Last updated on December 27th, 2022 at 10:57 pm
Antigua vs Aruba is another conundrum in the battle of which island should I go to in the Caribbean. And while both are some of the best Caribbean trips to do with incomparable blue beaches, they each have a distinct vacation feel in them. Read here Aruba vs Bahamas and Aruba vs Cancun
When planning between Antigua vs Aruba, you can think of how quiet you want to have. While Aruba has some of the big names when it comes to luxury resorts, more parties, and fun activities, Antigua has the exclusivity of being the remote island getaway, with various hotels to choose from, without needing to be all together in one place.
Comparing Antigua vs Aruba
Antigua is the ultimate romantic Caribbean vacation away from it all, a perfect paradise with its greenery and beautiful beaches, while Aruba is the noisier, party Americanised version of Antigua (albeit a Dutch colony) with its arid climate and its hotels, beaches, and bars. Both are exquisite in their beauty while giving you different styles of vacation.
For a family vacation, we suggest Aruba. For a romantic getaway, you might love Antigua better!
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Things to do in Antigua
Saint John’s – Antigua’s Capital
St. John’s is the capital and key port of Antigua. It is home to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, with exhibits on indigenous tribes and plantation life. St. John’s Cathedral, a 19th-century Anglican church, is on a hill near the 17th-century Government House.
Public Beaches in Antigua
Grace Bay is famous for its long stretch of soft white sand and beautiful blue water.
Another area in Antigua is great for snorkeling with all the corals (see the name) that you can see here.
If you’re closer to the northwestern part of the island and is perfect if you’re looking for the more developed part of the island. With hotels, restaurants, and water activities.
Located by Crab Hill, is one of the bluest beaches on the island, and if you’re in this part or have time to visit, it’s totally not to miss.
Deep Bay Beach
A shipwreck off the coast of this long beach makes it a popular snorkeling & swimming destination.
Buccaneer Cove Beach
Buccaneer Cove Beach located at St. John’s, is most popular for the strong winds that its gets in its location, perfect for windsurfing. The waters are blue and shallow, a perfect situation for different levels of windsurfing. If it’s just lounging you want to do, Buccaneer Cove Beach is good for this as well.
Carlisle Bay Beach
Located at Old Road Village, Carlisle Bay Beach is good for snorkeling.
A lot of high-end resorts around the Hawksbill area in Antigua will have their own access to the beach, however, Hawksbill is actually a public beach. With a bit of a walk, you should be able to enjoy all of what Hawksbill Beaches have to offer.
- Honeymoon Cove
- Sea Grape Beach
- Eden Beach
- Royal Palm Beach
Galleon Beach / Galley Beach
Peaceful, scenic beach set in English Harbour, known for its snorkeling & turtle sightings.
Hiking to the Shirley Heights Lookout
Restored military lookout & gun battery with panoramic views, famous for its weekly party.
Superyacht dock, Falmouth Harbour is a horseshoe-shaped bay and natural harbour on the far south coast of the island of Antigua in Antigua and Barbuda. It is located within Saint Paul Parish.
English Harbour is a natural harbour and settlement on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, in the extreme south of the island. The settlement takes its name from the nearby harbour in which the Royal Navy established its base of operations for the area during the eighteenth century.
Nelson’s Dockyard National Park
Don’t miss seeing the heritage part of Antigua. Nelson’s Dockyard is one of the top things to visit in Antigua.
A hiking trail leads to the stone remains of this centuries-old hilltop fort offering bay views.
Darby’s Cave is perhaps the most interesting natural feature of Barbuda. It is not a true cavern, but a vertical-sided sinkhole formed by solution below ground.
Things to do in Aruba – Aruba vs Antigua
Aruba is a 21-mile-long country that sits in the Southern Caribbean, very close to South America. When visiting Aruba, you’ll most likely be flying into the country via its only international airport, Queen Beatrix International Airport, in Oranjestad.
You can easily expect some of the world’s best beaches in Aruba, just as in the rest of the Caribbean, and Antigua. Compared to Antigua’s humidity with its climate, Aruba is outside the typhoon belt, and with its arid climate, generally, any time of the year is a good time to visit the country.
Let’s look at Aruba’s best things to do in this Caribbean series.
