Caribbean » Barbados vs Antigua: Which Is Better For Your Caribbean Holiday

Barbados vs Antigua: Which Is Better For Your Caribbean Holiday

Struggling to choose between Barbados and Antigua? From food and activities, to landscapes and culture, it’s time to look at what makes each island unique.

Have you been dreaming about tropical holidays to the Caribbean? As soon as the gloomy weather hits London, I find myself scrolling through photos of sunny days on holidays in the West Indies. But, with so many different paradise islands to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to go.

Antigua vs Barbados
It’s time to choose between Antigua vs Barbados!

Barbados and Antigua are former British colonies and retain many of the flavours and traditions that Brits recognise and love. But they also have some unique characteristics that draw on the history, cultures and lifestyles that have shaped them.  

I’ve visited both and loved my time on the islands. It’s been fun exploring them on different styles of trip – some have been packed full of adventures and activities, while others have been more for relaxation.

Looking out over the beautiful island of Antigua, Caribbean
Looking out over the beautiful island of Antigua, Caribbean

To be honest, it’s a tricky job to compare Antigua vs Barbados! It’s like being asked who is your best friend or your favourite kid! Both islands are beautiful, vibrant, exciting and unique in their own ways, with delicious cuisine, romantic resorts, honeymoon hotels and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean.  

Every villa has a swing chair
Deciding on Antigua or Barbados for your honeymoon

However, while they share many similarities, there are also plenty of differences between Barbados and Antigua. Coming up, I’ll give you the lowdown on both countries and hopefully help you to decide between Barbados vs Antigua for your next tropical holiday.

Barbados vs Antigua: Which Is Better?

Geography and climate

Barbados and Antigua are tropical islands with distinct climatic and geographical features. Barbados is a coral island with relatively flat terrain. Antigua, by contrast, is a volcanic island with more rugged terrain.


Let me set the scene for where we’re heading! Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands. It has an area of 169 square miles (Greater London, by comparison, is 611 square miles) and a population of around 270,000. Ninety per cent of the population is of African ancestry. Barbados became a republic in 2021 but remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Beautiful views at Cherry Tree Hill, Barbados
Beautiful views at Cherry Tree Hill, Barbados

Barbados experiences two distinct seasons. The wet season runs from June to December, with temperatures ranging from 23℃ to 31℃. September, October and November are the months when the heaviest rainfall occurs. The dry season begins at the end of December and runs through until May, with temperatures ranging from 21℃ to 31℃.

Coastline in Barbados, Caribbean
Coastline in Barbados, Caribbean


By contrast, Antigua is one of the Leeward Islands group and has a smaller sister island 60km away called Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state in 1981.

Antigua has an area of approximately 281 square miles and its capital city is St. John’s, a deep-water port that is popular with large cruise ships.

Enjoying Antigua's colourful capital St John's
Enjoying Antigua’s colourful capital St John’s

Antigua has a tropical climate with a cool dry season from January to mid-April and a hot, humid rainy season from mid-June until November. The average temperature in Antigua is around 27℃ in January and February, rising a little to 28℃ from June to September. Most of the annual rainfall occurs from September to November. 

Getting there and getting around

When you fly into Barbados you’ll land at Grantly Adams International Airport, which is located on the southern coast of the island. From the airport, you can easily grab a taxi or rent a car to get around.

If you’re heading to Antigua, you’ll fly into VC Bird International Airport. This is located on the eastern coast of Antigua. Once again, you can rent a car at the airport or take a taxi to get around. If you’re transferring to Barbuda, the flight time is only 20 minutes from here! It is also possible to catch a ferry from Montserrat or Barbuda to Antigua.

Whether you choose to visit Barbados or Antigua, on either island you can get around using a variety of transport methods. Taxis are widely available on both islands and can be a fun and convenient way to get around. Renting a car is also an option. You’ll find rental companies located at the airports in both Antigua and Barbados. Plus, most hotels and resorts offer shuttle services to and from the airport.

Walking through The Verandah Resort, Antigua
Walking through The Verandah Resort, Antigua


Oh the beaches! I could talk about these all day long! Let’s face it, one of the main reasons to visit any Caribbean island is to enjoy the beautiful beaches.

When it comes to comparing Barbados vs Antigua you’re going to be spoiled for choice! There are literally hundreds of wonderful beaches to choose from on these islands.

The amazing beaches in Antigua

Antigua is famous for having 365 beaches: that’s one for each day of the year! Most beaches in Antigua are composed of pure white sand washed by gentle waves of clear, turquoise water. They’re all pretty calm too, ideal for swimming, snorkelling and paddle boarding.

I absolutely loved exploring the beaches in Antigua. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I really enjoyed visiting Dickinson Bay, Half Moon Bay, Jolly Beach, and Pigeon Point.

Beautiful views from the water of Antigua
Beautiful views from the water of Antigua

Over on Barbuda, you find some of the most secluded and pristine beaches anywhere in the Caribbean. There’s even one with pale pink sand, created by the levels of coral in the area.

Beach strolls
Beach strolls

The beautiful beaches in Barbados

Barbados on the other hand, has fewer beaches, than Antigua, but the good news is that they are way more diverse and interesting. The beaches on the island’s western side are ideal for swimming and snorkelling. They’re sheltered from the wind and the water is very calm. It’s the Barbados you’ll have seen on postcards!

Enjoying the beaches in Barbados
Enjoying the beaches in Barbados

Over on the east coast of Barbados, the beaches are more rugged and windy, so they attract adventure seekers, divers and surfers looking for killer breaks!

A few of the most popular beaches on Barbados are the rugged Bathsheba Beach (which has phenomenal sunrises), the pink sand Crane Beach (which has been described as “one of the ten best beaches in the world) and Sandy Lane Beach

My favourite beach is probably Crane Beach. I loved watching the huge waves rolling in, seeing locals frolicking in the spray, and surfers riding their way to the shore. I’d definitely recommend spending time there.

Crane Beach, Barbados
Crane Beach, Barbados

On the south coast, Welches Beach is a stretch of stunning white sand and crystal-clear water that is perfect for snorkelling. It’s also close to Oistins where the famous fish fry happens every Friday night. More about that unmissable event later!


I think a huge reason to fall in love with the Caribbean islands is for the culture. Both Barbados and Antigua have diverse and rich cultures, which are largely influenced by their heritage, and by their history. 

The culture of Antigua

After the British colonised Antigua in the 17th century, it became an important base for the Royal Navy in the Caribbean. The historic Nelson’s Dockyard at English Harbour is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and well worth a visit. 

Nelson's Dockyard is a must-visit if you're interested in history
Nelson’s Dockyard is a must-visit if you’re interested in history

The island still retains much of its British influence. In Antigua, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, love playing cricket and even celebrate the King’s birthday!

But Antigua also has a very strong African heritage because many of its inhabitants are descendants of those who were brought to the island to work on the sugar plantations. They have given the island a vibrant music scene, which features genres such as Soca, Calypso, Reggae, and steel-pan music. 

The culture of Barbados

Barbados was also colonised by the British in the 17th century. But the reason Barbados was important to Britain was because it was a major sugar producer in the Caribbean. Barbados also has a strong British influence with English being the official language and it follows a Parliamentary system of government. 

Barbados also has a significant amount of African heritage and influences. However, it also has influences from many other cultures such as Portuguese, Irish, Indian, and Jewish. Barbados is well known for its lively festivals, such as the Crop Over Festival and the Hole Town Festival.

The island is also very famous for its rum production. If you get the chance, book a tour of Mount Gay to learn all about how this delicious liquor is made… with lots of opportunities to taste!

