Comparison Aruba vs Cancun – Both Aruba and Cancun are in the Caribbean sea and are easily compared as the top beach destinations. While Aruba has an arid climate and is pretty dry the whole year round, Cancun is more tropical.
You get a lot of water sports and activities in Aruba while Cancun has a huge hotel strip on the beach and is better for lounging on a beach type of vacation. Read here Costa Rica vs Cancun and Aruba vs Bahamas
READ HERE for more guides on Aruba: best Aruba sim card for tourists, Aruban food, best drinks in Aruba, best restaurants in Oranjestad, best breakfast in Aruba and how to get from Aruba airport to Oranjestad
Comparing Aruba vs Cancun
While Aruba and Cancun are both in the Caribbean sea, Cancun is the better choice for a tropical beach trip with side activities to visit Mayan ruins and underwater museum activities. Aruba, on the other hand, is a year-round beach destination.
Aruba is a small island located in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Venezuela. It is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and sunny weather. The island has a relatively dry, arid climate, with temperatures ranging from the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 30°C) in the summer to the low 80s Fahrenheit (around 27°C) in the winter.
Aruba is known for its many water sports and outdoor activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and windsurfing. The island is also home to several cultural and historical attractions, such as the Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory and the Natural Bridge.
Cancun is a city located on the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is known for its beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and year-round warm weather. Cancun has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 30°C) in the winter to the low 90s Fahrenheit (around 33°C) in the summer.
Cancun is a popular destination for beach vacations, with many resorts and hotels located along the beach. The city is also home to several cultural and historical attractions, such as the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and the Cancun Underwater Museum.
Both Aruba and Cancun offer a variety of activities and attractions for travelers, but the climate and culture of each destination are quite different. It really depends on what you are looking for in a vacation destination.
If you prefer a dry, sunny climate with a focus on water sports and outdoor activities, Aruba might be the better choice. If you prefer a tropical climate with a mix of beach relaxation and cultural attractions, Cancun might be more up your alley.
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Getting There – Aruba
The main airport in Aruba is Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), which is located just outside of the capital city of Oranjestad. There are direct flights to Aruba from several cities in the U.S., including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, and Atlanta. You can also fly to Aruba from other Caribbean islands and South American countries.
Aruba is a popular port of call for cruise ships, and many cruise lines offer itineraries that include a stop in the island. If you are taking a cruise to Aruba, you will need to fly to the port of departure and board the ship there.
Aruba is located just off the coast of Venezuela, and it is possible to drive to the island from South America. However, this option is not practical for most travelers, as the journey can be long and there are no direct ferry services between Aruba and the mainland.
Getting There – Cancun
The main airport in Cancun is Cancun International Airport (CUN), which is located just outside of the city. There are direct flights to Cancun from several cities in the U.S., including Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles. You can also fly to Cancun from other cities in Mexico and from several countries in Central and South America.
If you are traveling within Mexico, you can take a bus to Cancun from several cities in the country. There are several bus companies that operate routes to Cancun, and you can usually find tickets at reasonable prices.
Things to do in Aruba – Cancun vs Aruba
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.
1. Eagle Beach
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.
2. 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!
3. Baby Beach
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
5. Quadiriki Caves
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
6. 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.
7. 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, a 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
8. Palm Beach
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.
9. 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.
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.
10. Boca Catalina – Aruba vs Cancun
This small, secluded bay with a sandy white beach offers swimming & snorkeling
11. California Lighthouse
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.
12. Wariruri Bridge
Wariruri Beach is located at Wariruri Bay, a sandy cove surrounded by a rocky coastline consisting of limestone, worn out by the sea.
13. Tripod Bridge
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.
14. 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
15. Dos Playa
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.
16. Manchebo Beach
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.
17. Andicuri Beach
No-frills bay beach enclosed by coral cliffs, with powerful currents for bodyboarders
18. Mangel Halto
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.
19. San Nicolas
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.
Check here to book online Aruba activities and day trips
Things to Do in Cancun
Beaches in Cancun
Playa Delfines is the most popular beach in Cancun, with its crystalline turquoise waters, and the panoramic views of Cancún. To see the best of Cancun from here, you can take a look from the hilltop deck view, El Mirador.
Important note: Waves in Playa Delfines is strong, so if you’re not a good swimmer, caution while swimming is highly encouraged. If you won’t swim, lounging is also a great thing to do here.
Check here to book online Cancun activities and day trips
Playa Langosta – Aruba vs Cancun
One of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun, with long stretches of white sand and of course the signature blue beaches, is Playa Langosta. This is also located in the Hotel Zone.
Playa Marlin is in the central part of Cancun’s eastern strip, picturesque and magical!
Playa Gaviota Azul and Playa Forum / Forum Beach Cancun
Both of these beautiful Cancun beaches are on a single beach strip, with one flowing into the other.
One of the newest beaches with a bit of a challenge to reach is Cancun’s Costa Mujeres. This is inside the gated area of several all-inclusive resorts and is about 30 minutes north of Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
Here you’ll find Isla Blanca, Chacmuchuc Lagoon, and archeological sites. The beach is believed to have kept its cleanliness and untouched beauty because it’s away from most public beaches.
Playa Tortugas is another beautiful beach in Cancun, amazing for swimming, and lots of water activities are available in the area.
Caracol Beach / Playa Caracol
Caracol Beach is one of Cancun’s beautiful beaches.
La Isla Cancun Shopping Village
Now if it’s shopping you’re looking for in the Hotel Zone, you can do this in Cancun’s open-air concept shopping mall, a very popular thing to do to get some time away from swimming – if you’re ever into that!
More Top Things to Do Outside Cancun
Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island off of Cancun, just across the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women). If you have more days to spend on your trip to Cancun and want a quick break from the parties and the lounging to do some underwater activities like snorkeling and diving, a trip to Isla Mujeres is perfect. If you’re arriving around May-August, you might be able to do whale watching in Isla Mujeres as well.
From Cancun Airport, it’ll take you about one and a half hours to arrive at Isla Mujeres. Alternate ways to go to Isla Mujeres are from Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol.
Isla Mujeres Transport Guides
One of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico is actually a part of Isla Mujeres, Playa Norte is found on the northern part of the island.
El Castillo in Chichen Itza, one of the most popular ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula is usually done as a day trip from Cancun, so it’s best to book this activity with a tour. However, if you’re going by public transport, this is about 2.5 hours away from Cancun.
Final Thoughts – Which is Better, Aruba vs Cancun?
Although you can’t go wrong with either Aruba or Cancun, we choose the beautiful Cancun in Mexico. It has more access to local things if you get away from the usual hotel strips near the beach. Cancun is considerably cheaper than Aruba if you stay away from luxury hotels and all-inclusive getaways with a chance to escape to the ruins and cenotes.
Let us know what you ended up choosing, and we’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Safe travels everyone.
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.