If you’re planning a Caribbean vacation and are choosing between Saint Lucia and Aruba, you’ve got two great choices.
I’ve visited both within the last two years, and each island offers so much unique beauty. I’d define both as paradise, but for different reasons.
Whether you want a relaxing beach vacation or want to go chasing waterfalls, I’ll get into which you should choose to help make your decision easier!
I’m writing about these islands in non-pandemic times, but at the time of writing, there are restrictions.
Regarding Saint Lucia travel restrictions, besides needing a negative PCR-test within 5 days of visiting and requiring a travel form, there are island closures. You basically can’t leave your resort unless your resort offers excursions. You can see up-to-date travel restrictions here.
Even with COVID safety measures, my trip to Saint Lucia was totally worth it as I hope you can tell from this video I made from my trip!
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Aruba is much more open; you can see their travel restrictions here. You need to fill out an Embarkation/ Disembarkation card and have a certified negative test result. But, at the time of writing, once you’re on the island, you’re free to explore.
Saint Lucia vs. Aruba: Price
Generally speaking, Aruba is a bit more expensive than Saint Lucia, though budget travelers should be able to find something that suits them in each location. Here I’ll break down the costs of everyday items that you’ll likely encounter.
If you’re planning to travel to Saint Lucia from Miami (most popular) or any other major US cities, such as New York or Charleston, you’ll be paying on average 300-600 USD for a round-trip ticket.
Apart from flights, you can get a sense of the cost of other travel-related expenses with this tool based on aggregated data from real travelers to Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia has many accommodation types to choose from with varying prices. For a budget hotel, the average price for a night is approximately 75-200 USD.
For a mid-range hotel, the cost is between 150-300 USD per night, and for a luxury hotel, you will be paying anywhere from 500-7500 USD per night.
Local cuisine can be as cheap as 1-5 USD.
If you go to a more touristy restaurant, prices will likely be closer to American restaurant prices (between 10-40 USD). If you’re staying at a luxury resort, these prices can get even higher.
Minibuses are the main form of transport on the island. However, if you’re independent and love exploring, you may want to rent a car.
Driving around the island is a great way to see places you might not encounter otherwise.
Plus, it will give you a sense of what island life is really like on Saint Lucia.
One thing to keep in mind if you don’t rent a car and simply do excursions from your resort is that a taxi from the airport to Soufriere costs about $75 one way. That was one of our biggest expenses in Saint Lucia.
Aruba is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, making it also one of the most expensive. Average round-trip flight prices to Aruba from Miami cost between 200-500 USD.
For the rest of the costs you may incur on vacation in Aruba, check out the below tool from budget your trip.
Hotels in Aruba are the next expensive thing. You could pay upwards of $100 per night for budget hotels.
In a luxury hotel, you could pay over $900 per night.
The cheapest thing you’ll find on the island is street food, between 4-8 USD. If you were to go to a luxury restaurant, you could pay 20+ USD for an entree.
Typically, the easiest way to get around the island is via bus. However, most people who visit Aruba generally stay close to their resort, though the island has so much to offer.
If you would like to explore more of the island, renting a car and driving in Aruba is relatively easy. You can also book excursions from your hotel.
Saint Lucia vs. Aruba: Natural Beauty
When thinking about Saint Lucia and Aruba, your mental image of each island should be pretty different. Yes, both islands have beaches. But while Saint Lucia is covered in rolling hills and has the stunning Pitons, Aruba has more desert vibes, with cacti everywhere and plenty of beaches.
Let’s get into more details:
Although Saint Lucia is home to some beautiful beaches, the island is more known for its lush greenery.
Unlike Aruba’s flat cactus-covered island, Saint Lucia is a volcanic island with a lush mountainous inland made up of 19,000 acres of rainforest!
Whether you want to lay on the beach or go hiking in the jungle, you have opportunities to do both in Saint Lucia!
If you’re a beach lover and are heading to Saint Lucia, definitely check out Rodney Bay.
Here, you will find Reduit Beach, one of the longest strips of golden sand on the entire island. If you’re looking for white sand, then head to Anse des Pitons.
Besides stunning beaches, Saint Lucia is home to incredible coral reefs that are teeming with life. For one of the best snorkelling spots in the entire Caribbean region, check out Anse Chastanet.
However, here’s a secret, the real beauty of this wonderful island isn’t on the coastline; it’s deep within the island in the Pitons.
