Aruba vs. Antigua

The Caribbean region is filled with numerous island countries known for their beaches and tropical climate. This makes choosing between destinations even harder. Aruba and Antigua may not be as popular as Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. However, the beauty they hold is something that should not be overlooked.
Aruba vs. Antigua

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Get the chance to bask under the sun and enjoy a wide selection of tourist attractions in Aruba without having to deal with humongous crowds. Enjoy the hot afternoon with a cold drink in hand and a luxury hotel room waiting for you back at your favorite resort.

Take advantage of Aruba’s year-round perfect weather conditions. With clear skies, you will have no problem taking your adventures outdoors. Get your gears ready and explore unique landscapes, beautiful mountains, and vast desert dunes.

Antigua’s beauty and tranquility draw tourists to its meek island. Aside from its 152-km (95 miles) stretch of charming beaches, Antigua boasts of its selection of exclusive and high-class hotels and resorts. Whether you prefer a luxury hotel or a more private home for your vacation, Antigua’s got it all for you.

Aruba

Aruba is a lone island in the southern region of the Caribbean. Located south of the island of Hispaniola, some of its closest neighbors are Curacao at 80 km (50 miles) and Venezuela at 29 km (18 miles) away.

With an area of roughly 180 km² (69 sq. miles), Aruba features a relatively low landscape. There is not much elevation but it has a unique desert environment right in the middle. The island is also characterized by limestone deposits and is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs.

What Makes Aruba Unique?

Shipwreck Diving Experience

Aruba is home to what is considered one of the best shipwreck diving spots in the Caribbean region. Aruba became a known ship graveyard of torpedoed, stormed, and even deliberately sunk vessels. Compared to other islands in the region, Aruba has a lot of diveable wrecks that cater to divers of different levels of experience.

Antilla Wreck

The Great Antilla wreck is the largest and most popular dive spot in Aruba. The SS Antilla was a German cargo ship that was sunk off the northwestern coast of Aruba. Considering that the ship has been underwater since the Second World War, many want to explore the wreck as a glimpse of history.

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Also referred to as the Ghost Ship of Aruba, the 122-meter long (400 ft) ship is the perfect dive spot even for beginners. The ship sits at roughly 180 meters (60 ft) underwater but a small part of the wreck rises above the water. The current surrounding the ship is gentle and steady. This allows even those with minimal skill to swim around.

Pedernales Wreck

The Pedernales wreck is another victim of World War II. The ship was an oil tanker torpedoed by German forces. After the attack, parts of the oil tanker were salvaged and rebuilt while the midsection was kept underwater. The remaining parts of SS Pedernales lie in mere 7.6 meters (25 ft) underwater, making it one of the shallowest wreck dive spots in Aruba.

Jane Sea Wreck

The Jane Sea wreck is an advanced dive spot in Aruba. Although the wreck itself is only at 27 meters (90 ft), the strong currents make it difficult to navigate. Originally used as a cargo ship for cement, the freighter was once caught transporting cocaine. This event led locals to refer to the ship as Jane ‘C’

In the 1980s, the Jane Sea was purposely sunk to form an artificial reef and later turned into a popular dive spot. The strong underwater current allowed gorgonians and corals to cover the 76-meter long (259 ft) shipwreck.

Desert Paradise in the Caribbean

Arguably one of the most unique sites in the Caribbean region, Aruba’s patch of desert land draws tourists because of its peculiarness. Located in the Arikok National Park, the Boca Prins is a unique sight to see.

Tourists can see the rugged sea on one side and massive dunes on the other. The landscape is further dramatized by the limestone cliffs that hug the Boca Prins Bay inlet. Although the water is too harsh to swim in, tourists head to Boca Prins to experience different four-wheel-drive activities.

Unique Beaches

Aruba is a tropical island rich with a beautiful coastline. But although it is possible to say that every Caribbean beach is beautiful, Aruba is home to unique ones:

Flamingo Beach

Flamingo Beach is known for its rather unique population of flamingos that roam the private island of the Renaissance Hotel. Access to the beach is pretty limited. Visitors who want to get up close and personal with the birds need to book a room at the hotel or get a day pass to the private island.

