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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!