I have always dreamed of a holiday spent lazing on white sandy beaches with my toes dipping in the warm Caribbean ocean. When I finally had the opportunity to go away for two weeks to the islands in the Caribbean, I felt quite pressured to ensure I chose a great holiday destination island with beautiful beaches.
Luckily, I found all the best beaches for my island beach vacation on the island of Antigua. Here’s why!
Antigua is an island that makes up the Caribbean nation with its sister island—Barbuda island. It’s a peaceful and beautiful island with many tourist attractions, including its numerous unique and breathtaking beaches, such as Pink Sand Beach.
My ultimate goal was to visit the best beaches in Antigua. For such a small island, there are many different and gorgeous beaches to be found. The unique aquatic placement of the island where the Caribbean and the Atlantic oceans meet creates some of the world’s most impressive beaches.
Every second on Antigua’s beaches was a win, and I’m sure you’ll be booking your plane ticket before you even read about the last beach on my list.
Bottom Line Up Front of the Best Beaches in Antigua
After spending hours enjoying the glorious beaches that line the coves and inlets of Antigua, I finally settled on Valley Church Beach as the best overall beach. I would strongly recommend you visit it as soon as you can.
With all the comforts of home right on the sand, you can enjoy the Caribbean from the comfort of a lounger under a colorful parasol as the gentle waves lap on the bright white sand.
Selection Criteria for the Best Beaches in Antigua
It’s difficult to choose the best beaches in Antigua to visit, and distinguishing between so many beautiful sandy vacation spots is hard.
So I had to devise a checklist to preserve my sanity and ensure my family and I got value for money. Your own checklist may look slightly different, but I’m sure you will make great choices based on these criteria.
Natural Beauty and Not too Close to Towns
The idea of an island vacation is to have a place where you can relax without battling traffic or dealing with possible pollution from being too close to towns.
Secluded hotels that offer great amenities and accommodation is a requirement you probably won’t want to stint on.
No matter how great a beach is when it’s out in the wilds, you still want the basic amenities such as clean showers and bathrooms so you can leave behind the ocean’s salty kiss instead of trucking it with you to the hotel.
While an ocean swim is great, things can go horribly wrong. Knowing competent lifeguards are on duty will ensure you and your family remain safe. Likewise, you want to leave your possessions on the beach while you swim without worrying it will be gone when you return.
Activities and Natural Beauty
While tanning is great, you may want some variety with beach-side activities such as sports, kayaking, snorkeling, and spearfishing.
I certainly don’t want to spend all my holiday money on one beach and be broke and confined to a cheap hotel, so I carefully looked at the affordability of each beach on this list.
10 Top Antigua Beaches You Should Visit
Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in Antigua
If you have kids, you know that some beaches will be boring if you don’t plan ahead or if the beach is ideal for busy minds. Luckily, Antigua has some real gems for kids on the beach to explore.
Valley Church Beach
Find this peaceful beach on Antigua’s west coast, with Jolly Harbor to the south. Ideally appointed for families and children, Valley Church Beach has excellent facilities like showers, a restaurant with a bar, and changing rooms so you can switch from your town clothes to beach wear in comfort (no looking for a bush here).
Entrance to the beach is free (#bonus), though some activities may require tickets, like renting a watercraft to paddle around on.
There is enough space for beach soccer, volleyball, and other sandy games to keep the family entertained. When the cruise ships dock in the inlet, you can enjoy the stunning view of the ocean’s floating hotels.
Sip a beer and enjoy some shrimp at the Nest Restaurant and Bar.
Note: The sand is coarse at Valley Church Beach, so pack your sand shoes to ensure you don’t lose some skin.
Long Bay Beach
One of the prime beaches of Antigua is Long Bay Beach, where your children will have oodles of fun. The beach is renowned for fine white sand, peaceful waters, and excellent amenities and activities.
Rent beach equipment like umbrellas and loungers, or visit restaurants or sip mojitos as you watch the kids play from the beachside bar.
Activities to enjoy here include snorkeling, water sports, diving, and more. Time your visit to the annual sailing week and watch the yachts and catamarans cruise past. Long Bay Beach is also a popular tourist area, so expect loads of people during the holiday season. You can also do the bulk of your curio shopping at the tourist shops near the beach.
Note: The sand is fine (like talcum or baby powder), so if you have allergies, you may want to stock up on antihistamines before the visit.
Prickly Pear Island Beaches
While Prickly Pear Island is not strictly speaking a single beach, the whole island is essentially a beach adventure. Kids can really have fun on the island beaches with professionally guided snorkeling guides, beachside picnics, watersports, and more.
The island is reachable with a short five-minute boat ride from Hodges Bay.
Best Luxury Beaches in Antigua
If you’re planning your honeymoon to Antigua, you would probably prefer a little luxury with some of the best beach activities you can find.
Dickenson Bay Beach
The white sands of Dickenson Bay Beach are over a mile in length, and the beach is one of the most developed beaches on the island. Dickenson Bay features many exotic activities like snorkeling, watercraft, and luxury resort accommodation in the many opulent hotels along the beach.
Dickenson Bay Beach features many attractions like the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort, an award-winning resort for adults, and 11 restaurants to dine at and watch the sunset. The beach is also safe, with many lifeguards and a police presence to ensure you feel safe and can relax in style.
Curtain Bluff Beach
Hail a taxi from the airport to this luxury beach and enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family (kids included) in the hotels perched on the bluff that runs down the land head with beaches on both sides.
