There’s a beach for every day of the year in Antigua and Barbuda, so the to-do list here revolves around the sand and sea. During the day, these islands are filled with sunbathers, swimmers, boats and sometimes even stingrays. Meanwhile, evenings are all about beachside sundowners and long lazy dinners with sea views. Here’s why Antigua and Barbuda should be on your holiday radar.
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are flecked with honeymoon-grade hotels. Resorts such as Cocobay in Saint Mary and Hammock Cove in Saint Philip are just for adults and come with features such as in-room jacuzzis, private plunge pools and double-ended bathtubs. Also, you’re never far away from a sunset or sea view when you holiday here – take it all in with a clifftop cocktail at Sheer Rocks.
With more than 153km (95mi) of crimped coastline, Antigua and Barbuda are best explored by boat. Multiple sailing tour companies operate across the islands; you just need to decide whether you’d prefer to travel by speedboat, catamaran or yacht. The best packages tend to include onboard barbecues, a few rum punches and a couple of snorkelling stops at spots such as the Pillars of Hercules and Rendezvous Bay – a beach that’s only accessible by boat or 4×4.
Spain, England and France have all had a presence in Antigua and Barbuda over the years, and each place has left its mark on the country’s cuisine. Tuck into everything from escargot (edible snails) to curried shrimp. If you’re into seafood, don’t leave without trying the conch – a national dish best served with a mound of rice and peas and a side of fried plantains.
There’s a beach for every day of the year in Antigua and Barbuda. Some options, such as Dickenson Bay and Runaway Beach in St John, are more animated than others. The sands here are backed by restaurants and bars; water sports are readily available in the sea. If you’d prefer a more people-free beach, try Darkwood or Turners Beach in Saint Mary. Whichever one of the 365 you choose, you can count on sand that’s blonder than Barbie’s hair.
The birds of Antigua and Barbuda are confetti colourful. There’s the green-throated carib that’s the colour of a mermaid’s tail and the native Barbuda warbler with its sunshine-yellow breast. Then there’s the frigate bird, with its Porsche-red neck that blows up like a balloon in mating season. To get a really good look at the frigates, book a sea-taxi tour to Codrington Lagoon with an experienced guide.
Cricket is Antigua and Barbuda’s national sport. While you’ll see locals playing it on the beaches, the best place to catch a live game is at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, a 15-minute drive from St John’s. There’s a bar called Island B-Hive on-site and plenty of food vendors in the stadium, so you can drink cool Wadadli beers and munch on local snacks as you listen to the bats swack on the pitch.
The former military lookout at Shirley Heights is 149m (490ft) above Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour. On clear days, you can see all the way to Montserrat. Most people take a taxi to the top, although you can follow a thigh-burning walking trail up from Nelson’s Dockyard if you’re feeling energetic. Visit at sunset to watch the sky turn the harbour water the colour of clementines, or visit from 4pm on Sundays to enjoy a steel band and barbecue.
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