There’s no denying, a holiday to Antigua is like stepping into a Bounty advert. With a whopping 365 beaches, swaying palms and emerald sea, we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to just fly and flop to this paradise destination. But if you've got a thirst for exploring, we've got just the tipple. Here are 11 brilliant things to do while in Antigua...
1. Antigua Sailing Week
There’s no question, Antigua’s winding coastline is beautiful all year round. But visit the island during Antigua Sailing Week and you’ll see it come alive as dozens of yachts race across the Caribbean waters. One of the biggest events in the Antiguan calendar, you’ll see yachts from all over the world and Nelson’s Dockyard becomes home to a buzzing party atmosphere.
2. Get some wheels
It’s easy to drive in Antigua as it’s the same side of the road as in the UK. From deserted beaches and secluded look out points to rolling Caribbean countryside, this is a brilliant island to explore by car. Just speak to your Virgin Holidays Concierge who will happily help arrange it for you.
3. Soak up Shirley Heights’ amazing views
The most famous lookout point on the island, Shirley Heights offers breathtaking views over the lush Antiguan coast. Head up on a Friday night for steel bands, food and a great buzzing party atmosphere. If you get there on a clear day before the sun goes down, you could see as far as Guadeloupe and the still-active volcanic Montserrat.
4. Go on safari
An island safari tour should be high on everyone’s list. Travelling by 4x4, you’ll head to Antigua’s first sugar plantation, Betty’s Hope, for lunch, kayak Devil’s Bridge and take an exhilarating speedboat ride to Bird Island. It’s one action-packed day you won’t forget in a hurry.
5. Explore colonial heritage
The Caribbean has a colourful past and Antigua is certainly no exception. Explore English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard, the last British naval fort from colonial times. The north is also home to the 18th century Fort James where you'll see original cannos and some of Antgua's best coastal views.
6. Treat the tastebuds
Fish lover? You’re in the right place. Seafood Friday at Nelson’s Dockyard is calling. Not a fish lover? Don’t fret. From authentic conch stew to Creole flavours, fine dining fusion cuisine and of course traditional jerk chicken served straight from the barbeque, Antigua’s food scene has something for everyone. In Nelson’s Dockyard you’ll even find an English-style pub.
7. Tropical rainforest
Antigua is home to lush tropical rainforest just dying for you to explore it. And you can, with a two hour Canopy tour and hike that unveils the scary suspension bridges, ropes to tackle and a ‘leap of faith’ vertical descent. The question is, will you dare to take one of the aerial ziplines across the 300ft gorge?
It’s carnival season in July and early August so get ready as brilliant costumes, street food and good vibrations spread across the island. With the main celebrations taking part in St John’s, expect steel bands, Calypso and Soca competitions and colourful parades. It’s a surefire way to get you in the Caribbean party vibe.
9. Sporting heritage
Golf, polo and volleyball are all popular sports in Antigua, but a trip to the Viv Richards Stadium leaves you with no doubt at what the reigning sport is here. With music, entertainment and an infectious crowd spirit, a visit to the world-famous stadium to watch the ‘Windies’ play makes an unforgettable day out.
10. Drink from the biggest rum collection in Papa Zouk’s
For the ultimate rum experience, it has to be Papa Zouk’s Fish ‘n’ Rum bar. With brightly painted décor and a lively atmosphere, this is the place to soak up the West Indian vibe while enjoying authentic Creole fare and freshly cooked seafood. Rum is definitely the star of the show here though. And with almost 200 varieties to choose from, this is the largest selection in the Caribbean! The question is, which one will you go for...
Ok, so we may have promised you a ‘beyond the beach’ list of things to do. But Antigua’s beaches are just so damn good (and there are 365 to choose from), we couldn’t help ourselves. Dickenson Bay on the north coast and Jolly Harbour in the west are among Antigua’s liveliest stretches of sand. Stopping off to snorkel in Long Bay Beach’s beautiful calm waters en route to Devils’ Bridge are a must too. But for something more secluded, head to the South Coast. Chances are you’ll have a stretch of sand all to yourself. You really will be spoilt for choice here.