Last updated on November 7, 2022 by Wandering our World
If you’re looking for white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and a laid-back vibe, then Antigua and Anguilla are both great choices.
However these islands, despite their similar size, are quite different.
Anguilla is quieter, more rustic and arguably has the better, more pristine beaches. Yet Antigua has gorgeous beaches too, lots of activities and even romantic overwater bungalows!
But that’s just scratching the surface.
Thankfully we know both these destinations well! Below we pit Anguilla vs Antigua to show you what each has to offer and the key differences. All so you can make the perfect holiday choice.
So let’s get started!
- Which Has The Better Beaches?
- Which Is Better For Activities?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- How Does The Culture Compare?
- Which Has The Better Resorts?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Which Has The Better Beaches?
Both islands have those incredible beaches you think of when planning a Caribbean holiday, but we’ve found subtle differences between both.
Although both have amazing natural scenery and some of the Caribbean’s best beaches, we believe the beaches in Anguilla are closer to ‘paradise’ than Antigua.
It’s a close one to decide, but the more rural rustic nature of Anguilla’s beaches – which are less crowded than Antigua’s – alongside the unbelievable sand and sea color makes it our winner in the beach battle.
Below we look at the beaches of both in more detail:
Anguilla: The Beaches
Anguilla’s shores are exquisite and in many ways the perfect escape from reality. Expect gorgeous white sand beaches and wonderful crystal-clear water for swimming.
This is one of the Caribbean’s best beach destinations, and it’s hard to find a bad beach here. Two that we think you should definitely visit are Shoal Bay East and Rendezvous Bay Beach.
Shoal Bay East is one of the prettiest beaches in the region, with palm-tree lined white sand giving way to warm shallow water. It’s exactly what you imagine a Caribbean paradise to look like. It’s rarely busy too, so you can easily find your own private section of beach.
Rendezvous Bay Beach is just as gorgeous but is known locally for its incredible turquoise-hued water and sugar-white sand. Nothing will make friends back home more jealous than a photo of this stunning spot.
An added bonus is that the pristine white beaches and glittering blue waters in Anguilla have some of the most calm, warm water in the Caribbean, so it’s a very safe place for young kids. That’s one of the reasons why it made our list of the best Caribbean islands for families.
Antigua: The Beaches
Beaches are Antigua’s crowning glory too, with all 365 beaches on the island – one for every day of the year – accessible to the public.
It is also home to many white sand beaches, the holy grail for sunbathers and beach swimmers the world over.
For some of the best white sand and turquoise swimming waters in Antigua – and the Caribbean – head to Dickenson Bay. It’s one of the most popular spots on the island, but is well worth visiting as the white powder sand is breathtaking. There’s lots of great cafes, restaurants and food trucks alongside the bay too, as well as watersports opportunities, so it’s an easy place to spend a full day.
For something a little more remote and romantic, visit Five Islands Village Beach. This secluded spot is quiet, quaint and perfect for sunset strolls. It’s barely visited by tourists too.
Which Is Better For Activities?
Both Anguilla and Antigua have some fantastic activities and excursions.
Below we compare each island by looking at some of the activities available for couples and families, and then give our final verdict on which is best for activities.
Anguilla: The Activities
If you’re coming to the Caribbean as a couple then Anguilla has some great activities. There’s plenty of spas on the island due to the high-class resorts and hotels here, so you’re never far away from a luxurious massage or even a LED light facial.
However what we really recommend is a horseback ride on the beach. You can do exactly that with Seaside Stables. Make sure you go at sunset as not only is it romantic, but you’ll have exceptional photo opportunities too.
If you’re traveling to Anguilla as a family then we recommend taking one of the many boat trips that will bring you to fantastic snorkeling spots.
Of if you or your kids want a little more adventure, it’s possible to learn how to kitesurf here – and the waves are some of the most gentle and safe for beginners too. You can easily hire a paddle board or even a glass-bottom kayak with Anguilla Watersports as well, so you can look at the sea bottom and try and spot fish as you paddle!
Antigua: The Activities
If you are in Antigua and are looking for romantic activities for you and your loved one, then two of the best available are swimming with stingrays, and taking a 2-day trip to Antigua’s sister island Barbuda.
Make your way to Stingray City – where friendly stingray interact with people and enjoy being fed and stroked. The stingrays are very gentle and you don’t need to fear anything. Just make sure you take a great underwater camera – such as this one – with you!
In fact Antigua is home to many fantastic snorkeling spots. One is just off Galley Bay, were you can see teeming sea-life amid the coral thanks to fantastic clear blue waters.
After swimming with stingrays, take a 90-minute ferry ride to Barbuda. There you can explore caves, go snorkeling, and even sunbathe on the island’s pretty pink sand beaches!
If you want to see a different side of Antigua then a road trip up Fig Tree Drive is a must. This road takes you up into the rainforest and wild side of the island and is probably Antigua’s most scenic road. Make sure you do the zip line which is in Fig Tree Rainforest – that’s an activity that tends to go down well with kids and adults!
In fact the rainforest is definitely one of the key differences between Antigua and Anguilla. Antigua has a lush rainforest-clad interior unlike Anguilla, which opens up opportunities for wildlife-spotting, hiking and more.
For something cultural and more serene, think about a trip to Nelson’s Dockyard Museum. There you’ll learn about the island’s rich history.
So What’s The Verdict?
