Ahhh, the pandemic has finally released us from its “stay at home shackles”. Travel has resumed full force since countries started lifting their travel bans and testing requirements *let’s hope this doesn’t come back for round 2*. With the return of travel comes lots of planning, especially for the new year; new countries to see and new places to explore. Hopefully, somewhere in the Caribbean makes it onto your list and I’m here to give 23 reasons why Antigua and Barbuda should be one of them. Over the years I’ve seen an interest in my Antigua and Barbuda Travel Guide (which deserves an update), but I also want to add some events which will be happening this year since the pandemic “ended” and some experiences only available to you in our twin island nation. Let’s get into it!
The Beach is just the Beginning
We’re starting the list off with the most common reason why Antigua and Barbuda should be on your destination list. This has been our marketing slogan for some time, advertised as the island with 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Of course I have my faves, which will be mentioned in another blog post, but to name a few for you to visit on your trip:
- Darkwood Beach
- Long Bay
- Turner’s Beach
- Pinching Bay
- Pearn’s Point
- Deep Bay
- Half Moon Bay
- Valley Church Beach
Okay, so that was a bonus, but I’ve managed to split the list into 3 categories, Events, Experiences and Explorations. I’ve also done my best to include dates which have been released and links to where you can find more information if interested in booking.
1/ Kite Festival
Date: April 10th
An Easter favourite and tradition where residents flock to Devils Bridge National Park to see kites of all variations soar above the sky. There is also a competition and local food, drinks and items are on sale. A good activity for the entire family.
2/ 54th Annual Sailing Week
Dates: April 29th – May 5th
Race, Chase, Celebrate. Yachts from all over the world come to our shores for a regatta known as one of the best worldwide. Sailing week has returned with a packed week of events/activities. You can even enjoy the full experience by booking a spot on a chartered boat to race or join with your own skippered vessel. Check out sailingweek.com for more information.
- Reggae in the Park: a concert hosted in Nelson’s Dockyard featuring reggae artists.
- Lay Day: a fun day on the beach, lots of activities, games, music and fun
3/ Run in Paradise
Date: May 28th
This is a marathon race event across the island which offers a Half Marathon, 10K and 5K race. More information: runinparadise.com
Dates: May 29th – June 2nd
Caribana is Barbuda’s own Carnival celebrations complete with five action-packed days of culture, music, and pageantry held over the Whit Weekend.
5/ The Greatest Summer Festival – Antigua’s Carnival
Dates: July 29th – August 8th
From traditional Carnival shows to two days of mas, some even classify it as three days (one event held a week prior), Antigua’s carnival is definitely an experience. Carnival Monday and Tuesday fall on the first Monday and Tuesday in August and are also public holidays. There is also a T-Shirt Mas parade to begin the festivities. Although these are the official dates, pre-Carnival fetes begin as early as July with different varieties and span every weekend leading up to and even after our event. More information coming on Carnival soon!
6/ Urlings Seafood Festival
Date: August 13th
A food fair experience for the seafood lover. This event is held in the Urlings Community which is known for their rich fishing culture.
7/ PiAngo Festival
Dates: August 19th – 20th
This is a festival highlighting the many uses of mango and our national fruit, the Antigua Black Pineapple. There are many different stalls focusing on food, crafts and delicacies. They also host various competitions which the public can partake in.
8/ Francis Nunes Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament & Seafood Festival
Date: September 23rd
An event for seafood lovers and sport-fishing enthusiasts held within the historic Nelson’s Dockyard.
9/ 42nd Anniversary of Independence Celebrations
Dates: October 21st – November 1st
A week plus of events highlighting our culture which culminates with a Food Fair at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds. Events range from concerts, national dress day, panorama and more.
10/ Gemonites Moods of Pan Festival
Dates: November 24th – 26th
A great experience for anyone who loves the sound of the steelpan. There are competitions such as 25 a-side whereby groups of 25 from steel orchestras across the island compete. This festival attracts top steel band music acts from across the globe.
11/ Charter Yacht Show
Dates: December 4th – 9th
An international exhibition for boats and yachts held in the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. There are various events held throughout the week such as a networking events, and in 2022, a chefs and tablescaping competition.
12/ Shirley Heights Sunset BBQ
Every Sunday afternoon (from 4 p.m.) at Shirley Heights lookout you can enjoy a scrumptious BBQ meal, rum punch and a gorgeous sunset. This lookout gives a great view of English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. It is also a restored military lookout, so there’s lot of history to explore starting from the Blockhouse near the entrance.
13/ Copper & Lumber Seafood Fridays
The perfect start to your Friday night festivities. Copper and Lumber restaurant located within the Nelson’s Dockyard hosts a seafood dinner every Friday. Menu options include appetisers as well as main course, from conch fritters to seafood pasta and grilled lobster.
14/ Rum in the Ruins
Learn about the history and culture of Antigua, specifically the English Harbour area while sipping on some rum! This tour is led by heritage experts at the Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre.
15/ Swim with Stingrays + Laviscount Island
An experience like no other, interact with stingrays at Stingray City located in the east of the island.
On Laviscount Island, you can have a variety of experiences such as meeting giant Aldabra tortoises, walking trails, mangrove snorkelling and more. This tour can be done on its own or paired with the Stingray tour.
16/ Pigs in Paradise
An exclusive experience whereby you can pet/feed/cuddle piglets.
17/ Frigate Bird Sanctuary
An experience which brings you to Barbuda, enjoy a tour through the mangroves of the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. The Frigate Bird is also the national bird of Antigua & Barbuda.
18/ Sunset Cruises
Enjoy an island sunset from a different view. Tropical Adventures offer this service which includes drinks and finger foods.
19/ Hiking Trails
If you’re adventurous, Antigua has many marked and unmarked trails for you to explore. Popular ones include Signal Hill, Carpenter’s Rock, Boggy Peak, and Rendezvous Bay via Wallings.
20/ Zipline Adventure
Enjoy a visit to Antigua’s Rainforest Canopy where you can explore 10+ ziplines and other activities such as aerial walkways and a rope challenges course.
21/ Helicopter Ride
Get another view of Antigua and Barbuda by exploring the skies with Calvin Air Helicopters. Tours include a full island and half-island tour of Antigua.
22/ Offshore Islands
Antigua and Barbuda is home to over 50 offshore islands. Although some of them are privately owned, you can visit these through various tour companies. Please be mindful however of items you’re taking with you as you don’t want to disrupt the island’s ecosystem. Popular ones such as Green Island can also be visited for free if you’re staying at The Escape by Nonsuch Bay.
- Hell’s Gate, Green Island & Laviscount Island with Adventure Antigua
- Great Bird Island with Wadadli Cats
Last, but not least, take a trip to Barbuda, our sister isle and have a full day of exploration. Visit the famous Princess Diana Beach, explore the caves, and check out the restaurants like Nobu Barbuda and Uncle Roddy’s. There are different ways you can get to Barbuda whether it’s s by ferry, plane or speedboat.
Hopefully one of these reasons entice you enough to visit my home!
Until next time,
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