Boca Prins Beach

When you go to Boca Prins beach, you wouldn’t see palm trees lined up right along the coast. Instead, Boca Prins is known for its unique desert-like environment with massive sand dunes hugging the beach. Although the water is too harsh for a casual swim, tourists can enjoy a scenic picnic by the waves or take it to the next level and ride the dunes on ATVs.

A Combination of Cultures

Aruba was once occupied by Spain and Netherlands. During the Spanish occupation of the island, Aruba was a center of piracy and smuggling in the Caribbean region. The island later became an outpost when the Dutch West India Company took over. It housed a naval base for the Netherlands during the war.

Aruba had been invaded by the British during the Napoleonic Wars but the Dutch forces took it back in the early 1800s. The influences of Spanish, British, and Dutch cultures are reflected in Aruba’s architecture and traditions. People living in Aruba are able to speak a variety of languages. This includes English, Dutch, Spanish, and the native language of Papiamento.

The capital city of Oranjestad features several buildings with Dutch colonial architectural elements. You can’t miss the vividly colored buildings that serve as the iconic landmark of the city.

Antigua

Located along the stretch of the Lesser Antilles, Antigua is the bigger among the two islands that make up Antigua and Barbuda. This Caribbean island is particularly known for its collection of beaches and scenic spots. With over 350 public beaches on the island, Antigua boasts to tourists that they have a new beach to explore every day of the year.

Between the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, the latter is smaller. It is also considered to be more private and intimate since fewer people live on the island of Barbuda. On the other hand, Antigua is the designated tourist hub of the nation. It features luxury accommodations, entertainments centers, and other tourist attractions.

What Makes Antigua Unique?

Unlimited Beach Discoveries

Antigua is famous for its numerous public beaches. Aside from the sheer number of it, Antigua offers a variety of amazing beaches. The island’s beaches feature different landscapes, characteristics, and atmospheres for tourists to enjoy.

Long Bay Beach

Long Bay Beach is famous for its pearl-white sand and calm sea. Considered to be one of the finest stretches on the island, Long Bay is the perfect place for families to enjoy a quick swim. Its clear and calm waters allow kids to enjoy the sea without worrying about strong waves.

Compared to other beaches in Antigua, Long Bay is pretty developed. It features several restaurants, shops, and stores right along the coastline. Although this is a convenient feature, this makes Long Bay beach a popular and often crowded beach compared to others.

Eden Beach

Eden Beach is an adult-only nudist beach located south of the renowned Galley Bay Resort and Spa. This clothing-optional stretch of the beach allows visitors to swim and hang around comfortably in their skins. If you ever find yourself strolling by Eden Beach, keep in mind the no-camera policy in the area in respect of people’s privacy while on the beach.

Bush Bay

Looking for an untouched beach that no tourists particularly go to? The Bush Bay is a secluded patch of beach with overgrown bushes pushing out over the sand. It requires a short kayak ride from the Blue Waters Resort but the quick trip will reward you with a beautiful beach all for yourself.

Stingray City

A trip to Antigua is never fulfilled if you didn’t get the chance to swim with hundreds of stingrays in Stingray City. Located in Seatons Village, the calm waters of Stingray City is home to numerous gigantic stingrays. You can enjoy the sight of the stingrays in their natural habitat or take a swim and snorkel with them side by side.

Long and Rich History

The island of Antigua is more than its scenery and landscapes. Thousands of years of history built Antigua’s unique culture and made it to the tourist hub that it is today. If you ever get tired of the beach and sea, there are several historic and cultural attractions to visit around the island.

Nelson’s Dockyard National Park

Nelson’s Dockyard National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Antigua. Tourists visit the national park because it is home to several historic attractions.

The park is recognized as the only continuously operating Georgian dockyard in the world. The 18th-century British Naval Dockyard has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016. Aside from that, the site also features the Dockyard Museum, Fort Shirley, Fort Berkeley, as well as the 18th-century Clarence House.

Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

There is no better place to soak up Antigua’s long history than visiting the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in the capital city of St. John’s. Housed in an 18-century courthouse, the museum tackles Antigua and Barbuda’s history including topics about slavery, colonialism, independence, and more.

