Aruba vs Cayman Islands Which is Better in 2023?

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Aruba vs Cayman Islands, which island is better? You’re in the right place! I’ve visited both destinations and have helped thousands of readers like you find the perfect island for their next vacation.

As the Caribbean region continues to be a popular destination for many travelers, the debate between Aruba and Cayman Islands has become a frequently asked question.

Both islands offer stunning beaches and excellent climates year-round, but they each provide different experiences when it comes to activities, nightlife, families, couples, luxury, and seclusion. 

Here’s what you need to know about Aruba vs Cayman Islands to decide which of these two destinations is better for your next vacation. 

For a quick answer, if you desire thrilling nightlife and fun terrain to explore, Aruba is your go-to destination. On the other hand, if you crave beach-hopping and luxury island days, the Cayman Islands will tick all the boxes.

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Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which is Better for Your Next Vacation?

Aruba is well known for its vibrant nightlife scene and variety of activities that can be enjoyed by both visitors and locals alike. It is also a great destination for families due to its kid-friendly attractions like the butterfly farm and natural bridge.

As far as beaches go, you’ll find plenty of options from white sand beaches like Palm Beach to hidden coves where you can relax in peace.

The Cayman Islands offer more of a luxurious experience with high-end resorts located along the pristine coastline of Seven Miles Beach. It’s an ideal destination for couples seeking relaxation with secluded beaches throughout the island that are perfect spots for snorkeling or swimming away from the crowds.

You’ll also find some of the best fine dining restaurants in this part of the Caribbean giving you an unforgettable culinary experience when visiting Grand Cayman or Cayman Brac.

About Aruba

Renaissance Beach in Aruba

Aruba is one of four Dutch countries, the others being the Netherlands, Curaçao, and St. Maarten. Nestled in the central Caribbean, this 69-square-mile island is situated 18 miles north of Venezuela’s peninsula.

While Dutch and Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, most of its locals are well-versed in English and Spanish too.

The Aruba Florin serves as their official currency, with 1.8 Aruba Florin equivalent to one US dollar. Although, you can freely use US dollars anywhere without any hassle, with widespread access to ATMs.

Main Attractions in Aruba

These are just a few of my favorite attractions in Aruba but trust me, there are so many more! This is just the tip of the iceberg.

1. Beaches

Aruba’s beaches are like no other and are a must. They have beaches to tailor to every taste, whether family friendly or party-focused! My favorite Aruba beaches include Arashi Beach, Baby Beach, and Mangel Halto – all great for hanging on the beach and snorkeling off-shore.

2. Oranjestad

Oranjestad Aruba vs Grand Cayman
Photo by Jamie Tudor on Unsplash

A visit to Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad is sure to please. There’s plenty of culture to see including museums and street art, and top-notch beach restaurants and bars for nightlife. The waterfront market is a favorite.  Try out West Deck – and don’t leave without trying the Trocadero Garlic Shrimp!

3. Arikok National Park

Arikok National Park is a huge park with much to discover and explore. You’ll see natural wonders from varied animal species to rare gems and more.

One of the most popular, and my favorite, attractions on the island – the Conchi Natural Pool, is located within the National Park.

With so many rock formations, caves, and beaches to explore, you can’t go wrong exploring the park.

However, pro tip: you need an off-road vehicle or four-wheel drive to get to the park, so plan accordingly. I’d recommend splurging for a Jeep Safari Tour, but it is possible to do it on your own if you have the right vehicle. If you don’t want to go for the tour, I always suggest renting your cars from Discover Cars.

Full Day Island Ultimate Jeep Safari Tour to Caves, Natural Pool with Pickup Options

4. California Lighthouse & California Dunes

The California Lighthouse and the gorgeous dunes are located on the island’s northwest tip. The structure was created in 1916 to aid ships in their navigation. Now, visitors can witness the beauty and brilliant sunsets, particularly from the viewing deck atop the lighthouse.   

Book exclusive dining at the top of California Lighthouse

About the Cayman Islands

Starfish Beach in Grand Cayman vs Aruba

The Cayman Islands comprise three stunning tropical islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. This British Overseas Territory is located in the western Caribbean Sea, roughly 450 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 272 miles northwest of Jamaica.

