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Barbados or Aruba

Toronto, Canada
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547 posts
14 reviews
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Barbados or Aruba

We have never been to either of these two islands and don't know which one to choose. What our preferences are:

1. nice, picturesque, clean beaches, white sand, not too crowdy. We also like to walk a lot so which island has beaches that are long and walkable

2. some nightlife, not too crazy like Cancun

3. nice, not too expensive dining. Variety. We heard Barbados is very pricey. How is it in Aruba

4. Driving - we want to rent a car and do some sightseeing

5. Sightseeing - what is there to see

6. Which one more tourist friendly

Please share your experiences. Possibly those of you who visited both islands. Thank you.

Rome, New York
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36 posts
33 reviews
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1. Re: Barbados or Aruba

I've been to both and prefer Aruba. It may be just where we stayed in Barbados, but it was not an area that had anything within walking distance. We had to take cabs everywhere.

Aruba has many more activities and restaurants near the hotels in my experience.

Both are warm with great beaches, but the trade winds in Aruba help to make it more comfortable. Heading back there in two days!

Bay Shore, New York
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88 posts
19 reviews
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2. Re: Barbados or Aruba

I went to Barbados for my honeymoon in 2007 and have gone to Aruba every year since 2008 and totally agree with DebbieJoyce. Aruba has everything we need for a great vacation: a lot of good restaurants (both expensive and inexpensive), beautiful consistent weather, ease of traveling around the island, a variety of casinos and friendly people.

We stayed at the Hilton in Barbados which was really nice, but it was very hot and you had to either take taxis around or rent a car while there. There really was nothing in walkable distance. Also, at the time the exchange rate was really poor which made shopping very expensive.

We are also heading back Aruba in 3 days!

North Cape May, Nj
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8,612 posts
12 reviews
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3. Re: Barbados or Aruba

To be perfectly honest, the answers to your questions will all be subjective. This is the Aruba forum, so there will be a bias toward Aruba. Same will happen should you visit the Barbados forum. I have been to Barbados on a cruise stop, so not there long enough to really discuss the pros and cons. I will discuss your preferences as they apply to Aruba.

The beaches are as you wish. Beautiful. Eagle, Manchebo and Druif Beaches are one continuous stretch of white beach with no discernible borders.

Nightlife is as you wish. Plenty of places to hear music and dance or relax.

Dining in Aruba is amongst the best in the Caribbean along with St Martin. Dinner prices vary from moderate to pretty expensive. All Caribbean islands are expensive. Aruba is not by comparison.

Driving is fairly easy except for the absence of road signs. The island is only 19X6 miles so getting lost is not a big headache. Take a dry run to any place that you may have a reservation.

Sightseeing is a bit limited. Aruba is a desert. Some expect palm trees and lush foliage. Nope. Cactus, sand and Divi Divi trees. Beautiful in a rugged sense. Since the island is so small, it may be explored in a day or two. Arikok National Park, Baby Beach, Arashi Beach, Malmok, the Lighthouse, the rocky and rough Atlantic side, caves, rock formations and a few other interesting sites.

I love Aruba. Based upon my brief experience in Barbados, I feel that I would like it there but not love it.

The island is very safe to explore in daytime or night. Friendly people. No need to exchange currency. English is widely spoken. No slum areas. Fantastic weather. No hurricanes. I prefer to rent a car for the entire stay. Also prefer to rent right at the airport, so I use Econo. Great location. Good prices. Cars may have scratches and small dings but run well and the A/C has always worked.

Toronto, Canada
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547 posts
14 reviews
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4. Re: Barbados or Aruba

Thank you for your responses. I have asked the same question on the Barbados forum so we'll see. I have to add something though. Is Aruba more like Florida, with hi-rise hotels? We've heard that comparison before and we don't really want that. We travel to Florida twice a year and this time we prefer more tropical/carribean feel to our vacations, less American food chains. We don't care for casinos:)

North Cape May, Nj
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8,612 posts
12 reviews
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5. Re: Barbados or Aruba

http://www.amsterdammanor.com/

http://www.manchebo.com/

http://www.bucuti.com/

There are two hotel areas in Aruba. Palm Beach is where the high rise hotels are located. Eagle Beach is where the low rise, boutique type hotels are located. The above links are for the most popular hotels on Eagle Beach. Bucuti/Tara Suites is the most expensive, but you get what you pay for. Aruba is popular with American, Canadian, Dutch and UK travelers with an emphasis on American. This can't be too big a problem since it is the most revisited island in the Caribbean. The fast food chains are primarily in the Palm Beach area. I suggest that you go onto You Tube and type Aruba into the search box. Maybe you could check out Cuba. Lots of Canadians there. No Americans. Or go back to Florida. Plenty of Cubans right there.

Edited: 22 April 2014, 17:30
spartanburg, sc
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625 posts
2 reviews
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6. Re: Barbados or Aruba

Barbados will have a more lush, tropical feel to it. Every other consideration - Aruba.

Kent, United Kingdom
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7. Re: Barbados or Aruba

Ho Hum -will get shouted at

BUT -I do feel it is a bit like Florida

going to run and hide now

8. Re: Barbados or Aruba

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New York City, New...
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1,083 posts
17 reviews
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9. Re: Barbados or Aruba

Based on the Florida comment, I don't think Aruba is really what you are looking for to be honest. We like Aruba and are planning another trip for this summer, but it does feel a bit like Florida IMO. You can get away from the chains etc and we really like the beaches. It's easy when we are with our kids but it's not the island I would choose to visit when I want something with a more caribbean/tropical feel. I have never been to Barbados but St. Martin (French side) is a great place to visit and the town of Grand Case has some amazing restaurants and Orient Beach is very long and walkable (Grand Case too actually). You can also take a ferry to Anguilla and/or St. Barth's for day trips.

If you choose Aruba and there are many reason to do so, I think Eagle Beach is a better option for you.

Toronto, Canada
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547 posts
14 reviews
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10. Re: Barbados or Aruba

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Florida, we have our second home there!!! that's why I don't want to go somewhere that is similar. I wan't a different beach experience. Why would I?