Comparison Puerto Rico vs Aruba – If you’re choosing between Puerto Rico vs Aruba for your next Caribbean retreat, we’ll help you decide with the facts added here in this article.
Both parts of the Caribbean islands, Aruba and Puerto Rico each have their own charms. For us – we pick Puerto Rico. Find out more below, and see if you’ll choose the same!
Comparing Puerto Rico vs Aruba
While Aruba is your average American resort-style beach trip, Puerto Rico brings a unique activity-filled Caribbean experience with its Spanish historic buildings, hiking and nature trails, and of course the beaches.
A family holiday with kids is easier done in Aruba because of the beautiful resorts and restaurants and how they are close to the beach, while Puerto Rico is more for couples and groups, upping the game by allowing you to have more activities outside the swimming and lounging by the water – nature, visits to the Colonial town for Instagrammable photos, hiking and other types of water activities other than just tanning by the beach.
You can’t go wrong with either Caribbean vacation, as you will probably match the activities and the type of trip you’ll take with your budget, time, and of course the people you’ll be traveling with.
Where To Stay in Puerto Rico and Aruba
You can access a dorm that can go up to €18-30. And while a hotel that is a double room in a budget can go up to €90.
Things to do in Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico vs Aruba
Exploring Puerto Rico is a mix of discovering its heritage preserved in Puerto Rico’s capital and of course all of its natural beauty from the mountains, the forests, and the beautiful beaches.
Let’s look at the things you can do in Puerto Rico.
1. Old San Juan
Puerto Rico’s rich heritage can be seen and felt just by touring around the old San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital. Here you’ll see historic buildings, 500 of them. Five centuries of castles, churches, and restored buildings – it might just transport you back in time.
If you’re exploring San Juan and the San Juan National Historic Site, most of the preserved heritage suites and the fort will be in the San Juan National Historic Site while the San Juan town itself is beautiful on its own for walking around and seeing spaces for photographs.
2. San Juan National Historic Site
San Juan National Historic Site is a National Park in Puerto Rico housing some of San Juan’s top historic moments and colonial forts like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
3. El Yunque National Rainforest
Continuing with Aruba vs Puerto Rico – When it comes to natural beauty, Puerto Rico is simply one of the top destinations that you can go to. Visit El Yunque National Forest, in Luquillo, Rio Grande.
Explore nature trails, and enjoy all these in the Rio Grande. El Yunque is one of the world’s natural wonders of the world and you’ll be in awe to witness it on your own.
4. Bioluminescent Bays
Seen in only some parts of the world, the phytoplanktons are water organisms that create a blue and glittering effect in the waters at night. This is what makes bays bioluminescent. In Puerto Rico, you can see the bioluminescent bays in Mosquito Bay, Vieques, in Laguna Grande (Fajardo) and La Parguera (in Lajas).
5. Cayo Icacos
Puerto Rico’s incredible beauty is just incomparable. You can visit the beautiful Cayo Icacos and experience its beautiful blue waters, and do activities like the catamaran, snorkeling, and enjoying a bit of some sun.
Cayo Icacos is a small uninhabited island that is reachable by water taxi from Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
Visit the Culebra for a beach trip in Puerto Rico and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can see a few beaches in Culebra Island in Puerto Rico: the Flamenco Beach, Zoni Beach, Playa Tamarindo and Playa Tortuga.
7. Cabo Rojo – Puerto Rico
If it’s wildlife that you want to see, then there’s no better destination to see and experience than Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge. In addition the wildlife that you can experience in Cabo Rojo, this island also has some of Puerto Rico’s and the whole Caribbean’s top beaches.
Cabo Rojo is 28 miles long, all coastline which gives you access to various beaches – Buyé and Combate for more family-friendly beaches that have restaurants close to them. If you’re looking for more remote beaches, then you can visint the La Playuela Beach.
8. Giligan’s Island
If you’re visiting Guanica, Puerto Rico never miss Giligan’s Island with all its natural pools.
