Antigua is the perfect Caribbean island, sun-soaked, encircled by coral reefs and white sand beaches, dotted with lagoons and natural harbours and surrounded by an azure tropical sea. Antigua and Barbuda to give it the full name is two islands but one nation and is surrounded by coral reefs and many sandy beaches.
Antigua’s wild, breathtaking beauty has been shaped by thousands of years of Atlantic rollers thundering against the limestone rock that forms the coastline of this stunning tropical island. This constant work of the ocean has given rise to the magnificent natural formation known as Devil’s Bridge. This arch is surrounded by geysers and blowholes as the unrelenting sea continues to break over the coastal rocks.
It is claimed that there are 365 beaches in Antigua, so if you had a mind to, you could spend each day of the year on a different beach. But you wouldn’t go far wrong if you spent most days on some of the following beaches:-
Carlisle Beach is a peaceful beach that skirts the village of Old Road on Antigua’s south coast, and this long beach with its fine white sands kissing the clear blue waters of the Caribbean offers exceptional snorkelling because of the diversity of brightly-colored tropical fish that frequent these waters close to the shore.
This beach is a favourite with those who like activities because of the range of water sports on offer from para-sailing to banana boating. It is located just north of St John’s and appeals to families with children because of the soft sand and the safe swimming. Add to that, lush green hills rolling onto the beach and stunning sunsets.
The Andes, a ship on its way from Trinidad, sunk in Deep Bay 100 years ago and the mast still appears above the waterline today. This bay and the wreck makes a perfect spot for scuba divers and snorkelers to put down their anchor and explore the wreck lying below the water in the middle of the bay.
This quiet beach at Green Island, accessible only by boat, is probably the best place to snorkel. There are no facilities here, and you need to book a boat tour to get here. But if you want peace, this beach is the place for you.
Pigeon Point Beach
Located at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour, this beach is ideal for families with children with its calm and shallow water.
A mile of white sand, palm trees, a big bay of emerald water, enclosed by massive headlands. What more could you want?
Half Moon Bay
Some would argue that this is the best beach on the island stretching nearly a mile and a short drive from Freetown Village. The large reef helps protect this beach from the full force of the Atlantic, but families with small children should be careful. This bay is an ideal place for windsurfers who head out beyond the reef.
Things to Do – Places to Go
When you have had enough of laying in the sun working on your tan and feel the need of alternative interests, here are a few of the things to do and places to go in Antigua.
The capital, St John’s has its skyline dominated by the white baroque towers of St. John’s Cathedral.
There is a Botanical Garden, and several museums one of which house a number of artifacts from English shipwrecks. There are a number of forts nearby.
Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, built here, hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The National Stadium is also located in St John’s.
Nelson’s Dockyard National Park
This historic site in English Harbour has been in operation since 1745. This Georgian-era marina has been extensively restored and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. It is uniquely atmospheric, has an excellent museum with a hands-on children’s section. Today many of the restored buildings are used as restaurants, hotels, and businesses.
Another historic site in English Harbour, named after Sir Thomas Shirley, this restored military lookout and gun battery affords panoramic views of the town and surrounding harbour. You can couple this visit with Nelson’s Dockyard and the walk up the hillside is scattered with stone fortifications.
Snorkelling and sunset cruises
Antigua offers excellent snorkeling along its offshore reefs. It’s a good idea to join a tour for this activity and enjoy lunch on the beach or a boat taking you out to Cades Reef on the southwestern part of the island. You can tie this in with a sunset cruise, making a great day out.
Rainforest canopy tour
Antigua rainforest zip line tours have a range of courses suitable for most people. Here you can navigate suspended walkways, wooden plank bridges, rope swings and a 100-metre zip-line nicknamed The Screamer for reasons you will know when you use it. There are even a couple of tree houses in the forest canopy and a café with a view.
Caribbean deep sea fishing
Deep sea fishing is an unparalleled experience in Antigua. The waters around the island have wahoo, kingfish marlin, and barracuda. Some charters are available with experienced skippers.
Swimming with the stingrays
Some visitors to Antigua will make Stingray City their first port of call. Located near the fishing village of Seatons, this is one of the most unusual experiences you are likely to encounter. A boat trip takes you out to a place where the clear blue waters of the Caribbean are about 4 feet deep, and the stingrays are resting in the sand on the bottom.
These stingrays are wild but friendly, and you will be hard-pressed to find a more graceful creature. As you snorkel this underwater paradise, you will see a host of other colourful fish and crabs, lobsters, shellfish, and starfish.
Whether you want to spend each day sunbathing on a different beach each day, enjoy some of the best historical sites in the Caribbean, or swing through the jungle on a zip-line and swim with stingrays, Antigua is for you. Ideal for families and couples with some of the best all-inclusive resorts on the Islands. Welcome to Antigua!