Antigua and Barbuda is an independent Commonwealth country named after the two islands that comprise it, along with several smaller isles. Positioned at the meeting point of the Atlantic and the Caribbean, it is known for reef-lined beaches. Antigua’s sandy strips include Half Moon Bay, popular for windsurfing, and Darkwood Beach, best for snorkeling. Most visitors come between December and May when it’s the dry season, with December as the peak time for viewing frigate birds. Renting a boat in Antigua is a great way to explore its beautiful seashore and waters. Some businesses close between August and November because there’s a slight chance of hurricanes.
From disco and jazz clubs to beach side bars and casinos, there is something for everyone when the sun goes down. If you want to party like a local, head to Shirley Heights Lookout, a barbecue joint that turns into a reggae club after dark. Eat some ribs, enjoy some local music, and be sure to stay after 7 p.m. That’s when the tourists are known to vanish and the real local scene picks up. The restaurant also doubles as an art gallery, and you can check out some amazing local crafts while you’re there.
Antigua is home to many tiny islets and natural anchorage spots where you can explore to your heart’s content. Many of these areas haven’t even been explored fully by the locals, so you really get a chance to be a true adventurer. Sailing is popular in this area, but so are luxury yachts. You’ll want to check out Barbuda, the largely underdeveloped sister island with famous pink beaches! Other activities on the water include snorkeling and windsurfing, both popular ways to enjoy the beautiful oceans of Antigua.
There are more than two dozen shopping centers to choose from, where you can purchase duty-free goods to your heart’s content. One major draw for art lovers is the area’s distinct and thriving ceramic community. Local artists create beautiful pieces that end up in the homes and galleries of the wealthy around the world. If you are a history buff, you’ll want to check out Nelson’s Dockyard, a functioning dockyard – the only one in the world from the Georgian era still in use today. The lighthouse is beautiful, and anyone who loves nautical adventure stories will love the tale that the museum reveals.
There are tons of little beachfront joints where you can fill up before you head back out to the water. Ana’s On the Beach is one famous establishment, where billowy white curtains protect diners from the elements, and the bar is always serving up signature cocktails. This is a more elegant version of the beach shack, with a graceful menu full of fusion cuisine. You also can’t miss a trip to Shirley Heights Lookout! This local hotspot serves delicious Caribbean food during the day, and live music at night. Indigenous food and a fun atmosphere make this a spot that residents love after dark, so be sure to stick around to join in. You can also grab lunch and more at beach side bars like Indigo On the Beach and many others.
Dickenson Bay is an archetypal Caribbean beach that represents a mile of west-facing golden sand on which hotels stand shoulder to shoulder. It is lively with sports and beach bars and usually heaving with people. The four secluded Hawksbill beaches are technically on the property of the Hawksbill by Rex Resorts, but they're open for all tourists to enjoy. You'll want to visit Hawksbill if you're looking for more peace and quiet or calmer waves. Or visit Jolly Beach, a magnificent mile-long stretch of white sand, backed with palms, set in a huge bay with jade water, and enclosed by massive headlands.
Located outside the village of Willikies is the rugged terrain of Devil’s Bridge made from limestone rock and shaped by hundreds of thousands of years of tireless Atlantic waves. This natural arch is truly a sight to behold! Half Moon Bay boasts one of the most spectacular white sand crescent beaches. Protected by the reef from the full power of the Atlantic, it is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Caribbean. It is not easily accessible except by boat so chances are you will also have some peaceful, quiet sailing here.
Antigua is a great snorkeling destination thanks to the fact that it is almost completely surrounded by well preserved and thriving coral reefs. Virtually no dangerous currents combined with the reefs mean that no matter where you choose to take a dive, you can make this sport a major part of your vacation activities. A good place to explore would be Deep Bay, the final resting place of a ship that wrecked in 1905 at a depth of only 35-feet, making it very accessible. Stingray City is also a great place to come close and swim with the lagoon’s stingrays.
Antigua has a vibrant sport fishing community. There are excellent fishing grounds for you to come and experience, with several tournaments every year. Renting a boat for fishing is a good idea since fish such as barracuda, wahoo and blackfin tuna are available to catch year-round. If you come between February and July you may also catch white and blue marlin but if you prefer staying in shallow waters you may find a kingfish pulling on your line. There are plenty of opportunities for a good catch, virtually any place you deem right to cast your line will be the right one. The lovely climate and scenery will make fishing even more pleasurable.
Celebrating 52 years in 2019, Antigua Sailing Week is an event that welcomes sailors from all over the world. When the sails are disengaged and the boats return ashore, the fun continues with events like the exciting “Lay-Day” beach event, where the rum and fun never end. Another significant event is the Antigua Charter Yacht Show held in December and it is a showcase for high-end boats. Be mindful that the islands experience hurricanes and tropical storms from July to October. But still, this is one of those places that is always worth experiencing aboard a yacht.