Antigua is an easy-going island with brightly painted buildings, historic forts and so many beaches there’s one for every day of the year. Our specialists travel regularly across the Caribbean and can suggest the island’s best beachside retreats, as they design a tailor-made vacation to Antigua to suit your interests. Island-hopping is yet another option, and we can combine your time with Barbados.
Antigua was a British naval base, and there’s still a tangible British influence in Nelson’s Dockyard, although the luxury yachts bobbing in the water hint at modern Antigua’s glamorous side. Despite the island’s diminutive size, you’ll find a wide variety of beaches, from bustling stretches backed by bars to sweeps of little-visited white sand. Inland, you can journey along Fig Tree Drive, passing coconut groves and banana plantations, or watch a game of cricket, the national sport. Sunday afternoons are reserved for communal barbecues, eaten to the beat of a steel band.
Where to stay in Antigua
We know that where you stay is an important part of your trip. That’s why we’ve hand-picked the best properties in Antigua, from beachside hideaways to activity-filled family resorts.
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Best time to visit
Our specialists advise on the best months to visit Antigua, including information about climate, events and festivals.
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Useful information for planning your vacation in Antigua
The official language of Antigua is English, though there’s also a widely spoken creole that blends English and West African influences. There are also a significant number of Spanish speakers.
The currency of Antigua is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$ or XCD), which is tied to the US dollar. US dollars are widely accepted on the island, though you’ll usually be given change in EC dollars, and at a lower exchange rate. Credit cards are widely accepted.
In Antigua, you could try local specialities such as goat water, a spicy goat stew, or pepperpot, a hearty meat and vegetable stew usually served with cornmeal and okra dumplings known as fungee. Fresh seafood is an important part of the local diet, with the catch of the day typically consisting of lobster, snapper, or mahi mahi. You’ll also regularly see conch on the menu. As you’d expect on a tropical island, fresh fruit is plentiful, and the Antiguan black pineapple is known throughout the Caribbean for its exceptional sweetness. Like the rest of the region, beer and rum are the most popular alcoholic drinks.
Tipping in Antigua is discretionary and should reflect the service you’ve received. The standard tip is usually 15% but many hotels and restaurants will add a service charge of 10% to your total costs so check this first.
For the latest travel advice for Antigua, including entry requirements, health information, and the safety and security situation, please refer to the State Department website.
The government of Antigua introduced a tourism levy in 2021. All arrivals are required to pay a fee of US$5 per guest per night. This fee is payable upon check out from your hotel. Children under the age of five are exempt.
With 365 white-sand beaches, azure seas, barrier reefs, and historic forts, Antigua makes a great place to switch off and relax. You can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nelson’s Dockyard, zip-line through the rainforest, or join an eco tour of the island’s reefs and mangroves spotting wildlife and learning about local ecology, history, and folklore along the way. Along the coast, high headlands shelter deep narrow bays, hidden coves, and bustling stretches of sand backed by lively bars. Rock arches and blowholes give way to coconut groves and banana plantations, and all over the island fish and seafood bars and fine dining restaurants offer plenty of choice for a lazy lunch or special dinner. Relax with a stroll around the brightly painted waterfront at St John’s, watch a game of cricket, or take a ferry to nearby Barbuda to snorkel off deserted beaches.
Antigua offers a wide variety of places to stay, from boutique historic hotels to large resorts with a full range of facilities. Most hotels sit on the waterfront and offer easy access to the beach and water sports. Some of our preferred options include the adult-only Galley Bay with its tropical gardens, spa, yoga pavilion and choice of restaurants, or family-run Blue Waters Resort & Spa which sits on a large estate with a private golf course and tennis courts.
On the south coast, Carlisle Bay is a stylish option that offers a full range of water sports, including diving, as well as four restaurants to choose from. If you’re looking for something more intimate, we recommend the Inn at English Harbour, a boutique hotel with heritage style close to Nelson’s Dockyard.
Antigua’s top attraction is Nelson’s Dockyard, where restored Georgian buildings now house two museums, craft shops, restaurants, and a marina lined with luxury yachts. Above it, Shirley Heights gives sweeping views of the historic port and comes alive on Sunday afternoons with music and dancing at the weekly jump-up.
The island claims to have a beach for every day of the year. Try the pristine sands at popular Valley Church Beach or make your way to the far side of the island to visit Half Moon Bay, where you’re never likely to encounter more than a handful of other visitors.
Explore the island’s interior along Fig Tree Drive which leads through banana, mango, and coconut groves into the volcanic hills, visit 19th-century St John’s Cathedral, or hop on a ferry to Barbuda to laze on pink-sand beaches and visit one of the world’s largest colonies of frigate birds.
Direct flights from the US to Antigua take around four and a half hours.
The time zone in Antigua is UTC-4 hours (EST+1 hour). There’s no Daylight Saving Time in Antigua.
The best way to get around Antigua is to hire a car or use private transfers. The island’s small size means you can drive from end to end in around 45 minutes. To rent a car you’ll need to obtain an Antiguan permit to drive once you arrive — your rental car company can arrange this for you. If you choose to drive, be aware that Antiguan roads can be riddled with potholes and are poorly lit at night so can prove challenging. If you’d rather not drive, it’s easy to arrange private transfers with our local agents and taxis from the airport to most destinations have a fixed fare.
There are no visa requirements for US citizens entering Antigua.
There are no mandatory vaccinations for travel to Antigua. However, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re up to date with the recommended vaccinations at home, and to check the suggested vaccinations on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
You’ll need to check in advance that your passport has a minimum of six months validity left on it from the date of your departure from Antigua.
Like any tropical destination, mosquitoes are part of a trip to Antigua, however, most resorts spray to control numbers. If you use a good insect repellent and cover up, particularly at dawn and dusk, you should avoid too many bites. Mosquitoes in Antigua can transmit dengue fever, Chikungunya virus and Zika virus, however, so you should take precautions, and if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant speak to a doctor before booking.
Antigua in pictures
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