A long time coming, but after receiving many questions from colleagues, fellow bloggers and overseas friends I decided to create a guide to my country, Antigua and Barbuda. Now I know you may be thinking they’re probably dozens of other guides online, but are they written by a local? Well, I haven’t found any.
Throughout this guide I’ll be giving you tips and facts about all the things you need to know before you visit. If I believe there’s a particular activity you should try that I haven’t as yet, I will also include those based on reviews I have received. After going through this guide I hope you book a roundtrip ticket to Antigua & Barbuda ASAP!
I mean, look at the view you’re greeted with upon arrival. It never gets old for me.
First off, Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island state located in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. Antigua, the larger of the two islands is 108 sq mi with its highest point at 402 m. Barbuda on the other hand is relatively flat and has an area of 62 sq mi.
- Best time to visit: All year!*
- Temperature: 70 – 88 degrees F
- Currency: XCD (Eastern Caribbean Dollars) | USD is widely accepted (exchange rate 1:2.7)
- Getting There: Direct flights from major ports such as JFK, EWR, MIA, LGA, and YYZ. Check here to see if you’d need a visa. Airpot code: ANU
- Getting around: rent-a-car, taxi or public transport (not the most reliable) P:S we drive on the left side of the road
- Population: 100,000+ estimated
- Language: English
- Electric Voltage: 110V/220V
*Even though it’s great to visit all year, June-November is known as the hurricane season so there may be a slight chance of storms. November – April is also the tourist season, so it may be busier, as well as higher rates.
WHERE TO STAY
Voted as one of the Caribbean’s most romantic destinations, Antigua and Barbuda certainly has a number of boutique resorts. However, there are also a few options for the budget conscious traveller, family groups or solo traveller.
To suit everyone’s needs I’ve mixed up the list a bit. There are also a few options listed on Air B&B if you decide against a hotel. All hotels are linked to their websites and only include those on Antigua.
10 places to stay:
- The Verandah Resort & Spa (all-inclusive, family friendly)
- Siboney Beach Club (affordable, small hotel, close to the city)
- Pineapple Beach Club (adults only, relaxed atmosphere, all-inclusive)
- Cocos Hotel (adult couples only, luxurious boutique hotel, all-inclusive)
- Hermitage Bay (upscale; 5 star luxury hotel)
- St James Club & Villas (caters to families/singles/couples, all-inclusive)
- Ocean Point Resort & Spa (adults only, close to the city)
- Sugar Ridge Resort (luxury, privacy, wellness)
- Starfish Jolly Beach Resort & Spa (budget friendly, all-inclusive)
- Trade Winds Hotel (good for business trips, close to the city)
WHAT TO EAT
You can’t come to the islands and NOT eat island food. Although I must admit when I travel I don’t go out of my way to eat local dishes. However, Caribbean cuisine is a must try. Our national dish is Fungi & Pepperpot; if you’re into local food and really want to experience our culture, give it a try. Fungi is cornmeal based while pepperpot is more of a soup with green leafy vegetables, seasonings and meat.
Other local food items you may try include:
- Goat Water
- Seasoned Rice
- Ducana & Saltfish
- Rice Pudding
- Sousse & Maw
- An Antiguan Breakfast (chop-up, saltfish, boiled egg, plantain, veg, wood-oven bread)
Outside of the traditional food, Antigua has quite a few restaurants catering to all your needs: Chinese, Italian, Indian etc. Here are a few of my favourites plus suggestions from others. A more thorough list of restaurants can be found here.
10 restaurants to try
- Garden Grill ~ brunch & lunch (review)
- Boom Restaurant & Pool (review)
- Trappas Bar & Restaurant
- OJ’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (review)
- Copper & Lumber ~ Seafood Fridays
- Papa Zouk
- Sweet T’s
- Paparazzi Pizzaeria & Bar
- Sheer Rocks Restaurant, Bar & Lounge (for the views)
- Cutie’s Handmade House
WHAT TO DO
Now for the adventure. Known as the land of 365 beaches, one for every day of the year, Antigua & Barbuda also has a little more to offer the explorer at heart. There are a variety of natural and historical sites that are bound to interest you or inspire a picture for the ‘gram. *Of course I had to start the list off with the most obvious of them all*
Visit our beaches – during your stay it’ll be best to see how many you can enjoy. My personal favorites are Turner’s beach, Hermitage Bay and Deep Bay. Other suggestions include Pigeon Point, Half Moon Bay and Dickenson Bay (if you want to stay near to town and in close proximity to restaurants). Check out Antigua Beaches for more.
Day trip to Barbuda – explore the caves/sinkhole, go bird watching at the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, eat freshly caught seafood, check out the pink sand beach.
Immerse yourself in history – visit Devils Bridge, Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation, St. John’s Cathedral, Fort James, Nelson’s Dockyard (UNESCO world heritage site)
Hiking – There are many trails to choose from, as well as various hiking groups/tour operators to go with. The most popular trails are Carpenter’s Rock, Signal Hill, Jones Valley and Monk’s Hill. Happy Heights hiking tours come highly recommended.
Sunset party at Shirley Heights or visit during the day to capture one of the most seen images from Antigua. The sunset party starts at 4:00 p.m. every Sunday and you can enjoy BBQ meals as well the sounds of steel band music. Entrance: US $10
Take a circumnavigation cruise around the island. Tour operators usually offer the chance to snorkel, visit an offshore island, secluded beach or explore Hell’s Gate
Photo Credits (L-R): ATBA, Anehtah, Stingray City Antigua
Swim with the stingrays – any travel guide you read or person you ask, this activity would be recommended. It’s no swimming with Sharks, but a must try for a little adventure.
Have a taste of our very own Antigua Black Pineapple ~ this can be done by checking out the Pineapple farm at Cades Bay Agricultural Station. The Antigua Black Pineapple is rumored to be the sweetest of them all.
Zipline through our ‘rainforest’ for a little thrill. This is located along the Green Corridor in Antigua and has various tours as well as challenges. They are open to all ages. Check out Antigua Rainforest Tours
Go Kayaking through a mangrove lagoon at South Coast Horizons. You can also enjoy lunch on a private beach and snorkel at one of Antigua’s most vibrant reefs.
See the island from a different view with Caribbean Helicopters. They also do tours to Barbuda and the volcano on Montserrat. (P.S my featured image is from a helicopter ride)
Floating Bar – for a different experience, enjoy a drink in the middle of the sea. Get a free boat ride over from Dickenson Bay.
Unfortunately most of the information given above is about Antigua only for many different reasons. However, I did include a ‘Day Trip to Barbuda‘ under the ‘What to do‘ section. So this section is simply to give a little more information on how you can do that.
You can get to Barbuda via two options; the ferry or by plane. The ferry service runs six days a week and also offers tours to the bird sanctuary and the caves. A roundtrip fare to Barbuda is US $85.00. Check out the website for more information and the schedule.
See if you can complete the bucket list challenge – Antigua & Barbuda
I know I didn’t cover every little detail above, so if you have any questions feel free to comment below or shoot me an email. You can also check out the official Antigua & Barbuda website and Antigua Nice for much more information.