Beautiful islands abound in the Caribbean! If you’re trying to decide which island to visit, keep in mind that your choice will be almost entirely determined by the type of vacation you want. There is a lot to consider if you are considering two destinations, such as Antigua and Saint Lucia, which are both located in the eastern Caribbean.
Antigua is an island nation that is made up of two islands (Antigua and Barbuda). This island is east of Saint Kitts and Montserrat. Saint Lucia, on the other hand, is to the south of Antigua, near Martinique. Both of these islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, amazing beaches, vibrant culture, and exciting adventures.
Antigua is mostly flat and has the stereotypical Caribbean landscape, whereas Saint Lucia is characterized by its dramatic volcanic landscapes and lush greenery. Neither of these islands is lacking in natural beauty, so your decision may come down to how these islands compare in specific areas, which we will discuss in this post!
Expert tip: Not sure which of these islands is right for you? Check out our list of things Saint Lucia is known for. We’ve also compiled a list of things Antigua is known for that may be useful in your vacation planning.
The beaches are a big reason why thousands of people visit the Caribbean every year. Some of the best beaches in the region can be found in Antigua and Saint Lucia. With 365 beaches that vary in size, Antigua likely has the most beaches of any Caribbean island. Saint Lucia, on the other hand, has about 19 beaches, each of which is distinct and beautiful. When it comes to a beach vacation, it’s a win on either of these islands.
Antigua is well-known for many wonderful things, including its beautiful beaches. All of the island’s beaches, which feature powdery white sand and clear turquoise waters, are open to the public. Some of the best beaches in Antigua have palm trees and other types of trees for shade, and you’ll end your day with the purest sense of tranquility at most of the beaches on this island. Whether you want to relax, take in the scenery, go snorkeling, or participate in water sports, Antigua has a beach for you.
Here are a few of our favorite Antigua beaches:
● Dickenson Bay - Dickenson Bay is located in Antigua’s northwestern parish of St. John. This is one of Antigua’s most beautiful and pristine beaches, and there’s plenty to do there, including water sports. Dickenson Bay is surrounded by beach resorts, great shopping, restaurants, bars, and lounges.
● Fort James Beach - Fort James Beach on Antigua’s western shore is one of those beaches that takes your breath away at first sight. This beach is as undeveloped as it gets, but there are a few restaurants and bars nearby. This beach is ideal for a more tranquil experience.
● Pigeon Point Beach - The secluded Pigeon Point Beach is located in English Harbour on Antigua’s southern tip. It takes about 40 minutes to drive from St. John’s (the capital) to this beach. Pigeon Point beach is shady, has calm, clear waters, and is ideal for snorkeling.
● Ffryes Beach - Ffryes Beach can be found on the western coast of Antigua. Traveling to this beach from St. John’s will take about 30 minutes. Ffryes Beach is on the quiet side but there are a few places to eat and drink in the area. (Note: the waters here are a bit rougher than other beaches on the island).
Expert tip: Ahead of your trip to Antigua you might want to get familiar with some of the best things to do in Antigua. This includes sailing, beach hopping, and heading out on nature explorations.
Saint Lucia has lovely sandy beaches, though not as many as Antigua. The beaches in Saint Lucia are spread out across the island, with many of the most popular located in the extreme north or far south. Saint Lucia’s beaches stand out more as compared to those in Antigua, with breathtaking scenery that includes the majestic Pitons, historic sites, vibrant greenery, and more.
Some of our favorite Saint Lucia beaches include:
● Reduit Beach - Located in the north of Saint Lucia, Reduit Beach is beautiful, well-kept, and popular. This beach can get a little crowded on cruise ship days, but there is plenty of space along these shores plus beach chair rentals. The sunsets are spectacular, and there is also a beach bar (Spinnakers).
● Anse Chastanet - Soufriere’s Anse Chastanet Beach is serene and gorgeous, making it an ideal location for a relaxing swim or scuba diving in Saint Lucia. Just beyond the shoreline of this beach is a dazzling reef and great views of the Pitons. Traveling time from Castries (the capital) to Anse Chastanet Beach is around 90 minutes.
