Best guide to life in Antigue and Barbuda
On every annual visit I take to the island, I make sure to flip through the latest "Life in Antigua and Barbuda guide" online. I can plan all my activities, shopping and accommodations using it. I do try to mix it up when it comes to areas I stay in, and hotels. From all inclusives to B&Bs. I like to diversify the experience.
I usually grab one of the printed guides (its a freebie) upon arrival, but the online flip version is available at http://westindiespublishing.com.
Highly Recommended!!!Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
We were in Antigua on a cruise ship. I picked this ship's tour because my husband was in the Navy and I thought he would be interested in the dockyard. We also planned to look in the marina for sailboats like ours just as we have done on other Caribbean islands.
Originally called "His Majesty's Antigua Naval Yard", Nelson's Dockyard is a National Park around a harbor called "English Harbor" - a really good protected harbor for boats. It was a boat repair facility for the Royal Navy.
Actually, it was not named "Nelson's Dockyard" until after the British Navy abandoned it and turned it over to the Antigua government. Nelson WAS based here at English Harbour from 1784 to 1787. He was temporary Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands for a short time.
Although we had rain showers earlier, by the time we got to the Dockyard, it was sunny. A local guide took us through the Dockyard. She was very good and informative. We toured the Mast House and other shipyard areas such as the Wet Dock and ended up at the Copper Kettle for a drink before we went back to our ship.
The old Boat House and Sail Loft was partly destroyed by a hurricane in 1871. All that remains of the original building are the massive boat house pillars. Reconstruction of Nelson's Boatyard continues up to this day of places such as the Seaman's Gallery built in 1778 (now a boutique and restaurant), the Pay Office (shops) and the 1788 Pitch and Tar Store (the Admirals Inn).Related to:
- National/State Park
Devils Bridge is a worthwhile visit in Antigua. Located in the Southeast side of the island, surrounded by both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. In fact it can easily be seen where both meet. The rough Atlantic Ocean battering against the shoreline has created Devils Bridge (pictured above). The deep swells and raging waters are continuously crashing into Devils Bridge most of the year. Many people go to visit this sight and some, those who are more daring, actually walk across the bridge. It is advised not to do this, as if you fall into the Ocean there it is near impossible to escape the currents without serious injury. There are various stories of people who have fallen in and never escaped, although many of these are possible fictional. It's better to be on the careful side!
Devils Bridge area is mostly rock with some surrounding greenery and there is a small bay to one side. There is more or less always a strong breeze that will keep you cool, but this can make the strength of the sun deceiving. If you have the patience then you will be able to get some great photos of the waves splashing up against the bridge.
Nature working is magic to create an exciting and beautiful landscape.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Paddles Kayak & Snorkel Adventure
This was probably the best run and organized tour that we have ever taken in the Caribbean, they were on time, the tour ran like clockwork, they answered their email promptly and the tour was exactly as described on their website. The owners of the business, Jennie and Conrad, are lovely hosts for the morning excursion which starts and ends at their home.
Jennie met us at the cruise dock and we drove through Antigua to get to their home where the tour started. A short motor boat ride took us to the kayaks, the flat 2 person ocean kind, and we were off to explore the mangroves. Along the way we saw pelicans up in the trees, heron, starfish and jellyfish. Another motor boat ride took us past Hell's Gate and over to Bird Island where we got off for a short hike to the top of the island for a spectacular view. He took us back over to a spot just offshore that was used for snorkeling, on this particular day the water was a bit rough and the snorkeling not so good.
After the ride back to Jennie and Conrad's home, we were greeted by their lovely dog, handed towels to wash off the salt and treated to some homemade banana bread, plantain chips and punch. Then it was back in the van for the trip back to the ship just in time for the next group of kayakers to come back in from their excursion.
This was the exact same tour offered by Princess but at a $10 discount, with a smaller group of people and an earlier start time. You should be in reasonable shape, our group had all kayaked before and were in good shape so we probably kayaked a bit longer than most groups. There was a boat following in case someone got tired.
One of the other passengers on our trip asked the motor boat drivers to swing past Hell's Gate, a natural rock formation located near Bird Island. I believe they said when they had visited previously that they had gotten on top of it and walked around but the water was a little rough on the day that we were there and it wasn't a scheduled stop. If you decide to climb on it, wear shoes, the formation is volcanic rock and appears to be very sharp. Same warning for swimming through the gate, it would have been way too dangerous on the day that we were there.
If you look at the photos, the gate itself looks to be the same shape as Africa.
Zip line... great!
