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chargre Sep 12th, 2005 03:11 PM

Grand Cayman or Aruba
I am considering a Caribbean vacation in December and am trying to decide whether to visit Grand Cayman or Aruba. I have never been to either place; any advice on which your preference is and why would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much.

KVR Sep 12th, 2005 04:06 PM

What are you looking for in a vacation?

We've been to Grand Cayman, but not Aruba. Grand Cayman has 7 Mile Beach which is awesome. Great snorkling and diving. Sting Ray City was terrific. OK shopping and other tourist type attractions. Night life is dragging especially in Nov. when we went.

From reading up, Aruba will offer better night life with multiple bars, restaurants and casinos. However, not that great of clear water and snorkeling. Have seen it referred to as Las Vegas in the Caribbean. Couldn't find very many excursions/tours except beach hopping and an Island tour. We need more sightseeing variety. It's still on our "to go" list though.

Once you decide what type of atmosphere you are looking for, the decison will be made.

christiegr Sep 12th, 2005 04:43 PM

I have been to Aruba but not Grand Cayman.If snorkeling or diving are important to you...I would definitely go to Grand Cayman.I have heard nothing but great things about the snorkeling and diving there.

Both islands are the same as far as being flat.

We did not like Aruba..the only thing that we enjoyed was the very friendly staff at the Renaissance and the very good restaurants..other than that..we enjoy Kauai and St John alot more.;)We love to snorkel and in leaves alot to be desired.

Grand Cayman is on our long list to travel to oneday..for the snorkeling.;)Good luck with your choice.It just depends on what you are looking for in a vacation.

MuyLinda Sep 12th, 2005 04:49 PM

Hi chargre - we've been to Aruba but not Grand Cayman (yet). Aruba is the kind of place where you can do lots or nothing at all. Nice beaches, lots of different day trips you can take on land and the water, lots of great shopping if that's your thing, casinos, good/great restaurants to fit every budget. Snorkeling in Aruba is disappointing for me so if that's all you like to do I would say Grand Cayman would be a better choice. If you have any other questions about Aruba I'll be happy to try and help.

KarenM Sep 12th, 2005 06:25 PM

If you are interested in snorkeling on Grand Cayman, I think you will be disappointed. I read that the reefs were ruined by the hurricane.

girlonthego Sep 12th, 2005 06:37 PM

I have been only to Aruba and we enjoyed our trip. We even enjoyed snorkeling, but we are novices. I am very interested in visiting Grand Cayman myself so I know why it is on your short list. I can say that Aruba is hot and sunny most of the time. It has great restaurants, nice beaches, gambling(not really our thing)and very nice turquoise waters. I understand the Grand Cayman has fabulous snorkeling.

filter14 Sep 12th, 2005 11:37 PM

Hi. Have been to GC 6(or 7?) times and Aruba twice. Last trip to GC was PRE-Ivan and will be returning in Jan 06. Visited Aruba in '95 and Jan 05. In fairness, I have not been on the island(GC) since Ivan(hurricane) so my view may change once returning.

From those that did the snorkel and scuba thing in our group:
Scuba better in GC, snorkel a tie.
Water: hands down--GC!!! for clarity and color
Beach: Aruba most definately had it's spots but not in front of the Marriott hotel where we encountered seaweed!!! daily
Food: more options in Aruba but were pleased with GC.
Shopping: were able to find nice things at both places and am partial to the black coral at Passman's in GC. Never really did a comparison as far as searching out specific things such as perfume, jewelry but managed to make purchases on both islands :)
Activities: watersports--same,
Sightseeing:good choices on both
Nightlife:Aruba has casinos and plenty of bars, GC is more laid back and quiet in the evening
Airport: Aruba's seemed chaotic(very busy and frankly little to no assistance once getting off the plane), GC is more business like
Service industry: Aruba had it's moments but GC wins for us
Price: tie. We expected Aruba to be much less expensive but found it comparable during the same season that we normally travel to GC. You can find reasonable prices in all areas provided you do some research before making the trip.

Have fun deciding!

cayman4me Sep 13th, 2005 12:18 AM

I was in Grand Cayman and Little Cayman in May/June of this year. The snorkeling was great and not much different from pre-hurricane trips. Some areas received minor damage to fan corals, but there are still lots and lots of fish, and other things to look at.

Kristen1206 Sep 13th, 2005 06:22 AM

I have been to both islands and enjoyed them both. I was in GC in December 2003 and Aruba in September 2002.

December is Aruba's "rainy" season but take that with a grain of salt as it is so arid there.

I thought Aruba's beaches were a bit nicer though both were awesome. We stayed on Palm Beach and Seven Mile Beach respectively.

Snorkeling/diving (and water clarity) is much better on GC but the color or the water in Aruba is a beautiful turquoise color.

Both had great restaurants though I'd give GC the edge.

GC is more a more upscale island...with nicly paved roads etc but it is more expensive.

We will return to both and I don't think you can go wrong with either island.

Aruba may be your better bet right now though as GC is still in the preocess of re-building.

Knowing Sep 13th, 2005 07:20 AM

We have been to both.

