Antigua and sister island Barbuda together make up a Caribbean nation in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. Antigua is to the south, and Barbuda is to the north. These islands are located east of St. Kitts and north of Montserrat. There are so many amazing things Antigua is known for, including its beautiful beaches and Caribbean resorts. Antigua has over 365 beaches, all pristine with white sand and surrounded by turquoise waters. Some of the best beaches in Antigua have palm trees and other types of trees for shade and, at most of the beaches on this island, you’ll end your day with the purest sense of tranquility.
Whether you’re looking to relax, admire the views, go snorkeling, or try some water sports, you’ll be able to find a beach in Antigua that suits you. To help you enjoy the best beaches in Antigua on your vacation, we’ve listed 11 of our favorites that will be perfect for enjoying the amazing weather in this tropical destination.
Antigua, compared to most other Caribbean islands, has the most beaches. All the beaches on this island are open to the general public. This means that the beautiful beaches of Antigua are available for your enjoyment at a moment’s notice. Here’s what you can expect at some of the island’s most popular beaches:
Dickenson Bay is in the northwestern part of Antigua, in the parish of St. John. Dickenson Bay is one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in Antigua and there are lots of things to do while there including water sports. On this beach, you’ll be able to go jet skiing, wakeboarding, parasailing, tubing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Dickenson Bay is roughly a mile long. This means that although the beach can get crowded, you won’t have a hard time locating a peaceful space for just you. The water is usually pretty calm on this beach. It is also quite shallow for a long way out making it great for a casual swim, or some wading.
Dickenson Bay is about a 9-minute drive from St. John's. There are quite a few luxury-beach resorts and restaurants near this beach and places to shop as well. Sandals Grande Antigua is located on Dickenson Bay Beach. Couples can enjoy a day trip to this beach where they can not only enjoy the ocean and sunbathe but also do some bird watching for ospreys and pelicans as well.
Ffryes Beach is on the list of best beaches in Antigua. This beach is located on the western shore of the island toward the southern end. It’ll take about 30 minutes to get to Ffryes Beach from St. John’s, the capital of Antigua. Ffryes Beach is north of Darkwood Beach and Turner’s Beach. This beach is ideal for couples who want a chill and tranquil spot where they can enjoy some time together near the ocean and watch an amazing sunset later in the day.
At Ffryes Beach, you'll be able to rent beach chairs and umbrellas for about $15 USD. You can also find parking near the beach and bathrooms (near the parking lot) as well. Though this beach is relatively secluded, there are places to eat and drink, which can be convenient. It is worth noting that the water on Ffryes Beach is a little deeper than other beaches in Antigua. The waves on this beach can be strong at times. You’ll rarely find crowds here.
Expert tip: Want to enjoy the best couples' vacation on a tropical island? Here are 5 reasons to visit Antigua with the love of your life!
Carlisle Bay in Antigua (not to be confused with Carlisle Bay in Barbados) is by no means a secret. This is a beach located on the south coast of Antigua, just about 40 minutes by car from St. John’s. Carlisle Bay is crescent-shaped and surrounded by palm trees. With views of catamarans and luxury yachts from this beach, the scene here can really seem like it's straight from a postcard.
Clean and crisp are two words you can use to describe this tranquil beach and a day here can be spent relaxing in the warm, calm waters or on the shore. Carlisle Beach is on the quiet side, so most of the time you’ll be one of the only people there. It won't matter though as the beautiful tones of blue of the ocean in this serene space will likely captivate you for most of your visit.
On one end of this beach, you’ll find a resort, and the other end is quieter with lots of palm trees. You can make your pick depending on the type of experience you're hoping to have. Aside from the resort, there aren’t many amenities on this beach. Sometimes there are vendors selling clothing, hats, or drinks. The scenery is great all around, particularly the surrounding green hills.
On the Atlantic coast of Antigua, you'll find the quiet and isolated Half Moon Bay. The crescent shape of this beach gives it its name, and it is gorgeous. The Atlantic Ocean's influence means the waves can be quite strong here. This is exactly what makes it an excellent spot for bodysurfing and boogie boarding.
Half Moon Bay is on the eastern shore of Antigua in Saint Philip Parish. While in Antigua, you’ll be able to get there in about 40 minutes by car from St. John’s. If you love the idea of dipping into the ocean on a beautiful beach but would prefer calmer waters, you can try getting in on the left side of the bay which is sheltered by rocks. This is also a good place to snorkel.