One year when i was in Antigua, i tried the zip line tour, and it was awesome! i opted for the full package which included a fun obstacle course at the end. The tour was in the heart of the rain forest, and you zipped from tree to tree, over looking some beautiful nature. The guides there were very helpful and professional at tending to the guests, and also knew how to put a smile on our faces :). Now the obstacle course at the end was definitely worth it! some of them were a bit easy, but most of them were tricky. I managed to pass it after a good little while of trying, but it was definitely a fun experience.
Zip lining in Antigua is worth the while.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Land and Sea safari tour
This tour is also very nice. Its a combination of a land and sea based tour, where for the first half of the day you hop onto these zebra stripped Land Rovers, that take you off-roading into some scenic landscapes of the island. This was very fun and exotic. We were offered drinks on these trucks the whole time as well. by midday, the trucks took us to a beach where a sailing catamaran comes to pick us up and go out for a snorkel at cades reef.On board we were served lunch, and also had an open bar included. this reef though was amazing! if im not wrong, i believe it was a 2 mile reef barrier, and it was gorgeous! After spending a good 2 hours (it could have been more but it was about this time i started drinking their famous rum punch) by the reef, we started to sail back to the dock of where this boat is parked usually. For those who stayed in hotels, most of them were also dropped off back to their hotel (depending on which hotel you are in). I was staying in St. Johns at the City view hotel that time, so i went back with the boat all the way to St. Johns.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Adventure Travel
I have visited Antigua several times, and the last time i went, earlier this year in April, I did a fabulous tour to Barbuda. Barbuda is one place i will never forget. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with only 1500 people living there, the land is nearly untouched. Not to forget its beautiful pink sand beaches, if you want a place where you have a whole mile of beach to yourself, this is the place to be. I had taken the Excellence tour over to Barbuda which i must say was also very pleasant. The boat left in the morning at around 9, and by 10:30 we were driving onto Barbuda's beaches. It was a power catamaran, and it took the seas quiet well in my opinion (although it is a bit rough) The crew was ready and serving you at anytime, meaning when we were in the rough sea, we didn't have to move to get our drinks ;-). lunch was also included aswell as all you can drink. Another thing which was included and i recommend to do, is the bird sanctuary. Once the boat reached barbuda we had the option to visit the bird sanctuary, and i took it up. It was amazing to see all these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. this only took up about an hour, the rest of the day you have the chance to swim and relax on the beach.
Barbuda is a must see, and The excellence is a good choice to do so.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
St John's Cathedral--a nice easy hike up
As you can see from the photo, the church is not that far from the docks-and easy to see from just about anywhere so you wont get lost---lots to see on the way up and down....shops, bars, restaurants and houses. The church is very nice and has a nice view from up there.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Luxury Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Blockhouse section of Shirley Heights
Our tour guide Jane was concerned that we'd be caught by the rain, so we hustled (and Charley was driving REALLY fast - I'm sure over the speed limit) out to the first place which was an overlook from the Blockhouse. This is the easternmost part of the Shirley Heights military complex, with a magnificent view looking over the south-east coast. There was a building there which I think was the powder magazine. But most of the attraction was the view from on top of Cape Shirley – Antigua’s most southern pointRelated to:
- Road Trip
Ziplining Across the Rain Forest Canopy
Who knew Antigua even had a rain forest or for that matter that you could strap yourself into a harness and slide at great speed between the towering treetops in that rain forest (ziplining)? Check out some crazy pics of the day on my photo gallery. WanderingsRelated to:
- Adventure Travel
Water Sports at the Beach
Dickenson Bay, although touristy, is a gorgeous stretch of sand with sparkling water. You can rent a jet ski, or a number of other things, including an beach umbrella, which you might need if you are there for any extended period of time. It's great for kids of all ages.
Just being in the water there is fun enough or lounging around in this tropical paradise.Related to:
- Family Travel
If you’re a big fan of the beach, prepare to lose your heart to this place. Antiguans like to boast they have a different one for every day of the year. Without doubt, porcelain, palm-fringed sands and still turquoise waters are the star of this island show. But that’s not all Antigua’s got to boast about. Get ready for towns in a rainbow riot of colours. Quiet countryside that slumbers in the sunshine. And cuisine as sublime as those moon-white shores.
• Sink your toes into soft sand and wade through waters too blue to be true. A good place to head is Dickenson Bay, a wide strip dotted with thatched beach bars. Or pack up your snorkel and flippers and head north to Paradise Reef, a marine explorer’s dream.
