Not sure whether to travel to Antigua or Aruba? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve visited each island, and put together this guide to help you choose where to plan your next vacation.

In a nutshell, Antigua is the best destination if you’re looking to stroll around the marina, swim with visit historical landmarks, or zipline through the rainforest.

On the other hand, Aruba is the best destination for you’re looking to hike, explore natural attractions, and do water sports on the beach.

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This article will cover the differences in beaches, cost, nightlife, and more.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know everything you need so that you can confidently choose where to travel next!

Read on to find out how Antigua compares to Aruba.   

Antigua vs Aruba
Photo by: Rick Jamison | Kiril Georgiev
Antigua vs Aruba

Antigua At A Glance

Antigua is a small island located in the eastern Caribbean known for its rich history, picturesque beaches, and exceptional seafood.

Compared to Aruba, Antigua is more arid and flat. Antigua’s landscape consists of mountains, lush rainforests and tropical beaches.

Shirley Heights Lookout, Antigua
Shirley Heights Lookout, Antigua (Photo by: Rick Jamison)

Another factor that sets Antigua apart from Aruba is that it has 365 beaches in total, whereas Aruba only has 14. 

Whether you’re looking to enjoy cocktails at a beach bar or snorkel, there’s a beach for you in Antigua. 

Antigua has several popular beaches, including Jolly Beach, Ffryes Beach, and Dickenson Bay Beach. Similar to Aruba, Antigua has picturesque Caribbean beaches with turquoise blue waters. 

Beyond the beaches, Antigua has farmer’s markets, shopping centers, art galleries, museums, and more.

The two most popular areas to stay in Antigua are St John’s and English Harbour. St John’s is the capital city that has colorful buildings, great restaurants, and beaches.

St John's, Antigua
St John’s, Antigua (Photo by: Alec Brunelle)

English Harbour is a large marina lined with cafes, restaurants, bars, and shopping centers.

You can stroll along the marina, or visit Nelson’s Dockyard on the other side of the marina. Nelson’s Dockyard is an interesting old naval dockyard with a museum, bakery, hotels, restaurants, and  12 miles of hiking trails to explore. 

For scenic views of the marina, the Shirley Heights Lookout is the place to go. The Shirley Heights Lookout gives spectacular views of the harbor and has a restaurant and bar on site. 

When it comes to nightlife, Antigua has many lively beach bars, and clubs around the English Harbour marina, and St John’s. 

Things To Do In Antigua

Whether you’re looking to visit historical landmarks or swim with stingrays, Antigua has lots of unique activities to offer. 

Stop by Nelson’s Dockyard National Park to explore an old naval yard with a museum, historical buildings, cafes, restaurants, and 12 miles of hiking trails.

Nelson’s Dockyard National Park is across from English Harbour so you’ll get scenic views of the marina. 

English Harbour, Antigua
English Harbour, Antigua (Photo by: Natalia Zuritta)

For unbeatable views of the marina, visit the Shirley Heights Lookout. This lookout on top of the mountain has priceless views of the marina, and nearby islands in Antigua. It also has an excellent seafood restaurant and bar. 

Antigua has a wider variety of beaches than Aruba. With 365 beaches in total, there’s plenty of incredible beaches for swimming, snorkeling, and partying.

Some of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua are Half Moon Bay, Ffryes Beach, and Darkwood Beach. Most of Antigua’s beaches have restaurants, bars, and offer lounge chair and umbrella rentals. 

For snorkeling, Dickenson Bay Beach, Cades Bay National Park, and Galles Bay Beach are just a few of the many great options in Antigua. 

Dickenson's Bay Beach
Dickenson’s Bay, Antigua (Photo by: Sarah Kilian)

One of Antigua’s most popular tourist activities is snorkeling trips to Stingray City. You’ll get to feed and swim with large southern Stingrays.

Head to Devil’s Bridge to watch waves crash over a picturesque natural rock arch made of limestone. Devil’s Bridge is free to visit, and it’s an excellent place to stop for photos. 

