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Antigua Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated February 2024

Antigua Visitors Guide. The Best Things To Do In Antigua.
Antigua Visitors Guide. The Best Things To Do In Antigua

Welcome to Antigua

Looking for a Caribbean destination that offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation? Look no further than Antigua! Our guide will take you through some of the top things to do in Antigua, from exploring historic landmarks to soaking up the sun on pristine beaches. We will also give you tips on when to visit Antigua, the weather to expect, and how to stay safe during your travels. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the local culture of this breathtaking island nation!

Looking for a Caribbean destination that offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation? Look no further than Antigua! Our guide will take you through some of the top things to do in Antigua, from exploring historic landmarks to soaking up the sun on pristine beaches. We will also give you tips on when to visit Antigua, the weather to expect, and how to stay safe during your travels. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the local culture of this breathtaking island nation!

Antigua Map

Antigua Map

Contents

Antigua Visitors Guide: St. Johns
Antigua Visitors Guide

A Bit Of History

The first documented inhabitants were the Arawaks, which canoed to the island from Venezuela and lived in Antigua for hundreds of years before being driven out by Carib settlers.

While Christopher Columbus spotted the island in 1493 and named it Santa Maria de la Antigua, it wasn’t until 1632 that the English finally colonized the island. Other attempts had been made previously, but the Caribs were adept at fending off intruders.

Once settled by the English, the Caribbean island produced tobacco, ginger, and sugarcane. In 1981, Antigua became fully independent from British rule.

Antigua Visitors Guide

Antigua Today

Today, Antigua is known as a premier Caribbean island tourist destination. While in the past the island catered primarily to luxury visitors, the island has opened in recent years to allow for a variety of tourist budgets.

Though luxury resorts still pepper the beaches and sailboats and yachts fill the marinas, anyone can find a place to fit in in Antigua. English is the language of choice and culturally the island borrows from British and West African influences. It’s also considered a world-class dive location and scuba diving is hugely popular.

Antigua Visitors Guide

Is Antigua Safe?

Antigua is known for being one of the most prosperous and safest places in the Caribbean. Crime is relatively low and most visits tend to be safe and trouble-free.

There is a chance that crimes toward tourists or a crime of opportunity can occur, but the best way to stay safe is to use standard caution and be aware of your surroundings. If you feel alone or uncomfortable somewhere, simply leave the area and head somewhere more populated.

Where is Antigua?

Antigua Caribbean Map

click map to enlarge

Antigua is one of the Leeward Islands on the southeastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. The island lies to the southeast of St. Barts, to the east of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and just north of Guadaloupe.

It is part of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the West Indies between the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean.

Antigua Visitors Guide: Bananaquit
Antigua Visitors Guide: Bananaquit

The Best Time to Visit Antigua

Looking for the best time to go to Antigua? The average temperature in Antigua usually stays in the 80’s, making this a perfect island to vacation to year-round. There are, however, some months that will be more enjoyable than others, with less crowds and more sunshine.

Looking for the best time to go to Antigua? The average temperature in Antigua usually stays in the 80’s, making this a perfect island to vacation to year-round. There are, however, some months that will be more enjoyable than others, with less crowds and more sunshine.

December to February

While December to February has some of the nicest weather, it is also the peak tourist season, which means more crowds and more expensive flights, hotels and tours.

March to April

March and April have beautiful weather as well, but can also be a bit crowded with cruise ship vacationers.

May to November

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks from June to November, so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates on hotels, flights and tours during this time.

December to February

While December to February has some of the nicest weather, it is also the peak tourist season, which means more crowds and more expensive flights, hotels and tours.

March to April

March and April have beautiful weather as well, but can also be a bit crowded with cruise ship vacationers.

May to November

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks from June to November, so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates on hotels, flights and tours during this time.

  When Is Antigua Hurricane Season?

Antigua’s hurricane season begins in June and runs through November, with its peak occurring from August to October. During this time most travelers experience nothing worse than a few brief heavy rain showers and higher levels of humidity. The chances of a hurricane hitting Antigua directly during the season is very slim. While rainfall is at its peak in October, there are still a good 7 or 8 hours of beautiful Caribbean sunshine a day on average. Be sure to check weather reports before your trip, and we always recommend getting travel insurance during these months just in case of inclement weather.