Price: GC was more expensive
Nightlife: Aruba had more to offer
Flight: GC was easier and quicker to arrive. Customs is slow in Aruba.
Restaurants:GC had the best food we've ever had anywhere in the Carribbean and the friendliest waiters/waitresses. At Lone Star, the waiter bought me a margarita and at Athena's, the manager bought my husband and I some wonderful wine.
Water and beaches: GC should not be missed for anyone who is really into pristine water
Shopping: They both have shopping. Aruba's area is bigger, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily better.
For what it's worth, they say that Aruba is one happy island, but we liked the people in GC better.

MuyLinda Sep 13th, 2005 02:48 PM

Knowing & Kristen - thanks for the comparisons between Aruba and Grand Cayman. I love to read comparisons between places I've been and liked (Aruba) and places I want to go (GC).

ONZGO Sep 13th, 2005 03:16 PM

I haven't been to Grand Cayman, but I have travelled a fair amount in the Caribbean and in Mexico and Aruba is our least favorite destination so far, because it is so Americanzied and we were disappointed in Palm Beach and the clarity of the water and the litter, mostly cigarette butts & plastic cups on the beach. It is a shame that people don't respect nature and dispose of their litter in the proper containers instead of tossing it on the beach.

If you like snorkeling or scuba diving Grand Cayman is suppose to be one of the better destinations for that. We found the snorkeling disappointing in Aruba. If you like gambling, Aruba is the destination to go in the Caribbean as almost every hotel has a casino.

Have a great vacation.

ONZGO Sep 13th, 2005 03:21 PM

Forgot to mention that Aruba is a windy island.

anonxx Sep 13th, 2005 05:55 PM

Note to KarenM: The snorkeling has NOT been ruined in Grand Cayman since Ivan. We were there in March, 2005 and it was fantastic. We are going again for two weeks in January, and love to snorkel and dive.

Quizno Sep 13th, 2005 11:44 PM

Hi Chargre, my preference is Grand Caymen, hands down. We have been to both GC and Aruba. GC is much cleaner looking, great snorkeling, nice local people. Took a boat about 10 miles out to a reef. Captain told us a hammerhead was on the other side of it so keep a look out. Also saw barracuda and lots of fish. Had a great time. Aruba is dry and arrid, but lots of party life. GC has a nice casino at a beautiful hotel we went to. You can ask around. Everyone there was nice and helpful and friendly. And don't forget the rum cakes!!

NYGiants27 Sep 15th, 2005 05:47 AM

Wow, my 2 favorite islands. The snorkeling in Aruba is not good on Palm Beach in front of the resorts.If you go to other parts of the island, you can find decent snorkeling. (at least for a beginner like me) Filter14 had said that the beach in front of the Marriott had seaweed on it. That stretch of beach is probably the worst of Palm Beach. If you go in front of the Radisson or Hyatt, the water is much clearer and seaweed-free. Everything in Filter14's post was on the money so I don't want to repeat it. I do want to add a few thoughts. Onzgo didn't like Aruba because it was "Americanized". Even though I hate that term, you can put Grand Cayman in that same category. I guess I like traveling to Americanized destinations. (to each his own) I, after being to each, would have a hard time choosing because I like them so much. You want a quieter vacation, go to GC. We were there Easter week and you felt like it was the slowest week of the year. There was no one on the beach even close to us. We stayed at the Westin which has a wide and long beach so I'm sure that helped some. GC also has very good restaurants but Aruba has better ones and more of them. Aruba's resorts are nicer though. It's a tough choice and I think you will love either destination.

Pinson Sep 15th, 2005 01:50 PM

Why don't you take a cruise from San Juan Puerto Rico-Royal Carrib. Adventure of the seas hits Aruba, The Virigin Islands and a few others. It's awesome!!! Tons to do and you don't get bored of the same thing. I was disappointed in Grand Cayman. Loved Aruba, but the beach can get old after a while.

joanie433 Sep 17th, 2005 07:15 PM

Quizno - no casinos on GC.

Jake11 Sep 20th, 2005 10:53 AM

We have been to both Aruba and GC 2 times. My vote would go to GC. We thought the water was clearer and the snorkeling was better in GC. It was VERY windy in Aruba the 2 times we went to the point sand was blowing and stinging our faces. We had a good time in Aruba but I would go back to GC over Aruba any day.

markhere Sep 30th, 2005 07:22 PM

We have been to both islands more than once and we love both of them for different reasons. As was previously mentioned, they differ significantly. GC has incredibly clear water and wonderful diving/snorkling opportunities while Aruba has some wonderful beaches, casinos, and nightlife. We do not like the winds of Aruba and the heat feels more extreme in my opinion. The Caymans seem to experience more weather variations and have suffered economically more than Aruba, at least in our observation.

If you like more outdoor activities, we think that GC has more to offer. Aruba is much more arid and lacks the excursion element relative to GC. Aruba makes you want to take a day trip to another neighboring island just for a change of scenery.

Don't get me wrong, Aruba is by far our favorite for times when we just need to collapse on the beach in peace. We normally stay at the Divi because it fits that need and because we figure that we are able to maximize the ratio of square feet of white sand/person! If we intend to dive and explore, GC is the way to go. In fact, we are heading to GC before Christmas.

We have a few pictures posted on our website:

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