Antigua Travel Guide
Historic sites, tasty cuisine and a lively cultural scene can all be found on Antigua. But most often it's the beauty and versatility of the island's 365 beaches that draw travelers from afar. Do you like to party in the sand? Are you looking for safe, shallow waters where your kids can play? Would you be interested in exploring the ocean deep? Antigua's got you covered with one beach for every day ... continue»
See all Top Things to Do in Antigua»
See the Best Hotels in Antigua»
The best time to visit Antigua is from May to November, the island's off-season. Rates are cheapest at this time, and although there is a slight threat of hurricanes, the weather rarely escapes 80 degrees. You'll encounter less rain between December and April, but rates are expensive and crowds are abundant.Best Times to Visit Antigua»
Antigua — part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda — is the largest of the British Leeward Islands in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. The island is about 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and about 40 miles north of Guadeloupe, and it's divided into six different parishes: St. John, St. George, St. Peter, St. Philip, St. Paul and St. Mary.
St. John parish
Antigua's capital, St. John's, is located in St. John parish around the largest of the island's natural harbors and is home to most residents. St. John's is home to several historic sites like the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the ruins at Fort Barrington and Fort James. You'll also find the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, but most who visit forgo the history and culture for Dickenson Bay, one of Antigua's best beaches. Professional travelers warn that some St. John beaches are clothing optional.
St. George parish
Heading east from St. John parish is St. George parish, where V. C. Bird International Airport is located. Sitting on the edge of Fitches Creek Bay is St. George's Anglican Church, which was constructed in 1687 by British colonists.
St. Peter parish
The island's earliest British Settlement, Parham, can be found in St. Peter parish on the northeast coast. Parham is home to St. Peter's Church, whose distinct octagonal structure was built in 1840. Divers regularly venture to St. Peter parish for its offshore reefs around Maiden Island and Crabs Peninsula.
St. Philip parish
Keep heading east and you'll arrive at St. Philip parish where you'll find Half Moon Bay along with some of the island's most popular resorts. St. Philip is home to the Devil's Bridge, a limestone arch carved by the rough waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Snorkelers can spot marine life at the nearby Long Bay beach.
St. Paul parish
St. Paul parish is home to Antigua's historic district, English Harbour. There you'll find the 250-year-old restored ship repair station, Nelson's Dockyard. With a museum dedicated to the naval station's history and several shops and hotels nearby, the dockyard is a popular site for visitors to explore. When the sun sets over English Harbour, lively restaurants and bars make the area a worthwhile stop for nightlife seekers.
St. Mary parish
Head southwest of St. John's to the picturesque St. Mary Parish. Visitors can climb to Antigua's highest point atop Mount Obama (once called Boggy Peak but officially renamed in 2009 on the birthday of U.S. President Barack Obama). Jolly Harbour, on the western side of St. Mary, has a vibrant beach, commercial center and golf club.
Crime is relatively low on Antigua, but robberies targeting visitors do occur. Be sure to stay alert and exercise common sense. Your valuables should be kept in the hotel safe, not resting unattended on a beach blanket.
And speaking of the beach, writers suggest you take it easy on shore-time your first day on the island. The Caribbean sun can be sweltering, especially in summer, and there are not many beaches with lifeguards to assist you should you feel unwell. Drink plenty of water while outside, and apply sunscreen at regular intervals.
Don't attempt scuba diving until you've received proper training, and even then, never dive alone. Decompression sickness is a potential risk with deeper dives. Also known as "the bends," decompression sickness' symptoms include joint pain, itchy, swelling skin, loss of balance, and shortness of breath, all of which could occur from rising to the surface too quickly. To avoid illness, make sure to ascend at no more than 30 feet per minute. Should you feel ill, experts recommend that you seek immediate medical attention.
The best way to get around Antigua is by car or taxi. Having a car can save you money, especially on longer visits, but the island can be difficult to navigate due to bumpy dirt roads and hilly areas that flood easily. A handful of rental agencies have locations in the arrival hall of Antigua's V.C. Bird International Airport (ANU), located on the northern part of the island just outside of the town of Osbourn. Travel to neighboring islands by air on LIAT charter planes or by sea aboard a cruise or a ferry.Getting Around Antigua»