Two often overlooked Caribbean islands, Anguilla and Antigua are the perfect intimate getaway. Without the large crowds and heavy development, these two rely on their raw beauty to entice you.
But they’re more than just their pristine beaches. And in this article, you’ll see why Antigua and Anguilla are not islands to ignore for a trip to the Caribbean.
Any beach lover would perk up at the thought of Antigua’s 365 pristine beaches. A true tropical paradise, the island’s versatile beaches are enough to reel you in. But there are plenty of other compelling reasons to take your Caribbean getaway to Antigua.
There’s plenty of excitement for the outdoor enthusiast, the beach bum, the daredevil, and everyone in between. With no shortage of things to do and sights to behold, you’ll never get bored in Antigua.
What Makes Antigua Unique?
A Beach for Every Day of the Year
Antigua’s incredible beaches are what make it a topical paradise for all. Views of powder white sand, crystal clear sapphire waters, swaying palm trees, and the calm Caribbean sea are what you’d expect. But what’s surprising about Antigua is that it’s home to 365 beaches!
If you were to flock to Antigua, you’d never run out of a new beach to discover. But visiting each one is impossible for most, so you’d want to narrow down your beach options.
All sides of the island have inviting waters to reel you in. But here are the beach highlights of every coast.
As the island’s well-developed side, the northwest coast is where you’d find the most popular and animated beaches of Antigua. Two of which are Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay.
These two provide the full resort experience. Restaurants and bars back up the platinum shores for some cocktails with oceanfront views. For something a little more active, water sports are easily accessible here too.
Hawksbill is another excellent choice, boasting a series of four crescent-like beaches. If you want a nude sunbathing experience, this is the only official nudist beach on the island.
Southwest and South Coast
While the beaches here are less developed than those on the northwest coast, they’re the best for a people-free beach day. The southwest coast of the island is hilly, so they’re a delight for outdoor enthusiasts too.
If you want the entire beach to yourself, Rendezvous Bay or Dogis Beach is for you. These quiet beaches are only accessible by a footpath or a four-wheel drive.
Nelson’s Dockyard and Pigeon Point are two uncrowded beaches with a little more life. They’re great for afternoon drinks at local beach bars by the shore.
If you’re heading to the east coast, don’t miss out on one of the world’s most spectacular crescent-shaped white-sand beaches, Half Moon Bay. A spectacular, family-friendly beach is Long Bay. The waves here are calm, even for small children, as it’s protected by barrier reefs.
Thriving Water Sports Scene
A tropical getaway is never complete without enjoying yourself with some water sports. And in Antigua, you can do just about everything. From boogie boarding to kitesurfing, you can relish the sun, sand, sea, and wind to your heart’s content here.
But among all the water sports options you have, three of them stand out the most on this island. Snorkeling and scuba diving are excellent in Antigua for you to discover the thriving marine life beneath the waters. But due to the island’s topography, it’s a top sailing and kayaking destination.
If this has gotten you excited, here’s a little more on each water sport.
Antigua is one of the best Caribbean islands for sailing. And if you’ve got time, you can sail around the island in a day! Antigua only has a circumference of 55 miles (89 km), with several anchorages throughout your journey. This gives you a stunning view of the coastal landscape, and the only thing left to do is to decide between a speedboat, yacht, or catamaran.
The best boat tours often include onboard barbecues and rum punch to fuel your tummy. Some also have snorkeling stops, such as Rendezvous Bay and the Pillars of Hercules.
For a more hands-on experience, some local companies offer accredited sailing courses. You’d learn the basics of sailing, and you’d take control of the boat too!
For something more cultured, you can take part in Antigua’s famous Sailing Week. Every end of April, you’d find hundreds of yachts on Falmouth Harbor to celebrate events and take part in races.
Antigua has a delightful series of glistening seas and calm bays for kayaking. But with its interesting topography, you can also challenge yourself through mangrove swamps.