Antigua Visitors Guide: Galley Bay
Antigua Visitors Guide: Galley Bay

How to Get to Antigua & Around

There are a few ways to get to and around Antigua.

Arrival by Air

Flying to Antigua is a breeze with both direct flights and easy connections from all over the world including the U.S., Canada, Europe, U.K. and the Caribbean.

There are many airlines that fly into V.C. Bird International Airport (ANU), located on the northern end of the island. Tourists can easily get to Antigua in 9 hours from London or 4 hours from New York.

For most visitors a passport is all you will need to visit Antigua, but if your home country doesn’t appear on this list then you will need to apply for a visa.

  Search for great deals on flights here.

Arrival by Cruise

The port of Antigua is located in the island’s capital of St. John. This peaceful scenic bay port is located in the northwest of the island. Cruise ships dock at two main quays that are located right next to each other: Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay

With only 5 cruise ships able to dock at a time you don’t have to worry about major crowds and the port is located just 5 minutes from vibrant downtown St. John.

There are many popular cruise lines that stop in Antigua including Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Norwegian Cruises.

  Search for great deals on cruises here.

Shuttle

Shuttles in Antigua

Shuttles or private transport can be pre-arranged to pick you up and take you from the airport to your accommodation.

  You can easily book ground transportation from the airport to your hotel here.

Rental Cars in Antigua

Renting a car can be another great way to get around the island, especially if you want to visit attractions that may be farther from the tourist area.

The most popular car rental agencies in Antigua include Drive-A-Matic Car Rentals and Pete’s Taxi and Car Rentals. Cost typically ranges from $31 per day for a intermediate car to $66 per day for an SUV.

You will need an Antiguan driving permit, which can be obtained at rental agencies. The Antiguan driving permit does require a valid driver’s license from your home country and will be an additional fee of $20.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here.

Taxis in Antigua

One of the best ways to get around the island can be by taxi. While the drivers love to double as tour guides, it can get quite expensive. Make sure to get a quote before committing to a ride. The two most well-known taxi services are Barry Taxi and Tour and Roger Taxi.

Fares between the airport, harbour, and many of the most popular hotels and destinations are fixed and can easily be obtained once you arrive. Fees from the airport cost around $7 to $21.

Antigua Visitors Guide: Falmouth Harbor
Antigua Visitors Guide: Falmouth Harbor

Things to Do in Antigua

Antigua's Top Highlights

Antigua has so much to offer outdoor lovers. From water sports to nature hikes, kayaking to biking, there is sure to be an activity for everyone in Antigua.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Shirley Heights Lookout
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Shirley Heights Lookout

1. Hike To Shirley Heights Lookout

Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout and gun battery that offers amazing views of the English Harbor and Falmouth Harbor. The trail to the lookout is relatively easy and is highly recommended for anyone visiting Antigua. As it is the high point on the island it is the perfect place to take in two of Antigua’s most famous vistas either during the day or at sunset.

The easiest way to get to the trailhead is to book a hiking tour that includes transport from your hotel and guide. If you stay until the sun sets and you are extremely lucky, you may even catch a green jet of light in the sky, which is known as the “Green Flash”!

  Check out this flexible hiking tour that will let you pick which trail you visit!

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Island Hopping
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Island Hopping

2. Go Island Hopping

Island hopping in Antigua offers an unforgettable adventure and a chance to escape into a world of tropical paradise. With over 365 beaches and countless islands to discover, there’s always something new to see and experience. Visitors can take a guided tour or charter their own boat to explore the crystal-clear waters and hidden coves of Antigua. This island hopping tour includes visits to Maiden Island and Bird Island and includes some coral reef snorkeling, a nature walk and a lobster bbq! Um yes, please.

  This top rated island hopping tour includes snorkeling, nature walks, lobster, rum punch and more!

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Standard health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country so travel insurance will cover any emergency medical needs as well as trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), flight delays, missed connections and more. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Sailing Class
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Sailing Class

3. Take A Sailing Class

Antigua is well known for sailing and even hosts the epic Antigua Sailing Week from late April to early May. Throughout the year, visitors can book day long sailing excursions on the island, such as this Sailing Antigua’s West Coast excursion. However, for the more adventurous and dedicated, Antigua offers weeklong classes that allow students to stay aboard and learn everything there is to know about sailing.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Hit The Beach!
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Hit The Beach!

