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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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.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
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.
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.See details for Getting Around
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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 .
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