Maui vs Aruba and Playa Del Carmen

Jan 4th, 2004, 07:52 AM
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Maui vs Aruba and Playa Del Carmen

I am a regular Maui visitor but on the advice of friends I am considering going to Aruba and/or Playa Del Carmen (Mexico). Has anyone been to Maui as well as Aruba and/or Play Del Carmen? If so, how do these two destinations compare to Maui (in areas such as natural beauty, climate, nightlife, beaches, etc)
Rusty is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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Well lets begin with PDC. First of all Maui has a certain natural beauty that is reflective of islands born of volcanoes. There is a lushness that is a step above all others, at least IMHO. PDC has very nice beaches but can be much warmer in the summer than Maui. We were there once in the spring and I beleive it hit 94F one day. As for nightlife Cancun is right up the road so there is plenty. What doen PDC have that M
aui does not have. Plenty, esp. if history is important to you. That is you can go see the Mayan ruins in Chitzen Itza, an all day trek from PDC or go up the road 1 hr. to see the ruins of Tulum. There is also the ecological parks of Xcaret and Xel-ha, and the ferry to Cozumel. As for Aruba the scenery will be much different to say the least. Aruba is arid with most of its inland being desert. Indeed the most abundant natural vegetation is cactus. The beaches are gorgeous. You can wade out quite a ways before you are up to your neck. There is plenty of nightlife and better shopping as it is duty free. As for climate Aruba rarely gets rain and is outside the hurricane belt. It gets in the 90's in the summer but Aruba is quite breezy (it is a haven for windsurfers) so the heat is not so noticable, at least to me. Aruba is very clean, has a low crime rate and FWIW has the friendliest people in the Carib. per a voters poll of the mag Carib. Travel and Life. I agree. For more info on Aruba try: Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is online now  
Jan 4th, 2004, 08:24 AM
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BTW Rusty, a belated happy new year. Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is online now  
Jan 4th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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Visited both Playa del Carmen and Maui the year just passed. Jacketwatch's description of PDC is apt. Beautiful carribean waters, white, white sand and extensive offshore reef. Mayan history everywhere (that most visitors step over), with great ruins/pyramids at Tulum. Planned community (including golf and tennis) somewhat similar to Wailea, Maui, though steps down in terms of luxury and understatment. Many resort hotels similar to Las Vegas in dazzle, though very close together. Planted in the jungle. Access severely restricted to locals. Hour south of Cancun airport (horrible). Ferry to Cozumel-world class diving and snorkeling. Suggest you skip Xel-Ha "ecopark." Crowded, expensive, but many fish well fed. Geography, topography look all the same. Surprisingly expensive to do activities (e.g., Xel-Ha) away from (or sponsored by) the hotels. It's also very hot during the summer.
hmmm is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 12:55 PM
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I'd leave Aruba off that list. It just doesn't compare to Maui or PDC and I think you would be disappointed.

