Antigua, the land of 365 beaches, beckons lovers of sand-soaked shores to come and enjoy what makes them so special. Forming a part of the Leeward Islands, in the Caribbean, Antigua offers a diverse experience complete with the chance to explore rugged and tropical adventures on sister island, Barbuda.
More than just a tiny island with the roaring Atlantic, and soothing Caribbean sea rolling in along each coast, Antigua offers international travelers the opportunity to witness firsthand, an authentic Caribbean destination packed with everything from nature oriented excursions, to once in a lifetime opportunities for luxury-included experiences at resorts like Sandals Grande Antigua. There are lots of things to do in Antigua – and we’ve made a whole list to keep you company throughout your Antiguan holiday. Firstly though, it's best to figure out the best time to go.
Like many of the islands in the Caribbean region, Antigua is beautiful year-round, with near perfect wheather. However, there is a best time to go that you should keep in mind before booking your trip to the island. The months of May through November are regarded as low season and offer some of the cheapest rates for resorts - something you should definitely take into consideration if you are on a budget, however, the best time to visit Antigua is mid-December to mid-April, which is the country’s peak season for travel.
While you decide on the dates for your visit, here are some of the top things to do in Antigua. More than likely, this list will come in handy during your Caribbean vacation.
This restaurant grants you a fantastic view of the nearby Pigeon Point Beach and Flamouth Harbor. Here you’ll be able to sample local and international dishes made the ‘Bumpkin's way’. Baby back ribs, pulled pork, jerk chicken, burgers and fresh garden salad are some of the items on offer. You’ll also find seafood options including the “catch-of the day”. The weekly Saturday night live band, and the parties at full moon, are perfect for couples looking for fun things to do in Antigua at night.
This 1704 fort can be accessed via the Superyacht Dock that lies to the back of the Copper and Lumber Store that is situated in Nelson’s Dockyard. Though the hike up the rugged path calls for proper shoes, rest assured that this Fort is worth it. Therein lies a powder magazine that has withstood centuries as well as more than 20 cannons and a stone quarry, the latter of which is found along the trail.
Following a full day of activities at Turner’s Beach, ensure that you stop by Turner’s Beach Bar for some delicious, freshly caught lobster, prepared in a pineapple pepper sauce. In addition to that, you can enjoy your meal over drinks while taking in scenic views of the nearby island of Montserrat.
The Antigua and Barbuda museum opened its doors in 1985 in what was once the St. John Court House of 1750. The displays at this museum give visitors an introduction to the island’s history, from when it was first discovered, through its journey to independence. Popular attractions include replicas of sugar plantations, artifacts from the Amerindians including pottery items, and the life size imitation of an Arawakan home.
Picture: The view from Mt. Obama
Mount Obama, which was previously known as Boggy Peak, is the most elevated point in the southern Antigua Shekerley Mountain range. It stands at more than 1,300 feet and yes, it is named after the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. Mount Obama is a great hiking spot with an expansive view of the tropical vegetation below. One of the must-do things to do in Antigua, for people who love a view.
Redcliffe Quay is a cozy district that appeals to art lovers looking for things to do in Antigua. There are several souvenir shops to choose from in this area, as well as many boutiques, shops and art galleries. The Caribbean Magic Wallet and Rasta Pasta sell Caribbean, Jamaican, and Rastafarian themed items that will tickle your fancy, when looking for things to take home for friends.
The limestone island of Barbuda has several caves for the adventurous visitor to explore. Some of these include Darby Dave’s huge sinkhole and Two Foot Bay and its unique fauna, birds, iguanas and bats. The Dark Cave is an interesting one, where rare amphipods and blind shrimp reside!
Fort James, which sits at the entrance of the St. John’s Harbor, was built by the British to help protect against invasion by the French. Today, it is admired for the amazing view of the harbor and a rock solid, still standing foundation. Many old cannons remain at this location to this day, adding to the historic profile of Fort James.
This former sugarcane plantation which once thrived in the 17th century, now stands as a testament to British colonization on the island. The mill has in recent times been restored to its former glory, and the cotton house store is now a Visitor’s Center that provides a wealth of information on Antiguan history. When visiting, the stunning view of Pares Village in St John should also be savored.
Picture: Fig Tree Drive.
You will love this Antigua buggy explorer tour. After a quick orientation session and some brief guidelines, all you’ll need to do is jump into your off-road buggy to explore the many things to do in Antigua. Traverse through the lush rainforest, onto Fig Tree Drive and don’t forget to visit the Body Ponds and one of the untrodden beaches. Refreshments are not left out, and neither should a lazy swim in the blue waters be forfeited.
