Travel guide to Antigua

The Caribbean is one of my fave places on Earth and every year its my goal to visit atleast 2-3 new islands. This year I had the island of Antigua on my list especially cos it is known to be the “Land of 365 Beaches” – yes the island literally has 365 beaches , a new one for everyday of the year! Last week I had the chance to visit this destination, thanks to Antigua and Barbuda tourism and had such a wonderful experience adventuring all around Antigua. For this trip I only spent time on Antigua but fell so in love with it that I really want to make a trip back sometime and also include the island of Barbuda next time around.

Beautiful empty unspoilt beaches , and 365 to choose from!

Why Antigua + How to get there ? 

Having been to the Caribbean over 10 times I think I can confirm that not all Caribbean islands have the idyllic calm blue waters that one dreams of. That dosen’t go to say that these islands aren’t gorgeous but the Caribbean islands are really so diverse there is something to love in every place you go! But if the no 1 thing that you are looking for in your Caribbean vacay is idyllic blue tranquil empty beaches then you MUST add Antigua and Barbuda on your list stat! This island certainly had the best beaches of the islands I have been to the Caribbean thus far. Its also far less done than some of its other popular (sometimes overcrowded) Caribbean cousins.

Aside from being the Caribbean island with probably the most number of beaches, the diverse island of Antigua has so much to offer from history to rainforests to amazing restaurants and much more. Plus its so easy to get to the island – with direct flights from many major hubs in the east coast and with an easy connection from the rest of the US. There are also direct flights from the UK, Canada and other Caribbean islands as well.

View from above Carlisle Bay – bay where Christoper Columbus first discovered Antigua!

Best Time to Visit ?

The best time to visit Antigua in my opinion is from May to August, the island’s off-season. Rates are cheapest at this time, the crowds are less and the weather is amazing. Infact we had so many beaches all to ourselves! Although there is a slight threat of hurricanes, as long as you go before early August I think its a good compromise :). Between December and April is the high season – the weather is perfect (v less rain) , but rates can be expensive and crowds are abundant.

We spent a total of 4 nights and 5 full days on the island which is a good amount of time to get a feel for the island.

Admiral’s Inn and Gunpowder suites, Antigua

How to get around Antigua ?

Its easy to rent a car to drive around the island, keep in mind they drive on the left side of the road. We used taxi transfers for the most part since we were there only for 5 days. Check out all the options for getting around the island in this page.

Valley Church Bay (my favee beach in Antigua!)

Where to stay in Antigua ?

We split our stay across the north and south of the island to get two diverse experiences on the island. The South coast of Antigua is more quiet, greener and lush (cos of the rainforest), unspoilt, secluded and utterly gorgeous in every way! Carlisle Bay is tucked away in what is known to be one of the most beautiful bays of Antigua. Carlisle Bay is a part of the Leading Hotels of the World and is known for classic understated luxury. Aside from its stunning tranquil location I absolutely loved its low-key vibe and secluded feel. It is set against a dramatic backdrop of rolling hills and lush tropical rainforest on one side and the blue Caribbean sea on the other. Read more about our stay in my blog post here.

Carlisle Bay

For the second half of our stay in Antigua, we chose to stay on the north of the island. As I mentioned in my previous post the north and south of Antigua are both diverse and beautiful in their own way which is why I wanted to split my time between the two coasts to get the best of both. One of the best places to stay here is undoubtedly Bluewaters Resort situated on the northwestern corner of Antigua. It has an overall idyllic casual yet luxurious vibe and a stunning location surrounded by azure blue waters all around – so yes it stays very true to its name! Read more in my blog post here.

Bluewaters resort

For other hotel and resort options around the island, check out this page here.

 

Things to do in Antigua :

There are tons of things to do around the island – from beaches, to signing up for fun tours and activities, checking out the amazing eats around the island, other cool sights and much more! Here are a few things we did :

1 ) Beach hopping around the island :

Darkwood beach

While Antigua has a ton of things to do on the island the thing that its most known for is being the “Land of 365 Beaches!” Did you know that Antigua has over 365 beaches; theres a new beach for everyday of the year quite literally! I went to a few of them and its hard not to fall in love with how stunning the waters and sand is here wow! I wish I could have explored all 365 of them haha but its a good thing that there are SO many beaches – cos that just means I will have to make several return trips and I am happy about that ;).

