While the choice between St Lucia vs Aruba might seem like an impossible one, it’s not quite as tricky as it sounds. These glorious Caribbean islands look similar on the surface, but there are some important distinctions that make all the difference when planning your dream vacation.
We’ve put together a comparison of the key similarities and differences between St Lucia and Aruba to help you discover which one is perfect for you. We’ll look at everything from budget to climate to landscape to cuisine to help you decide what is and is not essential for your holiday.
Perhaps you dream of lazing the days away on the perfect Caribbean beach, but maybe you’d rather be off chasing waterfalls. Do you fancy partying at swish nightclubs and classy cocktail lounges, or would you rather be at a street festival? Whatever your vacation vibe, you’ll be sure to find it in either St Lucia or Aruba. So let’s find out which!
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Convenience
These islands are no strangers to tourists. They’re both popular vacation destinations, especially for North Americans looking for some winter sun. As a result, they are well set up for tourists with plenty of infrastructure and excellent transport links to help your vacation go smoothly.
Cruise ships are regular visitors to both islands, or you can fly into either via direct or one-connection flights from most major cities in the US and all the major global hubs. Each island has its own currency: the Eastern Caribbean dollar in St Lucia and the Aruban Guilder, but US currency is generally accepted across both islands. English is the official language of St Lucia and is widely spoken in Aruba, where it is taught in most schools.
The islands are equally welcoming to everyone, from solo travelers to honeymooning couples to friendship groups to families with young children. You’ll find accommodation to suit a range of budgets and activities to suit all tastes.
Conclusion: both islands are equally accessible and equally welcoming.
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Culture and Vibe
Aruba is officially a part of the Netherlands but shows traces of British and Spanish rule too. You’ll find Venezuelan influences at work as well as some Americanization thanks to its popularity as a US tourist destination.
You can visit the capital city of Oranjestad for some insight into the island’s fascinating roots, but it’s not compulsory. Aruba is known as the Happy Island, and its main vibe is luxurious relaxation. So no one will mind if, instead of culture hunting, you spend your whole vacation on a sun lounger, making the most of the many luxurious resorts, year-round sunshine, and stunning beaches.
Saint Lucia is also home to a richly layered history involving pirates, Carib Indians, and many, many attempts at colonization. The island proudly displays its melting pot of cultures through its traditions, creole language, meals, and the many festivals and events that occur on the island. But Saint Lucians are equally proud of their dramatic scenery and the diverse landscapes of their island. So spend your vacation exploring the monuments and ruins if you want, but save some time to go hiking, diving, and sunbathing too!
Conclusion: a draw! These diverse islands can offer you a vacation that is as educational, active, or relaxed as you want.
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Natural wonders
These stunning islands are blessed with many natural wonders, but their landscapes are very different. Aruba is a mostly flat desert-like island dotted with towering cacti, and most tourists don’t spend much time exploring the inland areas. They head straight for the picture-perfect Caribbean beaches. The turquoise waters and soft white sands of this island are truly breathtaking. Whether you want a romantic, secluded cove, a bustling strip with watersports and bars, or a sandy stretch populated by friendly flamingos, you’ll find a beach for every taste on this island! And don’t just stay on the sand. One of the biggest draws of this island is the crystal clear water teeming with marine life and dotted with submerged shipwrecks. Aruba is a snorkeler and divers paradise.
While St Lucia has its own beautiful beaches, they don’t pack quite the same punch as Aruba’s. However, the rest of the island easily makes up for it. St Lucia’s volcanic landscape is all about lush greenery, thick jungles, bubbling mud pools, cascading waterfalls, and of course, the iconic twin peaks of the Pitons. The mountainous, rainforest-covered landscape is a haven for hikers, climbers, zipliners, and jungle explorers. And when you want to cool off, head for the water, where the incredible coral reefs offer endless snorkeling opportunities.
Conclusion: this one is a personal choice; it has to be Aruba for beach lovers and divers, but for inland adventurers, St Lucia takes the win.
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Culinary delights
If you’re anything like us, then the best part of any holiday is the chance to sample new and delicious food. Well, rest assured that neither of these Caribbean destinations will let you down on that front!
Aruban food is all about fusion. It’s a blend of South American, Caribbean, African, and Dutch flavors in combinations that will make your taste buds tingle. Start your day with dutch pancakes, lunch on fresh seafood rubbed with creole spices, and snack on some pastechi pastries throughout the day. Then try the Aruban national dish Keshi Yena, for dinner. This baked cheese ball stuffed with spiced meat is pure comfort food! But if local cuisine isn’t for you, never fear. There are over 250 restaurants on the island, offering you a range of global cuisines including North American staples, and Italian classics.
