Antigua and Barbuda is a small state that offers much more than you might want to do and see in a single visit. You will find yourself in a difficult situation: you will have to choose. In any case, we are sure that you will not be disappointed.
Here we recommend a list of things to do and see on the two major islands, Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua’s pride and joy is certainly its enormous availability of beaches where you will feel as if you were in paradise. It is said that there are 365 of them, one for each day of the year. There are actually at least 400 bays on the island. Ideally, you would want to have a boat to go from beach to beach, in total freedom and spirit of adventure.
Of course it will be difficult, if not impossible, to visit them all during a single stay. Here are some tips for finding your way through our kaleidoscope of beaches.
Low Bay Beach
Perfect for a day in total relaxation, Long Bay Beach is the emblem of the Caribbean beach and it certainly matches your imagination. A beach that is miles long, with wonderful warm waters. The colour of the sky and the sea is separated by the thin white and green line of the beach.
Half Moon Bay
Not far from the village of Freetown on the southeast coast. At Half Moon Bay the sand turns pink and the winds become more intense, blowing over the Atlantic Ocean. It is ideal for surfing, kite-surfing or wind-surfing.
It offers the opportunity to discover oneself as an adventurer. Located off the east coast of the island, it is perfect to visit with a sailboat to discover all the inlets, beaches and dive sites it offers.
Fort James Beach
A beach for those who love being active and practicing sports on the sand: volleyball or beach cricket. It is located at the foot of Fort James, the fortress that gives it its name, built by the British during the eighteenth century to defend the port of the capital Saint John’s. It is popular among locals and tourists alike.
It is located on the west coast, near Jolly Harbour, about 11km from the capital Saint John’s. It has everything you would expect from a Caribbean beach: white sand, turquoise waters.
Nearby are restaurants and water sports facilities.
It is located on the northeastern coast of Antigua. The beach is about a mile and a half long. The windy conditions are perfect for surfing. The beach is full of palm trees and equipped with picnic tables.
What to see in Antigua
Antigua is not just sea and crystal clear beaches. There are many opportunities to learn more about the history of the place and the people who live there.
First of all, you cannot miss a visit to Saint John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda.
It has about 24,000 inhabitants, almost half the population of the entire island. Tourism is mainly developed around the Redcliff Quay shopping centres (the former market place) and the Heritage Quay, where cruise ships dock and duty-free shops flourish.
Do not miss the 1861 Anglican Cathedral, which can be reached via Church Street.
Museum of Antigua e Barbuda
In the capital Saint John’s, a place of historical interest not to be missed is the museum of Antigua and Barbuda. A small place but rich in artifacts and handicrafts from pre-Columbian and colonial times. The museum is located inside a palace, the oldest in the city, dating from the eighteenth century.
Saint John’s Market on Market Street
Varied, characteristic, genuine, colorful. Visiting this market in Saint John’s city is the best way to get in touch with the locals and taste the most authentic flavor of the island and its gastronomic traditions and crafts. All the traders on the island converge there: they sell an infinite number of fresh products and handmade souvenirs. It is open every day.
Betty’s Hope is an open-air museum located within a historic sugarcane plantation, now inactive. It is managed by the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda and owes its name to Christopher Codrington, an English captain who bought the property in 1674 and named it in honor of the daughter of the state governor, Christopher Keynell.
The site offers the opportunity to admire two windmills and the remains of the manor house, employee buildings, warehouses and the old rum distillery.
Jolly Harbour is a tourist destination in the western part of the island of Antigua. It is located in the parish of Saint Mary (the island of Antigua consists of six administrative divisions, the parishes).
It is a very lively center and offers many services for tourism: well-equipped and very busy beaches, shops, restaurants, bars, holiday homes, resorts, a marina and a shipyard. The resort is very popular among those who want to find a home and acquire property on the island.
Nearby there is also a golf club, the Jolly Harbour Golf Club. Not far inland is Greencastle National Park.
Another place to visit in Antigua is English Harbour. It is the place where the largest number of historical sites on the island are concentrated. It is an ideal stopover for lovers of maritime history. It takes its name from the port where the Royal Navy was once the base of the British Navy.
It is also home to Nelson’s Dockyard, a small, historic port and shipyard named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who lived here and directed the shipyard, which was built in 1743 and abandoned in 1899. Renovated in the 1950s, it is now back in operation and retains its original function of receiving sailors and tourists (no longer sailboats but yachts).
Nelson’s Dockyard hosts the annual Antigua Sailing Week, an international event that includes an entire week of regattas.
This hill is the highest point on the island. Once a lookout point, today it is perfect for enjoying sunsets and the view of the archipelago from above.
Another site of interest is the Government House, the official residence of the Governor General.
What to do in Barbuda
Barbuda offers the opportunity to slow down the pace a bit. Unlike Antigua, which is livelier, Barbuda is the landing place for those who are looking for peace and quiet and slower and more relaxed rhythms. The territory is less anthropized, wilder, perfect for those who love hiking in uncontaminated nature.
Like Antigua, it is washed to the east by the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean; to the west by the Caribbean Sea, with beaches of pink sand and a perfect sea for snorkeling: it will not be difficult to see turtles, rays, barracudas and even sharks (do not be afraid) and as many varieties of tropical fish that populate these areas.
Here are some tips on what to do and see in Barbuda.
In Barbuda there is one of the largest colonies of frigates, the magnificent birds whose males have a ruby red chest: a bag that swells like a ball during the courtship phases.
The inhabitants of Barbuda call this bird “man o’ war”, because of its predisposition to fight other birds in order to steal its freshly captured prey.
Of course, there are many other species present and observable on the island: pelicans, herons, wading birds, hummingbirds, ospreys and many others.
It is possible to do bird watching in Barbuda accompanied by guides on the island.
The Beaches: Princess Diana Beach
Once called Coco Point Beach, in 2011 it was renamed in honor of Princess Diana who loved to spend her holidays here.
Being an island of limestone, Barbuda has many impressive caves open to the public, all to explore.
Two Foot Bay
It is a stretch of cliff rich in caves that tell much of the human and natural history of the island.
Here you can admire animals such as bats, crabs. And evidence from the past, such as the rock carvings left by the original inhabitants of Barbuda, at least the first we have traces of: the Arawak.
Not far from Codrington, the town of Barbuda, is Darby Cave, a spectacular rock crater with high palm trees and rainforest vegetation. The diameter of this large hole, called “Darby Sink Hole” measures about ninety meters and it has a depth of about twenty meters. You can also admire the long stalactites descending towards the bottom.
Arriving there, it will not be difficult to meet animals such as deers or turtles.
Barbuda does not have an official diving center but it will not be difficult to find the right equipment for diving. There are numerous guides or simple local residents who will be happy to accompany you to see the many underwater wrecks that surround the island. They are all mapped and protected by special regulations.
Immense and uncrowded beaches and strong winds. The perfect condition for activities such as surfing and kite-surfing. Some ideal spots: Palmetto Point and Low Bay.