With 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – and a packed calendar of sporting and music events, Antigua is the place to go for a holiday or fun and frolics.
With cricketing legends Viv Richards and Curtley Ambrose flying the flag for Antigua, it is not surprising that with such a sporting pedigree these Caribbean island boast such a huge variety of activities and natural attractions. Here are 10 things to experience when visiting the holiday isle.
Relax on White Beaches at Hawksbill
With 365 pristine white beaches, sun worshippers and water-sports enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice. Along the island’s developed northwestern coast, Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay are the places to go for a fully-loaded resort experience with watersports galore. Hawksbill has four crescent-shaped beaches, including one for nudists. We went on a crewed charter yacht vacation which included Hawksbill, and swimming in the clear waters of the BVI from the yacht is an experience not to be missed.
On the quiet hilly south coast, Doigs Beach and Rendezvous Bay are gorgeous and only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle or on foot. The southeast corner of the island has great family beaches include Half Moon Bay, now a National Park, and Long Bay, which is completely protected by a reef.
Take a Day Trip to Barbuda
Head over to nearby Barbuda for deserted candyfloss pink sand beaches, created from tiny pink shells which have been washed ashore. While there, visit the wooded interior filled with wildlife and the Frigate Bird SanctuaryBarbuda is just 15-minute flight or 90-minute ferry ride from Antigua, home to over 5,000 frigate birds.
Enjoy Scuba Diving or Antigua Sailing Week
More than 200 ship wrecks provide thrills for scuba divers, while novices can plunge the crystal waters in a new submarine tour and marvel at stingray, sharks and turtles. There is also a lively sailing scene which culminates in the world-renowned Antigua regatta at the end of April. Sign up to help as a deck hand or be a spectator and enjoy six days of challenging racing run and non-stop social activities
Go Ape in the Antigua Rainforest
Away from the beach, hang loose like Tarzan and get a birds eye view of the Antigua Rainforest from zip wires, swings and suspension bridges on this eco experience.
Watch Cricket or Play Golf
The locals are passionate about cricket – and produced legend Viv Richards, Curtley Ambrose and Richie Richardson – so there are games going on all over the island. Stop a while and watch the locals scoring a few runs and hitting the ball for six. Alternatively, sink a putt or two on the two 18-hole golf courses or play tennis, go horse-riding or hiking.
Pick Up a Duty-Free Bargain at Heritage Quay
Pick up a duty-free bargain at Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay in downtown St Johns. Browse local arts and crafts, straw goods, pottery, jewellery, perfumes, cameras and crystals. On Friday and Saturday mornings, join the throng at the farmers market and buy folk crafts and juicy pineapples.
Listen to Cool Calypso and Steel Bands at the Antigua Carnival
Calypso music fills the air especially during the vibrant Antigua Carnival (July-August), when the locals take to the streets for a week of dancing, masquerades, steel bands, floats and street jump-ups.
Spin to DJs and the DeJam Festival
The hottest DJs from around the world spin the discs at the DeJam festival in late September.
Tap to Steel Pan at Shirley HeightsThe restored Shirley Heights Lookout, overlooking English Harbour, is the place to be on a Sunday night for stunning sunset views, steel pan and reggae bands, dancing, delicious barbecued food and fruity rum punch. Try refreshing tropical cocktails made with Antiguas own famous Cavalier rum and black sweet pineapple.
Delve Into Nautical History at Nelson’s Dockyard
Visit Nelsons Dockyard in English Harbour, the restored historic district which was developed as a base for the English navy during the great age of sail – it is the only Georgian dockyard in the world. Explore hilltop forts and nautical museums, where 18th century nautical memorabilia including Horatio Nelsons original telescope are on display.