Antigua Vs Barbados
The quick version TL;DR
Barbados is easier to plug into nightlife having areas like St Lawrence Gap – the better places seem to be outside of this relative touristic trap however.
Barbados may have more top notch resorts and restaurants (the very top is Sandy Lane) but really for a holiday it’s not a top consideration. Antigua certainly has her fair share of Luxury Villas and Luxury Resorts.
Barbados only slightly has better/more watersports (excepting sailing) or more reliable instructional centers for sports like windsurfing, surfing and kitesurfing. If you’re looking for calmer waters to do hobby cats then you may prefer Antigua.
Barbados is more developed but Antigua has more charm, I am yet to put my finger on why.
Antigua has better beaches. The resorts sitting on Dickenson Bay are particularly lucky.
Antigua feels easier to drive around.
Antigua is quieter but Barbados out of season also can feel quiet. Both islands you can find quiet or busier places.
Antigua Compared To Barbados (In more detail)
There is no surfing in Antigua– you might have fun in the moderately wavy half moon bay – but there is little shade (left side). A snack bar is there for basic refreshment. Take good directions to find it by car. It has some walking available around the immediate area. Barbados has a lot of beaches where the Atlantic pounds the shore, from the small town of Bathsheba where the best surf break on the island exists (Soup Bowl) around to the south coast almost up to Bridgetown but Akkra Beach is where it starts to get calmer. If you like still water Barbados has the resorts centered on the west coast the centre being Holetown.
Barbados doesn’t have the picturesque drive that is Antigua’s Fig Tree Drive. Both islands have beautiful scenery however none compare to the dramatic St Lucia.
Antigua or Barbados Cruise Ship Comparison
I would say Bridgetown has a lot more of interest than Antigua’s capital St John’s. They both have cruiseship type tours and areas that have been plushed up (gentrified or developed) where you can find Diamonds and Gambling but more interestingly; art, cigars, rum museum and crafts can be found quite close by the dock in Bridgetown. A great beach for cruise ship passengers is Millers in Antigua. But Barbados has Carlisle Bay. It has more fun activities but many feel that being in sight of the cruise ship makes them feel a little ripped off. It’s not as picturesque as Antigua’s choice beaches. If I was a bit fed up of beaches when I docked in Bridgetown I would plan a day visiting the city unless I specifically wanted to do one the many Barbados tours. Both have zip lining and horse riding as an example of things to do. I am just saying that while Barbados does have some wonderful beaches Carlisle bay is not the most picturesque. Barbados has Harrison’s cave tour which is unique to Barbados alone and you probably won’t find many along the cruise ship route!
There are more interesting wrecks to dive in Barbados than in Antigua otherwise both have comparable worthwhile diving opportunities. Antigua doesn’t have easy to access good snorkelling from just anywhere. I would say that there are some opportunities to snorkel over wrecks in Barbados which gives Barbados the edge for snorkelling, both feature unique tours where you can swim with stingrays in Antigua and Turtles in Barbados.
Barbados has a better public transport system for 2 BBD (1USD) you can travel as far as the bus goes. It is never any less despite distance unless you are a child in school uniform. So Barbados is easier to visit if you are independently travelling; backpacking in Barbados is far easier with more guesthouses too. Barbados has a lot of cheaper guest house accommodation than Antigua it’s a better island on balance to visit if you are backpacking.
Both Antigua and Barbados do great weddings. It is certainly something special getting married in the Caribbean. For many years in a row and again Antigua is voted as the Caribbean’s most romantic destination.
This is just the start and some of my personal opinion. And if you have the time and money I would certainly encourage you to visit both.
I hope that you comment below on your opinions of both islands what you liked disliked for example. And I hope this has made your choice a little more informed. If you have any direct questions please ask them in the comments section below.
Photo by Cédric Frixon on Unsplash