Travelers of all kinds adore the Caribbean, and Antigua has long been among the preferred destinations. With its amazing landscape, good weather, delicious food, excellent beaches and array of accommodations, what’s not to love about it. However, it is also a place where there are many other activities to enjoy throughout a stay.
For example, a visitor can spend time enjoying interactions with stingrays in professional settings, zip lining over the jungle canopies, hiking any number of trails, viewing historic sites, shopping, eating, and so much more. To help visitors make the most of their time, however, we’ve assembled three unforgettable things to do while on a visit to Antigua. They are mostly active experiences, but even those who might prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery will find plenty to appreciate about our recommendations.
Have you ever witnessed a regatta? These yacht races and events are a huge thing in Antigua, and though many people come for Antigua Sailing Week (which is held annual at Nelson’s Dockyard), it is not the only regatta in Antigua. Still, if you can make it during the traditional early April to early May event, you won’t be disappointed.
The Antigua Sailing Week features hundreds of yachts and thousands of participants and spectators. There are usually representatives from scores of countries, and there are five key races that occur, including one right inside of beautiful English Harbour waters.
According to one expert at Sailing Week, some of the best spots to watch the main races are the Shirley Heights Lookout (which also has a fantastic restaurant), at the forts and headlands along Carpenter’s Rock, Fort Charlotte, or Middle Ground Trail.
The other regattas include the Round the Island Race (January), Superyacht Challenge (February), Classic Yacht Regatte (April), Antiguar to Bermuda Race (May), and many others.
An Antiguan Road Trip
Another activity that you will want to consider as a must-do event is to enjoy a road trip around the island. This is something that you can do on your own with a rental car, but be aware of a few important tips:
– The island’s speed limit is 40mph, and most developed areas have a 20mph limit
– Drivers will drive on the left side (British style)
– Road markings are rare, so be attentive and careful
And where should you drive during your road trip? If you ask an islander, most would suggest you head up to Shirley Heights on a Sunday morning to savor the sunrise or to make it your final destination and enjoy the Sunday night barbecue and entertainment that is an island tradition for more than 30 years.
However, if you are inclined to do a more official “tour” with a fixed route that leads you from one lovely sight to another, we’d suggest the following as a sort of loop running one way or another:
St. John – This is the capitol that has the charming Museum of Antigua and Barbuda and lots of charming old buildings, particularly in Redcliffe Quay where all kinds of shopping and restored buildings are found.
Galley Bay Beach – Head south along the island’s northwest coast towards Five Islands Village and enjoy surfing, sea turtles and snorkeling at this idyllic spot.
Ffryes Beach – A beach over’s favorite, it is close to Jolly Harbour and easily one of the best stops on a driving tour or day trip to a beach
English Harbour – Sites like Nelson’s Dockyard are here, and you could easily spend a day exploring its different sites, buildings, and more.
Shirley Heights – Hike up from English Harbour and into Nelson’s Dockyard National Park in order to savor the scenery and the snacks (it has a great eatery)
Half Moon Beach – Take your time finding it and then sit back in awe at the beauty of this easternmost beach that takes you far away from everything.
Beaches, Beaches…Oh, and a Few More Beaches
Did you know that Antigua has more than 300 beaches? Most of them are picture postcard perfect and truly stunning. This makes them a perfect “thing to do,” but only if you have an idea about finding and visiting the right ones for your needs. All of them are open to the public, even if part of a resort, but some are very busy at certain times of year – namely peak travel season. So be aware of the risks of crowds at the more easily found and popular spots. If you want to take a shortcut and turn to what experts say, you can consider what the more discerning travelers say, and put the five following beaches on your list:Hawksbill Bay – Not easy to find, it is one of four crescent beaches near Five Islands Village, it is worthy of a visit at any time
Carlisle Bay – Part of the Carlisle Bay Resort and frequently a spot where wild goats wander down to the water
Darkwood Beach – A local favorite, it is a white sand beach in the island’s upper south-western area, and is relatively unknown to travelers
Coco Bay – Another resort beach it is not posted and almost hidden
Half Moon Bay – Part of a national park, and often crowded, it is a good spot for a rum punch at the nearby resort
Don’t forget Ffryes Bay, Pigeon Point, Curtain Bluff, Long Bay, and Dickenson Bay beaches for their views, snorkeling, calm waters, and other features.
There is much to see and do on Antigua or in its waters. We hope you take some time to plan a few days of activities like those above. They are well worth it and sure to make your visit even more memorable. Which of them will you do? Make sure you dedicate at least one day to going out and about, sampling the food, taking in the scenery and sea air and meeting the friendly people of Antigua.