Which Towns Should You Visit While Sailing in Antigua and Barbuda?

Make for the paradisiacal shoreline in Antigua to explore beautiful beachside towns
Make for the paradisiacal shoreline in Antigua to explore beautiful beachside towns | © David Lyons / Alamy
Lexi Fisher

Home to major sailing events, such as the RORC Caribbean 600 and Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua and Barbuda isn’t short of seaside towns to explore. Visit this West Indian destination on a sailing holiday and you could be strolling up to Shirley Heights for views over English Harbour; sipping rum cocktails in Dickenson Bay; or visiting secluded Codrington on Barbuda. To help you plan your perfect itinerary, here are the towns to visit in Antigua and Barbuda.

Cruise between these towns by booking one of our premium Sailing Trips.

English Harbour

An old canon sits in front of the blue-painted Dockyard Museum in Nelson’s Dockyard

Strolling through the stone pathways of Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour is a historian’s dream. Even if you’re disinterested in the Dockyard Naval History Museum, the beauty of the time-worn stone columns of the old sail loft and intricately restored architecture is unmistakable. For a bit of nature, hike up to Fort Berkeley on the point via the Middle Ground Trail. Come late afternoon, make the trip to Shirley Heights Lookout Restaurant for sunset drinks or a barbecue dinner with an unforgettable view.

A row of dinghies are moored outside the Seabreeze bar-cafe in Falmouth Harbour’s marina yacht club

Falmouth is the business centre of the area; the streets buzz with locals and visitors, yacht crews gallivanting on their days off, and sailors provisioning for long crossings. Pop into one of the many small boutiques or art galleries for respite from the heat of the day. For lunch, try the local cuisine with a view of the harbour at Island Fusion restaurant (ask about their vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options).

Mamora Bay

A bird’s-eye view of the sweeping Mamora Bay, with a strip of white sand punctuated with palm trees

More a resort village than a town, Mamora Bay is home to the high-end St James’s Club & Villas. Enjoy fine dining or a casual cocktail at one of the four restaurants, make an appointment at the salon and spa, or go for a dive with Mamora Bay Divers. Buy a day pass for access to the watersports and the beach loungers under tropical palms, or dock up among the megayachts for ultimate luxury.

Parham

The inside of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Parham, which has red floors and an arresting domed roof

Parham is a sleepy little town on the northern coast of Antigua. Once an important port and home to the Governor, it’s now a quiet fishing village and a great stop if you’re looking for the slow-paced island life. Though there aren’t many restaurants or services here, the people are friendly, and it’s worth visiting the old church, which has a unique domed ceiling.

Dickenson Bay

Tourists kick back on a sunbed on a stretch of white sand on Dickenson Bay in north Antigua

A lively holiday area, this mile-long beachfront is the perfect place for fun in the sun. Brightly coloured sarongs and T-shirts billow in the breeze between beach bars, restaurants, hotels and resorts. For a little more action, chat to one of the many watersports vendors (glass-bottom boats and jet skis abound) or ask around about the nightly entertainment.

St John’s

Tourists walk up a set of blue stairs to the boutique shops of Heritage Quay in St. John’s

The capital of Antigua, St John’s is the place to shop. Boutiques, art galleries, groceries and liquor stores, many of them duty-free, are nestled among a pleasant mix of old- and new-world architecture. The local market is a flourish of colour; visit on Saturday morning for the freshest produce. Take the opportunity to learn more about the local ingredients with a hands-on Caribbean cooking class at Nicole’s Table, just outside town.

Jolly Harbour

A solitary sail boat sits on the soft sands of Jolly Harbour, with palm trees drooping in the background

Jolly Harbour is a lovely little marina village. Grab a coffee from one of the cafes and stroll along the docks, admiring the boats of every shape and size. The beach is a short walk west, but to really admire the view, take the short taxi ride to Sheer Rocks restaurant, on the hillside. The food is excellent; call ahead to book a romantic daybed by the rock pool.

Codrington

Frigate Bird Caribbean

By far the most remote town on this list, Codrington, on Barbuda, is also the most charming. Many people make the passage from Antigua to Barbuda for the endless white-sand beaches or to tour the frigatebird colony in Codrington Lagoon. Impossibly low-lying and open to the unsheltered sun, the town itself is worth a visit in its own right. Locals often lead their horses and donkeys down the dusty roads to cool down in the water alongside the town dock.

Discover other fabulous places by booking one of our multi-day sailing adventures.

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