Both are great destinations for activities.
But Anguilla feels more like a nature-oriented island, so if you’re looking for activities like snorkeling, kayaking, or horse-riding in serene surroundings, then Anguilla would be a fantastic choice.
Antigua is laid back and peaceful too, but probably has more opportunities for adventurous activities such as island hopping, jungle-trekking, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, alongside cultural excursions and typical beach activities.
Which Is The Cheaper Destination?
Which Has Cheaper Travel Expenses?
Public transport in Antigua can be hit and miss depending on where you are on the island. However buses are cheap and frequent in the southwest and southern parts of the island, making beach hopping easy. In the north there is much less public transport, and in some cases none between resorts.
Therefore the best way to navigate Antigua is probably by renting a car or taxi. If going by taxi you will have to negotiate fees with the driver before you get into the cab as the price will vary depending on the distance covered.
Traveling around Anguilla can be done either by rental cars, taxis, or bicycles. Some companies rent bikes for as little as $10/day, and some hotels offer this service along with their packages. Taxis are expensive in Anguilla, and it will be a lot cheaper to rent a car for your stay which is what most tourists do.
Which Has Cheaper Food & Accommodation?
The rate for accommodation in Anguilla and Antigua depends on the size, amenities, and location of your hotel.
In general, resorts and hotels tend to be more expensive in Anguilla than Antigua. You can get budget options in both, such as Airbnb rentals starting at around $50.
In fact Anguilla is regarded as one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean, so eating out and accommodation is typically cheaper in Antigua.
One of the best ways to show the difference in the price between these two islands is what we call the beer test! Expect to pay around 2-3 USD for a large beer in Antigua, but around 2-3x more than that in Anguilla.
So Which Is The Cheaper Destination Overall?
There’s an easy winner here. Antigua is a much cheaper destination than Anguilla when it comes to accommodation and eating out.
In some parts of the island you can also cheaply use public transport. So if you’ve got an eye on your budget when planning your trip, Antigua may be the better choice than Anguilla.
How Does The Culture Compare?
Both islands have that famous laid-back island lifestyle we all secretly dream about.
There are only around 15,000 people on the island, and because of this, almost everyone knows everyone on Anguilla! That also makes Anguilla one of the safest islands in the Caribbean.
Get ready to be greeted by lots of locals and enjoy the warmth and hospitality that they’re famous for.
Anguilla is laid back, relaxed, and no one is in a rush. However the small fishing village of Island Harbor can get a little lively thanks to its many restaurants, hotels, exquisite beaches, and excellent harbor!
This place comes to life every day when the fishermen unload their daily catch. Our tip is to ask around and see if you can find a fisherman who will take you to one of the secluded nearby bays.
Antigua is also a friendly, welcoming and safe island, which has that famous laid-back Caribbean atmosphere we all want to experience when on holiday.
Around 95% of Antiguans are descendants of African slaves, so the culture has heavy African influences, as well as British influences due to colonialism.
The Antigua Carnival has its roots in the abolition of slavery, and is therefore a happy, fun and colorful festival that takes place during July. Expect street parties, fantastic street food, and parades when Carnival comes to town!
For those keen to learn more about Antigua’s past, then head to the 18th century Nelson’s Dockyard in Saint Paul Parish. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to centuries old colonial buildings, and a maritime museum that documents the turbulent times around Antigua. It also remains the only continuously working Georgian dockyard on the planet!
Which Has The Better Resorts?
You can’t really go wrong with resorts on either island, as both have a selection of chain resorts, as well as independent boutique hotels. With both islands boasting stunning scenery and some of the best beaches in the world, you can find resorts with breathtaking views and beachside views on each island.
As a small island with a small population, you will find fewer accommodation options in Anguilla. Therefore resorts tend to be more expensive in Anguilla than in Antigua.
Turtle’s Nest Beach Resort in Anguilla is well worth looking into. The private villas at this resort sit on a gorgeous stretch of beach and it’s easily one of the most beautiful accommodation options around, and for a reasonable price too. See photos and rates here.
Another option is the five-star Cap Juluca which is a chic beachfront resort set on a white sand beach. It’s known on Anguilla for being one of the most luxurious accommodation options, and while it is pricey, you can expect celebrity treatment. See photos and rates here.
If you’re swaying towards Antigua then check out Carlisle Bay Antigua. This five-star resort has the best of both worlds as it’s set against a rainforest backdrop but sits on the beachfront as well. It’s also got a tennis court, eight restaurants & bars, and many seaside activities! See photos and rates here.
Or if you’re looking for something unique, the Royalton Antigua has the only overwater bungalows on the island they’re absolutely perfect for romantic vacations and honeymoons. See photos and rates here.
Anguilla Or Antigua: Which Is The Better Choice?
You can’t go wrong with a holiday to either island, but there are several differences that could sway your vacation decision.
Anguilla’s beaches are picture perfect with warm shallow water and white soft sand. In our opinion the beaches are better there than in Antigua, and there tends to be less tourists too. So if beaches are your priority, and you’re looking for tranquility, then Anguilla may be the better choice than Antigua.
However there are less accomodation options in Anguilla and hotels and resorts tend to be more expensive than Antigua.
The beaches in Antigua are fantastic too, but where this island really excels is the range of activities on offer. So if you’re looking for sun, sea, sand, but with a touch of adventure and all for a good price, then Antigua may be the better choice than Anguilla.