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Dramatic Scenery and Landscapes

Antigua is a relatively small island in the Caribbean. Compared to other island countries such as Jamaica and Puerto Rico, Antigua has significantly less land area to explore. However, this made the island an amazing quick trip or getaway destination. Despite the lack of sheer size, visitors can gawk at Antigua’s wondrous beauty wherever they go.

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay is one of the most scenic spots on the island. Tourists can hike up the hills along Half Moon Bay to get a picturesque view overlooking the beach. From there, people can fully appreciate the crescent sandy beach hugging the bright blue sea and the lush foliage of the island.

Devil’s Bridge

The renowned Devil’s Bridge is situated off the northeastern coast of the Indian Town National Park. It features the naturally carved limestone cliff-turned-arch by millions of years of rough waves pounding the edge. The site provides a dramatic scene as the harsh waves continue to splash and crash on the cliff.

Is Antigua or Aruba Better?

Aruba and Antigua are not the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. However, their undeniable beauty and unique attractions draw tourists. Considering that both islands are small, they make the perfect side trip. Visitors can stay for a couple of days and explore much of what either Antigua or Aruba has to offer.

Aruba is known for its numerous shipwrecks. With over ten wrecks surrounding the island, diving enthusiasts can explore something under the sea other than the reefs. But do not worry, wreck diving in Aruba is possible even for those with little to no diving experience.

Antigua’s rise to fame is its beaches. Tourists at Antigua can enjoy different beach types. The island has pristine beaches as well as rugged coasts. Some have calm waters while others feature strong waves perfect for surfing and other water activities.

However, it is important to note that between the two, Aruba is much more developed. The island has more accommodation options as well as establishments. The nightlife in Aruba is bustling as well.

Antigua would provide a more intimate and serene Caribbean experience. A quick adventure and you’ll likely find a beach all for yourself. There are still luxury hotels and resorts in Antigua but it is considerably less compared to Aruba.

When it comes to choosing which island to visit between the two, the answer is a matter of preference. There is no doubt you will find beautiful beaches on both islands. But, it is your choice whether you would want to go hang with the flamingos or swim with stingrays.

FAQs

Aruba or Antigua for Honeymoon

Although both Aruba and Antigua are tropical islands, there are still some notable differences between the two. Both islands are known for their pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. They also have scenic landscapes that create a romantic atmosphere, especially during sunset.

However, between the two destinations, the coastline of Aruba is notably more developed. Aruba features more activities, attractions, and accommodations along the beach.

On the other hand, Antigua’s coastline is more secluded because there tend to be fewer tourists on the island. Thus, Antigua’s beaches provide a more private and intimate experience perfect for newly married couples.

If you’re looking for more than the beaches, the island of Antigua has more to offer. Antigua features a lush rainforest and mountains. It is also known for its underwater adventures which can be an exciting activity for couples.

Antigua features a rustic and quaint atmosphere and environment while Aruba is more modern and developed. All in all, Aruba and Antigua will both provide you with amazing beach getaway experiences.

Is Aruba Part of Antigua?

Aruba and Antigua are two separate islands in the Caribbean region. Aruba is located right along the northern coast of Venezuela. On the other hand, Antigua belongs to the group of islands in the Lesser Antilles by the eastern end of the Caribbean.

How Far Is Antigua From Aruba?

Aruba and Antigua lie in different parts of the Caribbean region. Aruba is more on the southern end while Antigua is located on the western side. The total distance from the two islands is roughly 629 miles (1,013 km). It typically takes more than an hour to travel from one island to the other via airplane.

Is Antigua Bigger Than Aruba?

The island of Antigua is one of the two major islands that consist of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Between the two, Antigua has a bigger area. Antigua is roughly 281 km² (108 sq. miles) while Barbuda sits at 161 km² (62 sq. miles).

When comparing Aruba with the whole nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba becomes so much smaller in terms of size and area. Aruba only has a cover of approximately 180 km². However, if the comparison is only between Aruba and the island of Antigua specifically, the difference is no longer that huge.

The area of Antigua and Aruba is roughly 281 km² (108 sq. miles) and 180 km² (69 sq. miles) respectively. So although Antigua is still bigger, this only makes Aruba 50% smaller than the island of Antigua.

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