You’ll find that English is the official language of the Cayman Islands. The local currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$), and it’s fixed at a rate of $1.25 US Dollars to $1.00 Cayman Islands Dollar. The US dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands.

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    Main Attractions in Cayman Islands

    1. Stingray City

    swimming with stingrays at stingray city grand cayman

    One of the coolest things I’ve ever done in the Caribbean – Stingray City! Swim with the rays at the sandbar of the coast of Grand Cayman. You can simply admire them from the boat, jump in and swim around with them, you can even hug them if you’re feeling risky!

    Book a full-day adventure to Starfish Point and Stingray City?

    2. Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery

    The Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery specializes in aged rum and its unique process. They have many products with much to taste… plan ahead!

    3. Kittiwake Shipwreck & Artificial Reef

    The Kittiwake Shipwreck is a sunken Navy submarine that is now a stunning experience in sea life. No matter your diving level of expertise, you’re sure to appreciate this experience.

    4. Seven Mile Beach

    The Cayman Islands’ Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is one of the best beaches in all of the Caribbean where you’ll find lots of space, water activities, and dining. Families and snorkelers at all levels will appreciate the calmer waters and gentle sandy slopes. There’s even a bioluminescence bay nearby!

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which is Easier to Get to? 

    Aruba can be reached by a 4½-hour flight from the US while Cayman Islands are only 3-4 hours away.

    If you’re travelling from the East Coast there are direct flights to both. But good news – if you’re coming from the west coast, Cayman Airways offers a direct flight from LAX. 

    Direct Flights to Aruba

    • Miami
    • New York
    • Philidelphia
    • Atlanta
    • Boston

    Direct Flights to Cayman Islands

    • Houston
    • Atlanta
    • Miami
    • New York
    • LAX via Cayman Airways 

    Aruba vs Grand Cayman: Which is easier to get to?
    Cayman Islands

    Do you need a passport to get to Aruba?

    plane flying into oranjestad aruba

    To be able to visit Aruba, having a valid U.S. passport for the duration of your stay is a must. Your travel preparation doesn’t end here though as there are more requirements before departing.

    To ensure compliance, travelers must also obtain and fill out an Embarkation and Disembarkation Card (ED-Card). This card will be provided by the airline on departure or upon reaching the destination.

    Make sure to have either a return or onward ticket readily available upon entry as this is required for visitors. Take note of these necessary details to guarantee an enjoyable time exploring the beautiful island of Aruba!

    And a local pro tip – I recommend showing up to the Aruba airport earlier than you might think. Afterall, it’s a small island with a lot of visitors coming back and forth. Be prepared and don’t miss your flight home (not that anyone ever minded an extra day in Aruba!). 

    Do you need a passport to get to the Cayman Islands?

    A valid passport is required for entry into Grand Cayman, with expiry beyond the date of return. You should carry an onward or return ticket and have proof of funds for your stay.

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which Island Has Better Weather?

    Unlike other Caribbean islands, Aruba is located outside the hurricane belt with a tropical climate that receives less rainfall than most. With that said, Aruba will have better weather year-round than Cayman Islands.

    Even during rainier months from AugustDecember, less than 3 inches of rainfall per month – which gets even lower in January and February. Of course, the driest months of April through August are also the hottest, though Aruba experiences year-round high temperatures ranging from 86° to 91°.

    George Town Grand Cayman Cruise Port

    The tropical climate in the Cayman Islands is characterized by wet and dry seasons. From May to January, the islands experience an annual rainy season that brings almost 9 inches of rain on average each September and October, followed by a dry season in the Caribbean in January to April. The dry season is unsurprisingly considered the best time to visit by most travelers.

    The year-round high temperatures hover between 83° to 90°, and fortunately, the islands are at lower risk of hurricanes than other islands more directly in the hurricane belt. The last major hurricane to directly impact the region was back in 2004.

    Grand Cayman vs Aruba: Who has better weather?

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which Island is Safer?

    Grand Cayman is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, and Aruba is a relatively safe island as well. The Grand Cayman and Aruba crime rates are both very low.

