Antigua is one of my favorite islands in the Caribbean. Its water is crystal clear and its beaches are powdery white–it’s everything you want in a luxurious island getaway. Plus, it’s got some incredible snorkeling sites and gorgeous hiking trails for active travelers hoping to get in some physical exercise (god bless them). Oh and there’s some neat history too. As a former British colony, Antigua has held onto its British roots (tea and sailing are huge here) while also churning out plenty of unique culture of its own. There are tons of things to do while in Antigua, which makes it a perfect luxury or romantic escape. American Airlines even has direct flights from JFK. Visitors hoping for relaxation beachside will find what they’re looking for–and those looking for nautical adventure and interesting culture will find plenty to do too! Here are a few of my top picks for what to see in Antigua.
As I said, the beaches in Antigua are outrageously beautiful! Never have you seen blue water until you’ve been here. Take a day (or two) and cruise around (by car or on a boat cruise–Wadadli Cats is a popular one–more of a booze cruise) and see some of the fabulous beaches. Carlisle Bay is one of my favorite beaches. Other fabulous stops to see are Deep Bay, Half Moon Bay, and Dickenson Bay. Oh and Jolly Beach too–it’s super romantic!
Under the Sea
If snorkeling or Scuba are your thing you MUST head out to Cade’s Reef, which has some of the clearest water and amazing sea-life I’ve ever seen.
Stingray City Antigua is also an amazing experience for aquatic enthusiasts.
Visit Nelson’s Dockyard in the English Harbor where you’ll learn about Antigua’s heritage. And if you haven’t gotten your fill, history buffs will enjoy a stop by Betty’s Hope, the first large sugar plantation in Antigua. Here, you can take a tour and learn more about the island’s history.
Luxuriate in Antigua
Indulge in a locally-inspired treatment at Blue Spa–this is where Oprah comes when she’s in town. I personally enjoyed a West Indian massage. Heaven.
Hire a guide to take you on a hike through Wallings Dam. The rainforest is incredibly beautiful but the views of Antigua’s southern coast and St. John’s will take your breath away. It’s a somewhat rigorous hike so be sure to bring water and dress accordingly.
If you’re looking for a little adventure, zip line through the rainforest!
Take the Helm
It would be criminal to come to Antigua and not enjoy some sort of sailing experience. Whether you visit during Sailing Week, a yacht regatta held each spring in the island’s capital, St. John’s or, take the wheel on your own chartered sailboat (I recommend Ondeck Sailing) you would be remiss to miss this experience. Ondeck was really wonderful though, I must say. Our two guides/sailors were brothers and they made our experience so much fun!
Drink and Be Merry
Those looking for fun nightlife are in luck. Unlike some other islands in the Caribbean, which are a little sleepier, Antigua has plenty of fun nightlife every day of the week. Sip tropical cocktails at the best-known watering hole on the island, Shirley Heights Lookout. They host the island’s hottest Reggae party every Sunday night starting at 4 PM. This is not to be missed.
For another low-key night out with surprisingly decent wine, check out C&C Wine Bar. They’re known for their rowdy Saturday night Karaoke. Locals and visitors alike will have a blast. Things do get kinda crazy! After some champagne here, we ended up heading out to the island’s strip club for after hours with the bar’s owner’s and employees. You’ve been warned!
Where to Stay
I fell in love with Carlisle Bay Hotel where I stayed in November 2013. I was so surprised at how luxurious this Campbell Gray Hotel was. Truly an under-the-radar hotel brand for me. Be sure to check out my in depth review. I highly recommend it here. Definitely one of my favorite hotel’s ever.
*All Photos by Travelingpanties. Please contact for permission to use.