These phenomenal mountains which are a world heritage site are excellent for hiking and jungle treks, many of which lead to beautiful waterfalls!
For vacationers who want to go away and just relax on the beach, Aruba is the perfect place.
Saint Lucia does have some beautiful beaches. But Aruba is said to have some of the best beaches in the Caribbean!
Plus, Aruba has much more beach coastline than Saint Lucia and is known for its iconic white-sand beaches and turquoise water.
These features make it one of the most picturesque islands in the region.
The island is also home to spectacular sea life that you can see while snorkeling or diving.
For the ultimate underwater experience, head to Baby Beach and prepare to be amazed.
Malmok Beach is another phenomenal snorkeling spot with clear, glassy water.
You can see the 400-foot SS Antilla, now a haven for sea life, from the surface despite the shipwreck laying on the seabed.
If you love beaches and wildlife, take an excursion to Renaissance Island too.
This small private island off the coast of Aruba has places to take photos with a friendly flock of flamingos!
In short, if beaches are what you’re after, then Aruba is the probably better choice for you. Check out my list of 27 beautiful places you should visit in Aruba here!
Saint Lucia vs. Aruba: Lodging
Like I mentioned in the pricing section, lodging varies greatly on either island. Depending on your definition of luxury, you’ll find pretty big price ranges on either island.
Here’s the breakdown for each island:
Saint Lucia’s resorts and hotels are renowned for their lush ambiance and exceptional service.
Whether you are traveling solo or as a couple, group, or family, there is something for everyone.
Saint Lucia’s range of accommodation types include luxury resorts, all-inclusive resorts, boutique resorts, villa rentals, small hotels, guest houses, and apartment rentals.
As mentioned earlier, prices for hotels in Saint Lucia start from 75-200 USD per night for budget accommodation.
Average accommodation might run you 150-300 USD per night.
And a luxury stay could easily be upwards of 500 USD per night.
We stayed at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, and it was an absolute haven. With stellar service, shuttles to take you around the resort, butlers on call, and private villas, it is the definition of luxury.
On the other hand, you should expect more expensive low-budget accommodations in Aruba.
Much like Saint Lucia, Aruba has budget, average, and luxury hotels to choose from, but the prices are much different.
For budget hotels in Aruba, you can be paying upwards of 100 USD per night and over 900 USD per night for a luxury hotel.
We stayed at the Hilton Aruba and had a wonderful time.
Saint Lucia vs. Aruba: Activities/Popular Attractions
Activities on each island differ as well. While both offer snorkeling and boat tours, inland activities will vary quite a bit.
Let’s see how:
As mentioned earlier, Saint Lucia is home to a diverse landscape that includes a beautiful coastline and lush rainforest found inland. Throughout the island, the opportunities are endless, with activities being both on land and on the sea.
One of the most popular activities to embark on in Saint Lucia is climbing (or viewing from afar) the Pitons. These twin towing peaks soar out of the sea at great heights. If you’re a skilled climber, you can climb one of the Pitons.
However, if you aren’t a hiking-lover, then you can simply view the phenomenal Pitons from afar. The best view of the twin peaks is from the Tet Paul Nature Trail in Soufriere’s fishing town.
Another popular and exhilarating activity on the island of Saint Lucia is ziplining through the forest. On the eight-station zipline at Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park in Soufriere, you zip past beautiful panoramic views of the Pitons before descending under the forest canopy.
Anse Chastanet coral reef is teeming with sea life, so what better way to see it than to go snorkelling or diving? You can see soft corals, brain corals, boulder, corals, and hundreds of different types of colorful fish under the water’s surface!
Suppose you just want a day to relax without too much physical activity. In that case, there is an abundance of stunning beaches scattered across the island where you can spend your day laying under the sun and swimming in the crystalline waters.
Saint Lucia also has waterfalls and sulfur springs, both of which make for fun day trips!
Although Aruba is known for its stunning beaches, there are a range of other activities you can enjoy while vacationing on the island.
The SS Antilla is the largest wreck in the South Caribbean and is one of the most popular diving sights on the island! You can dive underwater and see the ship teeming with sea life. The water is so clear from the beach you can even marvel at it from the sand!
If you want to spend a relaxing afternoon on the beach, why not do it a little differently and go horseback riding? Daimari Beach and Bay are located on the northern coast of Aruba and are known for their horseback riding adventures. Head to the beach and watch the sunset while strolling along the coast on a horse.
