St Lucia vs Antigua: Where To Take The Kids?

February 6, 2023

Saint Lucia vs Antigua

Table of Contents

You're considering St Lucia vs Antigua for your next family trip. But how to choose the right one?

If Antigua and St. Lucia are at the top of your Caribbean travel bucket list, you’re not alone.  

These two Caribbean islands are known for their romantic resorts and dramatic scenery, which makes them top choices for honeymooners. 

But both St Lucia and Antigua also have a lot to offer familes. Did you know that Antigua has several hotels with kids clubs that take little ones as young as 3 (a rare find)? Or that several of Saint Lucia’s luxury resorts have extensive kids’ programming, and suites large enough to fit families? 

Each island has something phenomenal to offer families, but it’s important to know that St Lucia and Antigua offer quite different experiences

In this article, we do a complete comparison of St Lucia vs Antigua. We highlight the similarities and differences that will help all travelers – but families in particular – pick between them for a tropical vacation. We compare the weather, the landscape, the best resorts, activities, dining and more. 

By the end of this Antigua vs Saint Lucia comparison, you’ll be confident and decisive in your choice whether to pick Antigua or St Lucia for your next family trip! 

Let’s dive in. 

The Bottom Line on St Lucia vs Antigua

I love both Antigua and St Lucia and frequently recommend them to Mango Tree travelers. A big part of choosing between them is flights: If you can get to one much more easily than the other, that’s the right choice!

Flights aside, Antigua is often a better choice for an easier, beach-focused vacation, and for travel with little kids.

But if you’re looking for more exploration, such as hiking through dramatic mountain landscapes, and snorkeling colorful reefs, then St. Lucia may be calling your name! 

Best Antigua Hotels 

Book Curtain Bluff for an all-inclusive luxury stay with two beaches. 

Head to Admirals Inn and Gunpowder Suites for a small, boutique hotel.

Best Saint Lucia Hotels 

Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, is one of the most luxurious, family-friendly hotels in the Caribbean. 

The Landings is also a great homebase for families with large suites and a beachfront location. 

Antigua vs Saint Lucia
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Overview of Antigua

The dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda sits in the eastern Caribbean Sea, at the bend of the Caribbean arc, east of Puerto Rico, near St. Kitts and Nevis.

Antigua is known for its picturesque white sand beaches. There are literally hundreds of them — 365 to be exact. The island’s coast is made up of dozens upon dozens of intricate bays and inlets, with another soft, beach spreading out around each bend. Antigua is the perfect English-speaking Caribbean island for a relaxing beach escape; a trip where most of your time will be spent with your toes in the sand.

This former British colony is also a sailing hot spot, thanks to excellent conditions from trade winds. Many of the island’s coves have attractive marinas and harbors that offer protection for dropping an overnight anchor. The Antigua Sailing Week attracts boaters from around the Caribbean and world.

There is no shortage of family-friendly hotels in Antigua to choose from. With more than 60 hotels offering 3000 rooms, there’s something for every taste and every budget. More on that later but suffice to say, you’ll have no trouble finding a kid-friendly beachfront resort to rest your head.

Map of Antigua

Overview of Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia pays tribute to its volcanic roots by rising from the eastern Caribbean sea and reaching for the sky. Along with Dominica, Martinique, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, Saint Lucia is one of the Winwards Islands that run north to south and make up the southern arc of the Caribbea chain. Each of these islands shares the same volcanic geology.

Saint Lucia is known for its mountainous interior and rugged landscape — not to mention the absolutely stunning views you can find from its various peaks. It’s also known by many for its underwater world, as the island’s border is lined with coral reefs, making snorkeling more accessible from the shore than on many other islands, including Antigua.

Saint Lucia offers a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury, for your holiday. While St Lucia probably is most well known for its romantic boutique hotels that surround the Pitons, like Jade Mountain Resort, families won’t be starved for lack of options. 

Map of St. Lucia

View from Shirley Heights Antigua
Saint Lucia vs Antigua

Antigua vs St Lucia: Climate and Geography 

Topography

Antigua and Saint Lucia have extremely different landscapes.

Antigua is a limestone and coral-based island — mostly flat and low-lying, with some rolling hills. It has a single, iconic viewpoint, called Shirley Heights, the island’s highest point. The view highlights what Antigua is all about: harbours, bays and boats:

St Lucia, on the other hand, is a volcanic island, with a landscape dominicated by lush rainforest and mountain peaks that seem to (and in some places do) plunge into the sea. The abundance of life in the hills continues underwater, as mountain gives way to coral reef. Perhaps one of the most well-known views of the West Indies, if not the entire Caribbean, is of the Pitons:

How will this topography affect your family vacation to Antigua vs St Lucia? 

