Deciding whether Antigua vs Aruba is better for your next Caribbean getaway can be difficult if you haven’t been to either of them before.
While these islands might seem similar, having spent time in both Aruba and Antigua, they have quite a few differences.
Both islands have beautiful views, rich history, and plenty of things to do, but Aruba has more food options and Antigua has more adventure activity options.
Let’s find out if Aruba or Antigua is a better fit for you!
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Antigua vs Aruba Overview
Before we dive into an in-depth comparison from my time on both islands, here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from each island:
Cost of Stay
Generally, both islands are pricey due to their popularity and limited resources. Still, it tends to be easier to find luxury on a budget in Aruba vs Antigua.
Antigua Cost of Stay
Despite its more local and rugged vibes, a holiday in Antigua is more expensive than Aruba.
The lack of reliable public transport increases the cost of transportation in Antigua, as you’ll have to rent a car or take a taxi to get around the island.
Food and accommodation are more expensive for more basic options in Antigua compared to Aruba.
But, it’s worth the extra cost if you’re looking for a more authentic Caribbean experience with fewer tourists.
Aruba Cost of Stay
Aruba is known as a luxury destination, popular with honeymooners coming to spend a week in an all-inclusive resort.
Still, Aruba offers something for every type of traveller, and I found it cheaper to visit than Antigua.
While you can stay in luxurious resorts, there are also budget-friendly accommodation options.
Instead of dining in touristy restaurants, you can opt for local spots to reduce costs.
Most popular attractions in Aruba are free.
And if you don’t have a car, you can easily get around the island by public transport.
Best Things to Do
Both Antigua and Aruba are Caribbean islands best known for their beaches.
However, there are plenty of things to do on the islands beyond swimming and sipping cocktails.
Antigua Things to Do
If you like cultural experiences, Antigua’s capital St John is a charming colonial-style town where you can see how the locals live.
Also, you should visit the UNESCO site – Antigua Naval Dockyard.
Shirley Heights Lookout is the most Instagramable spot on the island, overlooking the famous English Harbour. And my favourite hike on the island.
Sunday night is when locals come to Shirley Heights to party, so plan your Antigua itinerary to enjoy that unique local nightlife experience. Or skip it if parties aren’t your vibe. I visited outside of Sunday and had a quieter time.
You can’t come to a tropical island and not go on a boat tour. There are many catamaran tours in Antigua to choose from sunset boat cruises to snorkelling tours.
And Antigua is a great hiking destination, with many rainforest trails.
Aruba Things to Do
While there aren’t many picturesque towns on the island apart from Oranjestad and San Nicholas, there are countless fun outdoor activities and non-touristy things to do in Aruba!
Aruba is best known for its beautiful landscapes, so the best things to do include exploring Arikok National Park, seeing the island’s unique rock formations like the Ayo Rock Formation, and admiring the Natural Bridge.
Going on a boat tour is a great way to see the island from a different perspective!
If you have time, you can see flamingos on private islands like Renaissance Island and De Palm Island.
Bushiribana Ruins are the spot for history lovers, as you’ll see this historic gold mill dating back to the 19th century.
California Lighthouse is another iconic landmark to visit.
Both Aruba and Antigua offer some spectacular adventure activities!
Antigua Adventure Activities
Antigua is a great diving and snorkelling destination, with plenty of shipwrecks and coral reefs to explore.
Black’s Point was my favourite spot for diving in Antigua, with colourful fish and bright-coloured coral.
You can also swim with stingrays in Antigua, which is a real bucket list experience!
Another popular adventure activity in Antigua is zip-lining through the rainforest. And it is on the top of my wishlist for the next time I visit Antigua.
You can also take a buggy tour and explore the island off the beaten path.
For adrenaline junkies, there are also cliff-jumping and parasailing options available. As you can see, Antigua is better for adventure lovers.
Aruba Adventure Activities
Adventurers can enjoy trying windsurfing at the famous Fishermen’s Huts. Aruba gets a lot of wind, making it a great destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
A fun way to enjoy Aruba’s rugged terrain is to go on an ATV tour through the island’s desert landscape. Or hike if you are up for it.
Naturally, Aruba is a great diving and snorkelling destination, with lively marine life to discover.
Landscapes & Beaches
While both Antigua and Aruba are Caribbean islands, they are not neighbouring islands.
In fact, these two islands have quite a different landscape.
Antigua Landscapes & Beaches
Antigua is a lush green and hilly island known for its 365 beaches, enough for one for every day of the year!
Some of the most beautiful beaches are Dickenson Bay and Half Moon Bay. You can also go snorkelling from the shore in Antigua on Galleon Beach and look for turtles.
Thanks to its forested areas, this tropical island is also a great destination for those who enjoy exploring the outdoors.
The rainforest offers numerous opportunities for hiking, trekking, and wildlife spotting.
Aruba Landscapes & Beaches
Aruba boasts some of the most beautiful beaches among the Caribbean islands.
Eagle Beach is considered the best beach in Aruba, with its characteristic white sand and turquoise waters. You’ll recognize the beach by its iconic Fofoti tree, a spiral tree growing in the sand.
Other beaches that should be on your Aruban itinerary include Palm Beach, Baby Beach, and Natural Pool (Conchi) within Arikok National Park.
Arikok National Park covers almost 20% of Aruba land, and it is well worth a visit. I loved exploring this desert landscape and seeing the giant cacti!
Finally, Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations are some of the most unique landmarks in otherwise flat Aruba island.
Antigua and Aruba are relatively nearby, but far enough to have slightly different climates.
Depending on what time of the year you’re travelling, one might be a better option than the other!
Antigua experiences a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round, similar to Barbados and most Caribbean islands.
