A timeless destination thanks to its warm, inviting atmosphere, its relaxed lifestyle and its abundance of natural beauty, the Caribbean offers a variety of vacation opportunities that never disappoint. However, faced with a selection of different islands, each with a slightly different character and ambiance, narrowing down the options when choosing a precise location can be a bit of a task. From the local culture to the general ambiance to the opportunities on offer, there is a lot to take into account when choosing where to go for your retreat.
Both similar in their atmosphere and the luxurious lifestyle that they offer to visitors, the islands of Anguilla and St. Barts are frequently compared as prime Caribbean hotspots. Small, luxurious and idyllic, both of these islands are sure to please those who are seeking a deluxe retreat from the stresses of daily life. Nevertheless, there are still some crucial differences between the two areas which are well worth taking into account when planning a vacation abroad. To help you decide on which of these two islands might be better suited to your taste, we’ve set out to compare these two beautiful areas.
Distinct European heritage
The first main difference between the two islands is due to their unique cultural heritages, as Anguilla has English roots while St. Barts remains French in its government and character. Although this means that both islands have a distinct air of European sophistication, there’s no denying that English and French culture are pretty different in their style. Cuisine in St Barts is dominated by French trends and accents, while Anguilla’s gastronomy is more shaped by Caribbean trends. Although it is certainly possible to find local fare in St Barts, native Caribbean delicacies such as spiced seafood, jerk style meats, and conch and coconut fritters are far more mainstream fare in Anguilla.
On another level, social attitudes towards aspects such as nudity on beaches are far more tolerant in St Barts than in Anguilla, which is understandable given the liberal approach that is commonly adopted by the French towards these matters. Attitudes to topless tanning are a little more conservative in Anguillan territory. That being said, St Barts isn’t a nudist resort or island; it is more the case that certain beaches permit discreet levels of nudity, while it is more difficult to come across this opportunity in Anguilla.
Overall, popular opinion is that St. Barts feels a little more foreign, and can even emanate a South of France vibe in many ways, while Anguilla is more distinctly Caribbean in its traditions, history, food, language, and overall culture. When choosing between the two islands, it’s therefore worth thinking about what you wish to gain from your luxury holiday; if you’re seeking more of a departure from the norm, St. Barts could be the best option. On the other hand, if you appreciate the familiarity and ease that comes with a measure of English-ness, it’s likely that Anguilla could offer the best experience for you.
It’s worth noting that although St. Barts is unquestionably French in its style and manner, English is also spoken to a great extent, and the island is in no way inhospitable to those who don’t adopt the French tongue (although arming yourself with a few simple phrases can go a long way with the locals). As is the case throughout the Caribbean, Anguilla, and St. Barts are both still famed for the warmth and hospitality that are constantly provided to visitors, promising a blissful vacation on both islands.
Although Anguilla and St. Barts are similarly renowned for their laidback tempo and luxurious way of life, there is also a slight difference in the level of action to be found in the two areas. While Anguilla offers more of a complete immersion in idyllic peace and calm, St. Barts provides a few more opportunities to mingle with other people and is known as an island where the rich and famous congregate among its beautiful beachside surroundings or in its quaint seaside capital of Gustavia. This island prioritizes the highest quality of life possible in all aspects, from accommodation and shopping opportunities to drinking and dining in the fine establishments on offer. Although Anguilla also provides an affluent retreat, the idea of a refined lifestyle is truly at the heart of St. Barts’ character.
With this ‘celebrity’ factor comes a distinct atmosphere of affluent living, and at certain times of the year the island can bubble with life; for the period over Christmas and the New Year, for example, St. Barts is considered the place to be. Although it still provides deluxe retreats that are far beyond the average, Anguilla is a little more humble and low-key in its style and vibe. The focus is more on escaping into an individual zone of secluded relaxation rather than on social mingling. Again, deciding between these two depends on your preferences – especially whether you prefer interactions with beautiful, interesting people as a part of your vacation, or if you prefer to immerse yourself in total calm.
Another way in which Anguilla and St. Barts differ is in their natural ambiance, as determined by the layout of the islands. Anguilla is flatter than St. Barts, which has a much more volcanic and mountainous feel to its landscape. Being a flat coral reef, Anguilla’s beaches are larger, whiter, and have finer sand, while many of St. Barts’ beaches are smaller and more isolated. While both environments are exceptionally beautiful, this element can also affect the way in which your vacation materializes, and so is certainly worth taking into account.
A vacation for every preference
The Caribbean is famed as a superior location for a luxury retreat and repeatedly demonstrates its ability to provide vacations of the highest quality. In essence, choosing between Anguilla and St. Barts doesn’t involve deciding upon which is the ‘better’ island; there’s no denying that both provide a wonderful holiday to all those who choose to explore their shores. It is merely a case of selecting the island that better matches your individual tastes, and to that end we are pleased to help our clients with every stage of planning the perfect vacation. With a wealth of knowledge and expertise on offer, Rental Escapes are pleased to provide exceptional vacations in these island locations. We cater to your wishes and aspirations, so consider Rental Escapes the next time you’re thinking about staying in a luxury villa in St. Barts or Anguilla.