● Anse des Pitons - Located on the southwest coast of Saint Lucia, this beach has one of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean. During a visit here you can expect calm waters, minimal crowds, chairs, and umbrella rentals, amenities, and stunning views as this beach is set at the foot of the Pitons.
● Pigeon Island Beach - This beach is near the Pigeon Island National Park in Saint Lucia and it is great for snorkeling and hiking. You can pay a small fee ($8 USD for adults, $3 USD for kids 5-12) to enjoy the beach area inside the park, or you can relax on the beach area near the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Beach Resort.
There’s no short supply of activities that you can try in Saint Lucia and Antigua. For the vacationer that wants to try lots of water sports, these islands can be the ideal getaway location. While Saint Lucia stands out more in terms of diving attractions, both Antigua and Saint Lucia offer water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and more.
Diving is possible on both Saint Lucia and Antigua as these islands both have vibrant coral reefs and interesting marine life. Here’s what you can expect on each island.
The calm waters of Antigua are filled with beautiful coral reefs that you’ll be able to explore via a snorkeling or scuba diving trip. Here are some of our favorite dive spots on this island:
● Deep Bay - Deep Bay’s waters are calm, shallow, and ideal for snorkeling. The Wreck of the Andes, a 3-masted sailboat that sits in 35 feet of water, is the main attraction here. The sunken boat is home to crabs, lobsters, and other sea creatures.
● Galleon Beach - This secluded beach is a good option for off-the-beach snorkeling. Beautiful coral formations can be found on the right side of the beach, and beneath the waves, you can expect to see blue tangs, yellowtail snapper, barracuda, angelfish, and occasionally turtles and stingrays. There are two shipwrecks in this area.
● Cades Reef - This is a 2-mile barrier reef off the coast of Antigua. The water here is warm and crystal clear and you’re likely to see lots of reef fish. Sometimes divers here report sightings of moray eels, nurse sharks, barracudas, eagle rays, and much more. You’ll need to take a boat to get to Cades Reef.
● Prickly Pear Island - You can take a short boat ride from St. John’s to Prickly Pear Island for a diving adventure in Antigua. When you arrive on this uninhabited island, you can dive in and see the corals, sea sponges, sea fans, and tropical fishes up close.
Saint Lucia is a diver’s paradise with dive sites for both experienced and novice divers. Beautiful coral structures, exciting barrier reefs, and shipwrecks can be found all over the island, particularly on the east coast. There are loads of places where you can snorkel right off the beach too. Below are some of the most popular snorkeling and scuba diving spots in Saint Lucia:
● Anse Chastanet - Located in Saint Lucia’s south (Soufriere), this area has some of the best snorkeling on the island. There are two large reefs on either side of the beach, and you can expect to see large schools of fish, octopus, large starfish, flounder, trumpetfish, and other marine life.
● Rodney Bay - If you go to either end of Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay, you'll find some great snorkeling spots. In some areas, coral and fish can be seen right off the beach, and while snorkeling, you can see tropical fishes, crabs, eels, and more.
● Anse Des Pitons (Sugar Beach) - Snorkeling sites in the south of Saint Lucia like Anse Des Pitons are ideal for both snorkeling and scuba diving. This dive site is located between the Piton mountains and it is quite stunning. Expect to see a variety of sea life.
● Pigeon Island - Divers can rent snorkeling equipment from the beach, making this a convenient snorkeling location. There’s lots of coral and beautiful tropical fish in this area, as well as a variety of places to dive. Water shoes are recommended.
Insider tip: You can have access to some of the best snorkeling in Saint Lucia with the all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia. Sandals Resorts offers guests free snorkeling and scuba diving (up to 2 tanks per day).
Antigua and Saint Lucia are excellent destinations for those seeking adventure. These islands provide a variety of exciting tours and excursions that are sure to be highlights of your vacation. Here’s what to look forward to in terms of adventure on both of these islands.
