Antigua and Barbuda has perennial sunshine, azure waters, pink beaches, and a stunning coastline surrounded by beautiful reefs. The climate here the one of the best in the world. In addition, visitors come here for the stunning Frigate Bird sanctuary with 170 different species of birds.
Antigua and Barbuda has become one of the most popular go-to destinations in the Caribbean. It is a romantic favorite for couples and honeymooners as well as families who can’t get enough of clear, warm waters, snorkeling, and diving. Visitors come for the beauty and stay for the sheer romance of the islands.
About Antigua and Barbuda
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda, along with a third island, Redonda, are an independent state in the Lesser Antilles located in the eastern part of the Caribbean by the Leeward Islands chain. The island country includes several smaller islands, as well. The capital of Antigua and Barbuda is St. John’s on the island of Antigua, and this is where most of the people live.
Antigua is known for its stunning s coastline lined with reefs and inlets. It is a mostly flat 108 square miles, with volcanic rocks rising on the west side. Otherwise, there are no mountains or rivers.
Barbuda, the smaller of the two major islands, is located 25 miles north of Antigua.
England’s monarch is Antigua and Barbuda’s token head of state while it is represented by a governor-general.
Like so many Caribbean islands, Antigua was discovered by Christopher Columbus. The British had the islands colonized by 1632, although the French did fight them for it. The island’s major agricultural products at the time were tobacco and sugar.
The British didn’t colonize Barbuda until 1678, but it became an Antiguan territory instead of a British settlement. The English plan was to create a slave colony; however, most of the Africans that were brought to Barbuda simply lived on their own instead of on ia plantation. Officially, all slaves were freed in 1834.
Approximately 96 percent of people living in Antigua and Barbuda are descendants of plantation slaves or mixed. The rest are descendants of white settlers. This makes the population a typical creole mix. The British influence is still felt with the population’s fascination with crickets. The ever-popular calypso music, frequently still played on steel pans, is the African influence, created as a way for slaves to communicate with each other.
Antigua and Barbuda continue to break tourism records as more people discover their innate beauty. In 2019, these small islands with a population of 97,000 hosted over 1 million tourists.
English has been the official language of Antigua and Barbuda since British colonization in the 17th century. Many of the descendants of slaves speak a Creole English, also known as Leeward Caribbean Creole. As more people immigrate to Antigua and Barbuda, this Creole dialect slowly adapts and changes.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar is the official currency of Antigua and Barbuda. However, the U.S. Dollar can be used as a secondary currency. Visitors should take note that U.S. Dollars cannot be withdrawn from local ATMs.
What Is Antigua and Barbuda Most Known For?
Antigua and Barbuda is famed for its beaches. All 365 of them. That would be a different beach every day for an entire year.
The unanimous opinion is that Half Moon Bay, on Antigua’s south-east side, is the best beach on the island. It is isolated for privacy, yet close enough to Antigua’s exciting sailing community, English Harbour. This is a place to escape and simply be. Snorkelers and windsurfers especially love the calm waters here. Other isolated, white-sand beaches are Runway Beach and Johnson’s Point. For even calmer, child-friendly beaches, there is Dickenson Beach on the south end of the island. Here, visitors can also enjoy superb restaurants and elegant accommodations.
Where there are fabulous beaches, there are bound to be great watersports opportunities. Antigua is the place to come for snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, and sailing. Long Bay Beach and Hawksbill Beaches are a favorite with snorkelers. Inexperienced windsurfers can take a few lessons at 40Knots Wind Action on Green Island, which can be reached by boat.
For sailing enthusiasts, Antigua hosts the annual Classic Yacht Regatta and the Antigua Sailing Week. Sailing tours or lessons are available at Horizon Yacht Charters. English Harbour is another Antigua destination for avid sailors. It has two of the finest marinas in the entire Caribbean. For cruisers making a stop, English Harbour has all the food markets they need to restock, as well as restaurants and hotels from the 18th century. For those staying in English Harbour, Shirley Heights offers the best view of the harbor from a restaurant at the top.
Antigua, and St. John’s in particular, offers one of the Caribbean’s great Carnivals. The first carnival celebrated the end of slavery in 1834 and has been an annual event for thousands of people ever since. The first celebration was spontaneous, but now it is an organized festival lasting for ten days. That is ten days of dancing all night, music, parades, queenly pageants, and evening entertainment involving the beloved calypso tunes. Food, of course, is available in abundance. The carnival is a mid-summer event beginning in the last week of July and ending in the first week in August. This event is pure joy and the reason many visitors come to St. John’s as they simply become a part of the excitement.
