Antigua is one of our favourite Caribbean islands because the weather is amazing all year round. The tropical climate means that it’s hot in every season, with highs of 31°C and above, and it rarely drops below 22°C.
It’s also a wonderful island destination for beach lovers. Pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters set the scene. So whether you’re taking a dip or basking in the sun, the island of Antigua is a beautiful beach paradise. In fact, there are 365 beaches on the island – that’s one for every single day of the year, so plenty to choose from.
But that’s not all. Antigua has so much more to offer, and there are so many exciting things to do during your stay. Book yourself into one of our luxury Antigua villas – and if you can tear yourself away from the pool, here are 21 of the best things to get up to.
- Sunbathe at Dickenson Bay
There’s an unbelievable number of beaches here, so it’s hard to find the right one. But we think that Dickenson Bay should make it onto your list of favourites. Located north of St. John’s is a lovely strip of sand that’s pure white and so powder soft. The bay area is sheltered, making it ideal for an afternoon of sunbathing, and it makes a suitable spot for kids to play.
Restaurants and beach bars line the back of the beach, so you’ll never be too far away from somewhere to enjoy a spot of lunch or a couple of Pina Coladas. There’s a laidback vibe here, ideal for couples or families.
- Go kitesurfing
One of the best activities for adrenaline junkies on the island is kitesurfing. The warm Trade Winds blow here from December time through to August, making ideal conditions for the sport. Jabberwock Beach located at the north east corner is the perfect area to kitesurf, and you can get as high as 30 feet into the air.
With over a quarter of a mile in beach and a gentle curve, there’s plenty of room to practice at Jabberwock. This is one of the safest areas to learn the important skills of rigging, launching and landing your kite.
- Visit Nelson’s Dockyard
Located in English Harbour is Nelson’s Dockyard, a beautiful marine and cultural heritage site. It’s worth visiting just for a leisurely walk around. Stroll the streets and marvel at the 18th and 19th Century architecture, discover the lovely shops and boutiques, take photos of the dock, or join the hiking trails to get active and explore further inland.
- Advantages of Private villas in Resorts
If you want the ultimate in Antigua luxury, we recommend booking a villa that’s set in the hills with views across the ocean. Nonsuch Bay Resort has exclusive villas that are tucked away for privacy, yet still close enough to the beach. The resort features 3 infinity swimming pools, a clubhouse restaurant and bar, and extensive water sport facilities including fantastic sailing opportunities, whilst the villa itself has its own private 20 x 12ft infinity pool. Enjoy 180° views of Ayers Creek and experience the Caribbean in style.
Likewise, the award-winning Blue Waters Resort offers three stunning private villas that allow for the ultimate in tranquillity and space, whilst still having easy access to the resort’s exclusive spa, 3 swimming pools, 4 restaurants and an abundance of water sport activities including free sailboat usage.
- Learn to sail
With hot tropical weather, Antigua is the perfect place for sailing. Chartering your own boat can be so much fun for families or large groups. It’s also a luxurious way of exploring the waters and different harbours of the island. Many of our luxury Antigua Villas even have sailing facilities and sailboat rental included!
If you don’t fancy chartering a boat yourself, why not arrive during Antigua Sailing Week and watch the exciting regatta from the shores? This is one of the most famous regatta events in the world. All the yachts setting sail is a wonderful sight to behold (bring your camera), and the atmosphere is always lively.
- Take a road trip
Road trip holidays in Antigua are a great way of seeing more of the island in a short space of time. Fig Tree Drive is the road that will take you into the Antiguan rain forest, or driving along the North Coast can be a good way of checking the island’s many beaches in one day. Some of the best beaches to visit up here are Jabberwock, Blue Waters, Runaway Beach and Fort James Beach.
If you are travelling with children, hiring a car can make it easy to get about. But be aware that not all the roads on the island are in good condition, so this is best suited to experienced drivers.
- Swim with a stingray
Book an excursion with Stingray City and take a dip in crystal clear water, surrounded by sea turtles, squid and stingrays. The massive Southern Stingray can be found in abundance here, and you can get up close and touch them, feed them, and even hug them! Often labelled as the “puppy dogs of the ocean”, these creatures are super-friendly and love to get attention from humans.
- See the rainforest on a zipline
The Antigua Rainforest Zipline is one of the most adrenaline-pumping, pulse-racing ways you can experience the island’s rainforest region. The zipline courses range from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to witness the amazing flora and fauna below. The zipline adventure courses also feature wooden plank bridges and rope swings. And the grand finale, a 328 foot long zipline named ‘The Screamer’.
- Hike up to Shirley Heights
For one of the most incredible lookout points on the island, take the Carpenters Rock trail all the way up to Shirley Heights. This was once a military complex and military lookout, which is why it makes such a good vantage point for tourists. Put on your walking shoes, pack your camera, and start your trek at Freeman’s Bay or Galleon Beach.
Once you reach the top, you’ll have a panoramic view of the English Harbour below. You can watch the sunset here from 4pm to 10pm every Sunday, as there’s usually a barbecue and live music to welcome tourists and locals alike.