    Aruba is at Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions. In Aruba, it’s considered safer to stay in resort areas such as Palm and Eagle Beach. There are many safe villas and rentals, but it’s best to avoid staying in neighborhoods without gates or security. 

    Snorkeling in Aruba. Sea Turtle underwater

    When it comes to safety in the Caribbean, Grand Cayman and the Cayman Islands are at the top of the list. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is highly effective and equipped with armed response capabilities. 

    Although petty crime still happens, the area is commonly deemed a Caribbean paradise, both for individuals and families. One thing to note is that the penalty for offenses like exceeding the speed limit is remarkably steep, up to $40 per mile over the posted limit.

    The Cayman Islands and Aruba are among the safest nations in the Caribbean. General precautions, however, always apply:

    • Stay alert and avoid secluded places at night.
    • Don’t leave your valuables unattended
    • Keep cars and hotel room doors locked at all times
    • Avoid bad areas/neighborhoods

    Which island is safer?
    Cayman Islands

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Who Has Better Beaches?

    Both Aruba and the Cayman Islands have world-class beaches. When it comes to beach getaways, islands have the advantage. But Aruba is the place to be when you want a mix of stunning coastlines and exciting nightlife.

    Now of course, this comes down to personal opinion. If you read any Aruba vs Grand Cayman reddit thread, you’ll find that some people are loyal to the Cayman Islands and some to Aruba.

    Unforgettable white sandy beaches with turquoise waters make Aruba the perfect tropical paradise. With long and wide beaches, the island offers plenty of space for both relaxation and activities. Perfect for those who prefer a flat terrain and dry climate.

    When in Aruba, head to Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, located in the heart of the stunning coastline.

    Grand Cayman vs Turks and Caicos beaches

    Either way, you’ll get to enjoy the sun on the soft, white sand, and indulge in great dining and drinking options, all within arm’s reach. 

    And of course, you can’t forget about the beautiful Arashi Beach, Baby Beach, and  Boca Catalina – three of my favorite less-crowded beaches on the island. They offer some of the best snorkeling around, even from the shore.

    Although I always like to encourage visitors to take advantage of the snorkel tours around the island so you get to see the shipwrecks and most amazing snorkeling spots in the surrounding ocean.

    Aruba has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to unwind or seeking a thrilling experience. Come for the beaches, stay for everything else!

    Cayman Islands beaches are pristine, have gorgeous white sand, and are family-friendly, so grab the kids and spend the day at the beach!

    The Cayman Islands’ Seven Mile Beach on the western side of the island of Grand Cayman is one of the most popular beaches. The calmer and crystal clear waters combined with the gentle sandy slopes in the water make it ideal for families and for snorkelers at all levels. 

    Rum Point Beach and Half Moon Bay are on the north shore of Grand Cayman and are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. However, my favorite spot for snorkeling in Grand Cayman is the Barrier Reef many tours stop at on the way to Stingray City. 

    Spotts Beach is on the south side of Grand Cayman is a quieter option with wonderful reef snorkeling and a great family-friendly location for picnicking and barbecuing

    There’s no shortage of watersports available, from windsurfing to snorkeling to kayaking, and no shortage of restaurants and bars nearby. 

    Aruba vs Grand Cayman: Who has better beaches?

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which Island is Better for Snorkeling and Diving?

    Aruba has several great snorkeling and dives sites, but the Cayman Islands have the best (and the most) dive sites and snorkeling spots.

    Grand Cayman of the Cayman Islands has the most numerous and the best of the best when it comes to diving and snorkeling.

    nurse shark swimming in Aruba

    There are so many options for wreck dives with the best coral in the Caribbean combined with the clear waters make this the best choice.

    Stingray City, Coral Gardens, and the Wreck of the Gamma are some options at the top of my list in Grand Cayman. Stingray City is about 25 miles off the coast of Grand Cayman; most tours make a stop there.

    Although Aruba offers fewer diving and snorkeling choices, there are some benefits to Aruba’s underwater activities: they have quite a few areas where you can walk right in from the beach to snorkel and have a wonderful time swimming with lots of different types of fish. Aruba also has lots of wreck dives to select from. 