Couples who want to spend a few relaxing hours in the sunshine will love Half Moon Bay as it has a natural feel to it but also has the convenience factor in terms of restaurants nearby (at the end of the beach), as well as beach chair, lounger, and umbrella rentals.
Jolly Beach is considered by many to be one of the best beaches in Antigua. If you plan to visit more than one beach during your vacation, this can be a great place to start. This beach is located in Jolly Harbour, on the western side of Antigua. As Jolly Beach is on the side of the island framed by the Caribbean Sea, you can expect calm conditions on most days.
Jolly Beach is about a mile long and quite spacious. This means that you can go for a romantic walk if you feel like truly soaking in the beauty of this space. Jolly Beach is comfortable, clean, and perfect for vacationers who want a livelier beach experience that includes water sports. Jet skiing is a possibility on this beach and the clear water is ideal for snorkeling. Jolly Beach is in a convenient location as well with lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping within walking distance.
In English Harbour on the southern tip of Antigua lies the popular Pigeon Point Beach. It takes roughly 40 minutes to drive to this beach from St. John’s. Paying a visit to Point Beach is ideal if you're looking for a place to snorkel because of the calm, clear waters at this beach. Vacationers who choose to spend a few hours at Pigeon Point Beach will love that it is quite shady because of all the trees in this area.
While snorkeling at Pigeon Point Beach, you might see stingrays and a host of beautiful sea shells. When you’re done admiring the sea life, you can spread out a towel to relax on the shore as there are no chair rentals here. If you want to get a snack or some cocktails on your beach day, the French-inspired Catherine's Cafe is nearby and a terrific option – it's one of Antigua's top eateries.
Other activities in this beach area include hiking — you can check out the trails at the nearby Nelson’s Dockyard before or after you go swimming. Nelson’s Dockyard is a marina and a cultural site, and it’ll take around 20 minutes to walk here from the beach. The paths go along the dockyard, and after you're done hiking, you can enjoy the stunning views of sailboats and yachts in the marina.
Turner's Beach is a beautiful stretch of powdery white sands in Antigua. This beach is located south of Ffryes beach and Darkwood Beach. It is along the west coast of Antigua on the Caribbean Sea side. Turner’s Beach is a good option to spend a beach day if you're looking for a beach that is spacious, clean, and beautiful but isn't very developed.
Turner’s Beach frequently makes the list of best beaches in Antigua as it just has so much to offer. It is also one of the most popular beaches on the island. There are several restaurants on this beach as well as beach bars within walking distance. Restaurants at Turner’s Beach include Jacqui O’s Beach House and Rumbus Beach Bar.
Turner’s Beach is quite an extensive beach so there's lots of room to explore. This beach is also great for snorkeling. While snorkeling off Turner’s Beach, you can expect to see all types of tropical fish and sometimes even stingrays. If you want to rent a beach chair here, $10 USD will secure your chair for the day.
Galleon Beach is located in English Harbour, Antigua, about 40 minutes by car from St . John’s. This beach is pristine and uncrowded, and it is popular for snorkeling. Go to the left side of the beach for the best snorkeling. Once there, you won't have to venture far to see fascinating aquatic life - just a few meters from the shore will be enough.
Galleon Beach's water is calm and transparent which adds to the snorkeling experience. While snorkeling on this beach, you're likely to spot turtles, stingrays, and a plethora of tropical fish and coral. Off the coast of Galleon Beach, snorkelers can view a shipwreck as well. This wreck is located in the shallows, and it is packed with fish including large tangs, snapper, and barracuda.
Galleon Beach is surrounded by hills and has beautiful scenery. This beach offers plenty of opportunities for exploration particularly as some of the sections further away can be explored via rock scrambling. Hiking to the Pillars of Hercules is possible from Galleon Beach. This is a rocky area where natural phenomena can be observed along the cliffs. The journey from the seashore to the Pillars of Hercules should take no more than 25 minutes.
Expert tip: You may need water shoes at Galleon Beach as it is quite stony. Water shoes will come in handy if you plan on making the rocky trek from the beach to the Pillars of Hercules. Before or after spending the day at Galleon Beach, you can visit the nearby Nelson's Dockyard.