Antigua shines for its countless beachfront properties and stretches of soft, white sand – ideal for toddler beach vacations

St Lucia attracts more adventure-seekers, poised to spend time exploring the island’s interiors, and the vast underwater world just below the surface. 

One upside to Antigua’s flat landscape is that it’s relatively easy to drive around. Aside from needing to drive on the left hand side of the road, renting a car in Antigua should feel easy and non-threatening. 

The rougher terrain of Saint Lucia, by contrast, can intimidate those wanting to explore on their own. But if you rent a car and go your own speed, it’s totally manageable! If you’re seeking a more adventurous Caribbean vacation, don’t let the driving scare you away.

Antigua vs Saint Lucia

Island Size

Antigua is much smaller than St. Lucia, at 108 square miles and 54 miles of coastline. St. Lucia, by contrast, covers 238 square miles with 98 miles of coastline. In Antigua, it’s often said that you can get anywhere on the island, no matter your starting place, in about 30-40 minutes.

In Saint Lucia, on the other hand, it takes between 90 minutes and 2 hours to get from one end of the long island to the other, and the activities feel much more spread out. The best beaches, for example, are on the north end of the island, whereas the mountainous activities and hiking are in the more wild southern half.

Perhaps because of the mighty Pitons rising from the earth, and the winding mountain roads, when you’re comparing St Lucia vs Antigua, St. Lucia feels bigger than Antigua. The smaller island maintains a more intimate, and extremely laid-back feel.

Climate

Antigua or Saint Lucia offer similar tropical climates, but with a few notable differences.

On both islands, for most of the year, you can expect the dreamy tropical weather that leads families to flock to the Caribbean. The temperature on each island ranges from about 70 to 90 degrees Farenheit (from 21 to 32 Celsius). 

Antigua and St. Lucia share the same high season, running from mid-December through April. And each has a rainy season in the summer, which usually means afternoon showers.

But Antigua is more arid than St. Lucia. You’ll feel dry, warm air wash over you as you walk down the airplane stairs onto the runway. In Saint Lucia, the proximity of the rainforest can always be felt, casting a lush sweet smell across the island and slightly more humidity.

Saint Lucia vs Antigua

Antigua vs St Lucia: Resorts

Once you’ve arrived in your destination of choice, where will you stay? One of the main deciding factors when choosing between Antigua and Saint Lucia for a family trip will naturally be the family resort offerings.

One thing we love about both of these islands is that they are not overrun with massive resorts, yet each have a nice mix of both resorts and hotels. At Mango Tree we generally prefer hotels with less than 100 rooms, and you can find fantastic small hotels for families in Saint Lucia and Antigua, at all luxury levels. To be sure, each island has a Sandals Resort and other well-known international brands. But there are hidden gems to be found as well.

Curtain Bluff Luxury Resort Antigua

Luxury Resorts

Both Antigua and Saint Lucia offer high-end, luxury resorts that welcome kids.

In Saint Lucia, the nicest hotels are in the south part of the island, close to the dramatic views of the Pitons. But many of Saint Lucia’s most known luxury resorts are adults-only, reserved for honeymooners and romantic getaways. But don’t fret, a handful of Saint Lucia’s top hotels welcome families, and you only need one for a great vacation!

Antigua, on the other hand, has a seemingly endless number of luxury resorts, all around the island, with most offering all-inclusive packages.

Here are our favorite luxury resort options on each island for families:

Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort (St Lucia)

Located right between the Pitons, on a private beach, the scenery at Sugar Beach is unlike any other. You’ll be right in the thick of St. Lucia’s dramatic landscape, waking up to it each day in one of the hotel’s 78 rooms and cottages. With a kids club and babysitting at your fingertips, parents can get a well-earned rest.

Cap Maison (St Lucia)

If a boutique hotel is more your scene, head to the 49-room Cap Maison on Saint Lucia’s northern coast. It’s a true luxury boutique, set up on a hill, with a foodie focus and classically decorated suites that will accommodate families. Walk down the steps in the hillside to Smuggler’s Cove, one of the best beaches on the island for kids learning to snorkel. You won’t find a kids’ club here but families are aboslutely welcome.

Anse Chastanet (St. Lucia — Off Season)

Anse Chastanet may be one of the most famous hotels in Saint Lucia. Rooms are nestled into the hillside — with many missing a fourth wall, to totally immerse its guests in nature. At the bottom of the hill, at water’s edge, lies perhaps the best snorkeling beach on the island, making this a top Caribbean resort for families prioritizing snorkeling.

The only rub? An age limit. Anse Chastanet 10+ all year. But from July – September, the minimum age is reduced to 6 years, making this a hidden gem for summer break travel.

Curtain Bluff (Antigua)

A special, luxurious all-inclusive resort, with an outdoor kids’ club, two beaches, a playground, lawn games, and impressive attention to detail, this is our top choice for a high-end stay. 