Antigua is full of exciting opportunities, from sailing to hiking. A variety of day trips, including visits to natural wonders like the Pillars of Hercules, allow you to get out and explore the diverse landscape on land. You can also go ziplining, explore caves, and book boat tours to any of the many small islands off the coast of Antigua, such as neighboring Barbuda.
In Antigua, you’ll be able to:
● See The Pillars of Hercules - This is a natural limestone formation a short distance from Galleon Beach. Sculpted by wind, rain, and crashing waves, the cliffs that make up the Pillars of Hercules are a natural geological wonder.
● Tour Hell’s Gate Island - Located northeast of Antigua, Hell’s Gate Island is a small island. This natural landmark is well-known for its caves and fascinating rock formations. At this site, a tour guide is required, as are sturdy shoes.
● Hike Mount Obama - Mount Obama is Antigua’s highest point. It was previously known as Bogey Peak, but it was renamed in 2009 to honor the achievements of black people. This 1,319-ft peak was named after U.S. President Barack Obama and it is possible to see Saint Kitts and Montserrat from the top.
● Zipline through the rainforest - With stunning vistas, a zipline adventure is always a good idea in the Caribbean. You can sign up for a ziplining excursion in Antigua during which you’ll be able to see the rainforest from an aerial perspective. You can find zip lines as tall as 350ft in Antigua.
Saint Lucia is an adventurer’s dream. There is so much to do on this island for those who enjoy exploring. Some of these options include visiting waterfalls, going on dive excursions, exploring Saint Lucia’s best hiking trails, and even visiting the island’s famous ‘drive-in volcano'! Here are some of our favorite Saint Lucian adventures:
● Hike Gros Piton - Hiking Gros Piton is an exciting adventure. At the larger of the two Piton Mountains, the appeal here is not only the hike but also the breathtaking views from the top. The Gros Piton hike can take between 3-6 hours to complete.
● Tour Pigeon Island - Pigeon Island, located to the north of Saint Lucia, is a fun place to visit. This area not only has beaches, but also a national park and a few restaurants serving delicious local cuisine. A day trip to Pigeon Island allows you to climb the fort, relax on the beach, and snorkel.
● Trek to waterfalls - In Saint Lucia, a waterfall adventure is a must. Unlike Antigua, Saint Lucia has several waterfalls that you can visit during your vacation. Toraille Waterfall, Diamond Falls, and Piton Falls are among the most popular.
● Explore Soufriere - Soufriere is a popular destination for visitors to Saint Lucia because it offers a variety of exciting activities. Visitors can enjoy excursions to naturally heated pools and mud baths at the Sulphur Springs, as well as tour the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, on this active geothermal volcanic mountain.
Expert tip: Saint Lucia has won numerous honeymoon destinations in the world and is home to some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. This island is a top choice for couples seeking romance.
Both Saint Lucia and Antigua are enjoyable during the day and after the sun sets. These islands have a wide range of nightlife options, including bars, lounges, and even resorts that provide day and night entertainment, such as Sandals Resorts. Neither of these islands has a huge club culture, but you will find exciting things to do at night. Here’s what you can expect:
Though Antigua is not a huge clubbing destination, you will be able to find a few laidback clubs that are fun, especially on nights when special events are being hosted. You’ll also be able to visit open-air beachside bars and late-night restaurants, particularly in St John’s, Dickenson Bay, and English Harbour.
Cloggy's and Mainbrace Pub in English Harbour are two of the most popular bars on the island. Try Abracadabra in English Harbour or The Coast Nightclub in Dickenson Bay for a night of dancing. If you want a great meal, go to the Shirley Point Lookout — on Sundays, they serve good BBQ. Sandals Grande Antigua is an excellent choice for a resort where guests can enjoy day and night entertainment without having to leave the resort.
The nightlife in Saint Lucia is diverse. You can attend a street party one night, such as the Gros Islet Friday Night Street Party, and then go to an outdoor club or concert the next! The best of Saint Lucian nightlife can be found in areas like Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, and Castries, especially on weekends.