    For more relaxed underwater activities on a smaller island, Aruba is a good choice. For world-class dive and snorkeling options even at the most advanced level, Grand Cayman wins this one. 

    Which is better for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts?
    Cayman Islands

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Who has a Better Nightlife Scene?

    Aruba and the Cayman Islands have great nightlife options that cater to all tastes, but Aruba comes out on top for the best in this category. 

    Whether taverns, beach bars, cocktail lounges, casinos, or Aruba nightclubs: this island has it all. Aruba’s nightlife is as much a tourist spot as its beaches! They even have nightlife tours:

    The 5 o’Clock Somewhere” bar and the “7 Club Lounge” in Oranjestad are popular choices where you can keep the party going until the sun comes up! There are tons more options in downtown Oranjestad and in the Palm Beach area.

    The nightlife on the Cayman Islands will not disappoint, but it is more laid-back and there are fewer options. You’ll still get to enjoy outstanding nightlife with live music, stunning views, and warm nights. You’ll find the most choices for a lively nightlife in George Town and along Seven Mile Beach. 

    Aruba or Grand Cayman: Who has a better nightlife?

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which Island is Cheaper?

    In the battle of costs between Aruba and the Cayman Islands, I have to call it a tie. Both Island vacations are expensive compared to others in the Caribbean. 

    Aruba and the Cayman Islands offer luxurious experiences for couples looking for an escape from everyday life. Hotels on the islands range from five-star resorts with all of the amenities one could ask for, to smaller boutique inns that still offer a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

    Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman
    7 Mile Beach Grand Cayman

    The luxuries on Aruba and on the Cayman Islands can come at a price – hotel rooms can be very expensive. 

    However, there are ways to minimize the financial hit by planning ahead. You can visit during the months around peak season: for Aruba, this would be April through August; for the Cayman Islands, this would be March through June.

    You can also cut food costs by combining restaurant visits with fast food and street vendors. 

    Which vacation is cheaper?
    Both are expensive, Aruba may be slightly cheaper

    Aruba vs Cayman Islands: Which is Larger?

    How big is Cayman Islands vs Aruba? The Cayman Islands has a larger land area of 102 sq mi (264 sq km), but it has fewer residents than Aruba, which is just 69 sq mi (180 sq km) in size. Aruba boasts a population of around 108,000 in contrast to the Cayman Islands’ count of 67,000.

    The largest of the three islands that make up the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman island size is 76 square miles (197 square km), making it slightly larger than Aruba.

    Which is larger?
    Cayman Islands

    Aruba vs Grand Cayman: Cuisine 

    The cuisine in Aruba is a combination of influences from the Caribbean, Netherlands, and South America. The national or most popular food in Aruba is keshi yena.

    Keshi yena is a mix of meat (typically spiced chicken meat), olives, pickled onions, and plums baked in a cheese rind. I’d recommend stopping by Gasparito or The Old Cunucu House for some delicious and authentic Keshi yena.

    Finish off with a coconut candy or Dutch chocolate for dessert! Other popular dishes in Aruba are the Fried Plantain and Sopi Mondongo.

    The food in the Cayman Islands is greatly influenced from Jamaican (and to a lesser extent, British) cuisine and a host of other international influences.

    Traditional dishes on the Cayman Islands include conch and turtle so be sure to try the Marinated Conch and the Turtle Stew. Other favorites include Cayman Lobster, Fritters, Jerk Chicken, and Fish Rundown.

    Things to Do in Aruba

    ✔️ Discover the ancient ruins and historic sites scattered across the island!

    ✔️ Explore some of Aruba’s most popular natural attractions on an ATV tour!

    ✔️ Board a hopper plane for a 25-minute joyride to Curacao or Bonaire.

    ✔️ Experience the ultimate romantic evening with dinner for two at the stunning California Lighthouse.

