Free Things To Do in Antigua
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Millions of years of reef formation amount to this: The Devil's Bridge. The natural limestone arch located in eastern Antigua, near Indian Town, has sustained the crash of ocean waves for long enough to form its distinct shape today. At the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, this natural wonder leaves an impression on sightseers.
The limestone can get very slippery when wet and walking across the bridge is not advised. Visitors have the chance to brave the blast from one of the Devil's surrounding natural blowholes (natural sea caves that blast sea water and air during certain weather conditions). But experts warn that those blowhole blasts can be dangerous, especially on windy days. This isn't the best outing for young kids.
- #4View all Photos#4 in AntiguaBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
The four secluded Hawksbill beaches — Royal Palm Beach, Sea Grape Beach, Honeymoon Cove and Eden Beach — are technically on the property of the Hawksbill by Rex Resorts, but they're open for all tourists to enjoy. You'll want to visit Hawksbill if you're looking for more peace and quiet than Dickenson Bay can offer or calmer waves than you'll find at Half Moon Bay.
There's ample free parking at the hotel and it's just a short walk down to the four Hawksbill beaches; you'll know you're in the right spot when you see the peculiar shaped rock jutting from the water. It's this formation that gives the bay its Hawksbill name.
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Located in northwest Antigua in St. John's parish, Dickenson Bay is considered the premier beach of the island's 365 stretches of shoreline. That's because Dickenson offers a little for every type of beachgoer. Do you like lying in the warm sand? Check. Have you always wanted to go on a glass-bottom boat tour? Check. Maybe you like watersports to get the adrenalin pumping? Check — Dickenson has it. On some days, you'll even find a few dolphins swimming alongside you in the crystal clear water.
Dickenson Bay is one of the more accessible Antiguan beaches. The beach is only a 15 minute drive from the cruise port and there's a nearby taxi stand if you're not staying in one of the area hotels. Plenty of umbrellas and beach chairs are available to rent. The beach's convenient location attracts a lot of families; trek one mile south to Runaway Bay if you want more peace and quiet or consider a beachside stroll. "The 2 or 3 kilometer stretch of beach makes for nice walking, especially to the right as there is a large stretch of undeveloped beach up to the cliffs," one TripAdvisor reviewer said.
- #6View all Photos#6 in AntiguaBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Just south of Jolly Harbour on the island's west coast, you'll find the serene waters and soft sand of Valley Church. The natural beauty of the palm tree-lined beach is a pleasant contrast to the buzz from the nearby casino and restaurants. And since locals use the spot for casual boating and fishing, you'll avoid too many tourists competing for the chairs and umbrellas available for rent. Despite the calmness, the water is not very clear; snorkelling is better saved for other beaches like those at Hawksbill or Galley Bay.
Local vendors stroll along the shore and personal watercraft are available for rent, but most visitors agree that this beach is best for lounging. According to one TripAdvisor reviewer, "This is an ideal beach for families with small children and everybody who uses the beach for relaxation more than for action."
- #7View all Photos#7 in AntiguaShopping, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDShopping, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Many head straight from the cruise ship dock to Antigua's Heritage Quay or Redcliffe Quay duty-free shopping centers, but insiders know where the real deals are: The Saturday Morning Market on Market Street in the capital city of St. John's. Local vendors from all parts of the island come to sell a wide variety of goods. Come ready to peruse souvenirs and crafts, spices and fresh produce — think okra, coconut, papaya and Antiguan black pineapple. Don't worry about working meal times into your schedule, the market's prepared foods (like fried green tomatoes) can work well as breakfast or lunch.
The market tends to get crowded, so it's best to arrive early in the day to make the most of the vendor variety. Amid the stands' bright colors that same bustling energy of the crowd reflects the vibrant Caribbean lifestyle of the island.
- #8View all PhotosfreeGalley Bay Beach#8 in AntiguaBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Galley Bay Beach on the northwest coast of the island has some of the best surfing waves in Antigua. Plus it's a must-see for animal lovers. Sea turtles often leave their eggs here to nest (several times a year, but most frequently in summer). Bring your camera and plan a nighttime visit: You just might see the baby turtles hatch. If daytime is more your thing, get your snorkelling gear ready and grab a glimpse of Galley's underwater wildlife.
The thin beach stretches for nearly one mile adjacent to the Galley Bay Resort whose cottages are built into the coves of lush green landscape. Three of the resort's open-air restaurants reach out to the white sand's edge, not far from the "iridescent turquoise blue water you want from Antigua," as one TripAdvisor reviewer described it. Be wary of the strong undertoe and rough breaks that can make this beach tough for swimming — for the calmest waters, steer clear of the rock formations off to the sides of the beach. If you're bringing the family, be sure to keep an extra eye on swimming kids.
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