Rodney Bay is Saint Lucia’s nightlife epicenter. There are numerous bars, clubs, and lounges in this area where you can relax and socialize. Verve in Rodney Bay is well-known for its outdoor club atmosphere. Rodney Bay has a variety of restaurants and bars for a more laid-back night out. You can dine and then go to one of the many bars for drinks. JJ’s Paradise is a cool spot to check out if you’re in the Castries area. Whether you want to dance, listen to live music, or participate in karaoke, Saint Lucia is likely to have it all.
Antigua and Saint Lucia both have great opportunities for shopping, whether you’re looking for necessities or something unique. Both destinations have a good selection of independent boutiques and locally made artisanal goods, but not so many luxury items. Handmade crafts, clothing, linens, and jewelry are plentiful. Duty-free shopping is possible on both islands.
If you want to see what Antigua has to offer in terms of luxury shopping, you should go to Redcliffe Quay, a shopping center with boutique stores and restaurants. In Saint Lucia, you can visit places like La Place Carenage in Castries and the Rodney Bay shopping malls (Bay Walk and JQ Shopping Mall). In both Castries and Rodney Bay, you’ll be able to find jewelry stores, clothing boutiques, and restaurants.
While in Antigua or Saint Lucia, it’s a good idea to visit the local markets for authentic local items. These markets can be found all over the islands, and the majority of them are open every day. Weekends, particularly Saturdays, may have more vendors and options. Popular shopping centers in Antigua include the Heritage Quay Complex and the Vendor’s Mall. In Saint Lucia, you can go to the Castries Arcade for souvenirs and other locally made items.
Insider tip: At the all-inclusive resorts in Antigua, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best Antigua food and drinks as part of your vacation. Sandals Grande Antigua offers guests access to multiple restaurants including gourmet options, which are perfect for a romantic vacation.
A vacation surrounded by the Caribbean Sea on an island with wonderful white sand beaches, luxury resorts, and endless ways to have fun is a good choice any day of the year. Even better if the destination you decide on is almost always sunny. This can be said for both Antigua and Saint Lucia, two islands with a warm, tropical climate. On either of these islands, you can expect pleasant weather for the majority of the year.
Antigua and Saint Lucia have the same peak season, which runs from mid-December to mid-April. The weather is usually at its best this time of year (more dry and less rain), and there is also more activity. The “wet” season on these islands lasts from June to November, with slightly more rain but still plenty of sunny days.
Expert tip: For more details on the best time to visit Antigua and the best time to visit Saint Lucia, check out these articles before you go.
Antigua and Saint Lucia have diverse cultures. As these islands are both melting pots of similar cultures, they expectedly have a lot in common. Carib, Arawak, West African, and British cultural traditions can all be found in Antigua. Saint Lucia’s cultural traditions are a blend of Carib, African, English, French, and Dutch influences.
Carnival is one of the cultural celebrations that take place on both of these islands. Carnival is said to have evolved over time, and the celebration is connected to the liberation of people of African descent from colonialism in this region. Both Antigua and Saint Lucia have creole influences in their cultures, but while Antiguan creole is a hybrid of West African languages and English, Saint Lucian creole is a combination of English and French.
In terms of cultural celebrations, Saint Lucia annually observes Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day). The Rose Festival and the Feast of La Marguerite are two other festivals celebrated in Saint Lucia. Wadadli Day is one of the most important cultural celebrations in Antigua. On this day, there is a grand parade as well as an outdoor fair where local drinks, food, and handmade crafts are sold. This event includes live music and dancing.
Expert tip: In addition to the Saint Lucia Carnival and Antigua Carnival, there are other diverse and exhilarating cultural festivals that take place all across the Caribbean. Read our Caribbean Carnival calendar for more information on them!
Food certainly is a big consideration for anyone planning a vacation. In that regard, it may be reassuring to know that both Saint Lucia and Antigua have a rich food culture. On either of these islands, you’ll be able to find signature dishes that are tasty and unique. As the cuisine on these islands has West African and European influences, you may find some similarities as well as many differences.
Here are some of the local dishes you might want to try in Antigua:
● Fungee and Pepper Pot - This is the national dish of Antigua and it is a hearty stew made with yams, sweet potatoes, okra, and more. Fungee (a cornmeal and okra-based bread ball) and pepper pot is one of those meals you’ll want to try at least once during your stay.