9. Camuy River Cave Park
The Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy is a cave system in Puerto Rico. Add this to your things to do in Puerto Rico.
10. Cueva del Indio and the Seven Arches
Visit the beautiful destination in the city of Arecibo, Puerto Rico and see the Cueva del Indio and Seven Arches, and lavish in the beauty and things to do here – Caves, more nature and just incredible scenery.
Read here Things to do in Puerto Rico
Things to do in Aruba
Aruba vs Puerto Rico
Aruba is a 21-mile-long country that sits in the Southern Caribbean, very close to South America. When visiting Aruba, you’ll most likely be flying into the country via its only international airport, Queen Beatrix International Airport, in Oranjestad.
You can easily expect some of the world’s best beaches in Aruba, just as in the rest of the Caribbean. Aruba is outside the typhoon belt, and with its arid climate, generally, any time of the year is a good time to visit the country.
Let’s look at Aruba’s best things to do in this Caribbean series.
One of the most popular beaches in Aruba, the Eagle Beach. A lot of resorts are here, but it’s definitely the place to be and see in Aruba. It’s one of the best beaches in the world, and you can’t deny it, once you see it. Make sure to not miss it.
Divi Divi Trees
The Divi Divi tree (or Watapana Tree) is the most unique thing in Aruba and is known as Aruba’s compass. Once you find the Divi Divi tree, you’ll know that it’s always pointing in the Southwestern direction. It’s one of the most unique things in Aruba, and definitely something to see!
Another beach in Aruba to see is Baby Beach or Klein Lagoon. It is a shallow, sheltered man-altered lagoon located in the Mangle Cora locality near the village of Seroe Colorado, on the southwest side of the southeast end of the island of Aruba. It is frequented by locals and tourists.
Hiking in the Arikok National Park
The beautiful Arikok National Park in Aruba comprises almost 20% of the island. Enjoy gorgeous vistas of Aruba’s rugged terrain, desert-like hills filled with tall cacti, and a breathtaking coastline, and protect native flora and fauna.
The National Park takes you on a memorable journey of the island’s past offering unique geological, cultural and historical sites. These can all be enjoyed and explored either on your own or during guided tours. A wide variety of educational and informative programs and fun activities are available.
Conchi Natural Pools
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
Experience true adventure at Aruba’s most remote, yet also most popular natural attraction, the famous Natural Pool.
In a unique rock formation, volcanic stone circles a small depression, creating a tranquil pool: Aruba’s Natural Pool.
On a deserted stretch of coastline, dramatic shows of water spraying over the rock occur on a regular basis as the tide rushes to shore. The unique natural pool is also known as ‘Conchi’ (bowl) or ‘Cura di Tortuga’ (Turtles Cove) and is located inside Aruba’s national park Arikok.
The location of the Pool is surrounded by some of Aruba’s most rugged terrain, so a visitor truly gets the feeling of having “discovered” something when they reach the site, by either foot, horseback or 4×4 vehicle. Because of the nature of the environment in this secluded area, the site is inaccessible by a regular car. Inexperienced drivers are encouraged to visit the pool on a Jeep Safari.
During the day small snacks and drinks are sold at the top of the stairs that lead to the Natural Pool.
The Quadiriki Caves are located in Arikok National Park on the island of Aruba. There are three caves, which tourists commonly explore. The caves are located at the base of a limestone cliff. They contain Amerindian petroglyphs. The name of the caves is of Arawak origin
Scuba Diving in Punta Basora
One of the top areas for scuba diving in Aruba is Punta Basora. Punta Basora is the easternmost point of Aruba, from which a narrow reef stretches far out into the sea. On calm days, divers will see tuna, ballyhoo, eagle rays, stingrays, barracudas, dorados, hammerhead sharks and hawksbill and loggerhead turtles pass by on their way around this point of the island.