• Hit the shops in St John’s, Antigua’s bright and breezy capital. Plump for island crafts or up the spending in the duty-free complexes. Afterwards, take a look at the mighty domed towers of the city’s Baroque cathedral, Antigua’s most famous landmark.
• Pull up a chair in one of St John’s restaurants and order the locals’ favourite, pepperpot stew, a tasty concoction of salt beef, pumpkin and okra. With a little legwork you’ll find some really unusual settings - old sugar mills, former slave quarters and 17th-century inns are among the top contenders.
• For a small island there’s loads of history to soak up. During the 1700s Antigua’s coastline was littered with British forts. Today most of these military strongholds lie in ruins but they’re great vantage points. Try Fort Barrington and Fort James in St John's for coastal views that’ll take your breath away.
On this trip you’ll hop onboard a 4-wheel jeep to go where no ordinary car can take you. Your driver will take you through the Belle View Heights Savannah, exploring the uneven terrain and taking in sights like the island’s 18th-century dam. Get ready to compare the lush rainforest on Fig Tree Drive to the pineapple plantations on the coast as you’re taken on the drive of your life. There’ll be plenty of stop-offs to take photos so bring your camera. And don’t forget your swimming gear as you’ll get a short break on the beach, too. £34.00 (3.5 hrs)
Best of Antigua
Peek into Antigua’s colonial past on this whistle-stop history tour. The day starts with a trip to the Blockhouse Fort ruins. Perched a whopping 500 feet above sea level, they’re a great viewing platform for the rest of the island. Look in one direction and you’ll spot Indian Creek, once home to Antigua’s first native tribe. Turn around, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the newer and much more glamorous home of Eric Clapton. Later, make your way to the island’s most southerly point, Shirley Heights. Back in the 18th century, soldiers used this as a lookout podium to spy on enemies and signal to nearby forts. The last, and arguably best, port of call is Nelson’s Dockyards, the world’s only Georgian dockyards still in use today. Here, you can stroll through the old-fashioned Georgian buildings and even visit the original Naval Officer’s house. Afterwards, it’s drinks all round at the docks’ 18th-century inn. £32.00 (3 hrs)
Kayak & Snorkel
Making the most of Antigua’s mangroves, this trip brings you up close to the island’s tropical treasures. It all takes place in the North Sound National Park, one of the unspoilt corners of the Caribbean. You’ll kick things off with a boat ride across to the floating platforms, where your kayak adventure awaits. After a quick safety briefing, you’ll paddle past dinky inlets and palm groves – keeping an eye out for stingrays, starfish and hummingbirds as you go. Finally, you’ll come ashore at Great Bird Island. Here time is your own to sunbathe, swim or snorkel in this white sand slice of paradise... whilst enjoying fruit/rum punch and snacks. Just so you know... The minimum age for this tour is 8 years. £36.00 (4 hrs)
Antigua by Sea
Join us for a closer look at Antigua’s peacock-blue waters and picture-perfect beaches. First things first, you’ll board a catamaran where lively calypso music provides the theme tune for your sail to Green Island. Here you can soak up the sun and snorkel through a world of coral reefs and tropical fish - it’s the perfect opportunity to fill up your underwater camera. After lunch, you’ll cruise to English Harbour to see Nelson’s Dockyard. Named in honour of Horatio Nelson who served as commander of the Leeward Islands, this restored Georgian dockyard was once the home of Britain’s naval fleet. Fast forward to today and the old fort, naval museum and visitor centre make it something of a tourist attraction. Finally, as you sail back to the port, you’ll cruise past the virgin white sands and tiny bays of Antigua’s exotic west coast. What’s more, the bar is open all day, so you can relax, drink in hand, and enjoy the view. £59.00 (6 hrs)
Not only is the peak of Montserrat’s volcano on the menu on this trip, but you’ll get to take a helicopter flight, too. You’ll be briefed at Antigua’s Fort James helipad before climbing into the chopper. Once you’re strapped in, your pilot will whisk you across the sea to Montserrat. Keep an eye on the water as you fly. If Lady Luck is smiling down on you, you’ll get to see the whales that sometimes swim here. Hovering over Montserrat, you’ll head to the Soufrierre Hills Volcano in the centre of the island. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Mount Vesuvius, this is one of the worlds most infamous volcanoes. And unlike its dormant Italian counterpart, this one is alive and kicking. In fact, some of the island has been designated off limits to traffic after the volcano erupted in 1995, burying the capital under rubble and ash. After passing over the cone twice, you’ll drop down to Plymouth to see the devastation for yourself. Like a modern day Pompeii, some areas of the city sit under 40 foot of ash. Just so you know... The helicopter ride takes 50 minutes. £130.00 (2 hrs)