In Saint Lucia, the fusion comes from Caribbean, European, Indian, and African. All manner of seafood is on offer here, including island specialties of lobster, whelk, and conch eaten with a side of fried plantains. But the signature dish is salt fish served with unripe bananas called green figs. And be sure to try callaloo soup, a richly flavored dish made with the spinach-like callaloo leaves that grow all over the island. And depending on your style and budget, you can sample these delights at five-star restaurants, beachfront cafes, or pop-up market stalls.
Conclusion: there’s no way we can choose between them, and we’re getting hungry just thinking about it!
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Nightlife
Nowhere knows how to party quite like the Caribbean, and each of these islands offers plenty of after-dark activities to keep you entertained once the sun goes down.
Aruba is often listed as one of the best Caribbean islands for nightlife, and you’ll find no shortage of places to party. Whether you want casinos, wine bars, cocktail lounges, beachfront nightclubs, salsa classes, or party buses, you’ll find it here. Head to Oranjestad for a hub of clubs, bars, and casinos, or consider staying in Palm Beach to be right in the center of the action.
On St Lucia, you won’t find as many lounges or casinos, but you will find plenty of beachside bars and lively open-air gatherings. St Lucia is famous for its full moon beach parties, fish frys (seafood bbq parties), and street fiestas called ‘jump ups’. These jump-ups happen weekly in the fishing village of Gros Islet. They combine night markets, authentic food, street performances, and DJs to kick your weekend off right and get you dancing till dawn. Elsewhere on the island, head to Rodney Bay for a hub of clubs and bars and the island’s one and only casino.
Conclusion: you won’t get bored on either island, but Aruba has a little more action after dark.
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Climate
St Lucia has two seasons, wet and dry. The dry season runs from December to April and is the busiest time of year. The wet season runs from June to December, and while temperatures remain warm, 29 – 32℃ (84 – 90℉) all year round – there is a much greater chance of tropical storms and even hurricanes. However, this shouldn’t put you off visiting since the rainstorms often come and go quickly, leaving large chunks of the days clear and beautiful. Plus, prices drop during the rainy season, so you could bag yourself a bargain!
On the other hand, Aruba sit’s outside of the hurricane belt, so there is no risk of storms and very little rainfall. As a result, it enjoys glorious year-round sunshine with temperatures sitting between 28-34℃ (82 – 94℉). Aruba is also known for its near-constant light breeze, which is not only perfect for keeping you cool but makes the island a popular hangout for kite and windsurfers. Peak season falls from November to April, when the island fills with tourists escaping the northern hemisphere’s winter. But, consider visiting May to October to experience the same glorious weather alongside a significant reduction in prices.
Conclusion: we have to give this one to Aruba for year-round sunshine and no rain.
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Budget
Aruba is one of the most visited Caribbean islands. Unfortunately, this popularity comes at a price and Aruba is a little more expensive than St Lucia. According to Budgetyourtrip.com, the average cost of a week’s holiday for a couple is $3650 for Aruba compared to $2370 in St Lucia.
However, don’t panic at those figures. It is possible to do either destination on a much smaller budget. If you’re money-conscious, you can cut your daily spending down by more than half of that and allocate around $70 for St Lucia and $110 for Aruba per day. You can do this quite easily by avoiding restaurants and eating the excellent street food available on each island. Looking for accommodation in smaller hotels and guesthouses rather than resorts, and enjoying the many free activities available rather than paying for trips and tours.
When it comes to accommodation, you’ll find many more options in Aruba, which has almost 400 accommodation options listed on Booking.com compared to St Lucia’s 180. However, it’s worth noting that though St Lucia might be less visited and have fewer options, its accommodation has a reputation for excellence. They’re known for small, secluded resorts offering exemplary service and they have 13 five-star accommodation options compared to Aruba’s seven.
Conclusion: Aruba is more expensive, but that doesn’t always mean more luxurious. So if you’re after some budget-friendly excellence, head to St Lucia.
St Lucia Vs Aruba: Conclusion
While there is certainly no bad option when it comes to St Lucia Vs Aruba, there are some key differences that should help you make your decision. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday filled with sunshine, snorkeling, rum cocktails, fascinating culture, and delicious food, then just flip a coin, you can’t go wrong on either island!
But if your dream vacation is about year-round sunshine, finding the world’s most beautiful beaches, or living it up at the liveliest parties, we’d suggest heading for Aruba.
However, if you want a little action and adventure in your vacation, we’d suggest visiting St Lucia. There you can partake in all manner of inland activities from rainforest zip lines to ATV tours to jungle hiking and volcano climbing. Similarly, we’d recommend St Lucia if budget is a concern because your money will go further without you having to sacrifice quality.