This Interpretation Center functions much like a museum that offers visitors a brief presentation of the island’s history, from the early days of the Amerindian settlers and the enslavement of the people, right on up to present time. During this tour, you’ll find out how the Interpretation Center came to be, and about the other historic sites located nearby.
This arched limestone bridge near Indian Town has been ingrained in Antiguan history for decades and is surely a magnificent sight to see. Make sure you traverse this are with caution and be vigilant, taking heed of the name. it is recommended keep children at a distance too, as the bursts of sea water from the blowholes can be alarming for them, as well as walking along the slippery limestone that coats the bridge.
Picture: Sunset at Hawksbill Rock.
These four magnificent stretches of sand, namely Honeymoon Cove, Sea Grape Beach, Eden Beach and Royal Palm Beach, are all worth a visit while considering things to do in Antigua. Though the beaches are located in close proximity to a hotel, access to them remains free. Drop by on a day of beach hopping to enjoy the kind of tranquility you may not find at other beaches in Antigua.
Tip: Conservative beach goers should keep in mind that clothing is optional at Eden Beach.
This fort was built in the 18th century by the British as a means of taking control of maritime affairs at Deep Bay. It also served as a lookout for enemy ships. The ruins stand as a reminder of the island’s war-saturated history. In tribute to the days of battle that are no more, Fort Barrington offers picture perfect views. It can be accessed by trekking up Yepton or Deep Bay Beach.
This museum was once the home of Admiral Horatio Nelson, a revered officer in the British Navy. The museum contains the belongings of former officers as well as heirlooms and other relics as proof of the island’s naval history and colonization. It is conveniently located in the English Harbor, which is easily accessible via public transport, taxi, or private car.
Treat yourself to a truly local experience by coming down to the St. John Market on a Saturday morning. Get there early to beat the crowd and bask in the authenticity of the market, while shopping for souvenirs and handcrafted items, or fresh goods and local spices. You’ll also find scrumptious meals, snacks and a low-key lunch area.
Nelson’s Dockyard is a national park in Antigua which once housed naval ships and also served as a lookout to the English, primarily for monitoring the seas for the arrival of enemy ships. Today, other ships and watercraft still make use of this harbor, but the 2016 World Heritage Site also serves as a museum and a national park. Presentations about the island’s history can be witnessed at the park, which is complete with restaurants, shops, hotels and cafes on site.
Though the sunset at Pillars of Hercules is pleasing to the eye, sundown at Galleon’s Beach is one that you can’t miss, particularly for a beach that is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Antigua. The striking landscape is defined by abundant greenery, hilly terrain and magnificent beaches that provide a lovely backdrop to the daily beach activities, such as watersports, sunbathing, and surfing.
The Caribbean is well known for its flavorful food that combines herbs, spices and of course - hot sauce - to many of the local dishes. Antigua has a variety to offer, including Susie’s Hot Sauce, which is served with just about every local dish. Dennis’ restaurant also offers a hot mixture that you can consider adding to your food after engaging in one of the exciting cooking classes offered on island.
Tip: Locally made hot sauce makes a great souvenir to take back home!
Explore all the marvelous sights that Antigua has to offer by embarking on a road trip. Avoid the public transportation woes and opt for a rental to take you to any location of your choice, from top rated beaches and historical sites, to museums and all the top restaurants!
Shirley Heights is a military complex about 492 feet above sea level, that is named after Sir Thomas Shirley - the late Governor of the Leeward Islands. The lookout point is breath-taking; it has a panoramic view of the English and Falmouth Harbor and Guadeloupe, which is located to the south of Antigua. The best time to visit this location is at sunset or early in the morning before the sun comes out. Throw on some comfortable shoes and walk up to the top to catch this sweeping view - regarded as one of the best in Antigua. There’s also a restaurant and bar at this location, complete with delicious drinks, scrumptious food and vivacious Caribbean melodies.
Falmouth Harbor in southern Antigua is known for many things including sailing during wintertime, hiking the terrain during summer, and the opportunity to dive among the coral reefs. It is also a popular fishing spot with lots of boat charters available. Just in case none of the aforementioned are your “thing”, there are several retail stores, parks and gardens in the area.
These awe-inspiring rock formations sit firmly in the ocean, with gentle waves striking against their chiseled pillars. The clear blue waters have transformed the area into a popular spot for sailing and snorkeling, and the warm evening sunset is a pleasant sight from this vantage. Pillars of Hercules can be accessed via hiking up Galleon Beach.
The English Harbour is named after the neighboring harbour, which was used as a dock for navel ships during colonization. Today you’ll find that it has been modernized and made popular by the world-renowned Nelson’s Dockyard and other hot spots such as Abracadabra, famous for its nightlife and Rendezvous Bay, a remote but spectacular beach.
