Discover Antigua's best bits
Surrounded by a seemingly never-ending lining of white sand and hidden coves, Antigua promises a beach for every day of the year – and it truly delivers. But cloud-less blue skies, a warm climate, sandy paradise and a cool glass of Caribbean rum isn’t all that this charming island has to offer.
Dig deeper and you’ll soon find that Antigua offers exhilarating rainforest tours, quaint colonial towns with local craft markets, well-known historical sites, endless sporting activities and hidden restaurants packed full of flavour.
Read our guide and you’ll soon know what to see and do, where to relax, eat and shop, as well as when to visit…
Where to relax in Antigua
- Fryes Beach – One of the quieter beaches on the island, just south of Jolly Harbour, these sands are pristine. Enjoy a Caribbean-infused picnic and nap on its pure shores.
- Darkwood Beach – A beach with some of the clearest waters on the island, either enjoy an afternoon paddle or relax on its white sands in front of a backdrop of lush hilltops and tropical forestry.
- Half Moon Bay Beach – During the week, this beach is virtually deserted – a picture of serenity. So make the most of its spectacular views, unending sunshine and glistening waters.
- Non Such Bay – Head to this largely undiscovered part of east Antigua and you’ll uncover an untouched bay that’s just waiting to be explored. Make sure you visit Devil’s Bridge’s dancing waves whilst you’re there.
- Fort Bay Beach – The closest beach to St John’s, see what the capital has to offer before heading to softer shores and joining the locals for a game of cricket.
- Hawksbill Beach – One of Antigua’s most stunning beaches, Hawksbill is a heaven for sun-seekers, both local and visiting just for the day. A unique Caribbean hideaway, you’ll be surrounded by 37 acres of beautiful tropical flora and fauna.
- Mosquito Cove Beach – A real hidden gem, only known by immediate locals, avid yachters and intrepid sailers, this cove is a jewel waiting to be discovered. Perfect for couples wanting a day of secluded romance.
- Runaway Beach – You’ll never have seen sands as white as these virtually anywhere else in the world. Aptly named Runaway Beach is also another quiet spot on the island; with calm waters it makes it one of the most ideal beaches from which to take a dip.
What to see in Antigua
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English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard
Set within English Harbour, Nelson’s Dockyard National Park named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, is Antigua’s main historical draw. A year-round home for yachts from all over the world, it was originally used to keep the British Royal Navy’s fleet from harm as the British sought to maintain dominion over Antigua from other European powers. With a number of restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and colonial buildings to take a look at, you could easily spend a laid-back afternoon here. If you’re looking for historical hot-spots in particular, then visit Fort Berkerley or George for exceptional vantage points.Antigua holidays
One of Antigua’s most renowned sights is Shirley Heights, a restored military fortification built in the 18th century to guard Antigua against other European powers. Now mostly in ruins, the look-out here is well worth a visit both during the day for panoramic views over English Harbour. If you head here on a Sunday night, Shirley Heights also plays host to Antigua’s most lively, traditional party. As the sun sets, steel drums fill the air, dancing breaks out in the streets and the rum punch starts flowing. Definitely take advantage of one of the many mouth-watering Caribbean barbeques selling all kinds of Antiguan delicacies.Antigua holidays
Built in 1674 by Sir Christopher Codrington, Betty’s Hope was the first sugar estate established by Sir Codrington as a cane-processing windmill. A visit to its site and museum is a poignant reminder of Antigua’s slave history during the Sugar era, ideal for those with a love of Empiricism and an interest in all things colonial.Antigua holidays
Spend a day or two in the colourful capital of St John’s and explore historical sites like Fort James, named after King James II, the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda, located in downtown St John’s and focusing on the nation’s 10,000 year-old history, as well as imposing St John’s Cathedral with its noticeable twin white towers.Antigua holidays
Megaliths of Greencastle Hill
Three miles south of St John’s are the Megaliths of Greencastle Hill. A climb to the 565 foot high grassy hilltop will reward you with views of isolated volcano remains and panoramic views of unusual geological formations used in age-old religious ceremonies. Some say the megaliths were used to determine astronomical outlay for the measurement of time!Antigua holidays
What to eat and drink in Antigua
In Antigua, your taste buds will be tantalised by a spicy mix of Creole dishes as well as superbly cooked international delicacies. Whilst away, why not try one of this island’s signature dishes;
- Take a trip to a few of the ‘raw bars’ along Antigua’s coast for a meal of freshly caught seafood including spiny lobster, conch, oysters and our favourite, red snapper. Wash down with an aged glass of Antiguan rum or a bottle of delicious local beer, Wadadli, and enjoy a few chunks of juicy, sweet black pineapple – home-grown on the island.