One of the most popular beaches in Aruba, the Eagle Beach. A lot of resorts are here, but it’s definitely the place to be and see in Aruba. It’s one of the best beaches in the world, and you can’t deny it, once you see it. Make sure to not miss it.
Divi Divi Trees
The Divi Divi tree (or Watapana Tree) is the most unique thing in Aruba, and is known as Aruba’s compass. Once you find the Divi Divi tree, you’ll know that it’s always pointing in the Southwestern direction. It’s one of the most unique things in Aruba, and definitely something to see!
Another beach in Aruba to see is Baby Beach or Klein Lagoon. It is a shallow, sheltered man-altered lagoon located in the Mangle Cora locality near the village of Seroe Colorado, on the southwest side of the southeast end of the island of Aruba. It is frequented by locals and tourists.
Hiking in the Arikok National Park
The beautiful Arikok National Park in Aruba comprises almost 20% of the island. Enjoy gorgeous vistas of Aruba’s rugged terrain, desert-like hills filled with tall cacti, and a breathtaking coastline, and protect native flora and fauna.
The National Park takes you on a memorable journey of the island’s past offering unique geological, cultural and historical sites. These can all be enjoyed and explored either on your own or during guided tours. A wide variety of educational and informative programs and fun activities are available.
Conchi Natural Pools
Experience true adventure at Aruba’s most remote, yet also most popular natural attraction, the famous Natural Pool.
In a unique rock formation, volcanic stone circles a small depression, creating a tranquil pool: Aruba’s Natural Pool.
On a deserted stretch of coastline, dramatic shows of water spraying over the rock occur on a regular basis as the tide rushes to shore. The unique natural pool is also known as ‘Conchi’ (bowl) or ‘Cura di Tortuga’ (Turtles Cove) and is located inside Aruba’s national park Arikok.
The location of the Pool is surrounded by some of Aruba’s most rugged terrain, so a visitor truly gets the feeling of having “discovered” something when they reach the site, by either foot, horseback or 4×4 vehicle. Because of the nature of the environment in this secluded area, the site is inaccessible by a regular car. Inexperienced drivers are encouraged to visit the pool on a Jeep Safari.
During the day small snacks and drinks are sold at the top of the stairs that lead to the Natural Pool.
The Quadiriki Caves are located in Arikok National Park on the island of Aruba. There are three caves, which tourists commonly explore. The caves are located at the base of a limestone cliff. They contain Amerindian petroglyphs. The name of the caves is of Arawak origin
Scuba Diving in Punta Basora
One of the top areas for scuba diving in Aruba is Punta Basora. Punta Basora is the easternmost point of Aruba, from which a narrow reef stretches far out into the sea. On calm days, divers will see tuna, ballyhoo, eagle rays, stingrays, barracudas, dorados, hammerhead sharks and hawksbill and loggerhead turtles pass by on their way around this point of the island.
Snorkeling in Tres Papi
Tres Trapi (meaning “three steps”) is a tiny sandy cove nestled in the rocky northwestern shore of Aruba. The 10-meter long beach is accessible by three rustic steps carved into the rock, after which the site has been named. Tres Trapi has white sand, grey cliff, and pristine placid waters, where hundreds of red cushion starfish lay on the seafloor, making it one of the favorites and most photogenic snorkeling spots of the island
Palm Beach is a resort area on the northern coast of Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean island. It’s known for its calm waters and long sandy strip lined with bars and restaurants. To its south, the lush Bubali Bird Sanctuary has an observation tower and is home to herons and other migratory birds. Nearby is the Old Dutch Windmill, imported in the 1960s, and the Butterfly Farm, with free-flying butterflies in a jungle enclosure.
Flamingos in Renaissance island / Renaissance Island / Flamingo Beach
Leave the cares of the world behind as you venture over to a private island complimentary to Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino guests. Renaissance Island features Aruba’s only private beaches and is just an 8-minute water taxi ride away. Here lies a true oasis with family-friendly beaches or beaches just for adults.
Pamper yourself at the private Spa Cove, play a game of beach tennis, sit down to the delicious lunch specials at Papagayo Bar & Grill or have a drink at our newly added Mangrove Beach Bar, or just lie back and let the sun caress you. A day on Renaissance Island is a day well spent.