Devil's Bridge, Antigua
Devil’s Bridge, Antigua (Photo by: Martin Hayes)

Other places you won’t want to miss visiting in Antigua are Fort James, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, and Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation. 

Here are some of the most popular tourist activities in Antigua. 

  • Nelson’s Dockyard National Park
  • Shirley Heights Overlook
  • Stingray City
  • The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda
  • Fort James
  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Betty Hope’s Sugar Plantation
Antigua vs Aruba

Aruba At A Glance

Located in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is a popular vacation island, and for good reason! Aruba has a rocky, desert-like landscape with tropical beaches. 

From going on ATV tours through the mountains to lounging on the beach, Aruba has something for everyone.

palm beach
Palm Beach, Aruba (Photo by: Lex Melony)

Aruba has many beautiful white sand beaches that are perfect for swimming and watersports.

The most popular public beaches in Aruba are Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, which have restaurants, resorts, bars, and watersports. 

Aruba also has excellent beaches for snorkeling, with Arashi Beach and Baby Beach being a few of the many popular spots. 

From underground caves to natural bridges, Aruba has many natural attractions throughout the island. The Arikok National Park is a must visit place for anyone visiting Aruba.

aruba mountain
Arikok National Park, Aruba (Photo by: Michael Matloka)

This national park covers roughly 20% of the island, and has caves, natural pools, cacti, and more. 

If you don’t enjoy hiking, ATV and UTV tours are especially common in Aruba. You’ll get to ride ATV’s through Aruba’s deserted landscape to discover natural pools, bridges, and hidden beaches. 

UTV Tour in Aruba
UTV Tour in Aruba (Photo by: Jared Lisack)

Similar to Antigua, Aruba is known for its incredible seafood restaurants and Caribbean cuisine. From food vendors on the beach to fine-dining restaurants, there’s no shortage of delicious food to try while in Aruba.

Aruba has a variety of kid-friendly tourist activities, including a butterfly farm, ostrich farm, waterpark, and animal sanctuaries.

Getting around Aruba is relatively easy, with car rentals, taxis, and public transportation being widely available. Aruba has a cheap bus (Arubus), and a free trolley that travels from Oranjestad to the cruise port. 

See the best transportation options in Aruba for a full list.

Things to do in Aruba

Whether you’re looking to hike the Arikok national park or go on long beach walks, Aruba has something fun for everyone. 

Aruba has long white sand beaches with restaurants and resorts. Head to Palm Beach or Eagle Beach to spend the day at one of Aruba’s most popular public beaches. 

beach in aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba (Photo by: Shandell Venegas)

Eagle Beach and Palm Beach have chair rentals, water sports, cafes, shops, and popular beach bars (Moomba Beach Bar & Coco Loco Beach Bar).

If you prefer avoiding crowds, stop by Mangel Halto Beach or Baby Beach to relax on one of Aruba’s serene beaches. 

Mangel Halto Beach
Mangel Halto Beach (Photo by: Raoul Croes)

If you’re looking to snorkel, Aruba has many excellent spots, with Baby Beach, Arashi Beach, and Boca Catalina being some of the best options. 

Head to Arikok National Park to explore a 13 square mile national park with natural pools, underground caves, bridges, and more.

Quadiriki caves, Aruba
Quadiriki caves, Arikok National Park (Photo by: Lesly Juarez)

There are several notable attractions within the national park, including the Quadiriki Caves, Conchi natural pool, and the Baby Natural Bridge. 

Other interesting sites you won’t want to miss visiting in Aruba are the Bushiribana ruins, California Lighthouse, and the Alto Vista Chapel.

Bushiribana Ruins
Bushiribana Gold Ruins (Photo by: Walter Dziemianczyk)

You’ll get spectacular views of the ocean during sunset from the California Lighthouse and Alto Vista Chapel. 