4. Hit The Beach!

Visiting the beaches in Antigua is an absolute must-do for anyone traveling to this Caribbean paradise. With over 365 beaches on the island – one for each day of the year – visitors will be spoilt for choice. The beaches are known for their powdery white sand, crystal-clear waters, and calm seas, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Popular beaches such as Dickenson Bay and Turner Beach offer a range of amenities, including beach bars, restaurants, and water sports equipment rentals. For those seeking a more secluded experience, there are many hidden gems to discover, such as Half Moon Bay, which is known to be a visitor’s favorite as the crescent-shaped beach offers a quiet place to relax or a great place to bodysurf and snorkel.

Curtain Bluff Beach (pictured above) is a less developed but beautiful beach as well.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Nelson’s Dockyard
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Nelson’s Dockyard

5. Visit Nelson’s Dockyard

Today Nelson’s Dockyard houses a museum, a five-star hotel, gift shops, art galleries, and restaurants, but in the early 18th century this area of the English Harbor was used to protect ships from storms and to monitor French naval activity.

Later in history, it became even more important as the only harbor in the Caribbean that was large enough to repair naval ships. Today, the dockyard has been meticulously restored and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visitors can learn about the history of the restored 18th and 19th-century buildings in the Dockyard Museum, which is in the old Admiral’s house. The dockyard is also home to several luxury yachts and serves as a base for many regattas and sailing events throughout the year. For history buffs and sailing enthusiasts alike, Nelson’s Dockyard is a must-visit destination in Antigua.

  Take a look at this Historic Island Tour that features Nelson’s Dockyard and Betty’s Hope. Or check out this Scenic Tour of Antigua that takes you to all of the island’s best sites past and present, including Nelson’s Dockyard.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Kayak And Snorkel In Mangroves
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Kayak And Snorkel In Mangroves

6. Kayak And Snorkel In Mangroves

If you are into watersports and nature, Antigua offers some great excursions to get you close to both. Kayaking and snorkeling in the mangroves of Antigua is a one-of-a-kind adventure that combines the beauty of the island’s marine life with the serenity of kayaking.

Visitors can paddle through the labyrinth of mangrove-lined channels before stopping to snorkel in the clear waters of the surrounding coral reefs. The mangroves provide a habitat for a wide variety of marine creatures, from tropical fish and sea turtles to rays and even the occasional dolphin. The combination of kayaking and snorkeling provides a full immersion in the natural beauty of Antigua, making it a perfect activity for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Knowledgeable guides are available to lead tours and provide insights into the ecology and history of this unique ecosystem.

One suggestion is this Half Day Jeep Safari with Mangrove Kayaking and Reef Snorkeling. This tour lets visitors kayak through a lagoon to reach a private beach and then stops for snorkeling off of Cades Reef.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Caribbean Cuisine Cooking Class
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Caribbean Cuisine Cooking Class

7. Enjoy a Caribbean Cuisine Cooking Class

While in Antigua, make sure to check out one of the many cooking classes that allow visitors to learn about the unique Antigua food. Tourists can learn how to make curries, jerks, and other famous Antiguan dishes.  Make sure to also try Antigua’s unique black pineapple!

  The best cooking classes on the island can be found at Nicole’s Table, where you can take a variety of classes including All About The Jerk, Cooking With Rum, From The Sea, and Coordinating Curry.

  If you’re not interested in learning how to cook but want to enjoy Antigua’s cuisine, consider this City Lime Food Tour where you can taste Antiguan culture as you make your way through Heritage Quay.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Jungle and Tropical Forests
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Jungle and Tropical Forests

8. Discover the Beauty of the Jungle and Tropical Forests

The jungle and forests of Antigua are stunning examples of the island’s natural beauty. The dense, lush foliage is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, with towering trees, colorful flowers, and exotic birds providing a feast for the senses. Visitors can explore the trails by hiking or biking and discover hidden streams, waterfalls, and tranquil ponds while soaking up the natural ambiance.

If you are up for an adventure, book an excursion that takes you through the beautiful jungle and tropical forests of the island. One great trip is this Biking, Kayaking, and Hiking Tour. This two to three-hour excursion will have you exploring the island by bike, boat, and foot!

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Wander Around St. John’s
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Wander Around St. John’s

9. Wander Around St. John’s

Wandering around St. John’s is an enjoyable experience because it’s a vibrant and bustling capital city, bursting with color, culture, and history. Visitors can stroll through the lively streets, browsing local shops and farmer’s markets, and admiring the colorful Caribbean architecture. The city is home to several museums and historic sites, including St. John’s Cathedral and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, which provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the island’s fascinating history and culture.