Antigua and Barbuda is a surprising food destination, and there are two reasons. First, the Caribbean cuisine is to die for, and the seafood is always fresh. In addition to the food, however, there is the heavenly ambiance. So many beachfront restaurants and eateries serve food along with some of the greatest views imaginable. It makes dining a true experience, not just a tummy-filler.
For example, Bumpkins Beach Bar & Restaurant by the stunning Pigeon Point Beach serves great meals at its beach bar. Along with the fabulous Banana Pina Coladas, and their famous barbeques and very fiery jerk meat, dinners are served with a stunning view of boats in the harbor and the incomparable beach. Come Saturdays for the live entertainment and check out the beach parties. That is fine dining, Antiguan style.
Best Regions to Visit In Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua is becoming a destination island for many people. It has so much to offer, it is easier to forget about the smaller islands that make up the Antigua and Barbuda Island chain. Some are definitely worth visiting.
Barbuda is the second-largest island in the chain. But when it comes to offerings, it is second to none. Here, visitors will find one of the most exclusive Caribbean resorts. Coco Point Lodge is an all-inclusive experience of pampering and luxury. Guests enjoy the fishing and reef expeditions that are available. The resort has an all-inclusive restaurant, tennis courts, unlimited watersports, and a bar.
Barbuda is protected by lovely reefs that assure that the waters remain calm. There are almost 10 miles of tranquil beaches, in addition to the landscape and the deer and guinea fowls that call the island home.
Great Bird Island
The privately-owned Great Bird Island is located one mile from Antigua. It is open to visitors for exploring and relaxing on its white beaches and continues to attract more visitors. Not surprisingly, Great Bird Island is mostly known for its abundance of tropical birds. Great Bird Island does not advertise itself, as the plan is to protect its wildlife. This makes coming to the island a true visit to a serene paradise.
Prickly Pear Island
This island makes one of the most delightful day trips from Antigua. Relax on the island’s beach in the lounge chairs provided and sip some rum punch. Engage in some extraordinary snorkeling. Then revel in an extraordinary lunch of lobster and conch at Miguel’s Restaurant before taking the boat back to Antigua.
This six-hour tour to Laviscount Island and Hell’s Gate Island includes a pickup in Antigua, food, and beverage.
Laviscount Island is perfect for swimming and exploring its diverse wildlife, such as the Aldabra tortoises. The colorful parrots will say hello as you pass them. Then settle in for a great Caribbean lunch. Then visitors move on to see the rare Lesser Antillean Iguana.
The tour moves on from Laviscount Island to Hell’s Gate Island – after crossing the Devil’s Bridge. This is where visitors can enjoy some snorkeling amidst exotic marine life and lovely coral formations. Most exciting is the guided tour through the island’s natural caves. Ask the tour guide for the spot where you can place one foot in the Atlantic Ocean and the other in the Caribbean.
The Best All-Inclusive Hotel or Resort in Antigua and Barbuda
Guests at the all-inclusive Jumby Bay Island Resort settle for nothing less than a luxurious encounter. After arriving in Antigua, a private yacht will take them to the resort. That means days spent on the white beach, the pool, or strolling through the resort’s exotic gardens. Here, guests leave the world behind and connect fully with the beauty of nature.
The accommodations consist of private residences, villas, and luxury suites that are located throughout the island. Here, tranquility rules. All meals are included, and the Moet & Chandon flows readily throughout the day.
The resort offers unlimited watersports, yoga, tennis and an Explorers’ Kid’s Club and preteen activities.
Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in Antigua and Barbudan Islands
Cocobay Resort in St. John’s is considered Antigua’s most romantic adults-only getaways. The lovely cottages, with terraces and infinity pools, are scattered throughout for total privacy and striking ocean views. Meals are available in one of the resort’s two restaurants and bar or can be served by candlelight on the beach. And dining in unlimited.
The Sheer Rock Restaurant is on top of a cliff and provides an incredible view of the waters and sunsets. It has received the Best Restaurant in the Caribbean Award as well as the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award as one of the Best Fine Dining Restaurants in the world.
Best Resort or Hotel for Families in Antigua and Barbuda
St. James Club is an all-inclusive resort in Mamora Bay is by the beach and near many local landmarks. Luxury suites or rooms (made up with Egyptian cotton sheets) come with balconies or patios with ocean or garden views. Rollaway beds are available for children. The resort’s five restaurants and three swim-up bars offer all-inclusive dining. Guests can enjoy all water sports, tennis, volleyball, yoga, and dancing at themed parties. There is golfing, ziplining, and ecotours available nearby. Following all these activities, guests get to relax in the spa for a soothing couple’s massage.
There are supervised activities and toys for the children, as well as a playground.