- When you’re in English Harbour, you must try ‘Goat Water’ a delicious, thin, spicy soup made up of goat meat, clove, thyme, dumplings, yams and potatoes. Comparable to a hearty English casserole. Similar but not the same, give Antigua’s national dish, ‘Fungi and Pepperpot’ a try too. A thick vegetable stew with salted meat, it comes served with the island’s famous fungi, a cooked cornmeal paste similar to Polenta in Italy.
- Whilst dining on either your fresh seafood or ‘Goat Water’, be sure to order ‘Duccana’, an Antiguan side dish made with sweet potato, pumpkin, coconut, cornmeal, sugar and spices, all served in banana leaves.
- If you’re keen on café culture, then enjoy a large cup of aromatic coffee sold throughout the island – strong and robust, it’s one of the most flavourful coffee experiences in the world. Couple this with a slice of Antiguan butter bread, local honey or pineapple jam, and you’ll have a winning combination.
What to do in Antigua
Play cricket with the locals
With a long past-time of loving Cricket, Antigua is a great place to watch a game, whether that’s at one of the many grounds, stadiums or even just one of Antigua’s 365 beaches. You may even get asked to join in if you watch for long enough by the friendly but rather competitive locals. With Cricket stars like Sir Viv Richards, you may have to get some practice in!Antigua holidays
Explore more in the Rainforest
If you’d like something a little more active than relaxing on golden sands, head for the outdoors and hike, cycle or horse-ride around the island for an alternative experience. With cool winds, beautiful scenery and helpful cycle hire companies abound, you’ll be provided with a map and a bike to get out and explore. If you want to take it up a notch, then Antigua is a great place to unleash your inner explorer. With miles of lush and rugged rainforest and mountains, such as Mount Obama, this Caribbean island is primed for a 4x4 safari tour, hiking trip or adrenaline-fuelled zip-line.Antigua holidays
Dive into an underwater world
Discover a magical underwater world just off the coast of Antigua, take an organised boat trip from one of the local vendors and make waves diving among the nearby colourful coral reefs watching the vibrant marine life pass you by. Or if you’d like to spot some local wildlife, make the short journey by boat to Stingray City. Learn all about these serene, harmless animals from your guide who’ll be sailing with you, try your hand at interacting and feeding the stingrays in their national habitat of calm, clear, shallow Caribbean waters.Antigua holidays
Take to the open sea
Take to the waters on a boat excursion and it’ll be a memory you’ll hold onto forever. Get onto the open water and enjoy a day’s sailing by charter yacht. If you want to learn yourself, then Falmouth Harbour is a great place to pick up a few lessons but if you’d rather take in the scenery, then don’t miss an opportunity for a sunset cruise - arguably one of the most spectacular experiences in the Caribbean.Antigua holidays
Where to shop in Antigua
If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, then Antigua will certainly satisfy. We recommend visiting the capital of St John’s for a one day shopping extravaganza and visiting both the duty free mall and the varied markets where the locals do their shopping.
In either the duty free mall or the more luxurious hotels in St John’s, you’ll find small boutiques where you can buy designer clothing, valuable jewellery or high-end perfume, perfect as special gifts or if you just want to treat yourself.
But if designer boutiques aren’t what you require, then you could always visit Heritage Quay or Friar’s Hill Road and wander among the unique shops selling local Caribbean handicrafts, art, fine cigars, leather goods and fruit/vegetable produce – just don’t miss out on a bottle of Susie’s fiery hot sauce!
Whether you’re looking for luxury goods or little home-grown souvenirs, arts and crafts, you’re sure to find them in St John’s. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Antiguan Cavalier rum – you won’t regret it!
One of our most popular Caribbean islands, big on sport, heritage and local culture, Antigua has some of the world’s most beautiful natural surroundings, including beaches – one for every day of the year in fact!
If you want to experience this for yourself, then read more about our Antigua holidays here.