This beach is a sight to behold; it is a beautiful and expansive stretch that is outlined by soft white sand and rich blue waters. Half Moon Bay is nestled away from the city, where its epic waves in the north are perfect for surfing and the cool waters of the south are ideal for sea bathers and snorkelers. Against the backdrop of the luscious hills and swaying palm trees, there are amazing views from this location and lots of nearby villas, bars, hotels and attractions like the popular Shirley Heights Fort.
There are many things to do in Antigua, but few as fun as embarking on a thrilling ziplining and canopy adventure that will grant you an all-encompassing view of the island's lush vegetation. For this tour, you will be given a safety helmet, then you’ll be placed in a harness before you begin the journey. The canopy tour is suitable for everyone and has seen participants of all ages, from as young as 4, to as old as 99!
Nature lovers will appreciate the numerous trails available for a steady hike that will reveal the many beautiful sites in Antigua and its extensive terrain. Whether you decide to hike on your own to places like Mount Obama, trek to Fort Berkeley or the Pillars of Hercules, the experience is sure to be rewarding!
Antigua’s sister island shouldn’t be left out of your vacation plans. Take a 90-minute boat ride from St. John’s harbor in Antigua to the dock in Barbuda. You can overnight there or simply visit for the day to enjoy the beaches, the caves at Two Foot Bay and the biggest Frigate Bird Colony in the western region.
As the capital of Antigua, St. John’s serves as the central hub of activity on the island. In this picturesque town you can find lots of shops, restaurants, cafes and restored colonial buildings that stand as proof of the island’s resilience. Take a look at the Monument to Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, Antigua’s first Prime Minister or visit Fort James or the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.
Be sure to include Dickenson Bay on your “things to do in Antigua list” when visiting the island. Laid back beach goers can sunbathe or swim near the dolphins that sometimes show their faces on this beach, while thrill seekers can engage in a variety of watersports. From Dickenson Bay it is possible to go on a boat tour of the surrounding bay, or on a picnic with good company. Nearby you’ll find Runaway Bay, which is more private. You can plan ahead for a hiking expedition to Runaway Bay.
Zemi, which means “God” or “Good Luck Spirit” is a trendy art gallery in RedCliffe Quay in St. John’s. On display is an assortment of fine Caribbean artwork that also reflects Antiguan history, culture and native Carib heritage. Many sculptures, masks and other creations sold here are made with a local spin- by the use of locally sourced items such as the calabash.
This sanctuary is the largest of its kind in the western region, where more than five thousand frigate birds reside around the swamps and mangroves. It is located just north of the 17-mile beach where the aerial beauties have settled and found food, companionship and a place to conduct their mating rituals, which usually occur during the months of December and January.
More than one hundred sick or injured donkeys have found solace at the Donkey Sanctuary, located in the southern parish of St. Paul. Pay these loveable animals a visit at this free facility from 10 am- 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You can also make a donation to the Sanctuary to support its efforts to cater to the needs of the donkeys. The Sanctuary is dependent on financial assistance and the sale of items to generate funds.
This tranquil beach can be found on the west coast of Antigua, south of the village of Jolly Harbor. Valley Church is ideal for a lazy day at the beach, to simply lounge about sunbathing or spending time with family or friends. Both tourists and locals enjoy this strand that is equipped with toilet facilities, beach chair and umbrella rentals. You’ll also be able to spend your afternoon engaged in popular watersports.
Try something new while in Antigua, and go on a historic Segway tour. There are many sites to see along the way, including national landmarks, forts, museums, and more. Of course, the beach is always on the agenda, and so are the refreshing snacks you are sure to get along the way!
Scuba diving in the gentle, clear waters of Antigua is a rewarding experience. Be sure to check out the famous Cades Reef and the lobsters, eels, parrotfish, rays and conch that live within it. Diving near the remains of Andes, a merchant ship, will also be an exhilarating experience, because it allows you to see, firsthand, a vital piece of Antiguan history.
Expert tip: Don't forget that if you stay at Sandals Grande Antigua free scuba diving is uncluded in your vacation!
If you’re looking for the best waves, head in the direction of Galley Bay beach while in Antigua. It’s a tourist hot spot, with clean, inviting sand, just the right amount of surf, and the perfect ambiance if you want to just relax and take in the action. Galley Bay is also a great spot for turtle watching during nesting season.
Picture: Sandals Grande Antigua resort.