A popular spot for this is on the southwestern side. There’s an intricate maze of channels here through mangrove swamps, perfect for a scenic ecotour. You won’t get lost though as there are strategically-placed signs to take you in the right direction.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Life beneath the waters is busy and colorful in Antigua. Swim with hawksbill turtles and reef sharks as you go through vast reefs and wrecks. If you know where to look, you’d get a magical time underwater in Antigua.
On the southwest lies Cades Bay, considered to be one of the best snorkel spots in the Caribbean. Beneath the blue waters here is a 3-mile-long expanse (3 kilometers) of pink coral reef. It’s home to a myriad of wildlife, such as barracuda, moray eels, and nurse sharks.
Close to St. Johns is Deep Bay, a lesser-known diving spot. While it’s only 30 feet deep (9 meters), it’s home to the shipwreck of the Andes. This sunken structure is now a shelter for turtles, stingrays, and a plethora of other wildlife.
Loads of Inland Fun
If you want to take a break from the beach, Antigua ensures that every tourist has plenty to do away from the shores. Whether you want to dabble in sports, immerse yourself in nature, or try your luck at casinos, Antigua has an answer to your whims.
Play like a local and head out to play Antigua’s national sport, cricket. While there are plenty of cricket spots here, Island B-Hive makes it a bit more fun. There are loads of food vendors in the area, so you can drink beers and eat local snacks as you hear bats swinging in the background.
Horseback riding is also big on the island. With Island Routes, you’ll get a ride through the 18th-century Fort James and stroll along the white-sand beaches. The tour ends with a dip in the blue waters while you’re still on your horse.
If you want a heart-racing tour through Antigua’s lush forests, you’re in luck. Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour has 12 zip lines through the rainforest canopy. The lines are between 52 to 328 feet (16 to 100 meters) long, ranging from simple to challenging.
If you’d rather let go on an adventure by foot, hiking in Antigua is a delightful treat. Being a small island, you’re never really far from civilization. But it also makes you feel like you’ve discovered an uninhabited gem.
One of the best spots to hike up to is Boggy Peak, Antigua’s highest point. The hike is a constant uphill walk, with lush tropical vegetation along the way. Once you’re at the summit, you’ll find a stunning panoramic view of the island, with the sparkling coastline from afar.
You can cap your day off at any of Antigua’s standalone casinos. Boardwalk Casino, Paradise Casino, and King’s Casino are some of the local favorites. But you can take this to a whole new level at Casino Royale, Antigua’s first resort casino.
Antigua’s topography is of partly volcanic and partly coral origins. This creates a diverse landscape, lush with tropical forests combined with pops of colors from the flora and wildlife.
The highlight of the island’s physical beauty is Shirley Heights. This iconic spot sits 490 ft (149 meters) above Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour, giving you a stunning view of the bay’s turquoise waters. If you’re visiting on a clear day, you can even see Montserrat from afar.
As with any other spot, the best time to head over to Shirley Heights is at sunset. Watch as the sky gives the waters and shore a magical amber hue. This spot is even more exciting every Sunday as the Sunset Party fills the area with smokes from barbecue grills, drum beats, and lots of rum.
Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for gorgeous landmarks, you’ll come to appreciate Antigua’s charms. The island’s fascinating history and natural beauty are a winning combination for any tourist. So there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities for everyone!
The English Harbour may be a major tourist attraction for its scenery. But it’s also historical eye candy, as it’s home to the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. This is Antigua’s largest national park system and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The site contains the Dockyard Museum, which was once the Admiral’s House. There’s a working dockyard and marina here, as well as hotels in 18th- and 19th-century buildings.
Not only that, but you’ll also find the 17th-century Fort George and 18th-century Fort Berkeley here. The famous Shirley Heights also lies here, and it was once a military lookout point.
You don’t have to stray far from the capital to get a historic tour too. St. John’s Redcliffe Quay, a waterfront shopping district. Lining the area are 19th-century buildings, painted in primary colors and tropical pastels.
The 19th-century St. John’s Cathedral is also another historic attraction in the capital. And so is Betty’s Hope, the ruins of one of Antigua’s first sugar plantations.
Among the Caribbean islands, Anguilla is a nice change of pace for any tourist. The island offers an authentic Caribbean experience along with its untouched natural beauty. With a relaxed vibe throughout the year, Anguilla’s rustic charm draws in those who seek an escape from their busy lifestyle.
What Makes Anguilla Unique?
Anguilla isn’t widely considered a tropical paradise for nothing. And much like a siren call, they reel in tourists from all around the globe. With the iconic Caribbean palette of turquoise waters and white sands, Anguilla’s beaches are the type to grace postcards.
Despite its gorgeous beaches, Anguilla seems to stay under the radar. Thus, it’s the perfect place for a tropical retreat as its beaches don’t get crowded. You’d have all the shore space to yourself to soak in the island’s pristine beaches.
And with 33 beaches on the island, you’re bound to find one that’s right up your alley. But setting foot on the island’s famous spots is a must, as they are the epitome of Anguilla’s beaches.
The crescent-shaped Rendezvous Bay is an obligatory stop for every tourist. The laid-back vibes on this strip of white sand are what make it a popular spot for unwinding. The colorful reggae beach bars on the shore add to this, making afternoon drinking by the shore a delight.
A more secluded beach option is Little Bay, a romantic spot for couples. It also packs a ton of adventure, and jumping off the Little Bay Rock is a must-do on this beach.
For the thrill seeker in you, Shoal Bay Beach is one of the more lively beaches in Anguilla. There are loads of water sports opportunities here, such as snorkeling and windsurfing.
A Tropical Playground
Despite welcoming thousands of tourists on its shores yearly, Anguilla is not overly developed. Instead of glamorous establishments, the island allows its raw beauty to shine through. With this, Anguilla is a gorgeous backdrop to all your escapades.
The underwater view of the island is impeccable, with wildlife filling the blue waters like confetti. But your thrilling escapades don’t end on Antigua’s platinum shores. Its interiors are just as vibrant and lush with tropical greenery to brave through.
While you can go for every water sport under the sun here, Anguilla is best known for its kitesurfing scene. It has a reputation for being one of the best places in the world to learn this sport. This is all thanks to the plethora of kitesurfing schools throughout the island.
Loads of highly qualified local instructions will guide you in soaring the skies. And if you’re already an experienced kitesurfer, they can even help you hone your skills even more!
Away from the shore and deep within the thick forests, Anguilla is a delight to explore by foot. The island has several hiking trails that display its fine tropical flora.
When it comes to hiking, no other spot can top Crocus Hill, the island’s highest point at 240 feet (73 meters). Meanwhile, the Limestone Bay trail goes through both bumpy paths and beachfront walks. Iguana Cave trail has a long cacti-lined rainforest path that takes you to a limestone cave with iguanas and bats.
If you really want to take advantage of the island’s landscape, then go for road cycling. Anguilla’s topography is quite flat, yet its gentle hills make cycling more fun.
The Electrifying Boat Racing Culture
Generally, cricket reigns as the supreme sport of the Caribbean islands. But in Anguilla, it doesn’t come close to their national sport, boat racing.
This water sport is deeply rooted in Anguilla’s culture. It was once a race to who could reunite with their families fastest, after months of working away from home. Now, it’s the island’s most celebrated sport, and you can even take part in it.
A hassle-free yet less exciting way for this is to watch the boats sail and come back to Sandy Ground. Another is by watching the spectacle from the Ocean Terrace, which is up on a cliff. No matter which one you choose, camaraderie and festive vibes will fill the air, even from afar.
A more intensive way to indulge in the island’s boat racing scene is to follow the boats! You can hire a taxi driver who’s willing to follow these boats by land. Though it won’t be hard as most locals are passionate about this sport.
You can drive around and meet with other spectators at vantage points throughout the island. Or, you can hire a boat, too, and get close to the action. This is a more fun option as you can chat around with the captain, and they may fill you in with some tactics too.
The last option is to board the boat itself and join the crew on the race! This isn’t for everyone, though, as it can be intense when you’re being flung from side to side on the journey. You’d get a ton of respect from the locals, though, when you tell them that you took part in this!
Offshore Hidden Gems
While there’s a ton to discover in the mainland’s nooks and crannies, Anguilla has offshore cays that offer you loads of excitement. While some are easily accessible, others have a tricky journey ahead to get to shore! Anguilla rewards the brave traveler, and if that’s you, here’s what you’d expect on its famous cays.
Only 15 minutes away from the mainland, Sandy Cay is a popular lunch spot offshore. There’s a small restaurant here that offers a wide lunch menu, using only the freshest local ingredients. It also offers cocktails, making it a scenic spot for some afternoon drinks!
Visiting the Prickly Pear is hitting two birds with one stone, as you’ll be exploring two islands. And while they have a more remote, wild vibe to them, they are nothing short of impressive. With rocky terrain and lush vegetation, it feels like a thrilling, undiscovered secret.
Only a stone’s throw away off the coast of Island Harbour, you can swim to Scilly Bay if you’d like! This tiny cay’s star feature is the waist-high conch shell walls around its perimeter. There’s also a restaurant here, known for its delicious seafood and affordable yet strong rum punch!
On the northwestern tip of the mainland lies this small, uninhabited island. This is a great spot for water sports, and you may even be lucky enough to swim with dolphins that often come here.
The interior of the island is rocky and filled with wild goats. Thus, it’s great for hikes too! You can explore the ruins of an old hotel here, as well as the wreck of an airplane.
You’re not going to find dogs here at Dog Island. Instead, you’re going to find over 10,000 birds here, including exotic Caribbean ones. This is what makes the island stand out from the others.
And because no one lives here, the island has a thriving, untouched ecology. Covering Dog Island are prickly pear plants, sea grapes, cacti, mangroves, and more. Its waters are also home to the rare Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green Sea turtles.
Anguilla’s relaxed atmosphere and uncrowded shores attract those who want a peaceful retreat. But the island also offers an exciting change of pace at times. From its annual festivals to its nightlife, Anguilla knows how to have a good time.
If you’re seeking the full-blown festivities the island has to offer, you’d need to plan your trip. The Moonsplash festival is Anguilla’s top yearly event, occurring every March or April. It’s a reggae music festival with a star-studded lineup, often likened to Coachella, but a much laid-back one.
A treat for the night owls, the Moonsplash starts at 10 PM and keeps the fun going until 3 AM. With beats to dance to, drinks to help you let loose, and food to fuel your night, you can’t go wrong with this festival.
If you can’t partake in the Moonsplash though, Anguilla’s nightlife is more than enough for some unwinding. True to the island’s vibe, the night scene on the island is casual yet upbeat. You can expect some reggae, calypso, and soca beats to go with your rum punch throughout the night.
A Foodie’s Paradise
For such a small island, Anguilla packs a punch in its culinary scene. With more than a hundred restaurants to choose from, you’re never too far away from some local eats. The island’s eclectic cuisine is an unavoidable experience for any tourist and is one that doesn’t disappoint.
No matter your budget, Anguilla will fill your stomach with hearty dishes.
Beach bars will serve you plates of seafood to enjoy on the beachside. Food trucks offer some local homemade favorites to snack on as you wander through the island. While upscale restaurants offer gourmet options with the best services and views.
Which Island Is Better – Antigua or Anguilla?
Generally speaking, Anguilla is a better option if beaches and unwinding are your top priority. Being a smaller island with fewer visitors, you have less competition here than in Antigua. This is a big bonus for many, as there’s a higher chance of you claiming the whole beach to yourself in Anguilla.
But if you’re looking for a ton of adventure, Antigua has a lot more activities to keep you entertained. Whether you’re looking for thrills on water or on land, Antigua has an answer for you. Most of this comes down to their difference in topography.
Anguilla has a flatter landscape than Antigua. Thus, Antigua is a better playground for both water-based and inland activities. Whether you’re up for snorkeling, hiking, or even sightseeing from heights, Antigua does it better.
Antigua even has much more beach options than Anguilla, 365 in total. So even if Anguilla is less touristy, you’re bound to find a secluded cove to yourself.
But these aren’t the only factors to consider during your trip. And if you’ve got a tight budget, the expenses will carry a big weight on your decision.