You will get a lot for your money in Mexico as the dollar is very strong against the peso.
Jan 4th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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When comparing Aruba and Maui,there is nothing to match the natural beauty of any of the Hawaiian islands in Aruba. Aruba is just beaches, nice and warm and good nightlife. But again no comparison to Maui. One word to describe any of the Hawaiian islands, Awesome. Describe Aruba in one word. OK
Toms is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 04:22 PM
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I second that!!
Mellyz is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 03:28 AM
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Thanks to all for the valuable information. Happy New Year to you too, Jacketwatch (and to everyone).
Rusty is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 04:53 AM
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As we are a bit partial to Aruba I would like to add one thing please. I certainly agree that it in no way compares to Maui as far as natural beauty goes. If this is important then you will be disappointed. However it does have its good points:
1. The beach area is very nice with the requisite palm trees, sunsets and one advantage over the Pacific is its clearer water.
2. The town of Orangestaad is colorful, vibrant, and has a good selection of arts and crafts, restaurants, tons of duty free shopping, night clubs and casinos. And as it is Dutch the architecture reflects that and is pretty neat in its own way.
3. Really it does have its own charm and beauty though in no way is it as naturally beautiful as Maui or even Martinique either. However it is the Carribean and as such has that cultural aspect which in this case combines Dutch, African, Spanish and Carribean influences that add up to Papiemento, its old uniqueness as a blended culture. I am sure Maui is more than beauty for most. It is also the Polynesian culture that attracts. Cheers,Larry
jacketwatch is online now  
Jan 5th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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We did PDC and the Yucatan a few years before we had kids. I found it to be very bohemian in feel, we did a few different beaches that were literally deserted. You really felt castaway and the water was so clear and calm with sand as fine and white as baby powder. Some of the highlights were snorkling outside of Jerry Garcia's house in a gorgeous pond like lagoon(just before he passed away), the laid back scene in Isla Mejures after a full beach day belting back the coldest Corona I have ever had and sinking with the sunset, Xcaret and cliff jumping(very small ones) into crystal cool fresh water jungle pools. It is not Hawaii, but does have its own charms. A few down sides, much in your face poverty. Drugs come through here on a regular basis so there is armed police presence which can be unnerving. I also hate bartering and this is about the only way to buy things. I have not been to Aruba so cannot comment.
Alohamom is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 05:21 AM
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I have not been to Aruba but have been to Playa and Maui. Other than beaches, which are great at Playa, Maui is way beyond Playa for natural beauty. However, Playa offers great variety and a change of culture. We based ourselves in downtown Cancun a few years ago and ranged all over the Yucatan, from Playa (2 days spent there) to Cozumel to Merida to Isla Mujeres and lots of Mayan sites. Playa del Carmen is a great spot from which to visit Cozumel, Tulum, Xel-Ha (actually fun for a change of pace), Coba (a major archaelogical site inland from Tulum), Cancun, and Isla Mujeres. The bus station is right near the ferry pier and is very convenient, or you could rent a car. Not everyone likes Playa del Carmen, but most seem to, and I think they have good reason. If you decide to go, you may be interested in my 1998 travelogue and photos from all over the Yucatan at, especially if you plan to travel much outside of Playa del Carmen.
dan_woodlief is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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I know I'm in the minority, but I prefer the Mexican Carribbean to Maui. The beauty of the ocean there is incredible, and I like the ambience of being in a different country, with its different culture and lots of history. Even Cancun is great (the beach there is unbeatable), if you stay at a property like the JW Marriott, the Ritz, or LeMeridien...
Little_Man is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 07:11 AM
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rusty..been to maui and aruba. enjoyed both but they don't compare (maui is more beautiful in my opinion). aruba is dry (with lots of cacti) and flat. the water in aruba is beautiful (calm and clear where we were). constant breeze (some people find it too breezy, we didn't) which makes you forget about the pounding sun and may cause sunburns for some. there's definite nightlife with casinos and lots of restaurants. safe, clean island.
happy new year!
Jan 5th, 2004, 07:36 AM
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Have been to all three so I'll play...

Have visited Cancun and areas south (Mayan Riveria) several times. We have fond memories of our trips there. Great weather in the spring, awesome beaches, crystal clear water, good snorkeling, dollar Coronas (in general good bang for the buck), short flight and plenty to do or not do depending how you feel. Did the all-inclusive thing a couple times, really nice experience at the Royal Hideaway. and I won't forget the snorkeling trip we took with Snorkel Adventure. It was a really great day spent on a private beach with a lot of nice folks, several boat trips out to the reef, lunch, volleyball, and beer all included. Prefer the quieter and more charming areas of Playacar/Playa del Carmen/Tulum vs Cancun, but you can get there easily if you want some nightlife.

As a previous poster replied, Aruba is OK. We honeymooned there...chose it because we didn't want to be tempted out of our lounge chairs for a lot of activity. Plus, the weather...guaranteed sunshine. The landscape is nothing compared to Maui so you'll need to leave any expectations at home. It's a desert island. We did have fun playing and floating in the water (much calmer than Mexico) and just relaxing on the beach. We didn't venture out much, but we covered much of the island the day we rented a jeep and set off with just a map and snorkel gear. Enjoyed Baby Beach and finding the Natural Bridge. The snorkeling trip at the sunken ship was a bust! better to stay on board and enjoy the free drinks. ;-)

Have fun making your decision!
bogart is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 07:49 AM
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Hey Rusty how about letting us know what you decide?
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Feb 24th, 2004, 09:40 AM
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hmmm is offline  
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