Barbados or Aruba? (Party and sun.)

Old Dec 7th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Barbados or Aruba? (Party and sun.)

I am looking for a party-oriented trip with some fine dining and nightclub possibilities. Nice beaches and sightseeing opportunities would be a plus.

We would prefer a more upscale atmosphere with a mixture of age ranges - kind of South Beach-esque?

I realize Aruba as a whole is not generally considered to be an upscale destination, but are there good dining choices there?

I have narrowed it down to Aruba and Barbados, and I'd love some input. (Any suggestions of other islands I may have overlooked would also be appreciated...)

Thank you. gt;
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 09:00 AM
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Barbados is a much more lush green tropical feeling island with a variety of beaches, restaurants, nitelife, and plenty sightseeing. Aruba is arid, with more American-style hotels. My Barbados preference is obvious, but lots of people enjoy Aruba, too. You wouldn't go wrong either way.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 02:54 PM
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We spent a week in Aruba and were not impressed with the dining or sightseeing options. The beaches are spectacular, and if all you were interested in doing was basking in the sun, I would say you might be happy there. It sounds like you want a bit more though.
We are actually taking our first trip to Barbados in nine weeks. From our research, we expect to find better restaurant and nightlife choices there.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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We have travelled to a fair number of islands in the Caribbean and a number of places in Mexico. Although we have not been to Barbados, I would pick it over Aruba, because Aruba was our least favourite destination we have been to so far. We felt like we were on a beach in the U.S. We found it very Americanized and touristy and had lots of American fast food places, and restaurants and high rise hotels on the beach. It lacked any true tropical Caribbean feel, culture or history. We found the clarity of the water lacking and the beaches dirty with lots of litter and cigarette butts and the constant wind is annoying. Not of lot of sightseeing. Aruba is a very small island (19.6 x 6 miles) and is desert like (think Arizona) and windy and on some beaches you may get sand blasted.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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I forgot to add that Aruba has more timeshares than any other island. We found the age range was mostly retired people with a few honeymooners thrown into the mix and the odd family. There are a few clubs downtown, but it is not a party island and the main form of entertainment on the island is gambling and almost every hotel has a casino.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 04:44 PM
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Sounds like Barbados would be a better choice...

We spent a day there on a cruise last Jan. and have been wanting to get back ever since. We crammed a lot into the one day we had there, but certainly not enough to get a taste of what there is to see or do.

Aruba sounds like everything we don't like, so I think we'll take that off the list.

It's now down to San Juan/Vieques or Barbados.

Having been to 30+ islands, I'm ready for a new one!
Diana is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2006, 08:16 PM
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We just got back from a family reunion in Aruba two weeks ago. I have to admit that Aruba has never been my favorite island for all the reasons previous posters have listed, but this visit changed my mind quite a bit.

We stayed at The Radisson, which I think is probably on the best part of Palm Beach. Despite the Thanksgiving vacation week crowds, we never felt on top of people either at the pools or the beach. Also, the rooms we had in the Aruba Tower were really beautiful, and extremely comfortable.

Dining around town surprised us this time. Our dinners at PAGO PAGO, LE DOME,CHALET SUISSE, and FISH POT ( which is a 30 min drive away) were expensive, but actually worth the money. FISH POT, in particular, had a gorgeous setting on the beach. In fact, it reminded us very much of a restaurant we'd visited last summer in a suburb of Athens, Greece.

I definitely still feel that the island is too Americanized, but it's a good destination if you're looking for nearly perfect weather, very comfortable accomodations, and excellent food.

If you want more than that, I'd recommend looking at St. John, which has fantastic beaches ( Trunk Bay!), and a very cool downtown area with lots of clubs, restaurants, and funky boutiques.

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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 04:29 PM
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My husband and I went to Barbados two years ago. We have been to various islands and areas in Mexico. Barbados is our all time favorite. I would suggest going to Barbados and staying in the Gap. It has 5 starr restaurants, nigthlife and beautifull beaches with warm water. It was our first island in the carib and we are going back in April for a week. Check it out. I think you will love the Gap. It does not have any shopping but it is close enough to everything. We toured the island with a car and could not wait to get back to the Gap. Everything you want withing walking distance except shopping (which I hate to do on my holiday). I say go for Barbados, the Gap all the way.

Let us know

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Old Dec 12th, 2006, 04:50 AM
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Barbados has that more afro-centric caribbean vibe, where aruba is more south american. Both have their strong points. Aruba has great roads, beaches, restaurants, and nightlife. Very easy to navigate around Aruba. Car rentals are cheap (about $175 for little toyo). Oh and the people are very nice.

Barbados has mixed roads--good and bad. The ABC highways are great but the local roads, especially in the Gap area are not for the faint of heart.

Barbados has great beaches (better than Aruba IMHO), great waves to play in (Crane Beach is a must see) and surf if you'd like, great restaurants, nightlife, more "sightseeing type" areas, car rentals are relatively reasonable (not cheap--about $285 for little toyo)but you sit on the right and drive on the left...Youzaaa. After a couple of drinks it's definately an experience you will not forget!

The hotels are smaller in Barbados. Aruba has the big chains, where Bds has more of the small, family run type places.

Hope that helps. Peace, Greenie
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 06:01 AM
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Diana, have you made your decision yet? I was just reading in an old issue of CT&L about the big jazz music festival that Barbados held in January of this year. I would assume that it's the same month every year, which might be kinda fun if you choose Barbados for your January getaway.

Anyway, keep us posted on your destination once you decide!
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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oooh ej, that sounds like fun! (jazz fest.)

No, I have not yet made a decision.
Now, my DH is saying we can take 2 short trips before our longer one in May, so I am leaning toward Nassau and Junkanoo for New Year's and either San Juan/Vieques or Barbados for Feb. or March. A good quandary to be in!

I appreciate the info y'all have given me on Barbados. I loved the Irie vibe we found in just the little time we spent there. (I noticed that right away greenie )

I also like the looks of Vieques, and I have GOT to "do" the Bio Bay!

Weadles, I have been to St John. Thanks for the ideas.

I guess I'd better make up my mind soon, but some of you know how I am. I just buy plane tickets and worry about getting a room when we get there. One of these days, we are going to end up sleeping on the beach!
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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Ooh, Diana, lucky you to have two short trips before your big one in May!

They all sound great and I can't wait to hear about them in your trip reports.
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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Be careful of Nassu for New Year's. The weather can be cool and rainy.
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 04:39 PM
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Yeah, Weadles. All I can think of is those papier mache costumes turning to wet toilet paper in the rain! Not good.

I am having a problem with TOO MANY CHOICES!
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