Jumby Bay (Antigua) 

For the ultimate luxury vacation, book a family villa at Jumby Bay, a private-island resort off the coast of Antigua. The 300-acre tropical playground has only 40 suites and villas, with near-perfect design. With kids’ club, babysitting, and an all-inclusive experience, you can leave all your worries behind.

Admiral's Inn in Antigua

Other Family Hotels in Antigua and Saint Lucia 

A luxury resort may not be in the budget for every family vacation. Antigua and Saint Lucia both have lots of other great hotel options for families.

The Landings (Saint Lucia)

This residential-style hotel on Saint Lucia’s northern end is part of yacht community, and has 72 one-, two-, and three-bedroom beachfront suites for families with kitchens and laundry. You won’t find a ton of resort activities here; rather, it’s a spacious and lovely home base for exploration — right on the beach.

Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa (Saint Lucia)

If a bigger resort is callign your name, 250-room Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa is only 5 minutes from the airport, and offers an all-inclusive, family-focused experience. With a kids’ club, lazy river, tennis courts, and more, this is the place to stay if you want to mostly stay at your resort, but take a few excursions to see Saint Lucia’s natural beauty.

The Verandah (Antigua)

A lovely all-inclusive resort in a peaceful setting on a quiet corner of Antigua, with hillside cabins and all the amenities you need with kids, The Verandah is a great choice for the middle- to upper-range budget. 

Admirals Inn & Gunpowder Suites (Antigua)

We love finding tiny hotels that surprise us, and Admirals Inn definitely fits the bill. This boutique hotel can be found in historic buildings in Nelson’s Dockyard, walking distance from several restaurants and shops. It has a small but stunning hillside infinity pool, and access to a kid-friendly beach via a short ferry ride. For something a bit unusual

Boat Ride in Saint Lucia

Antigua vs St Lucia: Getting There and Getting Around

Getting there

St Lucia sits about 360 km south of Antigua. A quick and easy one hour flight connects the two islands. From the United States, though, it’s a slightly longer flight to St. Lucia, roughly 30 extra minutes from Miami.  

Antigua and St Lucia measure up pretty equally when it comes to direct flight options. 

Antigua is served directly from New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Miami, and also Toronto and Montreal. If you can’t get a direct flight, it’s relatively pain-free to connect through one of these hubs.

Despite being farther away from the U.S., St. Lucia actually has more direct flight options than Antigua. As of January 2023, it can be reached directly from all of the same airports as Antigua (except Montreal) plus Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston.

Winner for ease of getting there: Saint Lucia 

Gettting around 

The resorts in both Antigua and Saint Lucia are stunning enough that you might rarely want to leave, if ever. 

But both islands offer so much beyond the resort that we encourage you to get out and explore!

Antigua is much smaller than St. Lucia. Generally speaking, the roads are well maintained and easy to navigate, and picking up a car upon arrival is no big deal. Because of the various coves and bays, no matter where you are, it takes about 20-30 minutes to get to where you want to go in Antigua. 

In St Lucia, driving can be much more intimidating. The international airport is on the farthest southern point of the island, with most hotels about a 60-90 minute drive up-island. That can feel like a long drive on windy, mountain roads when you’ve just arrived at the airport after a long day of travel with kids! 

One additional option for St. Lucia: If you’re staying on the north end of the island near Castries or Rodney Bay, you might want to arrange roundtrip airport transportation to your hotel, and then rent a car near your hotel for the duration of your stay once you’re settled. And if you really don’t want to drive, you can look into excursions that include transportation.

Winner for ease of getting around: Antigua

 

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Dickensen Bay with Toddler Antigua

Antigua vs St Lucia: Activities 

Both Antigua and Saint Lucia offer plenty of activities to keep parents and kids entertained, and worth leaving the resort for. In keeping with the theme you’ve likely noticed by now, though, Antigua will provide a more low-key beachfront experience, while Saint Lucia shines for adventure seekers, or those who go out of their way for an epic view.

Antiguan beaches are wide and perfect for families with young children, especially the popular Dickensen Bay. With 365 sandy beaches to discover, you could visit a new beach every day of your trip. 

If your kids need a break from the beach, though, Antigua also has some great attractions such as the historic Nelson’s DockyardDevil’s Bridge, and ziplining through the Antiguan Rainforest (smaller than St. Lucia’s, but still there!). And, of course, we can’t leave off that Antigua is known for being one of a handful of places in the Caribbean where kids can swim with stingrays.

On the other hand, St Lucia is a paradise for adventure seekers. With its mountainous landscape, there are plenty of hiking trails and natural beauty to explore, including hiking the infamous Piton Mountains. 

St Lucia also has some amazing spots for snorkeling and diving with its coral reef, especially around the base of the Pitons in the southern half of the island. Other popular activities include the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, volcanic mud baths, touring historic Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island National Park, and more.

