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Jamaica is one of the most popular Caribbean vacation destinations. It is the home of reggae music, jerk foods and the fastest man in the world.

Additionally, Jamaica is much closer to the United States of America than Antigua with a flying time of one hour and forty minutes from Miami International Airport.

Antigua & Barbuda does not receive as many visitors to its shores as Jamaica. Nevertheless, it is still a favorite vacation spot of countless persons to the Caribbean.

The island is located near the British overseas territory of Montserrat which is easy to access via ferry.

In this article, we complete a deep dive comparison of Antigua and Jamaica, to help you select which island is ideal for your Caribbean vacation.

As a general rule, Antigua is the destination of choice for visitors interested in beaches, solo female travel, Caribbean history and swimming with stingrays. Alternatively, Jamaica is better for travelers who enjoy jerk foods, a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Dunns River.

Read on for further details and explanations on how these two stunning Caribbean Islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean national familiar with both islands.

Antigua Vs Jamaica- How Does The Size & Landscape Differ

Jamaica is the bigger of the two islands having a landmass of 4,244 square miles. Alternatively, Antigua is much smaller being 169.9 square miles.

Both islands are similar in terms of their look and feel. However, Jamaica is much more lush and mountainous than Antigua.

Antigua Vs Jamaica- Does The Currency Differ

Antigua and Jamaica have different currencies. The official currency of Antigua is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) which has been pegged to the US (United States) dollar since July 7th, 1976 at a rate of USD $1 to XCD $2.70.

This currency is also shared by seven other Eastern Caribbean islands and is managed through a regional central bank which is based in St Kitts.

The Eastern Caribbean currency has bank notes as well as coins. Bank notes are available in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. 

Coins are available in 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, $1 and $2 denominations.  Coins in 1 cents and 2 cents pieces were recently discontinued.

Alternatively, the official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar since 1969. It is issued and managed by its own Central Bank. The Bank of Jamaica which is the Central Bank is responsible for the island’s monetary policy.

The US dollar however, is widely accepted by businesses in both countries. US bank notes that are worn, torn and impaired are usually rejected. Additionally, US coins cannot be used in these countries.

Antigua Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has The Better Nightlife

Jamaica has a more bustling night life and entertainment options when compared to Antigua.

The nightlife in Jamaica is superior Antigua having countless restaurants, casinos, night clubs, theaters and beach bars.

Margaritaville is a one of the popular spots on the island which is built above the sea with a bar and restaurant. Pier1 is also a very well loved place for locals and visitors which feature an open restaurant which serves Jamaican cuisine with live music and dancing.

Contrastingly, entertainment in Antigua is predominantly restaurants and beach bars. Shirley’s Heights Lookout is a well- known spot in Antigua on Sunday evenings for entertainment. There is usually a live band with drinks and food available for purchase. Some of the other popular nightlife spots on the island are The Lime and Tryst Nightclub, Bar and Restaurant

Antigua Vs Jamaica- Which Island Is Safer

Antigua is the safer of the two destinations and is a perfect choice for a solo female traveler.

According to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory, based on a 2018 crime report per 100,000 citizens, Antigua recorded 12 murders and 2 kidnappings.

On the other hand, Jamaica has a high crime rate. According to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory, there was an increase in shootings and murders from 2018 to 2019 by 7.8 % and 3.4%.

Additionally, murders and robberies increased in the same period by 9.3 % and 3.1% respectively.

Visitors to Jamaica should exercise a higher degree of caution. Avoid wearing jewelery and expensive items in public places.

It may be prudent to book tours and outings with businesses authorized by the hotel to ensure safety. Avoid crime hot spots such as in Kingston and Montego Bay where gang related crime levels are highest on the island.

Antigua Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has Better Beaches

Both islands are known for having magnificent beaches. One major difference is that Antigua is the island known for having 365 beaches, one for every day of the year.

Alternatively, Jamaica has 50 beaches. Negril beach is Jamaica’s most famous with white sand and beautiful water. Negril is located a little over one hour away from the international airport in Montego Bay.

There are many things that you can enjoy on this beach such as kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving.

This beach is family friendly with many bars, restaurants and entertainment spots on its shoreline.

Dickenson Bay is one of the well- loved beaches in Antigua with both locals and tourists alike. Its shallow and calm waters make it an ideal spot for water sports such as paddle boarding.

Antigua Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has The Better Cuisine

Both islands have the typical West Indian cuisine. Antigua’s national dish is fungee and pepperpot. Seafood also forms a big part of the meals served on the island.

Furthermore, Jamaica is well known for jerk food, festival, ackee and salt fish as well as bammy. The jerk chicken as an example is specially cooked over wood and has a unique flavor.

Jerk food is prepared in other Caribbean islands such as Antigua but the Jamaican cuisine in this area is extraordinary. Festivals are served as a staple with many meals. There is packet festival mix which you can buy at local Jamaica supermarkets.

Island Grill is one of the local restaurants that you can visit for real Jamaican jerk experience. Devon’s House as well is a nice location to take in some history as well as delicious locally made ice cream.

Antigua Vs Jamaica- What Are The Unique Things To Do

Unique Things To Do In Antigua

Visit Laviscount Island- enjoy a getaway to a private island which is home to Giant Aldabra Tortoises. Animal lovers will truly enjoy feeding and interacting with the tortoises on this island.

Swim With Stingrays– enjoy swimming and snorkeling in beautiful waters of Antigua with friendly stingrays. There are also amazing coral reefs and several species of fishes that you can enjoy at the pool.

Visit Nelson’s Dockyard- delve into the history of the island by visiting Nelson’s Dockyard where there are modern conveniences such as shops and marina businesses. This dockyard allows visitors to enjoy the park’s beauty.  There is also the dockyard museum which provides deep insight into the dockyard’s history and current research on the island.

Unique Things To Do In Jamaica

Explore Dunn River Falls- this world renowned water fall is one of the most visited attractions on the island. Located near Ocho Rio, there are several activities that you can do at the falls and water park which includes zip lining, climbing the falls and purchasing souvenirs at the craft shop.

Visit Bob Marley Museum– for reggae enthusiasts and fans of the legendary singer site see at his former home. Bob Marley lived at this location in Kingston until his transition in 1981. A tour of his former home features his studio as well as several memorabilia. There is a theatre, record shop and café located at this premises

Final Thoughts

On a whole, Antigua is an exceptional choice for individuals who love exploring the island’s many beaches, solo female travel and island hopping to neighboring Montserrat. Alternatively, Jamaica is an ideal choice for a traveler who wants to enjoy authentic jerk food, amazing nightlife and beaches.

Need More Information?

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