If you’re in time, watch Aruba’s Aruba Hi-Winds 2022 Open Caribbean Championships
Kitesurfing is a popular activity at this windy beach with waves, turquoise water & a serene vibe. Boca Grandi is a very popular location for this.
This small, secluded bay with a sandy white beach offers swimming & snorkeling
The California Lighthouse is a lighthouse located at Hudishibana near Arashi Beach and the Sasariwichi dunes on the northwest tip of Aruba. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891.
Wariruri Beach is located at Wariruri Bay, a sandy cove surrounded by a rocky coastline consisting of limestone, worn out by the sea.
Other gorgeous natural bridges can be found in the southern part of the island near Black Stone Beach where you’ll find a unique tripod bridge.
Hiking in Aruba
Now, one of the most unique things in Aruba is that not only does it have amazing blue waters, it also has good hiking trails. Below are 3 of Aruba’s most popular hiking trails.
- Hooiberg Hiking Trail
- Arikok Mountain
- Alto Vista Trail
Dos Playa (two beaches) is a pair of bordering coves carved out of the island’s limestone. One cove is a go-to for island surfers, with a broad white-sand beach for sunbathing or relaxing under the shade of the sea-grape trees.
Manchebo Beach is a wide stretch of beach on the most western point of the island (just after Eagle Beach), located in the low-rise hotel area in front of the Manchebo Beach Resort. The beach area offers a combination of exciting waves, due to converging currents, and calm waters.
No-frills bay beach enclosed by coral cliffs, with powerful currents for bodyboarders
Mangel Halto is a small beach located in Pos Chiquito, which you will find on your way to San Nicolas. The beach is surrounded by mangroves and is a favorite among locals for a relaxing day on the beach. Mangel Halto is also known as a perfect snorkeling and shore-diving spot due to the calm and shallow waters.
San Nicolaas is 19 kilometers southeast of Oranjestad and is Aruba’s second-largest city. As of 2010, it has a population of 15,283, most of whom originate from the British Caribbean and the rest of the Caribbean
Fishing in Aruba
If we missed any more water activities, fishing is also possible in these local or tourist boats in Aruba! If it’s a big hobby of yours, don’t miss doing it in Aruba’s incredibly blue waters.
BEST TIME TO VISIT – Antigua vs Aruba
Best Time to Visit Aruba
In Aruba their summer (December to April), there are fewer showers of rain than normal. In their winter (May to November), the rains are almost non-stop. For most tourists best time to visit Aruba is from December to April because of easier transport.
Best Time to Visit Antigua
Antigua, despite its tropical weather, doesn’t get as much rain. Still, its humidity is much more than Aruba, making climate one of their difference.
The best time to visit Antigua is from December to April, during its peak seasons. These are the months when it is winter in Europe, and perfect for a Caribbean escape. For lower prices, you can still visit during the island’s off season on May to November – still a beautiful vacation with lower prices!
In Antigua and Barbuda their summer (December to April), there are fewer showers of rain than normal. In their winter (May to November), the rains are almost non-stop. For most tourists best time to visit Antigua and Barbuda is from December to April because of easier transport.
Cash and ATMs in Antigua
The currency of Antigua and Barbuda is the East Caribbean Dollar $1 USD=$2.70 ECD. If you are bringing USD you can use them while traveling around Antigua and Barbuda no need to exchange them in the islands.
Bank or debit cards in an ATM are the recommended way to access your funds while traveling in Antigua and Barbuda. Know real-time currency exchange here!
Budget in Antigua and Barbuda
You can find local meals in Antigua and Barbuda for around $5 USD per person. At lunch you might want a chicken sandwich for $10 USD salad, burger and pizza with a fresh fruit drink for $20 USD. You can have a budget of $20 USD a day enough decent meals in Antigua and Barbuda if you go for street food and free breakfast.
If you want to know more about immigration to Antigua & Barbuda, you can find relevant information at buygoldenvisa.com
Accommodation in Antigua and Barbuda
Final Thoughts – Which Vacation is Better, Antigua or Aruba?
Which one will you finally choose? For us, the winner is Antigua. Antigua’s lush greenery, beautiful remote beaches, and being away from the crowd, all of this just spell a perfect Caribbean vacation for us. Aruba of course puts up a good fight, and if its big hotels, beautiful picturesque beaches, and family getaways you want, this might fit you better. Prices could be higher in Aruba, so check all that you need!
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