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Aruba or Puna Cana?

Harrisonburg...
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Aruba or Puna Cana?

I am interested in input into my travel plans. I am traveling with a family of four. My 2-kids will both be 18-years old when we travel over Christmas in December 2018. We have traveled all over the Caribbean and the last two (2) years we have done All Inclusive (AI) in Jamaica at the Iberostar. We have also traveled regularly to the Bahamas over the years. I find that AI works best for the kids, particularly now that they are young adults often eating and drinking when they want.

I have been to Aruba, but it was 25-years ago. I have never been to Punta Cana. Now, I am considering the Divi AI in Aruba or the Iberostar AI in Punta Cana over Christmas 2018. Budget is certainly a factor, but I also think that getting off the Resort without concern about safety is an issue. For example: my family and I love Barbados because we could do so many things off resort when we wanted. Aruba I know is not scenic, but I know I would at least go to Charlie’s Bar. For Aruba, do I try and budget a bit and enjoy the number of great restaurants by perhaps purchasing alcohol on our own through the day rather than continuously going to bars, or go AI at the DIVI. For Punta Cana, I really enjoyed the Iberostar and the entertainment aspect. However, I think unless watering down the alcohol is the way the Iberostar does in Punta Cana, like Jamaica, I would rather do it on my own. I felt in Jamaica, we would miss something if we left the Resort. So, is there anything to really do in Punta Cana? Perhaps, over the years I do both, but any opinions would be appreciated.

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1. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

For safety reasons I would choose Aruba because Mexico does have travel advisories for certain areas . I cancelled our trip to Riviera Maya in July and opted to travel to safe Aruba. We are a family of 4 with 2 teenage girls and I would hate for anything to happen to my wife and 2 daughters .

Boston...
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2. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

This is an easy decision IMO and it all comes back to one word- safety! We have been to Aruba 26x and never felt unsafe at any point. I would not visit Punta Cana because I would not feel or potentially be safe IF I left the hotel grounds. Going away and having to stay on the hotel grounds out of concern for my safety would not be a relaxing experience at all. Many go there and love it...some even travel freely around BUT most suggest that is not a wise idea....Aruba wins.

Mississauga, Canada
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3. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

I would choose Aruba defintely!!! I had been to all places you mentioned & I chose Aruba and also Turks for over all safety pre caution. We have 2 girls ( 14 & 6 ) so for us safety is the first. If you are ok driving around Barbados then guaranteed you wouldnt have a problem in Aruba as we didnt drive around Barbados, I found the place alil unsafe.

We did all inclusive in aruba and also tried non for 2 days, with kids i suggest AI just because it is more convenient with children.

When it comes down to safety I would choose Aruba. But dont get me wrong Punta Cana is also a nice place. But we went without our kids.

Charlotte, North...
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4. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

I have done both Punta Cana and Aruba and hands down would pic Aruba. Here now actually. Must do all inclusive in DR as not much choice. No need for all inclusive in Aruba, so many great choices close by. Very safe island. Would not have taken my kids off site in DM. I have two teenage girls. They love Aruba.

Another consideration. water very rough in DM where we were. Made water sports almost impossible. Not all that blue either.

jl
Waltham...
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5. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

We stayed at Iberostar with our kids (24 and 21 at the time) in Punta Cana and once was more than enough. We couldn't even walk past a certain point on the beach without being told that was as far as we could go. While service was excellent at the resort, the beach was so jam packed that we were on top of each other. The food was just not good. Also, the water was very rough and the sand was not soft at all. We spent 80% of our time at the pool for this reason.

I would definitely look into the Divi or Tamarijn. While Aruba does not have Mega AI resorts, I can understand that you want to do AI with 2 18 year olds - it does make sense in a lot of ways. We finally brought our kids to Aruba last year (after going 12 years on our own without them) and rented a timeshare; we each had our own room. They absolutely loved it!

LaGrangeville, New...
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6. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

I can tell you I have been taking m 4 kids to Aruba since they were young. They are now 18-25 and we still go. If you ask them of course they will say AI so they can run up to the bar as many time as they like.. But, I don't care for AI at all .. and we have done it at Beaches in Turks and in Cancun . We always end up back in Aruba 50+ times ...because it is safe and there are so many choice we can eat cheap if we wanted. With 18 year old I would highly suggest the high rise area. Although my kids lived in the low rise area growing up .. Now they want the high rise area to walk to everything. If you must do AI I would suggest the RIU or Barcelo as long as you realize they are not mega resort. Think more of a hotel with food included. As other have said.. no mega resorts. Its not needed in Aruba since you can walk around freely. I don't think the kids would care for the Divi Location.

New Jersey
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7. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

We have also been to both - and just to be clear, while Aruba is very safe, while in the DR we felt safe as well. I agree that you don't really venture out but on the resort is fine. Having said that - I would say as a direct answer is no, there is not a lot to do in Punta Cana.

As others have said, Aruba is a different vacation - safe and easy to get around. I know people like Palm beach, but I feel like that is packed like others places (Mexico, DR, Jamaica) and the charm of Aruba is best experienced on Eagle or Druif Beach (this is where the Divi is). We like the Divi, but it is not a huge resort with tons of activities...but there are things to do...with 20 something kids, they may very well prefer the action of Palm Beach, but I don't know how you travel as a family. I would say that based on what you have posted, Aruba would be a better choice - with the AI option only because of convenience. You will find that lots of people don't do AI in Aruba because you can go out and about so easily and safely. Oh - and there are TONS of great places to eat!!!

Maryland
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8. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

I cancelled our family of 5 trip to Cancun due to the safety concerns and re-booked for Aruba. We're not doing an AI, but rather staying in a large 2-bedroom suite w full kitchen and a large grocery store is around the corner. Between that and going out a few times that should suit our needs. My kids are young teens so not at the drinking age yet! The safest I've felt in the Caribbean is the Caymans and St. Thomas. Really looking forward to our first ever trip to Aruba!

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9. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

You will love it !!!

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10. Re: Aruba or Puna Cana?

Aruba by far....you are not tied to the resort and can go safely all over the island. No beggars or people asking for money. It is a beautiful island. Punta Cana and those type of AI places you are just basically stuck at the resort eating at the same places doing the same thing. In Aruba I advise against going AI because there are sooo many great restaurants and things to do that you do not want to miss by being tied down to one place! ETA-with two kids that age I think the Palm Beach area would be a lot more fun! More activity and things to do and everything within walking distance!

Edited: 11 May 2018, 05:20
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