If traveling with kids, you can stop by the Butterfly Farm, Philip’s Animal Garden, or Ostrich Farm to interact with Aruba’s fascinating wildlife.

If you’re visiting on a romantic getaway, view our list of the 20 best activities Aruba has to offer for couples.

Here are the top places to visit while in Aruba. 

  • Arikok National Park
  • California Lighthouse
  • Philips animal garden
  • Butterfly farm
  • Bushirinaba ruins
  • De Palm Island
  • Quadiriki caves
  • Baby Natural Bridge
Antigua vs Aruba

Which island is better for a vacation?

Antigua and Aruba have beautiful Caribbean beaches, delicious seafood, and many natural attractions.

Antigua is the best place for you if you’re looking to visit historical landmarks, stroll along the marina, and go ziplining through the rainforest. 

Aruba’s the best destination for you if you’re looking to hike, go on ATV tours, and do water sports on the beach. 

A major difference between the islands is that Antigua has rainforests and natural harbors, whereas Aruba has desert-like mountains filled with cacti. 

However, both islands have an abundance of pristine white sand beaches with resorts, bars, and restaurants.

Ultimately, the best island will depend on where you stay, the activities you choose, and your overall preferences.

Which place has the best beaches?

Antigua and Aruba have several picturesque white sand beaches. 

Antigua’s most popular beaches are Dickenson’s Bay Beach, Ffryes Beach, and Darkwood Beach. Dickenson’s Bay Beach and Ffryes Beach have crystal clear waters, and are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Darkwood beach is a serene beach with soft powdery sand and calm waters. 

Aruba’s most popular beaches are Palm Beach and Eagle Beach. These beaches are lined with cafes, bars, resorts, restaurants, and water sports concessions.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, Mangel Halto is one of Aruba’s most serene beaches with gentle, crystal clear waters.

For snorkeling, Arashi Beach, Boca Catalina Beach, and Baby Beach are just a few of the many great options. 

Which place has the better cuisine?

Aruba and Antigua are both known for their exceptional seafood restaurants and delicious Caribbean cuisine.  

Antigua’s cuisine is a fusion of African, European, and indigenous foods, with popular dishes like fungi and saltfish, black pudding, and tamarind balls.

If visiting Antigua, make sure to try their signature black pineapple, one of the sweetest varieties of pineapple! 

Aruba’s cuisine is inspired by Caribbean, Dutch, and South American food, with popular dishes like fried plantains, conch fritters, and keshi yena (fried cheese balls).

How does the climate differ?

Antigua and Aruba have tropical warm weather year-round, with Aruba being more humid.

Antigua’s average temperature ranges from 72 F to 88 F throughout the year, whereas Aruba’s average temperature ranges from 76 F to 91 F. 

Which place is cheaper?

Aruba is generally more expensive than Antigua in terms of accommodations and restaurants.

Aruba’s cost of living is 12.5% higher than Antigua, so food generally costs more in Aruba.

However, there are ways to save money if you’re on a budget. Visiting free natural attractions, using public transportation, and traveling during the low season can help cut costs.

Aruba’s low season is September to December, whereas Antigua’s low season is May to November. 

How does the nightlife compare?

Antigua and Aruba have plenty of beach bars, nightclubs, and casinos to enjoy a night out.

The hotspots for nightlife are Palm Beach in Aruba, and English Harbour in Antigua.

Are the islands safe?

Antigua and Aruba are some of the safest destinations in the Caribbean. Like any other destination, always take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. 

When’s the best time to visit?

The best time to visit Antigua is from December to April, and the best time to visit Aruba is from January through May. This is during each island’s dry season when the weather’s nicest. 

Also read:


How far is Aruba from Antigua?

Aruba is 1,011 km away from Antigua.

How do you get from Antigua to Aruba?

The only way to get to Aruba from Antigua is to take a connecting flight, as there are no direct flights available.

Airlines that fly from Antigua to Aruba include American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Windward Islands Airways, and Air Canada.

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