- See the ‘Devil’s Bridge’
One of the most interesting rock formations to see during your stay is the ‘Devil’s Bridge’, a limestone arch that has been formed over hundreds and thousands of years. It is located on the island’s east coast, where waves from the Atlantic have crashed into the cliffs for centuries. Walk over the arch today and you will see geysers and blowholes below.
- Read a book at Darkwood Beach
If you’re looking for a quiet, secluded beach where you can read you book in peace, try Darkwood Beach along Antigua’s southwest coast. It has a lush green vegetation surround it, forming a cosy little area that’s hidden away from the world. Antigua as a destination rarely gets crowded, but if you really want to escape, this is the place to come.
The sand is soft and white, and chairs are available to rent from a stand nearby. Be sure to bring your hat and plenty of sun cream though – as there’s little shade on this stretch of sand.
- Go shopping at Jolly Harbour
Jolly Harbour is one of the most popular resorts in Antigua, and it’s a bustling hub filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re looking for gifts or souvenirs, spend an afternoon here. You will find boutiques selling everything from local arts and crafts, and huge oil paintings, to children’s books. You’ll also find plenty of restaurant options at night, with local and international cuisine.
Our featured Sugar Ridge Resort is close by, with an amazing infinity overlooking the harbour area.
- Try the Antiguan breakfast
Even if you’ve got a stylish villa with kitchen facilities, popping out for an island breakfast is a must. The Antiguan breakfast is like nothing you’ve tried before. It features salt fish which has been cured and then flaked into piece, sautéed onions and peppers, plantain, hard boiled eggs, avocado and salad, and a vegetable mash of pumpkin, eggplant and spinach. It can be served with Johnny cakes (a sweet fried bread), which is ideal for mopping up the juice. For Caribbean food newbies, we promise that it tastes much better than it looks or sounds.
- Go out for jerk chicken
Jerk chicken is a staple in the Caribbean Islands, and anyone who comes here simply has to try it – it’s like a traveller’s rite of passage in Antigua. Coated in spices and slow cooked over a grill or fire, there’s no chicken in the world that’s tastier. It does have a spicy kick, but it’s often mild enough for all taste buds and is a hit with young children too.
Some of the best places to try jerk chicken include Sandra’s at English Harbour, Coconut Grill at Jolly Beach, The Nest at Jolly Harbour, and Dennis Cocktail Bar and Restaurant at Ffryes Beach.
- Party at English Harbour
Want to experience Antiguan nightlife and immerse yourself in the local cocktail scene? There’s always something happening on this island. Head to the English Harbour and you will find many late night bars to dance the evening away. Like the rest of the Caribbean, Antiguans have a taste for rum. So be sure to try all the familiar rum cocktails, such as Caribbean Rum Punch and Frozen Rum Runners.
- Take a sunset cruise
Boat tours are a great alternative to sailing if you don’t want to charter your own boat into the sea. Book a sunset cruise and you’ll be able to enjoy the most jaw-dropping views as the sun sets over the horizon. Trips to Cades Reef are popular for both snorkelling and sunset combined, and tours usually include lunch and drinks when you’re on board.
- Go snorkelling at Long Bay
Spend the day exploring the colourful sea creatures swimming around at Long Bay. This area is one of the best and safest places to have a snorkel. The water is nice and clear so visibility is good, and the waters are calm enough for just simply taking a leisurely dip. The beach itself is stunning, with a laidback vibe to suit every kind of beach goer. It’s the ideal balance for people who want to enjoy relaxing beach time, but also want access to nearby bars and restaurants.
- Walk around St John’s
If you’re looking for something different than relaxing on the beach, why not visit one of the island’s many towns? St. John’s is often overlooked as a destination, and it’s less distinguished than some of the more popular areas. But a visit to St. John’s is still worth it, especially for the Antigua and Barbuda Museum. Inside, the gallery space is dedicated to the history of the islands so it’s a great place to learn more about the country’s past. Look through ancient artefacts, colonial objects and modern memorabilia related to Antiguan culture.
- See the plantation at Betty’s Hope
This historic site dates back to the 1650s, when English settlers discovered that the island had fertile soil for raising crops. This plantation is an important part of the island’s history and a sobering reminder of the long history of slavery.
The area has been restored and some of the original windmills now stand. Pop into the on-site visitor centre too, where there’s an interesting showcase of some of the original tools used by the slave workers at the time.
- Visit neighbouring Barbuda
Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda is a wonderful daytrip if you want something a little more off the beaten track. Barbuda has a tiny population in comparison, and is largely undeveloped. The entire island is fringed with glorious sand and offers vast space and remote beaches. Go to the island’s large lagoon area, which is popular with visitors and be sure to visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary too.
- Enjoy a sea view BBQ
Fish fry events and beach barbecues are extremely popular in the Caribbean. With access to so much fresh fish, delicious lobster and juicy prawns, it’s no surprise that the locals love to dine al fresco. If you want to throw your own barbecue party, with a little more privacy, hire one of our luxury pool villa with BBQ facilities included.
Our stunning villa at Willoughby Bay is the perfect place to cook up a storm outdoors. There’s a great pool and patio area, with mind-blowing panoramic views overlooking the sea and a private beach.