The dry season runs from December to May, while the rainy season is from June to November.
Mid-August to mid-October has the highest risk of hurricanes, so you’ll probably want to avoid those months.
Meanwhile, Aruba is known for its consistently warm and sunny weather all year.
The island sits outside the hurricane belt, so it is a good option at any time of the year. Its year-round good consistent temperatures and less rain makes Aruba a better pick for weather over Barbados and Antigua.
If you’re travelling during the summer holidays, Aruba is a better choice for guaranteed beach days during the Caribbean’s hurricane season from June to November.
If you like Creol cuisine, you’ll love the food on both islands. However, different influences created different dishes.
Antigua’s national dish is fungie, a cornmeal dish usually served for breakfast.
Antigua cuisine is very meat-heavy, with the most popular dishes being chicken jerky, goat water stew, and grilled seafood. The seafood is more expensive, but it was delicious!
If you like tropical fruits, you must try the local black pineapple. It is said to be the sweetest pineapple variety!
Aruba’s cuisine is a blend of Dutch, South American, and Caribbean influences, and I like it better than the food in Antigua (except the seafood).
Aruba’s national dish is Keshi Yena, a large ball of cheese usually stuffed with chicken. And Pastechis are a popular Aruban snack (that I quite enjoyed), fried pastry filled with meat and vegetables.
However, you won’t have problems finding any cuisine in Aruba, as the island has endless restaurants serving world cuisine and popular restaurant chains.
Culture & Vibe
Both Antigua and Aruba are Caribbean islands, but they are over 1000 km from each other and have quite a different culture.
The islands also attract different types of tourists, resulting in an overall different vibe.
Out of these two islands, Antigua offers a more authentic experience.
Unlike Aruba, Antigua is still largely uncommercialized. It offers plenty of local areas to enjoy the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. I really liked this to be able to find places to myself and when I wanted to socialize we were invited to hangout with locals.
Antigua attracts tourists who want to escape the crowds and are willing to spend more on experiences, transportation, and accommodation.
Aruba is a popular tourist destination, and it can feel less authentic than Antigua.
While Aruba is a Dutch overseas territory, it is quite Americanized and commercialized. But definitely doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.
Aruba attracts holidaymakers and honeymooners with large resorts, chain restaurants, lively nightlife, and lots of shopping.
You certainly won’t be bored here, as there is always something to do!
While both islands offer numerous all-inclusive resorts, those travelling on a budget will be glad to know there are also many affordable accommodation options to consider.
Antigua Affordable Accommodations
There are several all-inclusive resorts in Antigua, but not as many as in Aruba.
Also, you won’t find a block of large, high-rise buildings on the beaches. Instead, there are more charming, rustic options to choose from.
I stayed in 3 different accommodations across Antigua and found many unique options.
Plan to stay in English Harbour or St.John’s for cheaper accommodations. However, you will pay more for places with limited facilities in Antigua vs Aruba.
Aruba Affordable Accommodations
You will find a wide array of accommodation in Aruba.
Most resorts are around Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, from luxurious 5-star resorts to more budget-friendly options.
You’ll find more affordable accommodation as you go further from the beaches. I stayed in Oranjestad and it was perfect to be near public transit and closer to the airport.
However, even high-rise resorts lining the beaches can have great promo deals during the non-peak season if you’re on a budget.
The ease of getting around the island is another factor to consider when planning your vacation.
Antigua is a bigger island than Aruba, with a land surface of 281 km2 compared to 180 km2.
Neither of the islands is small enough to be walkable, but how easy is it to get around?
Public transport in Antigua is not well developed, so the island is better enjoyed by car.
Taxis can get quite expensive, so you’ll want to rent a car. With a rental car, you have the freedom to explore the island.
Antigua has great roads, and you’ll be fine with most vehicles. I rented a Kia Vitz, and it was a great car to get around the island.
If you’re used to driving on the right side of the road like us, driving in Antigua might be complicated at first as they drive on the left.
One thing I found interesting is how in Antigua license plates start with letters according to what they are: R – for rental, C – for commercial, B – for bus, and T – for taxi. Which does make it easier to know what van is a taxi and which is a bus, but also makes it easy to know who has a rental (and there are a lot of rentals).
If you prefer getting around by public transport, you’ll have more luck in Aruba.
A bus is an affordable and reliable way to get around Aruba, with bus lines running daily from 5:45 am to 11:30 pm to most tourist areas.
You can also rent a car in Aruba to explore the island without worrying about the bus schedule. The main roads are well maintained, but driving in remote areas can be more challenging.
I only rented a car for 1 day in Aruba to get around the National Park, as I found that you can reach most places by bus.
Aruba vs Antigua FAQs
Is Antigua Nicer Than Aruba?
Antigua is nicer than Aruba if you like lush and hilly landscapes away from the crowds. Aruba is nicer if you like beaches and more options for where to stay and where to eat.
What is the Difference Between Antigua and Aruba?
The differences between Antigua and Aruba are many. Aruba is flatter, more commercialized, and tends to be cheaper to visit than Antigua.
How Similar are Aruba and Antigua?
Aruba and Antigua are similar in the way that they both offer an unforgettable Caribbean vacation. They both have a great vibe, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, and are easy to get to from North America.
So, Is Antigua or Aruba Better for Your Next Vacation?
Whether Antigua or Aruba is better, will depend on your personal preferences.
Aruba is a better choice for those looking for an island with different price-point options, reliable public transport, lively nightlife, and white sand beaches.
Antigua is more expensive but offers a more authentic Caribbean island experience with remote rainforest-covered areas less visited by tourists.
For me, the winner is Antigua because of the underwater scenery, but I really liked Arikok Park in Aruba. Whichever you choose, I’m sure you’ll have a great time like I did!
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