainfall and fewer storms than other Caribbean islands.

St. Martin, on the other hand, has a tropical monsoon climate. You’ll find temperatures are pretty steady, averaging about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). However, it has a distinct wet season from August to December, when you could encounter some showers.

So, if you prefer a dry climate and want to avoid any chance of tropical storms, Aruba may be the one for you. But if you don’t mind a bit of rain and enjoy lush, green landscapes, then St. Martin could be your ideal destination.


Ensuring a safe and secure vacation is important, whether you choose Aruba or St. Martin.

In terms of personal safety, both islands are generally safe for tourists. However, like any destination, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings secure.

Aruba stands out for its friendly locals and low crime rates, while St. Martin, especially the French side, is known for its relaxed vibe and safe neighborhoods.

As for health safety, both islands have reputable medical facilities. In case of an emergency, Aruba has the Dr. Horacio Oduber Hospital, and St. Martin has the Louis-Constant Fleming Hospital.

In conclusion, both Aruba and St. Martin are safe destinations. Your decision might just depend on the vibe and atmosphere you’re looking for.


Budgeting for your vacation is a crucial part of planning. Both Aruba and St. Martin offer a range of options for various budgets.

In Aruba, you’ll find that dining and entertainment can be a bit pricier, with an average meal costing around 25 Aruban Florin (14 USD). However, you can find budget-friendly accommodations and free beach activities.

St. Martin, on the other hand, offers a mix of luxury and budget options. You can find meals for as low as 10 Euros (12 USD) on the French side.

The choice between Aruba and St. Martin might come down to what you plan to spend more on – dining, accommodations, or activities. Either way, both islands offer value for money, ensuring a memorable Caribbean getaway.

Which Is Better – Aruba or St. Martin?

Your decision between Aruba and St. Martin might be a tough one, but considering your preferences across various aspects can help. Let’s sum up the key points from each section to guide your decision.

For history and culture enthusiasts, both islands offer rich experiences. Aruba’s Dutch influence and St. Martin’s dual Dutch and French influences provide unique cultural perspectives. But if you’re more interested in a blend of European cultures, St. Martin could be more fascinating.

In terms of attractions and activities, both islands have exciting offerings. But if you’re more into diverse natural attractions and cultural sites, Aruba might be your best bet. If you’re a beach lover, both Aruba and St. Martin boast beautiful sandy stretches, but Aruba’s drier climate might make beach activities more comfortable.

The food scene in St. Martin, especially the French side, is known for its gourmet dining, making it a foodie’s paradise. Aruba, while a bit pricier, also offers an array of dining options. For shopping, Aruba offers a more upscale experience, while St. Martin has a more diverse mix of local and luxury goods.

Accommodation-wise, both destinations offer a range of options. But if you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, St. Martin might be more suitable. For family-friendly and children’s activities, both islands excel, but Aruba’s drier climate and less crowded attractions might be more appealing.

In terms of weather, if you prefer a drier climate and want to avoid the hurricane season, Aruba’s year-round dry weather could be more attractive. If you don’t mind some showers, St. Martin’s tropical climate can be quite refreshing.

In conclusion, both Aruba and St. Martin are fantastic Caribbean destinations, each with their unique charm and offerings. Your ideal choice depends on your specific preferences and priorities. Whether it’s the diverse cultural blend of St. Martin or the dry climate and diverse attractions of Aruba, you’re in for an unforgettable Caribbean experience.