Mount Gay Rum Tour, Barbados
Mount Gay Rum Tour is a must if you’re visiting Barbados


While you’ll find elements of British cuisine prevalent in both Barbados and Antigua, both island groups also have delicious cuisines of their own that reflect their unique culture and environments. Expect lots of amazing fresh fish and seafood, Jerk spices, BBQs and rice.

Antiguan food

Antiguan food is greatly influenced by the flavours of the Caribbean. The national dishes are fungie, a cornmeal and okra dish similar to polenta, and pepperpot, which is a stew of meat, cassava juice and vegetables.

Hot and spicy shrimp at Dennis Beach Bar
Hot and spicy shrimp at Dennis Beach Bar in Antigua

I’d also recommend trying saltfish and chopup (salted cod and vegetables). Other popular dishes include ducana (sweet potato dumplings wrapped in banana leaf), goat water (awful name but it’s actually a yummy stew made from goat meat, breadfruit, potatoes and species), conch (shellfish prepared as either soup or fritters), and the old British navy dish called souse (pig meat in broth). Some of these might not sound that appetising but you’ll be surprised by the tastes.

Barbadian food

A lot of the cuisine in Barbados centres around seafood. Flying fish with cou cou is the country’s national dish – a fish stew with cornmeal or polenta. You’ll also find dolphinfish (also known as mahi-mahi) shrimp, and swordfish on menus across the island.

A traditional Barbadian snack you can sample is conkies, which is a mixture of cornmeal, sweet potato, coconut and raisins cooked in a palm leaf. However, one of my favourite things to eat in Barbados are fish cakes. They’re made from balls of salted codfish wrapped in flour and then deep-fried. They’re absolutely delicious!

Tasty food at Oistin's Fish Fry, Barbados
Tasty food at Oistin’s Fish Fry, Barbados

One of the best places to enjoy traditional food from Barbados is at Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night. Here, you can sample an array of fresh seafood cooked up by local vendors outside in the warm Barbadian night air! There’s live music and a fun party atmosphere. I absolutely loved it!

Things to Do: Antigua vs Barbados

With food and beaches aplenty, you are never going to run out of relaxing options in Barbados and Antigua. But if you still have some energy to burn, the islands have lots of activities to choose from. Here is a quick overview.

Awesome things to do in Antigua

From kayaking through the mangroves to cooking classes, there are lots of great things to do in Antigua.

  • Scooter Snorkelling Tours. Get up close and personal with the undersea world as you are pulled gently along by a battery-powered sea scooter. 
  • Rum Cooking and Tasting. Learn how to use Antigua’s famous rum as an ingredient in cooking. Find out about the fascinating (and sometimes brutal) history of rum-making and indulge in a tasting or two. 
  • City Lime Food Tour. Taste the food Antiguans love on the weekday tour around some of the islands’ best eateries. 
  • All About Jerk Cooking Class. If you love the flavour of jerked meat, try this yummy cookery class. Learn about all the spices used in this style of cooking, prep and cook your lunch, and then eat it on a verandah overlooking the Caribbean.  
  • Kayak the Mangrove Forests. Mangrove forests are a key element in the ecology of Antigua. Learn all about these fascinating plants as you paddle amongst them.

For more amazing things to do in Antigua, have a thorough read of my Antigua travel guide.

Snorkelling in Antigua, Caribbean
I loved snorkelling in Antigua, Caribbean

Epic things to do in Barbados

From rainforest strolls to cooking classes, you’ll have lots of options in Barbados.

  • Explore the shipwrecks of Carlisle Bay.  View three shipwrecks beneath you as you paddle over crystal-clear water.
  • Watch the sunrise or the sunset. Take a guided morning or evening walk in Bridgetown to watch the day begin or end. 
  • Front row seats at the Oistins Fish Fry. Join a small group to experience the best of this iconic Barbadian event.
  • Explore the Garrison. Find out about military life in Barbados during the 18th century on a guided walk around this historic part of Bridgetown.  

