Why Go To Antigua

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 of the year.

Save your breaks from the sand and sun for the go-to sites of Antigua; its sleepy sister island, Barbuda, has a more relaxed, less touristy feel. If you do venture to Antigua's attractions, you'll find that the panoramic view from Shirley Heights or the fascinating history of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are largely overlooked by the sun worshippers who have set up camp along the shores. That will just make your sightseeing trips all the more pleasant you'll have fewer people to wrestle with as you uncover some of this island's hidden charm.

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Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Antigua

Antigua Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

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.

Weather in Antigua

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
82.8
72.1
82.9
71.8
83.5
72.5
84.6
73.9
85.6
75.7
86.9
77.5
87.3
77.7
87.6
77.7
87.3
76.6
86.7
75.7
85.1
74.7
83.5
73
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
2.24
1.48
1.84
2.66
4.43
1.95
3.41
3.96
5.53
5.15
5.31
3.44
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Antigua

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • Keep it classy Swimsuits and cover-ups are suitable for the beach and hotel pool, but inexcusable when moving around town. When in doubt, err on the conservative side.
  • Watch out for that sun The Caribbean sun can be sweltering, especially in summer, and there aren't many lifeguards to assist you if you fall ill.
  • Taxi or bust Don't plan on exploring Antigua on foot; the off-resort attractions are quite far apart. Take a cab instead.

How to Save Money in Antigua

  • Book in the off-season Hotel rates can drop by as much as 40 percent between May and November. Some hotels are so eager for business this time of year that they will negotiate rates.
  • Rent a car If you plan on staying for more than a few days, this could be a better investment than taking numerous taxis. You'll need to obtain an Antiguan license, but some agencies will include them free of charge. 
  • Pack the bug spray Mosquitoes are a notorious pain during the wet season, so if you'll be visiting between July and November, don't forget to pack your bug spray.

Culture & Customs

Antigua's residents are descendants of African slaves who were forced to come to Antigua at the hand of British slave trade. Today, Antiguan culture  the language, customs, music and even Carnival celebration  is heavily influenced by African tradition. English is the official language, but many Antiguans speak Creole in several different dialects.

Many restaurants and hotels add a 10 percent service charge to the bill. If they don't, be sure to leave a 10 to 15 percent tip. Use those guidelines to tip bartenders and taxi drivers as well.

The currency of Antigua and Barbuda is the East Caribbean dollar (XCD) but many places will also accept United States dollars (USD). One East Caribbean dollar is equal to about 37 cents.

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Safety

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.

Getting Around Antigua

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.

Learn about Neighborhoods in Antigua

Entry & Exit Requirements

A valid passport is required for citizens of the United States traveling in and out of Antigua. Although passports are not mandatory for travelers on cruises that begin and end in the U.S., bring one along to avoid risk. Immigration officials might ask for proof of accommodations while in Antigua or Barbuda, as well as proof of a return trip and proof of commensurate funds for the trip. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

Photos

Antigua
Antigua
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Coral reefs ideal for snorkelers can be found off the shores of many Antigua beaches like Hawksbill Beaches and Half Moon Bay. On some beaches, you may spot a dolphin or two swimming nearby. 

PBorowka/iStockphoto.com

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