Holidays in Antigua 2013/2014:
An absolute heaven for beach lovers, sailing enthusiasts, families and honeymooners, the Eastern Caribbean island of Antigua boasts a white sandy beach for every day of the year. With jaw-dropping views, protected bays and coral reefs, small coves, one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world and an abundance of land and sea tours, you’re sure to love it from the word GO.
A mix of hills and flatlands and with a rugged interior, Antigua is around 14 miles long by 11 miles wide where you’ll find double fun and relaxation as the island has a smaller sister, Barbuda – a complete contrast, just 30 miles and a short ferry ride away.
From snorkelling with stingrays and deep sea fishing, windsurfing and boat charter, a round of golf and rainforest adventures, kayaking and eco adventures, Antigua can provide fun-filled days. There are also rainforest canopy adventures, scenic historical tours, scuba-diving, hiking, kitesurfing and sailing. Antigua’s waters are not only a magnet for boaters but also a playground for sea turtles when, from March to November, you might see them nesting.
Want to be blown away? Then match your visit with Antigua Sailing Week or Carnival, two vibrant spectacles not to be missed.
Things to do/Attractions
Want to learn about the history of Antigua and Barbuda? The Museum in St John’s tells the story. Sites of historic interest are Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Fort James and Shirley Heights. The view from Shirley Heights over yacht-filled Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour is awe-inspiring, have lunch there to soak it up.
For shopaholics there are duty-free waterfront shopping areas in St John’s the capital, Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay; on the southwest coast Jolly Harbour is a major marina and shopping centre.
Get up close and personal with Antigua’s stingrays. Touch feed and snorkel with these puppy dogs of the sea in shallow crystal-clear water, you’ll see plenty of colourful tropical fish and coral reefs too.
There are some great hiking trails such as the Wallings Dam hill and Christian Valley which takes you across the Pillar of Hercules, a stunning natural rock formation which can also be seen if you explore Antigua by sea. Devil’s Bridge, underground caves, and the tropical rainforest are more natural gems, while Fig Tree Drive is a showcase for Antigua’s flora and fauna.
You’ll find a wide range of bistros and restaurants in Antigua set in unforgettable locations, many around English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. For anyone on a budget there’s a varied menu and set price at Trappas in English Harbour, and Seafood Friday at Nelson’s Dockyard makes a slap-up fish supper.
Authentic Caribbean cuisine and fresh seafood is always on the menu; enjoy it in a fine-dining atmosphere or on a beachside café, often with live music on the agenda. English Harbour is home to cafés galore or soak up the mellow and friendly atmosphere of an English-style pub at Nelson's dockyard.
Nightlife ranges from beach bars, karaoke and nightclubs to chic restaurants, floorshows and casinos, but Sunday night at Shirley Heights Lookout should be in everyone’s diary: the sun sets to the sounds of a steel band… then the Reggae and calypso bands take over. Expect a late night, dancing, fun and rum.
It is a fact that an Antigua holiday is pleasantly slow-paced, and the nightlife is refreshingly low-key. If you are looking for excitement during the evenings, some of the holiday resorts do have casinos that can get rather lively after dark. However, it is our experience that most of the discerning individuals who choose to holiday in Antigua spend most of their time after hours just chilling out at one of the island’s many great bars or restaurants: the perfect end to a perfect day.
There’s also and a variety of restaurants and live bands at Jolly Harbour.
Not to be missed
Antigua boasts the world’s only working Georgian dockyard so history buffs should head for Nelson’s Dockyard at English Harbour; it put Antigua on the map.
Take a day trip to Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, where you’ll find the world’s largest Frigate Bird sanctuary and a pink beach that stretches 17 miles.
Best for families
Antigua has several child-friendly hotels with something for every pocket. The Verandah Resort & Spa, set next to 2 white sandy beaches with a great kids’ club, play. Here in Antigua we have to mention the Jolly Beach Resort, great value yet set on one of the best beaches in Antigua, this gently shelving beach is ideal for children of all ages and the friendly watersports and entertainment staff will ensure you have fun, whether its paddling around on a kayak, a game of impromptu cricket on the silky white sands or pool volley ball, there’s a full daily menu of activities and everyone is included. Grand Pineapple Beach is another great family resort with many activities both on land and sea to enjoy, there’s plenty to keep both adults and children alike entertained day and night. The Carlisle Bay has great suite accommodation, superb food and a kids’ club loaded with activities and a Cinema that serves popcorn with an afternoon film, not forgetting that special something for Mum and Dad there’s also a top class spa for a little R and R!
With water sports galore and glorious beaches there’s no need to move from your resort but kids might want to check out friendly donkeys, cows, monkeys, peacocks and parrots at Wadadli Animal Nature Park, or visit stingray ‘city’ to snorkel with stingrays, if you fancy taking to the waters jump aboard the Virgins Ahoy catarmaran cruise or take you seat in the Virgin Dundee Safari for an unforgettable jeep safaru around the Island.
