You’ve certainly heard of The Beach Boys’ song, namely Kokomo, where they sing about taking their lover to Aruba, Jamaica, and other incredible Caribbean spots.
What made the band’s lyrics last since the 90s is how much it rings true! Aruba and Jamaica especially are among the most beautiful islands one can go to, be it an unforgettable honeymoon or just a chill vacation.
The main difference between Aruba and Jamaica is that the latter is bigger and much lusher than the other, there is so much to discover in their culture and nature-wise. Even though Auba is flatter, it has more resort and restaurant options. Also, if you are planning to travel around, Aruba has better road quality too!
So, to help you reach a decision on where to spend your leisure time next, I’ve written out the guide below. The main focus is to thoroughly explore the Aruba vs. Jamaica debate by going through the pros and cons of both.
Let’s get to it!
A brief overview of Aruba
Aruba is part of an island collection located 15 miles off Venezuela’s coast. This archipelago is locally referred to as the ABC islands due to their names (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). Overall, Aruba is no bigger than 70 square miles (~180km²) and is merely 20 miles long.
Don’t let the numbers fool you, though, Aruba has a lot to offer its tourists. For starters, the place is known for being incredibly diverse as it’s home to over 90(!) different nationalities. The nation fluently speaks over six languages, including English, Spanish, and Creole.
Another advantage this diversity resulted in is the food. If you’re big on trying out new cuisine, Aruba has you covered. From Indonesian to Caribbean, many visitors recommend having dishes, such as bami and nasi goreng.
Additionally, Aruba is a well-rounded island, meaning, there’s something for everyone regardless of their age or needs. The nightlife is colorful, loud, and exuberant, making it perfect for young adults looking to wind down.
Aruba doesn’t forget about vacationing families either. The nation has over 300 prehistoric pictographs, for example, the Fontein and Guadirikiri caves, where those keen on an adventure can hike.
Plus, there are opportunities for snorkeling, horse riding, and surfing. The island is known for its steady, warm weather all year round. The sun is always out and the beaches are a white, pristine color that keeps your feet cool even on the hottest of days.
What makes Aruba a great vacation spot?
What makes Aruba a great vacation spot is mainly that it’s an ever-so-giving island, rich with culture and entertainment at every corner. You’ll never run out of things to do or explore there, which means you’re in for an incredible vacation experience.
Even the sea beneath Aruba is a wonder to explore. The island is known for being the hottest shipwreck spot in all of the Caribbean. The most popular ones are two wrecks from WWII, namely SS Antilla and SS Pedernales.
On land, you can treat yourself to a visit to Aruba’s many national parks, including Arikok. There, you can feast your eyes on the wonders and beauty of the island. If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, why not go beach hopping? Eagle Beach, Baby Beach, and Arashi Beach are just a few to mention.
Aruba is pretty famous for its diverse wildlife too. While hiking the mountains, it’s highly likely that you’ll find large groups of goats and herds of donkeys. You may also find ostriches foraging for food at sunset.
Plus, if you’re lucky enough, you might actually get the chance to come across baby turtles! They can be found under the care of the Turtugaruba Foundation, which preserves this endangered species. Try visiting any time from March to November so you can catch the eggs being hatched.
What are the cons of going to Aruba?
Since Aruba is located outside of the hurricane belt, this nation doesn’t get enough rain. As a result, the vegetation can be quite dry and feel more like you’re staying in a desert, it is not your lush Costa Rica or Bali in this sense.
There are strong tradewinds all year round too to make up for the warm weather, but they can be quite an annoyance.
Additionally, there aren’t many exploration sites on the island, meaning, it’s not an ideal option for those who love to go on long hikes. Still, the nation makes up for this by remaining diverse in both its food and entertainment!
Finally, traveling to Aruba can be pretty expensive, however, going to any Caribbean island is. At least the accommodation and transportation expenses are pretty cheap (I will talk about this in more detail later in the post).
A brief overview of Jamaica
Jamaica is the third-largest island off the Caribbean coast (after Cuba and Haiti). Its size is around 4,200 square miles (~11 km2) and is home to more than 3 million people. By the way, they drive on the left side of the road there!
That said, you probably know Jamaica for its wild nightlife and that fact, luckily, rings true. The island holds multiple celebrations throughout the year, including the Reggae Sumfest and the Jazz and Blue Festival. Hey, don’t miss the famous Bob Marley museum too! 😉
Not just that, but Jamaica has 4 beautiful mountain ranges where adventurers can go hike and explore the land. The nation also sits on top of a large, underwater mountain. There you can visit Mystic Mountain and Dunn’s River Falls.
Jamaica is an English-speaking island too. Their culture is both Afro and Euro-centered. As a result of this duality, you’ll find the island is rich in art, dance, music, and history. This makes it a perfect spot for lively couples and young traveling groups.
The nation isn’t just a collection of rainforests and rocky tops though. Their golden beaches are a wonder to many. The reef-lined coast located south of Cuba is where you can go snorkeling, sunbathing, and swimming.
Jamaica is also a great place for foodies. After all, it’s where jerk-style cooking originated. Due to the distinctive flavors, spices, and diverse foods, the meal options there are limitless. The island’s most famous dish is Ackee and codfish.
What makes Jamaica a great vacation spot?
It’s worth mentioning again that Jamaica is home to multiple beautiful beaches that extend over 600 miles across the Caribbean. There are around 50 public beaches and about the same number of private ones too.
Among the most popular choices to visit are Seven Mile Beach and Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay. There are many luxurious resorts lining those sandy heavens too. You can have a taste of famous local snacks there, such as Red Stripe beer and delicious Jamaican Rum.