For more amazing things to do on the island, have a thorough read of my Barbados travel guide.

Paddleboarding in Barbados
Paddleboarding was one of my favourite activities in Barbados


No visit to either Barbados or Antigua would be complete without a night or two out on the town. If you’re ready to party, Antigua and Barbados have plenty of options to entertain you after the sun goes down!

Nightlife in Antigua

Antigua’s nightlife is largely concentrated in the capital city of St John’s where you’ll find lively bars, casinos, clubs, and lots of music venues. One of the island’s most popular spots is Abracadabra, in English Harbour, which is both a restaurant and nightclub that hosts international DJs and performers. 

Another fun option in Dickenson’s Bay is Ana’s on the Beach, a beachfront lounge bar that has cocktails, tapas and jazz… what a combination! For an even more heady experience, swing by King’s Casino in Saint John’s where you can fritter away your fortune or perhaps win somebody else’s!

Antigua also has a few spots where you can go and hang out with the locals. The biggest and best party (in my opinion) is the Shirley Heights Lookout Party. This takes place every Sunday night at the historic Shirley Heights Gun Battery site overlooking English Harbour. It’s a stunning spot, and things get pretty lively once the rum punch is flowing!

Incredible views of Antigua from Shirley Heights
Incredible views of Antigua from Shirley Heights where the lookout party takes place

Hot nights out in Barbados

The nightlife of Barbados is more spread out across the island so if you’re looking to find bars, restaurants, clubs and venues, you might have to put in a bit of extra effort.

Some of Barbados’ most popular spots are Harbourlights a beachfront club in Bridgetown that hosts theme nights with fire eaters and live shows. The Boatyard at Carlisle Bay is a beach club that has water sports, food and drinks. This place really fires up when there are cruise ships in port.

Juma's Restaurant, Speightstown, Barbados
One of the pretty restaurants we visited in Barbados

For a more mellow night out, head over to The Cliff which is a fine dining restaurant overlooking the ocean. It’s ideal for couples looking for a romantic place to unwind.

Honeymoons in the Caribbean

Both of these islands are popular honeymoon destinations. There are numerous luxury hotels offering chic bedrooms, private sandy beaches and intimate experiences.

If you’re planning a honeymoon in Antigua, I’d recommend staying at Hammock Cove. This spectacular all-inclusive resort is one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at on my travels. Every little detail was taken care of and there were plenty of opportunities for romance! Just look at how stunning this place is!

How beautiful is Hammock Cove resort
How beautiful is Hammock Cove resort?

If you’re planning a honeymoon in Barbados, look no further than The Crane Resort or Sandals. Bother of these are popular for special occasions. With 5-star service, top restaurants and some of the best views in Barbados, you’ll fall in love all over again!

The Crane, Barbados
The Crane, Barbados

Barbados vs Antigua: Where to choose for your Caribbean holiday?

So you’ve heard all about them both, but now it’s the tricky bit! It’s time to choose between Barbados and Antigua! Both islands have their unique charms, lifestyle and atmosphere. Barbados, with its spectacular beaches, vibrant music scene and rich history, is more popular among tourists looking for fun and action.

Antigua, on the other hand, is a bit more laid back, perfect if you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind.

Of course, both countries have plenty of sandy beaches. But if you are looking for a beach vacation, Antigua’s 365 beaches will give you oodles of choice. When it comes to budgets, neither island is exactly cheap… but there are some budget options if you want to travel on a shoestring. There are definitely affordable accommodations, cheap local eateries and free activities in both countries.

Relaxing in our plunge pool
Good luck deciding between Barbados and Antigua! It’s a tough one!

So, which of these tropical paradises is best: Barbados or Antigua? I can honestly say that I love both of them, so it really depends on what you are looking for. And if you have a favourite spot in Barbados or Antigua, I’d love to hear about it.

Looking for more information about places in this part of the world? Don’t miss these travel guides:

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

Leave a comment