There are many different resorts and hideaways spread across Antigua, and once on island, you'll enjoy pampering yourself with the countless luxuries offered at some of the best all-inclusive resorts on this warm Caribbean island. The Sandals Grand Antigua Resort & Spa is one such resort. Elegant, exquisite, and high-end, the resort caters to couples wanting to celebrate their love and delivers this concept effortlessly.
This secluded beach, which can be found on the southern end of Antigua, can only be accessed via a four-wheel drive or a hike (just over 30 minutes long) from the town of Falmouth. The journey is absolutely worth it, thanks to the seeming ever radiant blue skies, cool breeze, calm waters and the privacy and tranquility of the secluded beach.
A short boat ride will take you to the shallow waters off Antigua and into Sting Ray City where you can frolic with these friendly, affable creatures. The gentle 3-foot-long southern rays will relish your company and your treats, and you will also have the opportunity to snap photos and snorkel amongst the radiant coral reefs and marine life in this area.
The 17-mile beach is just that; miles and miles of white sand and a mostly undisturbed beach. This sprawling location is ideal for those seeking an unrestrictive beach experience, and some peace and quiet. On most days, visitors to these shores will have the beach to themselves, but on its busier days, 17-mile beach attracts hikers, and beachcombers.
Tip: As this is a mostly secluded beach, walk with everything you’ll need for your beach day.
The captain you will sail with, and his team, are some of the best. With over 20 years of experience, these knowledgeable fishermen are eager to show beginners a thing or two, but also enthusiastically welcome experienced anglers on board the boat. During the deep sea fishing tour you’ll get to reel in some of the most sought after fish in the Caribbean, such as Blue Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda and Kingfish.
A holiday in Antigua is the perfect time to learn something new, like wind surfing, or even kite surfing. Even if you’re new to the pastimes, wind and kite surfing as lessons are available from schools like the 40Knots Kitesurfing & Winds Surfing School. Paddle boarding lessons are also available. Previous experience is not required, as the skilled instructors are willing to teach you how to navigate their equipment and the cool Caribbean waters. For the major part of the year, the trade winds are on your side, so be sure to walk with a swimsuit and a desire to learn.
Looking for one of the more extravagant things to do in Antigua? Soar above the clouds on a scenic helicopter adventure. Allow Caribbean Helicopters to take you on a panoramic view of Antigua and Barbuda, while also affording you the chance to secure unforgettable memories and sky photos. This company offers several tours such as The Barbuda Experience, the Monsterrat Volcano Tour and the Heaven and Earth Experience, the latter of which combines land and air tours.
A sightseeing tour is the perfect opportunity to take in all the historical monuments and breath-taking views of Antigua. Along your way, visit Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, the Shirley Heights lookout and the Blockhouse Ruins to learn their unique history. Next, saunter through the port and have a look at the Sailmaker’s Loft, Mystery Pillars, Admiral’s Inn and the Art Gallery, all found in the historic English Harbor.
This Caribbean sunset cruise is one of the things to do in Antigua you don’t want to miss out on. After you get on board, all you’ll need to do is sit back, relax and revel in the warm colors of the Antiguan sunset, while you enjoy your complimentary cocktail and your chosen hors’ d’oeuvres. Your Antiguan sunset cruise will definitely be something to remember!
This Antigua eco tour focuses on the history and environmental aspects of the island by taking guests around Antigua and back. Visitors get a chance to snorkel, see the local flora and fauna, explore caves and nature trials at Great Bird Island and indulge in the jacuzzi at Hell’s Gate island. Aside from that, it's also possible to simple relax on a spacious high-powered boat while enjoying some refreshing fruit juice and local cuisine.
Grab your snorkeling gear and dive into the shallow waters of Antigua’s coast, where you can explore the healthy coral reefs around Halfmoon Bay and Hawksbill Beach. Pineapple beach and the northern end of Dickensons Bay are also recommended snorkeling spots and the appropriate gear can usually be bought or rented out from the hotels or shops nearby, if you don’t have any.
Tours of national parks and historical monuments can be pretty cool while in the islands, but if you really want to be fully acquainted with Antiguan culture, you simply must take a cooking class. There a several of those offered in Antigua, including that of Nicole’s Table – which has a selection of classes to choose from, including Jerk, Seafood and Rum Cooking classes.
Let the trade winds work in your favor and come sail away in Antigua! Sailing is one of the leading things to do in Antigua for visitors. One look at the pristine waters here will tell you why. In Antigua, there is a Sailing Week, recognized from the last Sunday in April every year into May. The event attracts scores of boats, and includes thrilling races, parties, and local rum!
Go alone, go with a group, or with the love of your life, and you’re bound to find much more than 50 reasons why you’ll be making a return trip to Antigua, one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean!