So I've decided to either stay on St. John or Anguilla. Can anyone sway my vote to either one? They're just so different from another. Thanks!
That's a wonderful problem to have. for sure. I love both but prefer the beaches on Anguilla BUT if you like to snorkel, then St. John wins hands down.
Anguilla is more Caribbean in feel to me but St. John is lusher. Better access to a ton of great restaurants in Anguilla, not that there aren't some good ones in St. John but nothing compared to Anguilla especially with St. Martin so close.
I was in Anguilla for my first time in March. Yes, lovely beaches, but it does not even come close to matching the topography of STJ. Can't comment on Anguilla's restaurants since I was only there on a day trip, but the food on STJ is excellent and I can't see choosing Anguilla over STJ for the food. My opinion, STJ wins hands down. Anguilla cannot match STJ's natural beauty.
I have stayed on both islands and prefer STJ. Anguilla has some beautiful beaches but the island is nowhere near as lush and tropical as STJ. The topography of STJ, as more hilly and mountainous, is also more interesting. I feel STJ has what most think of when picturing tropical beaches. Overall, there is much more to do on STJ, including much better snorkeling and hiking. STJ has some very good restaurants but I would give Anguilla the edge there. Hope this helps.
You don't say what any of your preferences are but here's my 2 cents. Keep in mind I've only been to each one once. I've enjoyed both. Don't think you can go way wrong either way.
As someone else said, Anguilla might have a very slight edge in beach quality, it has a definite edge in food quality IMHO, it's way more laid back in off season. STJ is miles ahead in terms of snorkeling and hiking and topography.
I think there are more high end resorts on Anguilla but not positive about this.
Do you know where you are going to, or want to, stay?
Anguilla does not have nearly the number or diversity of villas, nor the sort of villa culture that exists on STJ. On the other hand the quality and number of high end resorts is far superior on Anguilla. Where you want to stay will enormously impact which island to go to.
This is obviously a very STJ-centric forum, but I think from the responses the consensus is better beaches on Anguilla, way better food and restaurants (Anguillans practically worship spiny lobsters), and snorkling not as good (even though I think its pretty much the same). Because this is STJ -centric, the first two are actually understated in my opinion.
Two unstated aspects to consider: 1)the beaches will be way less crowded on Anguilla regardless of the time of the year that you go 2)the locals will be far freindlier on Anguilla-people will be genuinely happy (and will let you know it) that you are visiting their island.
While not considered a serious problem on STJ, crime against tourists to Anguilla is virtually unheard of. Villa breakins and car burglaries apparently never occur.
As above post, but there are some uncrowded beaches in St John, like Salt Pond, Lamshur, Francis. In Anquilla, you get to stay in a resort or low key condo type resort right on the beach, while in St John, only Caneel is right on the beach. I found the food to be better in Angulla. The other important point not mentioned yet, is that there is great hiking in St John and none in Anguilla. So, if you are into beaches and swimming and do not care about snorkeling or hiking and if food is very important to you, Anquilla is a good choice. If you want lush scenery, good but not great food, great beaches and swimming, great snorkeling and hiking, and do not care if you stay right on a beach, St John is for you.
Good points, kod. The topography of Anguilla is frankly pretty boring. Not only are there no good hiking paths, but the high, dramatic views so common on STJ are non-existent on Anguilla. Seeing St. Martin which is hilly is good, but particularly the high views of multiple water colors on STJ are far better.
I don't know why people don't appreciate Anguilla's snorkeling. If it's not as good as STJ, it's not by much. Each of the beaches on Anguilla has a fringing reef with sealife certainly as prolific. Being true reefs, as opposed to the patch reefs typical on STJ, Anguilla has the rough ocean and calm bay side of each reef. It may be a longer walk up the beach or a longer swim, but it is damn good snorkeling. Little Bay has the typical rocky, patch coral on one side and the dramatic cliff on the other. There is no place on STJ with that sort of variety.
kod, you must not travel to STJ during the high season. Salt Pond, Lameshur (less frequently), and Francis (especially) fill up all the parking spaces nearly every day making each of those beaches way more crowded than any Anguillan beach, even Shoal Bay. I actually think the demise of STJ will be caused by a lack of parking. During the high season already, parking at Cruz Bay, Trunk, Hawknest, Jumbie, and Maho is practically non-existent. With the infusion of cars Sirenusa, Great Bay, and Pond Bay will bring, the situation will only get worse.
kod's point about lush is right on target. I seldom think of STJ as lush in the sense of Jamaica, but compared to Anguilla, STJ is very lush. Anguilla is mostly arid, giving rise to scrubby, almost desert like flora, not in any way lush.
You do not have to stay on the beach in Anguilla;there are villas but not nearly as many or varied as STJ.
Remember too, Anguilla is pretty much a pain in the neck to get to.
Finally, someone who gives Anguilla's snorkeling proper credit!!! I don't know why so many people poo poo it??? There are fascinating reefs off the Atlantic Coast with tons of marine life. You can't imagine how much I appreciated seeing someone laud the snorkeling conditions for a change instead of putting them down which is the trend on the AXA forum. I enjoyed the snorkeling on both islands, they were just different.
What do people want after all?? The waters of every island can't be like being dropped into the largest tank at the Georgia Aquarium guys and dolls! But that doesn't mean you won't be completely entertained by whatever you see under the sea.
At the risk of being repetitious...Anguilla is flat, very little shade, and dry; St. John is mountainous, lush with trees and blossoms, and more like the tropical rainforest than the desert. Anguilla has some lovely beaches, longer stretches, but the crescent beaches that hug the coves along St. John's north shore are picture perfect. For purely picturesque reasons, I don't think Anguilla comes close. You'd have to go to Hawaii (Kauai or Maui) or the South Pacific to find prettier spots.
Anguilla has tons of good restaurants, but if you go out to eat often, live near a metropolitan area, etc., you can do this at home -- or plan a trip to Paris. I can't imagine going to the islands -- any island -- primarily for the food. That being said, St. John has enough excellent restaurants for you to eat out some place different every night for a couple of weeks. If you're staying longer, you could easily hop the ferry to St. Thomas and find a host of others.
St. John is 2/3 national park. This, I think, makes all the difference. But it all boils down to personal opinion -- what you're looking for, the nature of your expectations, etc. We've hopped all over the Caribbean and enjoyed every trip to every island, but the one we always come back to is St. John -- for almost 30 years. We haven't found anything better. :) My ONLY negative comment would be that too many people have discovered this island and sometimes I wish they hadn't! Sorry, I know that's selfish.
Thank you very much for you insight. For our first trip to the Caribbean St. John sounds perfect for us!