On the whole, Antigua is a cheaper destination than Anguilla.
There are fewer accommodation options in Anguilla. And when the demand can’t keep up with the influx of tourists, accommodations are more expensive here than in Antigua.
Not only that but getting around the island of Antigua is also much cheaper. Buses are cheap and everywhere in the southwest and southern parts of Antigua. In the north, there are fewer public transportation options, but you can rent a taxi or car when traveling there.
In Anguilla, your only transportation options are taxis, bicycles, and rental cars. Rental bikes can be as low as 10 USD a day, while taxis are quite expensive on the island. If you can drive, renting a car is cheaper but still not as cost-effective as buses.
Food and drinks are also pricier in Anguilla than in Antigua. A large beer in Antigua is around 2 to 3 USD. But in Anguilla, the price can double or triple the amount.
Antigua vs. Anguilla Beaches
If you’re looking for beaches that are closer to looking like a paradise, Anguilla is your pick. The shores have the powdery white sands that you’d expect. And the beaches here boast crystal clear turquoise hues that look straight out of a postcard.
A big bonus for Anguilla’s beaches is that they have some of the calmest and warmest waters in the Caribbean. Thus, it’s a safe option for novice swimmers and young kids alike.
Another bonus is that Anguilla’s beaches are less crowded than Antigua’s. Combined with its rustic nature, it’s a better beach destination for relaxation.
But if you’re looking for a more lively beach scene, your options are scarce in Anguilla.
Antigua’s beaches are more versatile though, boasting both energetic beaches and remote ones. No surprise here, as there are 365 of them in total on the island. Water sports are aplenty on Antigua’s shores, and it’s a great place to start kitesurfing.
They’re what you’d expect from a Caribbean island too, also sporting blue waters and pinkish-white sands.
There’s a beach in Antigua for couples, daredevils, sunbathers, and more. Antigua even has a nude beach if that’s your thing. And you’ll find none of these in Anguilla.
Are Antigua and Anguilla the Same?
Antigua and Anguilla are two different islands of separate nations. Both are two Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean though. And while Antigua is an independent state, Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory.
Is Anguilla Close to Antigua?
Anguilla is near Antigua, and it only takes about an hour for you to travel between both on a regional carrier. The distance between the two islands is only 116 miles (187 kilometers).
How Far Is Antigua From Anguilla?
Antigua is only 116 miles (187 kilometers) away from Anguilla. But for a more accurate flight distance, the airport of Antigua is 111 miles (178 kilometers) away from the airport of Anguilla. This trip starts at the V.C. Bird International Airport (ANU) and ends at Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (AXA).
How to Get From Antigua to Anguilla
Your only option to get to Anguilla from Antigua is via plane. Traveling by sea isn’t an option as there are no ferry services between the two islands.
Antigua to Anguilla Flights
Several airlines fly between Antigua (ANU) and Anguilla (AXA). This includes Leeward Islands Air and Windward Islands Airways. There are only around 4 flights between the two per week though.
The cheapest day to travel to Anguilla from Antigua is Monday, with an average cost of 656 USD. While the most expensive day is Wednesday, with plane tickets skyrocketing to 1494 USD.
The average ticket price for this route is 852 USD. And the cheapest direct flight price is 615 USD.
The most expensive month for travel between the two is August, as this is the peak season. If you want cheaper flights, book a ticket during September, the off-season.
Antigua to Anguilla Flight Time
A nonstop flight from Antigua to Anguilla usually lasts around 45 minutes. But this will vary depending on weather conditions, flight path, and air traffic.
Antigua to Anguilla by Ferry
Unfortunately, there are no passenger ferries between Antigua and Anguilla. Thus, if you’d like to visit both islands, your only option is to travel by plane.
Antigua to Anguilla by Boat
Traveling from Antigua to Anguilla by boat is not an option, as there are no boats that travel between both destinations. But you have several airline options if you wish to travel from Antigua to Anguilla and vice versa. This includes Anguilla Air Services, Windward Island Airways, and LIAT, to name a few.