Attractions & Things To Do In Antigua

Published on: Feb 15, 2021
Renée Dyson
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From historic districts to former sugar plantations as well as mesmerising lagoons and stretches of epic coastline, Antigua boasts plenty of things to do in Antigua. While it may be hard to drag yourself away from the pool at your luxury resort, it’s well worth exploring this enchanting island. You’ll be rewarded with picturesque views of blue waters, cultural sights and the chance to experience water sports on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Not sure what to do first? With so many options, we don’t blame you! To help you out, here are some of the best things to do in Antigua – including exciting excursions and scenic spots.

Antigua Activities You Need To Try

With a coconut-white coastline and a compelling history to uncover, Antigua is as interesting as it is visually stunning. While you’re welcome to relax on one of the gorgeous beaches, there are many activities in Antigua to keep you entertained should you want to explore a little further.

Exploring the Tranquillity of Half Moon Bay

Perched on Antigua’s south-eastern tip, the idyllic Half Moon Bay is located within five minutes of Freetown Village and is home to a wonderfully secluded white-sand beach. The fact it spans the full length of the bay means there are plenty of quiet spots to be found – as well as a fringe of palm and mangrove trees – for those seeking some respite from the sun.

Take a break from your holiday read by slipping on your snorkelling mask and swimming around the patches of coral beneath the surface of the turquoise waters. Alternatively, wade through shallow rock pools in search of miniature crabs and shells. You’ll also find a small selection of nearby bars, restaurants and concession stands to enjoy the wonderful cuisine Antigua has to offer.

Discovering the Pillars of Hercules

The mouth of the English Harbour – Antigua’s charming historic district – is marked by a spectacular wall of limestone rock known as the Pillars of Hercules. The formation of the rock face creates a series of striking columns which are best enjoyed from the water. Regular boat tours take you on a leisurely cruise along the harbour offering unrestricted views of the pillars.

This also happens to be a popular diving and snorkelling spot, with vibrant coral reefs and a teeming marine life just beneath the waves. Alternatively, follow the series of scenic trails south of Galleon Beach before arriving at the summit of Charlotte Point. Here you can marvel at the breath-taking ocean views as well as historic points of interest, such as the nearby Fort Charlotte.

Visiting the Shirley Heights

Undoubtedly one of the most beloved and scenic spots in Antigua, this restored military lookout is another incredible vantage point with 360-degree views of the iconic English Harbour. And every Sunday an unmissable party is held at Shirley Heights complete with local musicians and plenty of Caribbean rum punch. It's among the best things to do in Antigua for both its breath-taking views and vibrant atmosphere.

Explore Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation

Located on the east side of the island, Betty’s Hope was the first significant sugar plantation to operate in Antigua. It remained active for several hundred years and today serves as an open-air museum that’s a must for history buffs and those seeking activities in Antigua.

Two sugar mills stand at what was once the heart of a plantation established by British colonialists in 1650. Visit today and you’ll see machinery from the early modern era on display. The visitor centre – once a storage room – now features a series of photographs and artefacts which paint a picture of working life in the 17th century. The stunning surrounding landscapes make this the perfect daytime excursion.

Indulge in History at Nelson’s Dockyard Museum

Located within the English Harbour area is Nelson’s Dockyard. This captivating cultural heritage site forms part of the wider Nelson’s Dockyard National Park on the shimmering southern coast. One of the most striking properties in the area is the old Naval Clerk’s House – now Nelson’s Dockyard Museum. Here you can uncover the history of the dockyards which was a key strategic point for the British Royal Navy in the 18th century.

The extensive research library houses a range of artefacts, including an old cannon. Take a stroll to the nearby Malone’s Shop to admire some of the oldest street art you’ll have ever seen where there is sailor graffiti dating back to 1740!

Excursions in Antigua

While many Antiguan experiences are readily available to all, some are so exclusive that it’s advised you book ahead. Whether you prefer sitting back on a luxury tour or exploring the natural beauty of the island on foot, we’re sure that at least one of these excursions will end up at the top of your bucket list of things to do in Antigua.

Antigua Helicopter Tour

Fancy getting a bird’s eye view of Antigua’s powder-white sands and irresistible azure waters? Caribbean Helicopters offer fly-over tours of some of the island’s best beauty spots including Half Moon Bay as well as uninhabited islands and lush coral reefs. A few options are available, from quick trips to full-day expeditions. Some tours take you over the majestic Montserrat Volcano – others further north to the island of Barbuda. There’s spectacular scenery to soak up whichever option you choose as well as some amazing selfie opportunities.

