Step onto Antigua and play Robinson Crusoe, with 365 sweeping beaches – one for every day of the year. Soft white sands couple up with cerulean skies, West Indian flavour meets British colonial charm, the clear Caribbean waters are perfect for swimming and steady trade winds offer calm sailing across to sister island Barbuda’s pink coral sands. What’s more, you can choose between some truly breathtaking hotels, including all-inclusive resorts, cosy boutique retreats and chic hideaways. Panoramic clifftop views, luxurious spas, sparkling pools, laid back beach dining and romantic sun-drenched terraces only add to the paradisiacal vibe.
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Antigua Sailing Week brings world class racing and extravagant parties at the end of April and beginning of May, but year-round aquatic adventure means you can charter a yacht, swim, snorkel, kayak or windsurf any day of the week. The diving here is perhaps not for those looking to push the boundaries, but it’s a safe bet for beginners. Paradise Reef and Deep Bay are a snorkeller’s dream, and the latter is home to the Andes shipwreck, easily accessible with just a snorkel and flippers. Get out of the water and into a jeep for a rainforest tour, find out more about the island’s colonial history and naval heritage at Nelson’s Dockyard or jump in a helicopter and take a flight over neighbouring Montserrat’s notorious volcano.
Back on solid ground, sun lovers will find dozens of deserted beaches. For dreamy sunsets get down to Darkwood Beach, and for pelican spotting head to Ffrye’s Bay. Dining can be sophisticated pan-Asian at the superb East at Carlisle Bay, or casual fresh fish and lobster at OJ’s at Johnson’s Point. To really hit it off with the locals, join a Saturday night street grill or head to Shirley Heights’ famous Sunday night barbecue, when the whole island seems to come together and the old garrison reverberates to the rhythms of reggae, soca and calypso.
Nelson's Dockyard and English Harbour
Visit this beautifully preserved historic site, the only Georgian naval facility still in use anywhere in the world. You’ll find many little cafés and restaurants, as well as a museum displaying memorabilia from the time when Admiral Nelson made this his base in the 18th Century. Today the harbour attracts many visitors due to its thriving yachting scene.
Hire a jeep and explore Fig Tree Drive
Driving in Antigua is effortless as the island is small and relatively flat. Exploring scenic Fig Tree Drive, you’ll drive through rainforest and past old sugar mills and churches. If you don’t fancy driving yourself, we’ll happily arrange a car and driver for you.
Sail around the island
No visit to Antigua is complete without taking to the water to explore some of the 365 beaches that the island has to offer. Your trip will take you right around the island, with plenty of time to enjoy snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear waters and a relaxing lunch stop at Green Island.
Join the party at Shirley Heights
Every Sunday afternoon this restored garrison, with its magnificent panoramic views of English Harbour, Montserrat and Guadeloupe, comes alive with the island’s biggest barbecue and steel band concert. If you don’t want to eat here, simply come and enjoy the music and the party atmosphere. You can also climb to Shirley Heights via the Lookout Trail, a nature trail through the forest that originates at English Harbour.
Get away from it all on Barbuda...
Antigua’s smaller sister, known for its pristine 17 mile stretch of pink sand beach, is sparsely populated and largely undeveloped, with waters that are perfect for snorkelling. Take the fast ferry over to Barbuda and enjoy exploring the reefs and the gorgeous beach, or take a tour to the bird sanctuary across the lagoon.
Trip reports from our team...
Antigua... The beach is just the beginning
Tom reports back from Antigua, where he discovered a truly great summer destination...
Flying time from the UK is approximately 9 hrs and all flights are non-stop.
British Airways Daily departures from Gatwick in high season and 6 times a week in low season.
Virgin Atlantic Departures from Gatwick 4 times a week in high season and 3 times a week in low season.
Note: All our inclusive holiday prices are based on British Airways World Traveller or Virgin Atlantic Economy flights.
4 hours behind GMT and 5 hours behind BST.
Eastern Caribbean dollar. US dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
A full British passport is required for Antigua and it should be valid for 6 months after the return date of your holiday. Visas are not required for British citizens. No special health documentation is necessary for residents of the UK who have not recently visited parts of the world where cholera or yellow fever is a problem.
It is illegal to wear any camouflage clothing anywhere on the island. Any camouflage clothing found by customs will be confiscated and not returned.