Snorkeling in Tres Papi
Tres Trapi (meaning “three steps”) is a tiny sandy cove nestled in the rocky northwestern shore of Aruba. The 10-meter long beach is accessible by three rustic steps carved into the rock, after which the site has been named. Tres Trapi has white sand, grey cliff, and pristine placid waters, where hundreds of red cushion starfish lay on the seafloor, making it one of the favorites and most photogenic snorkeling spots of the island
Palm Beach is a resort area on the northern coast of Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean island. It’s known for its calm waters and long sandy strip lined with bars and restaurants. To its south, the lush Bubali Bird Sanctuary has an observation tower and is home to herons and other migratory birds. Nearby is the Old Dutch Windmill, imported in the 1960s, and the Butterfly Farm, with free-flying butterflies in a jungle enclosure.
Flamingos in Renaissance island / Renaissance Island / Flamingo Beach
Leave the cares of the world behind as you venture over to a private island complimentary to Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino guests. Renaissance Island features Aruba’s only private beaches and is just an 8-minute water taxi ride away. Here lies a true oasis with family-friendly beaches or beaches just for adults.
Pamper yourself at the private Spa Cove, play a game of beach tennis, sit down to the delicious lunch specials at Papagayo Bar & Grill or have a drink at our newly added Mangrove Beach Bar, or just lie back and let the sun caress you. A day on Renaissance Island is a day well spent.
If you’re in time, watch Aruba’s Aruba Hi-Winds 2022 Open Caribbean Championships
Kitesurfing is a popular activity at this windy beach with waves, turquoise water & a serene vibe. Boca Grandi is a very popular location for this.
This small, secluded bay with a sandy white beach offers swimming & snorkeling
The California Lighthouse is a lighthouse located at Hudishibana near Arashi Beach and the Sasariwichi dunes on the northwest tip of Aruba. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891.
Wariruri Beach is located at Wariruri Bay, a sandy cove surrounded by a rocky coastline consisting of limestone, worn out by the sea.
Other gorgeous natural bridges can be found in the southern part of the island near Black Stone Beach where you’ll find a unique tripod bridge.
Hiking in Aruba
Now, one of the most unique things in Aruba is that not only does it have amazing blue waters, it also has good hiking trails. Below are 3 of Aruba’s most popular hiking trails.
- Hooiberg Hiking Trail
- Arikok Mountain
- Alto Vista Trail
Dos Playa (two beaches) is a pair of bordering coves carved out of the island’s limestone. One cove is a go-to for island surfers, with a broad white-sand beach for sunbathing or relaxing under the shade of the sea-grape trees.
Manchebo Beach is a wide stretch of beach on the most western point of the island (just after Eagle Beach), located in the low-rise hotel area in front of the Manchebo Beach Resort. The beach area offers a combination of exciting waves, due to converging currents, and calm waters.
No-frills bay beach enclosed by coral cliffs, with powerful currents for bodyboarders
Mangel Halto is a small beach located in Pos Chiquito, which you will find on your way to San Nicolas. The beach is surrounded by mangroves and is a favorite among locals for a relaxing day on the beach. Mangel Halto is also known as a perfect snorkeling and shore-diving spot due to the calm and shallow waters.
San Nicolaas is 19 kilometers southeast of Oranjestad and is Aruba’s second-largest city. As of 2010, it has a population of 15,283, most of whom originate from the British Caribbean and the rest of the Caribbean
Fishing in Aruba
If we missed any more water activities, fishing is also possible in these local or tourist boats in Aruba! If it’s a big hobby of yours, don’t miss doing it in Aruba’s incredibly blue waters.
Read Here Activities in Aruba
Related Articles and Travel Guide – Aruba vs Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Guides
Final Thoughts – Which is Better, Aruba vs Puerto Rico?
For our type of travel which involves more activity and visits to colonial towns, we pick Puerto Rico. Both Aruba and Puerto Rico definitely give you an unforgettable Caribbean trip, and while Aruba will be perfect for a family trip with more stays in the resort and beach holiday, Puerto Rico is better for you to be more active, see more nature, and a bit of look at the country’s history. Hope you learned a lot from this comparison post!
See you on our next travel guides and good luck on your trip! Tell us which Caribbean island you chose, and if you have more tips, let us know in the comments.
About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.