Antigua Equestrian Centre

One of the more original ways to explore Antigua is on horseback. The Antigua Equestrian Centre provides excursions for riders of all abilities. Choose from one or two-hour rides across the beach – you can even enjoy a 45-minute soak in the ocean with your stallion. One of the most popular tours takes place along a strikingly beautiful valley, ending with a dip in the water at Falmouth Bay.

If you’re an experienced rider, the longer journey along the shores of Rendezvous Bay provides more of a challenge. Canter along the hillside trails and you’ll be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the sparkling ocean and golden beaches below.

Snorkelling in Antigua

There are also snorkelling activities for the things you can do in Antigua. You can witness the vibrant underwater world teeming with colourful coral reefs, exotic fish, and fascinating marine life.

Stingray City

Stingray City is a snorkelling experience like no other – and an absolute dream for sea life enthusiasts. After a short ride on a speedboat, take to the colourful reefs in Antigua’s crystal-blue waters and get up close and personal with gentle rays and other marine life.

Even those who aren’t confident swimmers can enjoy Stingray City as the waters are shallow enough for you to stand in. Once you’re back on board, enjoy some sweet rum punch for a thirst-quenching end to your excursion.

Cades Reef

Experience an incredible snorkelling adventure at Cades Reef, one of Antigua's most biodiverse and popular coral reefs for many years. Located off the southwest coast, Cades Reef is home to vibrant coral formations and exotic fish.

Historically, the reef has been damaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters, but it has always recovered. In recent years, there have been efforts to restore the reef, and these efforts have been successful.

Be excited to dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore the stunning underwater scenery. There are also snorkelling tours that are available for beginners, so anyone can take part in snorkelling in Antigua.

Darkwood Beach

Darkwood Beach stands out as an exceptional snorkelling destination due to its pristine waters and vibrant marine ecosystem. Unveiled in the 1960s, Darkwood Beach emerged as a public beach and is now widely known as a main attraction for snorkelling with stunning scenery and rich biodiversity. 

The reef systems near the shore radiate with a variety of sea life, including colourful fish that gracefully swim by, occasional sightings of majestic rays, and captivating sea creatures like sea turtles and small reef sharks that add to the snorkelling experience.

Scuba Diving in Antigua

Beneath the surface of Antigua’s bright blue waters lies a sprawling underwater kingdom of spellbinding coral reefs, shipwrecks and vibrant marine life. It makes for a mesmerising diving experience even for those who have never previously worn flippers. There are numerous options available for divers of all abilities and people seeking for things to do in Antigua.

Sunken Rock

If you enjoy unique underwater features like tunnels and caves, this diving spot provides a unique experience with diverse fish life and vibrant coral reefs.

Located off the coast of Green Island, a small island near Antigua’s east coast, Sunken Rock is believed to be a submerged volcanic plug formed by solidified lava, millions of years ago. Its underwater rock formations are the main attraction for divers, and today it is one of the well-known dive sites in Antigua.

This diving spot is not typically recommended for beginner divers as it starts around 70ft and can reach depths exceeding 100ft. However, if you are a beginner willing to give this a go, you can typically stay within 60ft for safety and comfort.

Diver’s Paradise

Uncover hidden treasures beneath Antigua's waves at Diver's Paradise. With a range of dive sites catering to both beginners and seasoned divers, this spot offers an unforgettable scuba diving experience with instructors to assist you.

You can explore sunken shipwrecks, glide past vibrant coral gardens, and encounter a variety of marine life. The experienced instructors at the dive centre provide comprehensive courses and guided tours, ensuring your safety and maximising excitement. Whether you're earning your first diving certification or simply seeking the serenity of the undersea world, Diver's Paradise guarantees an exhilarating dive experience in Antigua's crystal-clear Caribbean waters.

Antigua Water sports

There are so many other water sports to try including surfing, wind boarding and sailing. Many resorts, such as Carlisle Bay, have private beaches and offer complimentary non-motorised watersports – so there’s every reason to get out on (or in!) the water.

What are you waiting for? Book your luxury holiday to Antigua today. You’ll find an array of quality options here at Best at Travel, whether you’re planning a honeymoon or a family vacation.

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