  Take a look at this City of St. John’s Sightseeing Tour where you can take in the most fascinating sights in the capital city.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Eco Excursion
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Eco Excursion

10. Take An Island Eco Excursion

Antigua boasts a diverse range of ecosystems, each with its own unique flora and fauna. The island’s stunning coastal ecosystems provide a habitat for a wide variety of marine life. The island’s rainforests and dry forests are home to countless species of birds, reptiles, and mammals, while its wetlands support rare and endangered plant and animal species. Antigua’s ecosystems are a crucial part of the island’s natural heritage, and visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the island’s biodiversity by exploring these ecosystems on an eco excursion.

There are a few different tours that visitors can choose from, but one highly popular suggestion is the Adventure Antigua Eco Tour.

On this excursion, guests will spend a full day in North Antigua, where there are 22 uninhabited islands that include the turtle project at Jumby Bay, the Mangrove system of Guiana Island, and the reef ball system at Maiden Island.

The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Underwater Diving
The Best Things To Do In Antigua: Underwater Diving

11. Go Diving

Some of the best diving in the world is in Antigua and diving here offers a unique and unforgettable experience for divers of all levels. From the water’s well-preserved reefs to the mystical shipwrecks, there is a great adventure to be had for any diver.

Divers can explore a range of underwater environments, from shallow reefs to deep shipwrecks, and encounter a variety of marine life such as parrotfish, batfish, turtles, eagle rays, barracuda, and in some places even reef sharks and nurse sharks.

Jettias Wreck is one of the most famous shipwrecks to explore. A French steam-powered freighter that sunk in 1817. Some of the best reefs to explore are Pillars of Hercules, Mary Kay Reef, and Chimney’s Reef.

Antigua’s warm waters and good visibility make it an ideal location for diving year-round, and the island offers many reputable dive operators and certification courses for those new to diving.

  Check out these great freediving tour options!

Where to Stay in Antigua

There are all types of accommodations in Antigua. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For great hotel info and recommendations, check out our Antigua Hotel Guide or our Antigua All-Inclusive Resort Guide.

Best Antigua All Inclusive Resorts: CocoBay Antigua

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Antigua Hotel Guide

What to Eat in Antigua

You can find a wide range of wonderful bites to eat in Antigua. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, check out our Antigua Restaurant Guide.

The Best Antigua Restaurants: Catherine's Cafe

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Antigua Restaurant Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a checklist to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Trip Guide.

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. James Hollister says:

    Fantastic resource! Thank you for all the great info. We cant wait to visit Antigua soon.

  2. Arnold says:

    Thanks, very helpful stuff.

  3. Marissa says:

    Antigua looks amazing, thanks for the great advice!

  4. Shawn says:

    Thank you for the helpful info! We visit Antigua ever few years. Nice to have a new resource.

  5. Chris & Leslie says:

    Thanks to your guide we went on the hiking tour to Shirley Heights Lookout. It was outstanding and would recommend it to any traveler looking for a great day trip!

  6. Stacey A. says:

    I can’t wait to visit Antigua, your guide seems to have everything I need to plan my trip.

    1. Daniel says:

      Have a wonderful holiday! Happy to help.

  7. Sydney J. says:

    Do you recommend renting a car or just using a taxi for a 4-day trip?

    1. Daniel says:

      That’s a hard one. The only advice I can give is that taxi’s might know some local spots they can share with you, and if you plan on having drinks during the day (as many vacationers do!) you’d be safer using taxis. Having a rental car gives you a lot of freedom though, so it’s really a personal choice. Hope that helps!

  8. Brooks Family says:

    Would you recommend the island hopping tour for children? We visit Antigua frequently and have always thought about trying it.

    1. Daniel says:

      For sure!

  9. Sullivan Family says:

    Thanks to your guide we decided to book the Scenic Tour of Antigua; it was incredible and the highlight of our trip!

    1. Daniel says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Heath S. says:

    Visit Nelson’s Dockyard was one of the highlights of my trip Thank you for the tip!

  11. Potter Family says:

    Thank you so much for the advice to take the Adventure Antigua Eco Tour! It was definitely the highlight of our trip and would recommend it to any future traveler.

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