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Experience the best of Antigua


If you’re looking for a destination that is famous for warm hospitality and a distinct laid-back atmosphere, look no further than Antigua and Barbuda. There’s so much to see and do with 95 miles of stunning coastline made up of 365 beaches, so one for each day of the year and the island is much-loved for these fine, white sand beaches and azure waters. Antigua is also a haven for those seeking adventure on the water, wildlife lovers, those wanting to learn about the history, hiking trails and breathtaking sunsets.

We’ve put together some of the most popular attractions and things to do to ensure that you experience the best of Antigua.

Visit One of 365 Beaches

With 365 beaches, you would need to visit a beach per day for an entire year to tick off all the beaches in Antigua. All beaches on the island are open to the public meaning you can visit any beach you like. If having bars, restaurants and water sports to hand are top of the list then try the mile-long white sand beach of Elite Island Resorts’ Galley Bay, Curtain Bluff or Hawksbill. Or if you are looking for more of a castaway feel, Half Moon Bay and Rendezvous Bay will do just that.

Darkwood Beach is the perfect place to visit if you’re planning on spending an entire day by the shore and is one of the largest beaches on Antigua's southwest coast. The soft tan sand and offshore coral reef also makes this one of the most sought-after beaches in Antigua as couples will enjoy the peaceful environment and silky soft sand. Arrive in the morning, and you'll have the beach pretty much to yourselves. There’s plenty of room to relax during the day, plus a restaurant serving up delicious food and refreshing drinks to help keep you hydrated in the Caribbean sun. Kids will also love the inflatables course in the water, as well as the multitude of sea creatures on show while snorkeling close to shore.

An Island Adventure at Stingray City

An island adventure not to be missed, at Stingray City as the waters around Antigua teem with marine life, and none is more impressive than the southern stingray, which can grow up to a width of 1.5m. Take the opportunity to get up and close to the rays with a trip to Stingray City, a shallow pool of water amid a topical reef which is just a five-minute speedboat ride from the island’s east coast. One of the most popular things to do in Antigua, Stingray City is home to hundreds of friendly southern stingrays that remain wild but are well used to human contact and are comfortable gliding up to you through the crystal-clear waters waiting to be fed by visitors. This is one of the best and popular attractions for families, so be sure to bring the kids along for this adventure where they can get up close to these beautiful creatures. Depending on your comfort level, you can stand, swim, or snorkel with the breathtaking stingrays, and after your encounter, explore the stunning surrounding coral reefs.

Explore the History at Nelson's Dockyard National Park

Nelson's Dockyard National Park, in English Harbour, hosts multiple attractions and is known as a popular spot for tourists, particularly those looking to find out more about the history of the area. Its main claim to fame is that it remains the only continuously operating Georgian dockyard in the world and is home to Antigua's former 18th-century British Naval Dockyard, which was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in July, 2016.

During a visit, you can learn more about the dockyard's rich history at The Dockyard Museum in the former Admiral's House Museum, and soak up the ambiance by wandering around all the beautifully restored stone warehouses, most of which are now home to hotels, restaurants, shops, and galleries, and contrast strikingly with the glitzy superyachts in the marina.

Take a trip further afield as the area is also home to some if the island’s best nature trails, leading to historic forts with breathtaking panoramic views. Perched on the hilltop at Shirley Heights, Fort Shirley, offers some of the best views on the island, and you can also hike to Fort Berkeley, at the west entrance to the harbour.

Watch the sunset from Shirley Heights

There’s a well-known tradition that takes place on Sunday evenings in Antigua, which is popular with locals and tourists alike, especially families, to welcome the new week ahead. Head up to the lookout point of Shirley Heights Lookout, which towers above the island’s southernmost point, as you indulge in some endless fun with fabulous barbecued food, drink some rum, listen to the steel band and watch the stunning sunset by the ocean from the best view of Antigua. A former military lookout, this picturesque attraction lies 490 feet above sea level, and both English and Falmouth Harbors can be glimpsed below and you can delve into the past with a visit to the guardhouse, parade grounds, officers' quarters, and other interesting reminders of the area's history. There is also a restaurant is a real draw for those who enjoy the taste of fresh local dishes while being serenaded by steel drum music. The event has become so popular that they've added Reggae Heights, a dinner and music event on Thursday afternoons.

Even if you’re not there on a Sunday, you should still make the trip up to the old military post — it has some of the best views on the island, taking in English Harbour, Nelson’s Dockyard and, on a clear day, neighbouring Montserrat.

Take a Hike in the Colourful Rainforest

The interior of Antigua looks so different to the coast, to the extent that you could believe that you’re on a different island altogether. The bright blues and sunshine yellows of the beach are replaced by the dark greens and shadows of the rainforest, where the vegetation is sometimes so thick it blocks out the sky.

 Some of the most beautiful hikes through Antigua’s lush rainforest can be done at Wallings Nature Reserve which is located in the southwestern part of Antigua and is well on its way to becoming one of the most popular attractions in Antigua and Barbuda. Take a stroll along numerous well-marked walking trails leading through the jungle with a knowledgeable guide as they point out and explain any local fauna and flora you spot on the way, take in the picturesque views and visit the rustic water tower. Ideal for a family adventure for experienced and non-experienced hikers, the easy to follow trails and well-informed guides allow you to explore the rugged trails that wind through the rainforest, where you will find a variety of trees such as silk cotton, hog plum, sand box, the strangler fig tree and many more. Listen and watch the birds as you go and if you’re lucky you’ll see a black whiskered vireo, a West Indian euphonia or a collared pigeon, and on the way back enjoy a well-earned rest in the nearby picnic area and explore the back of the reservoir where you will see interesting water diversion channels and sediment traps.

Visit Sister Island Barbuda

Antigua is, of course, just half the story of the two-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, the other half lies a 90-minute boat ride away to the north, is one of the Caribbeans best kept secrets and is well worth a visit. Barbuda is one of the gems of the Caribbean and is smaller and much less populated than Antigua, but it has plenty to impress you with. Take the opportunity to enjoy excellent diving, snorkelling, fishing, bird watching, and of course, an escape from the everyday. With a stunning coastline unlike any other, the 17 Mile Beach is lapped by pale aqua seas and fine white sand, some with pink-tinged sand which is soft as flour and the colour of cotton candy. Taking a leisurely stroll along these sublime shores is one of the most popular things to do in Barbuda, with such a remote location meaning you can walk for miles and not see another soul.

Undeveloped with a natural purity, authenticity and unspoilt natural beauty, the island is a haven for wildlife, with the Frigate Bird Sanctuary located in the island’s north-western lagoon where you will find approximately 5,000 of the giant, red-throated birds. There are 170 bird species in the Codrington Lagoon that makes up the sanctuary, which can only be spotted on a licensed boat tour from the Barbudan capital Codrington.

Antigua is the ideal destination for those looking to getaway from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy the breathtaking beaches, wildlife, water sports, history and colourful scenery on this stunning Caribbean island.