Now keep in mind even though Antigua is fairly small in size the beaches on different sides of it are very diverse! On the west coast you find the Caribbean Sea – which has incredible calm blue waters perfect for swimming, snorkelling etc and on the east coast it is the Atlantic Ocean – here you will find beaches with a little choppier tide, thats perfect for windsurfing, surfing etc. Also the beaches on the South are more lush and have a dramatic backdrop of the lush rainforest which makes them so unique. They are all incredibly beautiful in their own way, so doing your research based on what you want is important.

Check out this blog post where I am sharing my list of the Top 10 Beaches in Antigua!

 

2 ) Ziplining in Antigua’s rainforest :

In Antigua, the beach is just the beginning. As I mentioned earlier, there is so much more to do on the island beyond the crystal clear waters. Natalie and I tried our hand first time at ziplining at Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours at the island’s Fig Tree Drive rainforest. And even though we were both scared to begin with 🙃 we ended up having such a blast zipping through the lush rainforest and feeling like “janes” of the jungle!

So much fun at Antigua Rainforest Zipline!

They have a bunch of options to choose from – from 6 zips, 12 zips as well as a challenge course. Whatever you choose to do you are guaranteed a thrilling experience and amazing sights to go along with your adventure.

 

3 ) Swimming with wild Southern Stingrays :

One of the main reasons Antigua was on my list was Stingray city Antigua ! Stingray City in Antigua is a shallow pool like area in the middle of the ocean where these wild southern stingrays come everyday to make new human friends! While they can be dangerous if they feel threatened only, they are actually very gentle and friendly if you learn how to interact with them in the right way. This was such an unforgettable and magical experience, one that I’ll always cherish despite the unfavorable weather.

Bucket list moment for Natalie and me!

And about the weather – I’m always one to double check the weather so much so that weather.com is my top bookmarked page. But this freak thunderstorm that we were caught in once we were already at the location was totally unexpected! While I was initially super disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to capture content the way we initially wanted to, it only took me a few minutes to realize that things don’t always go as planned and that’s OKAY ; I was incredibly grateful to even be there in the first place. So glad that we finally made the most of the situation and still went out to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity!

 

4 ) Drive up to Shirley Heights Lookout :

Shirley Heights is the BEST view point on the island offering 360 degree views all around of English and Falmouth Harbours. It is actually a historic point of interest as well, being a restored military lookout and gun battery. Whether you choose to do a day trip or a sunset trip here you will certainly not be disappointed! Also if you are on the island on a Sunday make sure you you checkout their sunset party here every Sundays.

 

5 ) Visit Nelson’s Dockyard :

Nelson’s Dockyard is Antigua’s original British maritime hub and is the largest of Antigua’a national parks. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is still used today as a working dockyard for numerous yachts and ships. Fully restored to its original splendor, the 18th and 19th century buildings of the Dockyard now house shops, hotels, museums and marina businesses. Outside the dockyard, historic forts (accessible by hiking trails) dot the landscape of the park and offer stunning views of the island.

Around Nelson’s Dockyard

 

Other Things to know :

1 ) Here’s something cool to know for for all you newly engaged couples or future brides out there here is something super fun to consider – Antigua just launched its first-ever honeymoon registry! Looking back to our wedding I always think that this would have been the perfect wedding gift – the gift of travel. Check out this page for more!

2 ) Just FYI – the tourism board of Antigua and Barbuda currently has a summer trivia sweepstakes going on where you can win a vacay to Bluewaters, so go enter now!

3 ) Antigua is the sailing capital of the Caribbean and is a popular yachting hub for many years, because of its spectacular turquoise waters, steady Trade winds, and natural bays and harbors. If sailing is something that you are into, you must look into Antigua Sailing week.

 

Get Inspired to visit Antigua :

Valley church beach

Carlisle Bay

Nelson’s dockyard

Antigua’s black pineapple – touted the sweetest pineapples in the world! A must try!

And their mangoes are to die for too – yum!

Turners beach

Carlisle Bay beach

Magical sunsets every night!

All images shot by Natalie Marie (unless mentioned otherwise)

Don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes – the tourism board of Antigua and Barbuda currently has a summer trivia sweepstakes going on where you can win a vacay to Bluewaters, so go enter now!

Thanks for stopping by. xoxo

Jyo

**This stay was in collaboration with Antigua and Barbuda Tourism, Carlisle Bay and Bluewaters Hotel but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

 

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