Before visiting any country, it is important to figure out what the best time to visit is. This differs from person to person, based on individual interests. Knowing what the weather is like, the peak times for crowds, or the dates of popular events, are all things that may help make your jet setting decision easier. Selecting a time to travel to Antigua is no different.
Many people wanting to escape wintery conditions travel to Antigua between December and April, but the best time to visit is from May to August. This is the period right after peak season and just before the rainy months of September, October and November. The temperature is usually in the mid-80s.
Between June to November, the hurricane season can sometimes put a damper on things. However, that may not be a worry during your vacation as the last hurricane to hit Antigua directly was in 1999, and in 50 years’ time there have been only 6 direct hits.
Though there is less rain between December and April, resorts tend to be fully booked at that time. If you choose to travel near the end of July, you’ll also find yourself in Antigua smack in the middle of carnival.
More on that later!
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
Celebrities in Antigua
Ready, set, pack!
The wet/rainy season
The dry season
Peak season vs Slow season
Events in Antigua
Looking for romance?
Repeat visits likely
Antigua and Barbuda are a pair of islands in an area known as the Leeward Islands, where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet. Some people know the island of Antigua by the name Wadadli, as it was once called by native inhabitants, who settled on the island before colonization. Antigua is a small island of roughly 108 square miles. It’s sister island, Barbuda, is only 68 square miles, and is a small coral island which is bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. However, since 2017, Barbuda has become relatively uninhabited after Hurricane Irma greatly destroyed the island’s infrastructure, and many of its residents moved over to Antigua. Since 2017, Antigua and Barbuda have been fairly spared by any major Hurricanes, and its citizens have recovered.
Don’t let the mention of hurricanes scare you away from Antigua. It’s interesting to note that Antigua is actually one of the warmest Caribbean islands, being only 17 degrees north of the equator. Its constant tropical temperatures are perfect if you’re looking to escape the long winter months. During winter, when cold air from the north blows down to the Caribbean, the temperatures in Antigua still peak around the mid-70’s (Fahrenheit). In the summer months, it climbs to the 80’s.
Antigua has tons of unique natural features like the Devil’s Bridge, which is a natural arch into the sea, as well as old plantations, sugar mills, rainforests and the popular Nelson’s Dockyard. If you’re traveling to Antigua from the United States, or if you’re someone who just loved former president Barack Obama, you might be fascinated to know that in 2009, Antigua renamed its highest peak - once known as Boggy Peak - to Mount Obama.
Apart from lots of high-end duty-free shopping, many people may not know that gambling is legal in Antigua and has been for many decades (unlike some other Caribbean islands). Visitors to the island can feel free to pop into any of the island’s casinos or sports betting locations.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about Antigua is that there are actually 365 beaches on the island - all with pristine pink and white sand. The island is known around the rest of the Caribbean for having one beach for every day of the year. Set apart from other islands in the region which are mainly volcanic, Antigua is largely a coral island, and so the pink and white sandy beaches can be spotted from miles away. Most of the 365 beaches are located along the side of the island where the gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea brush along the shore – which means the waters are calm all year round. The island is also surrounded by coral reefs which add to the beauty of its beaches.
If you need a little more convincing, keep in mind that tons of writers, fashion designers, celebrities (including popular actors) and several famous cricketers (Antiguans love cricket) have either built permanent or vacation homes in Antigua. Some of the more popular names include Giorgio Armani, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Jamaica Kincaid.
Now that your mind is made up about visiting Antigua, the next thing to discuss is the best time to visit Antigua, based on your preferences. Do you base your travels on the weather, high or low seasons, or events? Do you like Carnival, or are you a sailor who dreams of taking part in the highly rated Antigua Sailing Week? Or do you just want to forget it all, and bask in the island’s warmth on an Antiguan beachside? Whatever your preference, it is worth noting the kind of climate you can expect during your visit.
Antigua, like the rest of the Caribbean islands, is located in the tropics. This means that Antigua enjoys hot weather all year round, and temperatures less than the mid-70’s are rare. While sunshine is the norm, it does rain in Antigua. The island’s climate is classed as tropical-marine and this means that Antigua has distinct wet and dry periods.
If you’ve done any research on the Caribbean, you would have heard about the wet and dry seasons. While countries in the temperate zone like The United States, The United Kingdom and Canada have four seasons, Antigua only has two.
Across the Caribbean, the rainy season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th every year. This is typically during the summer and fall months. The season is categorized by greater amounts of rain, and occasionally, tropical storms or hurricanes. It’s understandable that you may be uneasy about traveling to Antigua during the rainy season, but the chances of you being caught up in bad weather are very slim. In fact, if you plan a two week vacation to Antigua, it might only rain once during your whole trip.