There's something so peaceful about a Caribbean beach adventure, particularly one on a beach like Long Bay Beach in Antigua. Long Bay Beach is on the Atlantic side of this island. The beach is protected by a reef, so the water is mostly calm and thus ideal for swimming. During your Antigua vacation, you can get to Long Bay Beach in about 35 minutes by car from St. John’s.
Long Bay Beach is a favorite for diving particularly if you want to snorkel. Snorkeling can be done close to shore and during this experience, you're likely to see a variety of fishes, hermit crabs, turtles, and an array of coral. Once you're done snorkeling, you can dry off and settle into a cozy spot to soak in some sun.
Long Bay Beach is hardly ever crowded so you don't have to worry about competing for the best spots. At some points in the day, it gets a bit windy on this beach so you might want to bring beach cover-ups. In terms of beach chair and umbrella rentals, some vendors offer these for the entire day at a cost of $10-$20 USD.
The Hawksbill Bay Beaches are located on the western shore of Antigua. These beaches are about a 20-minute drive from St. John’s and the cruise ship terminal. Beaches in the Hawksbill Bay region of Antigua include Royal Palm Beach, Sea Grape Beach, Honeymoon Cove, and Eden Beach. All of these beaches are quite secluded.
To access the Hawksbill Bay Beaches in Antigua, you’ll need to go inside the property of Hawksbill Resort. No worries though as all of the beaches in this area are open to the public. At least one of these beaches, Eden Beach, is a clothing-optional beach. If you decide to spend a couple of hours on any of the beaches in this area chances are you’ll have the majority of the beach to yourself during your time there.
In terms of how secluded these beaches are, well … you can probably compare them to other beaches on the island to measure this. Compared to beaches like Dickenson Bay, the Hawksbill Bay Beaches are definitely more on the quiet side. While in Antigua, you can plan a trip to this beach to go sea shell hunting, or just to relax and admire the amazing ocean views.
Fort James Beach on the western shore of Antigua is one of those beaches that just takes your breath away at first glimpse. This won’t be due to any grandeur or anything showy, but simply because of its natural beauty and serene outlook. This beach is as unspoiled as it gets, yet there are a few eateries and bars not far from the coastline.
You can get to Fort James Beach in just about 6 minutes if you drive there from St. John's, the capital. Though there are restaurants at both ends of the beach, Fort James for the most part remains quiet. Locals love this beach as it is ideal for lounging and swimming. There’s also parking, public showers, and umbrella and beach chair rentals available, with lots of room to roam and enjoy your beach day.
Good to know: The water at Fort James Beach can be a little turbulent at times, so this beach is not a great option for kids or weak swimmers.
The best time to visit Antigua for a beach vacation is during the island's high season. This is during the months of mid-December to mid-April. Though this island has amazing weather throughout the year, it is even better during these months which mark the high season. During this time, the weather tends to be more sunny and consistent.
During the high season, Antigua is actually slightly less hot, which might be a good thing if you plan on spending lots of time outdoors. You're also less likely to have rain interruptions in your trip if you travel during the island’s peak season. Vacationing at one of the island’s best couples resorts will also be a blast during peak season.
Aside from the high season, you might want to visit Antigua between the months of May and November. The island is less crowded during this time (which means you’ll have more beaches to yourself), but it can also be rainier at this time of year as well. No worries though, since rain showers in Antigua don’t usually last more than a few minutes at a time!
You don’t need to be Antiguan to find the best of the 365 beaches on this island. All you’ll need to do is start planning your trip to the island, and the rest will fall into place. We’ve listed the 11 best beaches in Antigua, and this can be an amazing starting point for an exciting vacation that includes lots of beach hopping.
For the best beach vacation, you should stay at an all-inclusive resort in Antigua. There are numerous benefits to an all-inclusive vacation on this island including the fact that you can pay for your entire vacation in advance. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to enjoy endless amazing inclusions without worrying about the cost. At Sandals Grande Antigua, this includes gourmet restaurants, day and night entertainment, land and water sports, and a variety of activities for couples, all in one of the world's most romantic resorts!
Expert Tip: If you'll be traveling to this island for a beach vacation, don’t miss out on the top 50 things to do in Antigua for an unmatched vacation.