Best for couples
Most of our hotels in Antigua are geared up to beach lovers and people in love, so choosing a hotel might not be easy.
How does a deep soaking tub, his and hers showers, and an ultra-modern suite with sunken living room sound to you? You’ll find luxury and romance go hand in hand in a Royal Suite at St James’s Club; the private boardwalk from the suites lead to Mamora Bay, a beautiful beach edged by palm trees, perfect for a romantic midnight stroll. Adults-only Galley Bay Resort & Spa is an exclusive hideaway located adjacent to Hawksbill and Deep Bay where you can enjoy sunset hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the bar, followed by an intimate, candlelit dinner at a beachfront restaurant. Coco Bay is an intimate collection of seafacing cottages or plantation house accommodations set on a beautiful peninsula with infinity pools overlooking the turquoise seas. For even more suggestions see our weddings and honeymoon locations below.
As for a touch of togetherness – go on a catamaran cruise around the island, take a Virgin Dundee 4x4 off-road expedition, an exclusive sunset yacht charter Virgin Ahoy, or stroll on an isolated pink beach on Barbuda.
Looking for a honeymoon paradise or romantic wedding venue in Antigua? We’ve got the perfect place… overlooking a beautiful beach and surrounded by hills, a choice of beach, exotic garden or poolside location, and a picturesque gazebo with a backdrop of the glistening Caribbean Sea. Check out all our wedding venues including these at Coconut Beach Club, Cocobay, The Verandah Resort & Spa, Grand Pineapple and the beautiful Blue Waters. How about a resort which has been voted the ‘World’s Most Romantic Resort’ for 14 years running? Tucked away in Dickenson Bay, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa offers butler service in a Romantic Rondoval Suite which offers absolute privacy for special time together.
Get amazing views of the island that you wouldn’t normally have access to except by hiking with the 5 a.m. Hike Club on Saturdays, or the Environmental Awareness Group, normally free hikes which are open to all.
Weather/Best time to go
Antigua is one of the sunniest islands in the eastern Caribbean and enjoys northeast trade winds that keep the humidity low. Antigua and Barbuda are consistently hot, averaging year-round 8 to 9 hours of sunshine daily, winters are a little cooler and July to November are the rainy months, so you might see some heavy bouts of rain on occasions.
For an Indiana Jones flavour take on an adrenaline-charged adventure tour in the Antigua rainforest. The two-and-a-half hour Full Canopy Tour has a scary suspension bridge walk, ropes to tackle, a ‘leap of faith’ vertical descent, and 9 aerial ziplines between 200 and 350 feet high and 200 and 300 feet long across a gorge.
Car Hire - Being such an easy island to navigate your way around, hiring a car is the best way to explore the island. Don’t forget to bring your driving licence! Please speak to our Concierge rep for more information.
So, if a holiday in Antigua sounds like a perfect beach getaway, check out our fantastic Antigua hotels and package holidays!
- 365 pristine beaches
- Historic Nelson’s Dockyard
- Restaurants and more at English Harbour
- Barbuda, Antigua’s little sister island
- World-class golf at Jolly Harbour
Postcards from... Top ideas from our travel experts
Our Top 5 hotels
Set on the breathtaking white-sand Long Bay beach, on the eastern coast of Antigua, this resort offers an all-inclusive holiday with an authentic Caribbean ambiance. Dine in the 4 delicious restaurants including the stunning Outhouse, set up in the hill with great views of the Caribbean Sea, where Miss Mary serves her specialities, or savour a cooling drink at the 3 bars.
In an idyllic location, overlooking one of Antigua’s best beaches, with fine white sand and turquoise waters. Surrounded by 40 acres of tropical gardens, the Jolly Beach offers simple and good value accommodation for families and groups alike.
This wonderful hotel is in an idyllic spot, up on the secluded east coast, and everyone gets a lovely room with its own large, furnished verandah. The rooms are all in single-storey villas (2 rooms to each villa) scattered throughout the beautifully landscaped, 30-acre resort which leads down to 2 sandy beaches.
Voted ‘World’s Most Romantic Resort’ for 15 years running, and tucked amidst riotous tropical gardens on one of Antigua's best beaches, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa offers 2 holidays in 1. Choose from the charming Caribbean Grove hidden in lush gardens or the all-suite Mediterranean Village with great ocean views.
Set on one of Antigua's many beautiful beaches, this exclusive adults only hideaway offers guests a fabulous combination of superior service, Caribbean cuisine and rustic luxury in a very natural setting. Much of the architecture here is inspired by the French artist Gauguin. The charming individual cottages with their separate bathroom and splash pool are surrounded by lush gardens.
Tailor-make your ideal Caribbean holiday by combining hotels we feature in different destinations. Try a twin- or triple-centre holiday across different islands or combine with a US city.