Calmer waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, while the rougher water on the other side of the beach is ideal for surfing, windsurfing, and fishing.
The resorts and hotels along the beach offer great cuisine with the freshest seafood available and prepared to perfection. The beach is popular with couples looking for a beach wedding and those who want the white-sand-tennis-luxury resort holiday.
Visit Curtain Bluff Beach from December to June to avoid the hurricane season when the sea will be too rough and the weather poor.
Best Appointed Antigua Beaches
There may be times when you have only limited time for a visit to a beach, and you want to know which beaches are easy to enjoy in a day or less. Luckily, these beach quickies are ideal for visiting—just take yourself and a bathing suit.
Fort James Beach
Hop on a bicycle or rent a taxi to this quiet beach with all the facilities, so you don’t have to take all your beach equipment with you. At this beach, you will find showers, change rooms, rental facilities for umbrellas and loungers, and a restaurant at each end of the beach for tasty refreshments.
You can spend a leisurely day at the beach, and for the most part, Fort James beach is quiet unless the cruise ships have docked nearby.
Bonus Beach Pointer – Best for Horse Riding
There is something ultimately romantic and utterly Caribbean holiday about cantering along on a beautiful horse next to the ocean on an Antiguan beach. For the best horseback riding beach experience, hit up Fort James Beach. Best of all, it’s a mere three miles from St. John’s, the island’s capital city.
Ride along the white sandy beaches, or if you’re up for a more challenging ride, you can meander up the rocky paths to the beach’s namesake fort. With the turquoise blue ocean in the background, you’re sure to get some stunning holiday photos to remember your trip.
Turners Beach is ideal for a well-appointed beach with rentals of umbrellas, loungers, sports equipment, and more. The beach is near Jolly Harbor, so you can easily cycle there and back if you need something unavailable at the beach.
However, Turners Beach has loads of facilities like change rooms, showers, restaurants, bars, and guided watersports instructors to help you scuba and snorkel.
The reefs off the coast make for a fish paradise. The beach is frequented by those who want to snorkel and watch the colorful fish. As a bonus, there is also a rescue service at the beach to ensure your Caribbean holiday doesn’t end in disaster.
Don’t miss out on windsurfing, kayaking, and rafting while you spend time at Turners Beach. If you tire of the sand and surf, you can also participate in an inland safari from the beach.
Most Quiet Beaches in Antigua
When you want a quiet beach holiday or even get away from the touristy beaches that bustle with activity, you can find many peaceful and secluded beaches along the southwest of Antigua’s shores.
Feast your eyes on the clear turquoise waters of Darkwood Beach. Camp out and watch the sun set behind the neighboring islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat.
You can also take picturesque walks on the partially grass-covered beach in the late afternoon and early evening, enjoying a cool breeze after the day’s tropical heat.
Since Darkwood Beach is one of the most extensive beaches, it’s possible to have peace and quiet, even in the busy season when cruise ships boost the island’s population by thousands.
The beige sands of Darkwood Beach complement sunbathing. At the same time, you can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, and watersports thanks to the nearby reef that provides ocean diversity and safe swimming sections where you can enter the water easily.
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is a secluded and underdeveloped beach destination if you want pristine white sands and turquoise waters. The warm water and white sands create a world removed from the nearby St. John’s bustle.
You will have to take all your beach equipment, food, and umbrellas with you to the beach, but once there, you will find several nearby hotels that you can book in advance. There is a shop selling food near the beach, and restaurants and bars are within walking distance further inland.
Half Moon Bay is ideal if your idea of peace is to laze under the palm trees and read while you watch the waves play on the virgin sands. Should your page-turner not grip you, it’s a short walk to Exchange Bay Beach, where you can swim, sunbathe, and buy refreshments and trinkets to take home.
Deep Bay Beach
What could be more peaceful and quiet than diving down to visit shipwrecks? Deep Bay Beach is a relatively underdeveloped beach, and while there are no toilets, change rooms, or restaurants, you can buy refreshments at the few bars and cafes along the shore.
Rent scuba equipment and dive into the underwater world of history as you peruse sunken ships and view local reef aquatic life. You can also go fishing here, or if you feel lucky, there are nearby casinos you can frequent and spin the wheel of fortune.
Antigua Beaches FAQs
Question: Can you Swim in the Ocean off Antigua’s Beaches?
Answer: The water around Antigua is crystal clear and safe for swimming. Some beaches are known to experience rougher waters due to shoals and reefs, but most beaches are idyllic for swimming.
Question: Are all the Beaches of Antigua open to the Public?
Answer: A little-known secret is that the beaches of Antigua are all public access. Even the so-called private beaches in luxury resorts can’t deny you entry. Simply go to the access gate, ask to go to the beach, and voila!
Question: How Many Beaches are there in Antigua?
Answer: The undisputed answer is that there is a beach for every day of the year, so it’s safe to say that there are 365 beaches along Antigua’s sandy shores.
My Final Splash on Antigua Beaches
Oh, my dream holiday to Antigua was everything I had hoped for. I enjoyed the fun, sun, sand, activities, and just the glorious rum-soaked spirit of the Caribbean. The only thing missing was Captain Jack Sparrow cruising in on the tide for a quick chat and some banter.
If you want to read more about the fantastic holidays you can plan at Antigua and Barbuda, read my in-depth guide.