Like lots of the Caribbean islands, Antigua is more than a little devoted to cricket. It’s more like a religion than sport and games can crop up anywhere, at any time. So it comes as no surprise to learn that the island’s home-grown cricketers are world-class. So much so, they even named the island’s brand new pitch, the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium. On this trip you’ll get a guided tour of the old and new test venue grounds, stop for lunch at the Sticky Wicket Bar and Restaurant and explore the West Indies Cricket Hall of Fame. You’ll even get to meet one of the West Indies cricket legends with famous faces like Curtly Ambrose and Sir Vivian Richards spending around 30 minutes answering questions, signing autographs and posing for photos. £65.00 (4.5 hrs)
Woodland walks. Zip-lines. And a canyon-like rainforest gorge. This is an adventure playground with a difference. It all takes place 40 to 300 feet off the ground in Antigua’s rainforest canopy, which makes it one of the tallest aerial adventures in the world. Taking roughly an hour from start to finish, it includes an Indiana Jones-style suspension bridge and 5 zip-lines. But don’t worry, you’re in safe hands. All the rangers here are trained to world challenge course standards and before you set off in your harness you’ll have a full safety briefing, to learn all about the equipment. Just so you know... The drive to the canopy location takes approximately 40 minutes. Maximum weight is 265 lbs; minimum height is 4 feet. Closed shoes and short/trousers are recommended. £45.00 (2.5 hrs)
Sun & Rum
Cast adrift in the Caribbean, Antigua is ringed with a halo of white sandy beaches. And the fairest of them all is Runaway Beach. Lapped by warm, clear waters and fringed by palm trees, it’s a perfect corner of paradise. And this taxi transfer from ship to shore – and back again – whisks you down to the beach so you can make the most of the watersports, bar and hammocks, not to mention the unlimited rum or fruit punch. Plus to make life easier, we’ll reserve you a sunbed on the sand. £19.00 (4 hrs)
Swim with Stingrays
For most of us, swimming with stingrays is just a dream. But at Stingray City Antigua, close encounters of the stingray kind are an everyday occurrence. Known locally as a 'the retirement home', it sits at the end of Barge Reef, just off the coast of Seaton’s Village. And it’s home to more than 30 rays, ranging from junior to senior. So if you want to touch, swim or play with these graceful gliders, this is the place to do it. After a safety briefing on dry land, you’ll board a boat to be whisked across the water. You’ll learn all about the rays, pet them and maybe feed them, too, before slipping into the water where the stingrays swim around you. An unforgettable experience. Just so you know... You spend approximately one hour in the water, so remember your swimming gear and sunscreen. Snorkelling gear will be provided. £40.00 (3 hrs)
Busy Beach - Dickensons Bay
We visited Antigua on a cruise tour. Decided to take a cabbie's advice and go to Dickenson's bay. About 6USD pp one way by cab. Lounge chairs 5USD. The beach itself is really nice, see pics. The sand and water is just perfect. The let down is that it is really busy. More than half of the beach is occupied by Sandal's Resort. Add 1 or more cruise ship guests in addition to this and you get yourself a full beach. This is something we do not appreciate as we enjoy to relax in peace. It is a nice beach, but too busy. Am sure there are more quiet beaches in Antigua with the same (or even more wonderful) sand and water...
The ruins of this fort, which is officially called "Old Fort", are located on the southern end of Dickenson Bay in the Northwest of the island. Among all Antiguan forts and fort ruins, this is the least well preserved I have seen. Only a small building and several remains of walls can be seen there. Like almost all fort ruins, there are no barriers or restrictions, so that you can walk and climb around as you like. For a better preserved structure, see Fort James which is only a short drive away (or around 25 minutes of walk) to the south.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
Antigua and Barbuda Hotels
We hav stopped at the Rex Halcyon Cove for the our last 2 trips to Antigua. On our first trip the...more
Five Islands P.O. Box. 305, Antigua Island, ag
Good for: Business
Indian Town Rd, Saint Philip, Caribbean
Good for: Families
Top Antigua and Barbuda Hotels
- Saint John's Hotels
- 18 Reviews - 66 Photos
- Saint Philips Hotels
- 2 Hotels
- Antigua Island Hotels
- 15 Reviews - 32 Photos
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
Explore the World
- Burma Hotels
- Praia da Rocha
- Point Dume State Beach Hotels
- Fredericton Hotels
- Masai Mara Game Reserve Hotels