    Things to Do in Cayman Islands

    • Stingray City is an unparalleled destination where visitors get to interact with wild stingrays in their natural habitat. This extraordinary experience is my favorite and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Grand Cayman. You won’t want to miss it!
    • Located on the western side of the island, Seven Mile Beach boasts pristine white sands and stunning blue waters – a sight to behold! Its exquisite beauty is unparalleled, and one of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean.
    • The Cayman Turtle Farm allows visitors to encounter endangered sea turtles up close and personal, while also helping to preserve their population.
    • For water lovers, head to Rum Point for some of the best snorkeling on the island; here you can observe tropical fish, a variety of coral species, and even dolphins!

    Best Area to Stay in Aruba

    Aruba offers two prime locations to stay: Eagle Beach & Palm Beach in Noord, just 3 miles from the capital, Oranjestad. 

    Boasting beaches with pristine white sand and crystal clear waters, Eagle Beach is perfect for families and couples seeking a quieter oasis. 

    Meanwhile, Palm Beach is the place to be for those seeking an exciting nightlife experience – lined with resorts, restaurants, and bars.

    Best Places to Stay in Aruba

    Best Area to Stay in Cayman Islands

    Seven Mile Beach is the most popular destination to stay in the Cayman Islands. Along its wide stretch of sand, many resorts offer luxurious amenities and plenty of activities for guests. 

    For those looking to enjoy a private (but still luxurious) experience, North Shore and Rum Point are great options. 

    Beautiful sidewalk and shrubbery leading to boats in the marina
    Grand Cayman docks

    Both of these locations offer stunning beachfront villas and rentals that provide a tranquil atmosphere. Moreover, Grand Cayman’s capital, George Town, has plenty of restaurants and bars to explore. 

    Best places to stay in Cayman Islands

    You’ll find most of your hotels and resorts along Seven Mile Beach. Many villas and rentals are located on the North Side near Rum Point. I prefer the luxury life when I visit Grand Cayman, so I usually opt for villas 😉

    Cayman Islands or Aruba FAQ

    Now you know everything you need to know about deciding between Cayman Islands and Aruba! Let’s look at some frequently asked questions about choosing an island for your next vacation.

    Generally, Turks and Caicos is the best option for vacationers wanting a luxury feel and Caribbean vibe. Aruba is best for people who want a more modern vibe, filled with watersports, excursions, and nights out on the town.

    The Cayman Islands has a lot to offer for vacationers looking for an outstanding beach getaway. The beaches are some of the best in the world; there is plenty of beach space; the weather is nearly ideal; the dining is extraordinary; the scenery is brilliant; and you have plenty of options available to accommodate your budget.

    The Cayman Islands are only slightly larger than Aruba in land area, with Grand Cayman being the biggest of the three islands. However, Aruba has a larger population than the Cayman Islands with approximately 108,000 inhabitants compared to 67,000.

    Aruba is comparable to Curacao but there are distinctions. The weather on both islands is great, but Aruba is much windier. Curacao is much more affordable than Aruba, but Aruba is much safer. You’ll find a more authentic Dutch culture in Curacao, but a more gorgeous landscape in Aruba.

    Aruba is a peaceful and romantic destination with nearby attractions. The weather is great, with minimal chance of hurricanes or rain. On the other hand, The Bahamas boasts a larger land area, vibrant nightlife, and more varied beaches and activities. But, comes with a rainier season and a more touristy environment.

    Aruba is a stunning island known for its gorgeous ivory beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning sunsets that paint the sky with gold. Snorkeling and scuba diving are just some of the activities the sea has to offer, with abundant marine life, rock formations, and shipwrecks. Aruba’s dry climate makes it hurricane-safe and an ideal destination for those looking for beautiful weather near the US.

    Aruba or Cayman Islands: Which is Better for Your Next Vacation?

    So, Grand Cayman or Aruba? Overall, both Aruba and the Cayman Islands provide a perfect balance of relaxation and adventure for any holiday. Whether it’s reveling in Aruba’s nightlife or exploring the pristine scenery of the Cayman Islands, each island offers something unique to create a memorable experience.

    I know it’s not easy making a decision when it comes to two islands this perfect, but overall, for a thrilling nightlife and fun terrain to explore, Aruba is your go-to destination. On the other hand, if you crave beach-hopping and luxury island days, the Cayman Islands is the island for you. No matter which destination you choose, you won’t be disappointed with either one!

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