If you do book your trip during the rainy season you may want to pack the following:
The dry season runs from December to May - or the winter and spring months. If you want to escape winter, this would be the best time, as the weather is usually warmer and the chances of rain ruining your plans are less likely. While prolonged droughts are not common, there may be instances of water shortages. If you’re booked at a resort, have no fear; most hotels and resorts make provisions for this. The weather is always exceptionally pleasant during this season, and the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea are even calmer.
Here are a few items to pack if you travel to Antigua during the dry season:
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Antigua based on the weather. However, if you’re not willing to brave a few days of moderate rain, you may want to avoid the rainy season. Remember, it’s from June to November. If your dream is to catch a tan on one of the 365 beaches, the dry season from December to May is your best bet – although the beaches might be a bit more crowded than usual.
Insider Tip: If you’re looking to catch the island at its most lush and green period, travel between the months of December and January. The weather also tends to be more moderate, with cooler breezes, around this time!
Some people decide on travel dates based on crowd sizes at their destination, at any given time. Antigua’s population as of 2011 is 80,161, and in 2017, the island saw a total of 247,000 tourists, so chances are, you’ll want to avoid those crowds. Here are important periods to note if you prefer a more intimate island experience.
The peak tourism season in Antigua runs from December to April. Although only three months long, there are several activities that attract travelers to the island at that time. Not only will visitors be looking to escape cold winters, but the Antigua Charter Yacht Show is held in December which means that sailors from across the seas will be descending upon the island. Additionally, the Antigua and Barbuda International Kite Festival takes place from late March through early April. Kite flying is still a big part of Antiguan culture, specifically during Easter.
Since it’s neither quite the high nor low season, the months of May through June are referred to as the shoulder season. These spring months still attract relatively large crowds since the Antigua Sailing Week begins in late April and carries through to early May.
If you’re looking to avoid crowds and roam any of Antigua’s 365 beaches without tripping over people, the best advice is to visit the island any time from July to November. The only major activity happening during this period is Carnival and related activities, from July to August. Tourism arrivals dip in August - September so this may be the best time to avoid crowds and feel like you’re just another Antiguan and not get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Less people means that finding the perfect accommodation should be relatively easy.
For most people, the appeal of a vacation is to not get tangled up with other visitors, but to get some time off. Unless you’re a sailor, or are very keen about kite flying, the low season is recommended for added tranquility.
Antigua’s calendar of events is always jam-packed with traditional festivals, and those with a more modern twist. Let’s look at some of these festivals which may influence the dates of your next flight to Antigua.
January 31 to February 3
2019 saw the ninth edition of this race, which took the form of a series of five races over four days. The challenge took place along Antigua’s south coast.
February 14 to February 16
One of the more exciting events on Antigua’s sailing calendar, the Valentine’s Regatta features exciting races and live bands. The event will next be held over February 14th - 16th, 2020.
This sporting event is the largest of its kind in Antigua. It is open to children as young as 6 years old, and is held in honor of triathlon athlete Jonathan Rohr.
This festival is held at Devil’s Bridge and is a gathering of hundreds of kite enthusiasts and their bright homemade kites.
April 27 to May 3
Set in the Nelson’s Dockyard, this world-renowned regatta attracts over 100 yachts from local, regional and international crews.
This half-marathon attracts runners from all over the world and follows a course through some of Antigua’s beautiful and historical locations.
Mangoes in every possible way - and not just food! This event is organized by Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministries of Agriculture and Tourism. The mango festival is held at Antigua’s Botanical Gardens.
July 26 to August 6
10 days’ worth of events for Antigua Carnival includes pageants, concerts and streets fairs meant to celebrate the abolition of slavery. The festivities end on the first Monday and Tuesday of August (which are observed as National Holidays) with J’ouvert along the city streets and then Carnival City.
Find out more about Antigua Carnival, and other carnivals in the region by checking out our complete Caribbean Carnival calender.
Street vendors in Antigua are encouraged to set up shop with local treats at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the annual Food Fair. November 1st is also Antigua’s Independence Anniversary.
This is a regular on the calendar of events and features a number of boats with both experienced and amateur crews. The regatta is a day of water-based activities for both members and non-members.
A staple for steelpan lovers, this festival features the best steelpan musicians and international acts. There is also a competition aspect.
Antigua is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, and the infusion of simplicity and beauty make it one of the most romantic places in the world. If you’re planning a dream destination wedding, or looking for an exotic honeymoon getaway, Antigua may just be your go-to destination. Wedding and honeymoon packages available at all-inclusive properties like Sandals Grande Antigua are definitely worth exploring.
Insider tip: Sandals Grande Antigua has been voted the “World's Most Romantic Resort” for multiple years in a row!
Antigua is such a perfect Caribbean island, that it offers the best of both worlds – a tropical paradise, and the pinnacle of convenience. This is the island where there are activities year-round, and serene locations abound, making Antigua one of the top choices for an unforgettable Caribbean vacation.