Many families will choose to stay up north in Saint Lucia, near the popular town of Gros Islet. Rediut Beach, on that part of the island, is one of the most family friendly, and home to many hotels and restaurants. But the nature-focused activities are much farther south, near Gros Piton. That’s where the island really shines, in our opinion. 

WINNER: SAINT LUCIA

Dining in Antigua

St Lucia vs Antigua: Food and Dining

Antigua and St. Lucia each have their own unique flavors that will tantalize your taste buds, and expose your children to something new and different. From traditional island dishes to international cuisine, here is what St Lucia vs Antigua offer families in terms of food and dining experiences.

In Antigua, you can find a range of international cuisine that reflects the island’s long history of British colonialism. From Indian curries to Chinese dumplings, Antiguan restaurants serve up dishes that reflect their diverse and multicultural heritage. Traditional Antiguan dishes like conch and Johnny cakes are also a favorite among visitors to the island.

In St. Lucia, you can expect to find a mix of African, French, and Indian spices, but still with British influence. Seafood is especially popular in St. Lucia and you will find many restaurants serving lobster. If you’re looking for something unique and flavorful, try traditional dishes such as baked plantains, green fig and saltfish or breadfruit.

Both Antigua and St. Lucia offer fine-dining experiences, in particular at the high-end resorts. But, on balance, St Lucia has a more varied restaurant scene and higher-end options. Plus, it’s lush rainforest interior means lots of fresh produce.  

winner: saint lucia

Resort in Antigua

Antigua vs. St Lucia: Safety 

Antigua and Saint Lucia are both safe islands for families to visit, but as with any vacation destination, it is important to exercise caution.

Antigua has one of the lowest crime rates in the Caribbean, and frequently makes lists of safest Caribbean islands. Antigua relies heavily on tourism as the mainstay of its economy, and tourist areas in particular will feel quite safe. 

In St. Lucia, violent crime has risen in recent years, including a few incidents against tourists, which have made a lot of headlines. Most visits to Saint Lucia will be incident-free, however, if travelers take basic safety precautions. 

Overall, Antigua and St. Lucia are both great destinations for families who want to experience the Caribbean culture and relax on beautiful beaches. As long as you take basic safety precautions, and, your trip is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

No matter where you travel, be aware of your surroundings and avoid being in isolated or poorly lit areas at night. Seek advice from your hotel staff about which areas to avoid, and travel with trusted drivers if you’re taking taxis.

WINNER: ANTIGUA 

Piton Saint Lucia

Antigua vs St Lucia: Opportunities For Island-Hopping 

Island hopping in the Caribbean always seems like something that should be easy to accomplish, yet it often turns out to be overly complicated. If you’re considering a multi-island trip, and wondering whether to include Antigua or Saint Lucia in your itinerary, which provides the most opportunities for bouncing around?

Both!

From the international airport in Saint John’s, Antigua, you can fly direct to approximately 15 other Caribbean islands, depending on the time of year. The Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) has its headquarters in Antigua, with routes to many Caribbean islands. Other inter-island carriers, such as Caribbean Airlines, fly in and out of Antigua as well. Ferry service from Antigua is limited to Barbuda and Montserrat.

From Saint Lucia, you can access fewer islands directly by air — but more by boat. The french ferry company L’Espress Des Isles runs between four islands: Saint Lucia, the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and also Dominica, “the nature island.” Combining your trip to Saint Lucia with any of these destinations would make for an epic family trip.

From Saint Lucia, you can also fly to Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago. (One of our favorite family hotels in the Grenadines, Bequia Beach Hotel, brings guests in from Saint Lucia on its private charter).

BEST FOR ISLAND-HOPPING: Both! 

Saint Lucia Marina View

Frequently Asked Questions

Antigua tends to be pricier than St. Lucia for travelers. Its upscale resorts and dining options are geared towards a luxury experience. If cost is a concern, you’ll likely find St. Lucia to be the more wallet-friendly option.

Antigua is much smaller than St. Lucia, at 108 square miles and 54 miles of coastline. St. Lucia, by contrast, covers 238 square miles with 98 miles of coastline.

If you’re looking for a more laid-back, beach-centric vacation, Antigua is your go-to. St. Lucia, on the other hand, is more for the adventurous family, with the chance to explore lush rainforests and the iconic Piton Mountains. 

The Bottom Line

Both Antigua and St Lucia offer families amazing opportunities to experience the beautiful Caribbean islands with their kids. For an easier, beach-focused vacation with kids, Antigua is probably a better choice than St. Lucia. 

But if you’re eager to get out and explore, and to spend more of your time hiking through mountains or snorkeling through reefs, St. Lucia’s natural playground should be calling your name.

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