● Conch - Conch is prepared in various ways through the islands and, in Antigua, you can try conch fritters, conch chowders, and conch curries. You’ll find various conch dishes served at roadside stops in Antigua, as well as in some of the local restaurants.
● Souse - Souse is a light soup made with pickled pig trotters, hot peppers, onion, garlic, and various vegetables and seasonings. This clear broth is typically served cold.
While visiting Saint Lucia, there are many foods and drinks to try, and we've listed some of our favorites below:
● Green figs and saltfish - This is Saint Lucia’s national dish. This dish is filling and delicious, made with salted cod, green bananas, vegetables, and spices.
● Bouyon - Bouyon is a hearty and delicious soup that you must try if you visit Saint Lucia. This dish is typically made with lamb, beef, pork, or saltfish, with dumplings occasionally added. Bouyon also contains ground provisions such as green fig, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, and more.
● Smoked herring and breadfruit - This Saint Lucian favorite is made with smoked herring that has been well-seasoned and it is served with a breadfruit and cucumber salad. When done correctly, it is quite tasty and worth trying in Saint Lucia.
Insider tip: The all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia are among the wonderful things Saint Lucia is known for. These resorts offer guests a host of quality inclusions including multiple restaurants where they’ll be able to try the best Saint Lucia food and drinks. You’ll have access to some of the best things to do in Saint Lucia from your resort too!
Both Saint Lucia and Antigua have good public transportation systems. To get around on both islands, minibusses, taxis, and car rentals are available. You can even travel around these islands by ferry or private boat. As Antigua and Saint Lucia are relatively small, you should have few, if any, accessibility issues.
Saint Lucia is quite a bit larger than Antigua overall. In some parts of Saint Lucia, particularly in the south, the roads are quite winding. This is due to the mountainous interior of the island. As a result, getting from one side of the island to the other can take longer. It takes approximately one and a half hours to travel from Gros Islet in the extreme north of Saint Lucia to Vieux Fort in the south.
Antigua is less tricky in terms of navigation. In Antigua, you’re generally never more than 45 minutes away from your destination.
Antigua and Saint Lucia both use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar as their currency (XCD). The Eastern Caribbean Dollar is the regional currency. It is administered by the central bank of Saint Kitts and Nevis. It should be noted that the Eastern Caribbean Dollar is linked to the U.S. dollar. The exchange rate for the U.S. Dollar to the Eastern Caribbean Dollar is about $1 USD to $2.70 XCD, although this can change from time to time. Despite the fact that these islands have their own currency, most businesses also accept USD.
Though Antigua and Saint Lucia use the same currency, your dollar may go further in Saint Lucia than in Antigua. Saint Lucia is significantly less expensive than Antigua. On average, a trip to Saint Lucia is 40 percent less expensive than a trip to Antigua.
Both Saint Lucia and Antigua are safe places to visit. Crime on these islands is relatively low. Much like vacationing in any other destination, it is important to stay alert and on guard, especially if you choose to go out at night. If you do venture out and do not know the way back to your resort, it is recommended to take a taxi back.
When walking alone at night on either of these islands, it is a good idea to maintain slightly higher levels of alertness than you would in your hometown. This would be recommended for any vacation in a foreign territory.
Picture: Sandals Antigua resort
Now that you know what to expect from Antigua and Saint Lucia, your final decision will ultimately depend on the sort of vacation experience you’re looking for. After taking into account the differences in culture, food, beaches, topography, and other factors, you can make an informed decision about which vacation destination is best for you. When you've decided where to go, the next step is to figure out where to stay.
Picture: Sandals Saint Lucia resort
A vacation on either of these islands will allow you to enjoy a luxury-included vacation. At Sandals Resorts in Antigua and Saint Lucia, couples will enjoy dining at multiple gourmet restaurants, bars including swim-up bars, land and water sports, day and night entertainment, and more. The staff at these resorts are friendly and accommodating, and they can also recommend the best things to do on either of these islands!