When it comes to culture and wild entertainment, no island does it better than Jamaica. Practically home to Reggae music, the nation is known for expressing its views through the art of music and dance. It’s also where popular musicians, Bob Marley and Sean Paul, were born.
Fun fact for coffee enthusiasts: Jamaica is where the unique blue mountain coffee blend comes from. These coffee beans grow out in the highest mountain tops found on the island. During your stay there, treat yourself to a handpicked and locally roasted cup of this expensive coffee.
Another interesting fact: Pirates used to defend the land of Jamaica ever since the 1600s. One of their most popular and dangerous hanging out spots is Port Royal which was led by Henry Morgan. This tourist attraction is also known as Sodom of the New World.
What are the cons of going to Jamaica?
The elephant in the room issue in Jamaica is a safety concern. I know that a lot of tourists are simply not leaving their resorts because of this. I think practicing common sense like in any country is important (not walking alone at night in shady areas etc.), but if you feel safer staying just in the area of the resort, I am sure you are going to have a great time nevertheless!
Additionally, Jamaica can get just as crowded as Aruba during the summer, if not more. This can make one’s stay rather unpleasant and increases the risk of petty robberies.
How are Aruba and Jamaica different? 6 main criteria for comparison
Now that you have an overview of what Aruba and Jamaica feel like, it’s time to put both islands head-to-head together to compare them.
In this section, we take you through the key differences between either nation, including transportation, accommodation, and safety—all of which are pretty important for tourists to learn about beforehand.
1. Traveling costs
Aruba is not a cheap vacation option. The land is full of luxury hotels and huge resorts with big casinos on the premises. Since it’s also a secluded island, it can be quite hard to reach it without spending a lot.
Jamaica isn’t that much cheaper either, to be honest. Granted, it’s not as expensive to get there as Aruba, but that’s only because the nation is susceptible to hurricane damage most of the year.
On the bright side, both islands accept the US currency as legal tender, so there’s no need to worry about exchange rates.
2. Best time in the year to visit
Aruba and Jamaica are popular destination spots throughout most of the year. In other words, it can be pretty difficult to find a time when either island is not too crowded.
With that in mind, though, the best time to visit Aruba would be during the months of April to August. This is when the small island isn’t too crowded and the prices aren’t that high.
For Jamaica, on the other hand, we recommend visiting it outside of hurricane season. Since the nation is located on the hurricane belt, it’s best to go there any time in November or December.
Aruba offers its visitors a wide range of inland transportation, such as buses, trolleys, and taxis. You can get an unlimited bus pass for ten dollars, and catch the trolley any time from ten in the morning to five in the afternoon.
In Jamaica, though, you’ll find day-round coaches that charge you according to the distance traveled. The nation’s hotels also rent out bicycles to their guests. There are enough shuttles and minibusses across the country too.
Lucky for visiting tourists, both Aruba and Jamaica offer accommodations for all sorts of budgets. You’re guaranteed to find a comfortable place to stay whether you’re on a budget or you’re ready to splurge.
In Aruba, for example, there are multiple AirBnBs and guesthouses that won’t cost more than $50 a night. For a more luxurious stay, there are plenty of five-star resorts across the beach too. Check out our post on where to stay in Aruba here, it has detailed information on hotels/Aribnbs/best areas and prices!
As for Jamaica, a money-friendly option will be to stay at an inn or a hostel. Typically they don’t cost more than $30 per night. If you’re looking for unique views and numerous amenities, though, maybe book a room in the many hotels available there for a minimum of $250 a day. Guess what, we also have a whole post on accommodation in Jamaica for your convenience (with a map of all areas and price ranges).
5. Spending budget
What makes Aruba and Jamaica popular destinations is the fact that you can have fun there regardless of how much money you’re willing to spend.
The food in both islands is pretty inexpensive, whether off the street or in restaurants. A full meal will most likely cost no more than $15. Factor in the cheap transportation fees we mentioned above, you’ll probably spend no more than $60 in a day.
6. Safety and service quality
Caribbean people are known for their hospitality and friendliness. They’re also pretty helpful and won’t shy away from giving you a hand with directions.
That said, safety isn’t optimal on either island. For instance, Aruba gets overcrowded pretty fast and with lots of tourists hanging around, petty thefts are bound to happen.
While in Jamaica, there are many places that should be avoided. Tourists should stay away from the Spanish town and the capital, Kingston, especially at night.
|👑 For Luxury:
|💵 For Mid Range:
|🛏️ For Budget:
|🏖️ For Relaxation:
|🛕 For Culture:
|🍲 For Food:
|🕵️♀️ Safer Stay:
|🍸 For nightlife:
|🤿 More activities:
|🐚 Better Beaches
FAQs about Aruba vs. Jamaica
🗺️ Is Aruba close to Jamaica?
No, Aruba is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, while Jamaica is situated in the northern Caribbean Sea, so they are not particularly close to each other.
🏙️ Is Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, worth visiting?
Yes, Oranjestad is worth visiting for its vibrant Dutch colonial architecture, stunning beaches, and diverse cultural attractions, offering a unique Caribbean experience.
When it comes to the Aruba vs Jamaica debate, picking out the perfect destination for you and your loved ones is incredibly easy. All you should do is keep in mind what you want to get out of your holiday.
If you’re looking for multiple adventure opportunities and enjoy wilding out with strangers at festivals, then the Jamaican lifestyle is for you. Seeking quality time in the sun and swimming in warm waters instead? Aruba it is, then!
Regardless of your choice, pack smartly, stay safe, and enjoy your much-needed vacation!
Pin it for later!
Pin it for later!