Saint Martin has everything you can ever ask for to get a travel hangover thanks to its natural features, beaches, and bicultural setting you will always have something to look into. Aruba may just be purely Dutch-Caribbean, but with its numerous curiosities and out-of-this-world terrain and beaches, you’ll spend much of your time in awe.
Where are Saint Martin and Aruba?
Saint Martin and Aruba are another two of the most beautiful and interesting top destinations in the Caribbean Sea, boasting classic features like pristine beaches, and historical towns worth your curiosity. Despite the myriads of similarities, both islands have subtle differences that make them worth the visit.
Saint Martin is also the name of the island shared by two European countries, France and the Netherlands, located just northeast of the Caribbean Sea, in the Lesser Antilles. The island is situated within the Leeward Islands, a group of island chains just past Puerto Rico. the northern part of the island is Saint Martin, a territory of France, while the south is the Dutch constituent country of Sint Maarten.
Aruba on the other hand, lies far south of the Caribbean, along the tail-end of the Lesser Antilles. Aruba, along with its Dutch sisters, Bonaire and Curacao, is situated just up north of South America, off the coast of Venezuela.
How Far Is Aruba From Saint Martin?
While Saint Martin sits northeast of the Caribbean, Aruba lies down south, further across the region. Aruba is approximately 964 kilometers or 599 miles southwest of Saint Martin. The only way you can get in between these islands is by flying, via both regional and international air carriers, like Air Antilles, Winair, Air France, and United Caribbean Airlines.
The Not-So-Subtle Differences of Saint Martin and Aruba
Despite their seeming similarities as jewels of the Caribbean famous for picturesque views, gorgeous beaches, interesting island interiors, and quirky local culture, there are subtle differences that set them apart. For one, Saint Martin, if we’re talking about one side of the island, is mainly French, while Aruba is Dutch.
This juxtaposition, or rather the sharing of territory on the island of Saint Martin is probably the biggest giveaway of their difference. French Saint Martin shares the island of the same name with the Dutch Sint Maarten to the south. The quirk in this is you get to experience two different cultures all on one small island, thanks to lax border controls, and EU memberships.
With Aruba, the island is full-on Dutch, from the languages used, to the souvenirs you would most likely bring home. This small island south of the Caribbean is also known to be one of the most if not the most expensive island in the region. With its cosmopolitan features ideal for well-heeled tourists, to its casinos, and high prices, is a complete 360 from French Saint Martin, even more so in its Dutch sister of Sint Maarten.
Saint Martin may not be exactly the cheapest out there, but it’s certainly not Aruba expensive. Thanks to its French parentage, the island has also adopted the “laissez-faire” attitude. The island’s vibe perfectly demonstrates and promotes that the best way to spend a vacation is to be lazy, and cozy, with views that are straight out of travel magazine shows.
Some of Aruba’s best beaches rival that of bigger players in the region, like the Bahamas, Mexico’s Yucatan, and even Saint Martin’s. Despite the island’s apparent lack of greenery, it makes up for its amazing beaches around its bigger cities and coasts that are virtually private and hidden.
Several features have become the common denominator among the Caribbean’s jewels. But then again, no island is the same as another, Saint Martin isn’t even entirely the same as Sint Maarten, and they’re practically twins, joined by the hip.
Costly Saint Martin
As said, Saint Martin isn’t the most expensive island in the region. It is often said that the island’s prices are a bit costly for the region, however, it isn’t the most expensive either. Aruba still takes the top spot as one of the most, if not the most expensive island in the Caribbean.
To put things into perspective, you can always compare the prices of different necessities and other common purchases between destinations. For a meal in an inexpensive restaurant, it would cost you 12 to 20 USD in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten, while in other big players in the Caribbean like the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, it would be around 6 to 10 USD.
Half a liter of a domestic beer in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten would be around 2 to 4 USD, while in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica it can cost around 2 to 3 USD. Saint Martin can be pretty pricey, however, its disparity against other islands is only small, and would not hurt your budget and break the bank.
Notoriously Expensive Aruba
Aruba isn’t only famous for its ridiculously beautiful beaches, and interesting cultural factors, but it is also known to be notoriously expensive, and a hotbed for holiday high rollers.
For a meal in an inexpensive restaurant, it would cost you 12 to 20 USD in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. In other big players in the Caribbean like the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, an inexpensive meal can cost around 6 to 10 USD, but in Aruba, it would set you back to 10 to 35 USD.
For alcoholic-loving tourists, half a liter of a domestic beer in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten would be around 2 to 4 USD. While in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica it can cost around 2 to 3 USD but in Aruba, the same beer would be 3 to 10 USD.
The Draws of Saint Martin
Today, Saint Martin, and Sint Maarten, together make up one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean with a knack for enticing locals because of its seemingly bicultural landscape, and gifted natural beauty.
Saint Martin, dominated by descendants of emancipated slaves from the colonial era, together with a plethora of other cultures and ethnicities that often their way to the beautiful island has contributed much to the colorful and vibrant island today.
Saint Martin is known for many things, although it shares tons of similarities with other Caribbean islands. For it is, after all, an equally special and gifted island. But the curiosities and uniqueness of the island’s geopolitical situation make it all the more worth it of the hype.
French Saint Martin boasts many of the islands’ best beaches. As Dutch Sint Maarten embodies the cosmopolitan vibe of a developed country, the French side has its chill, laid-back, and relatively simpler life as its biggest draw. If you have gorgeous beaches, French attitudes, chic fashion and shopping, and the best food on the island, you have a perfect recipe for a must-visit island.
One Happy Island Aruba
It isn’t only called the “Happy Island” just because of its beautiful white sand beaches, full of fun activities that everybody can enjoy. The island also has a mixed culture that stemmed from centuries of colonial rule, and immigration. You’ll see that the local is full of interesting and quirky details.
Apart from the culture, the people constitute one of the main reasons that make Aruba indeed happy. The people are some of the warmest, and happiest people you’ll encounter, and their ability to speak possible 3 languages make it easier to go around and get acquainted.
The island doesn’t suffer from hurricanes, and is sunny all year round, plus, the lower crime rates, and high quality of living help with the happiness index as well. Aruba’s “One Happy Island” campaign makes the happiness of eager travelers a priority.
With its characteristic inland terrains, immaculate beaches, sweeping ocean views, and loving people, Aruba is indeed a beautiful island. From its laid-back atmosphere, fun, interesting evenings, family-friendly beaches, and quirky cities, Aruba has every draw that lures tourists in.
Even with its unusual desert characteristics, and windy northern coasts that are considered dangerous for swimmers of any level, Aruba never ceases to give eager visitors reasons to visit and return to this little piece of Caribbean paradise.
Which is Better – Saint Martin or Aruba?
The Caribbean is one of the most naturally gifted, and most beautiful regions in the entire world, and with that many islands, it’s near impossible to pin down which is which. However, the best and possibly the only factor that will decide which is which, what you want to get out of that proverbial Caribbean experience.
If you want two equally beautiful destinations on one island, jampacked with sights, dynamic people, double the culture, and twice the fun, then Saint Martin is the place for you. In fact, just French Saint Martin itself is enough to give you the necessary Caribbean experience you’re looking for. Just think tropical paradise, in Little France.
However, if you want a large budget to spare, and a whole lot of excitement to unpack then Aruba is for you. This tiny island has so much to offer than its high street charms. According to travel magazines, the best beaches of Aruba are arguably some of the most beautiful in the region, rivaling other Caribbean players.