Fancy spending the day with flamingos? Aruba’s only private beaches are located on the Renaissance private island, a short boat trip from Aruba’s shore. Flamingo Beach is a place you can see and take photos with the gorgeous and friendly pink flamingos!
Aruba has a national park, Arikok National Park, where you can tour caves and see Aruba’s rugged natural beauty.
Saint Lucia vs. Aruba: Weather
Vacationing on an island is all about having perfect weather that allows you to spend days at the beach or hiking without the worry of rain. That being said, keep reading to find out the best times to visit Saint Lucia vs. Aruba.
Saint Lucia has two seasons, wet and dry.
Most would consider Saint Lucia’s dry season, from mid-December to mid-April, the best time to visit.
During this season, you’ll experience the most sunshine, but since it is the busy season, you will pay more for accommodation.
If you want to pay less and have more of a laid-back vibe with fewer tourists around, then the wet season might be right for you.
The wet season is from June to November.
Just keep in mind that during these months you are at greater risk of tropical storms.
Aruba, on the other hand, has fantastic weather all year round.
But if you want to go during the off-season for the best weather and deals, then head there during April to August.
During these months, prices significantly drop because Aruba’s high season is during the American winter season.
Unlike Saint Lucia and many other Caribbean islands, Aruba isn’t part of the Caribbean hurricane belt, so you typically don’t have to worry about bad weather while you’re there.
Honestly, I don’t really enjoy nightlife. After a full day of exploring new places, my husband and I are happy to turn in for the night. But I know not everyone is like that! (In fact, I’d guess that most people enjoy a good nightlife scene on vacation!). So, after doing research on this item, here is a comparison on nightlife in Saint Lucia vs. Aruba.
Although Saint Lucia is a prominent honeymoon and family vacation destination, it still has some fantastic nightlife for travelers who want to have a good time.
If this is important to you, know that Saint Lucia has a great nightlife scene with full moon beach parties, many clubs, and even club hopping tours.
Like Saint Lucia, Aruba also has a lively nightlife.
The island is home to some of the Caribbean’s best beachfront lounges, casinos, bustling clubs, and also has a party bus, Kukoo Kunuku, that takes you around the island to all of the best clubs and bars!
My favorite, however, was the night market pictured above, directly across the street from the Hilton.
If you want a family destination that has it all, you can’t go wrong with either island.
With a range of accommodation types that suit families and many land and sea experiences, Aruba may be one of the more family-friendly islands in the Caribbean.
With its many luxury resorts with lush, tropical views, Saint Lucia is perfect for honeymooners, but anyone will enjoy it regardless of age.
Though Aruba is known for being an island that people go to relax and enjoy the beach, there’s plenty more to do there.
If you were to take your family to Aruba, I’d recommend choosing a tour or excursion that suits what your children are looking for.
When vacationing of course you want to go to a place that you know will be safe.
Like most places, theft and violence can happen in Saint Lucia, but not often. Use caution like you would anywhere, being particularly cautious at night.
Other than that, you can have peace of mind knowing you’re in a relatively safe country!
When it comes to safety, Aruba is also considered one of the safer places in the Caribbean.
Just remember to practice common sense and never leave any of your belongings accessible and unattended.
Also, be careful around the cacti! As captioned in the photo above, the only injury I sustained on either island was getting a cactus needle wedged in my heel in Aruba. Even after I pulled it out of the tendon, it was one of the most painful things I’ve experienced!
Other than that, I’ve felt very safe on both islands, but I definitely exercise caution whenever I travel.
Saint Lucia and Aruba are some of the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean for Americans because of their:
- beautiful beaches
- stunning landscapes
- their proximity to the Continental US
If you’re planning on going on a family vacation that is full of activities as well as relaxation, Saint Lucia is a great choice.
It has plenty of opportunities for adventure and can be more affordable than Aruba.
Aruba on the other hand is more of a luxury island suited for those who want to relax and enjoy their surroundings.
But honestly, you can’t go wrong with Saint Lucia or Aruba. Let me know if you have any questions regarding choosing between either island. I’ll do my best to answer based on personal experience and/or research!
And if you’re considering more caribbean islands, check out these posts:
- The Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia
- 28 Best Things to Do in the Exumas in the Bahamas
- 60 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico
- 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in the Bahamas
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