With one of the driest climates in the Caribbean, gentle trade winds and crystal clear waters, Antigua offers some of the best water based activities in the West Indies, especially sailing.
Part of the Leeward Islands, Antigua is 70 square miles and boasts some 365 beaches. Antigua is also a walker's paradise with an abundance of trails which take you all over the island and to some hidden gems along the way.
The smaller sister island of Barbuda sits to the south and is made up of 62 square miles with stunning powder pink beaches which are some of the most beautiful and peaceful in the Caribbean. Travel to Barbuda from Antigua on board the daily Barbuda Express, a 61ft catamaran taking 1hr 45mins, or travel by plane which takes about 15 minutes. For a touch of adventure, you could even go by helicopter.
Why we like antigua
The island has a lovely feel, as you would expect of the West Indies. However, Antiguans are possibly the friendliest people in the Caribbean and if you happen across a cricket match on one of the village greens, you will be encouraged to take some time out to join in or sit a while and cheer the teams on. English Harbour still has that lovely old feel of a bygone era and is certainly worth investigating. Antigua has definitely much more to offer than the stereotypical Caribbean beach stay.
what to expect on your antigua holiday
Having long been on the tourist map, there are many hotels, large and small, that cater to families and couple alike. For those not wanting to relax on one of the numerous beaches or sail the Caribbean seas, there is much in the way of history to explore. Nelsons Dockyard at English Harbour (named after Horatio Nelson), is the only restored Georgian dockyard in the world and dates back to the 18th century when it was a British Naval base. Betty's Hope, once the largest sugar plantation on Antigua, is now the only working sugar mill in the Caribbean and is well worth a visit to see how Antigua, and indeed most of the Caribbean Islands, once made their fortunes.
Some ideas for an antigua holiday
- Visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary on Barbuda, home to the largest colony of frigate birds in the world (the best time to visit is during mating season which is between August and November).
- Wreck-diving off Barbuda for experienced divers.
- Antigua Sailing Week and the Classic Yacht Regatta take place in April.
- Antigua Carnival in July is a 10-day celebration of food, music, art and festivities.
- Sunday night, head to Shirley Heights for the traditional island BBQ. Watch the sun set over English Harbour, while the sounds of steel bands and reggae, soca and calypso music ring out over the fortified ruins of the old 18th century English guard-post.
- See the islands from the skies, take an unforgettable helicopter ride and soak up the sights.
- Turtle watching takes place every Friday evening, during the turtle season between July and October.
- Take a helicopter flight to the edge of Monserrat's volcano, a powerful experience, as you come face-to-face with an entire city destroyed by the island's volcano, which erupted in 1995.
Beyond the ordinary
If you still haven't had enough history after Betty's Hope and the English Harbour, why not pack a lunch and take a hike around some of the island's impressive abandoned fortresses.