It’s been said that Antigua is home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. As this was my first visit to Antigua, even I was a little sceptical about this claim. But after just a few short days on this beautiful island, I have to say the statement rings true. Antigua is home to 365 beaches: one for every day of the year – but don’t be fooled by the idea of Antigua being simply a beach destination. There is a lot to do on such a small island. And as the locals say it takes “half an hour to anywhere”, it can be easily explored without a car. Here are some of the best things to do in Antigua:
1. Swim with stingrays
Stingray City is an absolute must on any Antigua itinerary. You’ll set off by boat with a guide and snorkel gear to swim with free roaming stingrays who gather here naturally, tempted by the allure of a midday snack. The stingrays in these waters are the Southern Ray and are known as the “puppy dogs of the sea”, always looking for attention. There is nothing quite like being able to hop into the water to feed and swim with these friendly creatures. Expert guides will be at hand to tell you how to handle the rays.
Tip: Feeling anxious? A quick Rum Punch definitely helps to calm the nerves!
2. Fresh lobster at Turner’s Beach
Turner’s Beach is one of the best in Antigua where you can swim and suntan, take a trip out to Turner’s Bay, or sit back with a cold brew at Turner’s Beach Grill. Keep an eye out for the local fishermen bringing in their catch of fresh lobster which you can enjoy at the restaurant, fresh from the sea.
Tip: If you’re staying at Sugar Ridge, the hotel will organise a transfer to Turner’s Beach.
3. Go zip-lining
Don’t miss the chance to tackle the zip-line course through the trees of the Antigua Rainforest. Located on Fig Tree Drive, Walling’s has 13 zip-lines, 3 aerial walkway bridges, 2 tree houses, 2 “Leap of Faith” vertical descents, and 9 obstacle courses. The tour is completely safe and you’ll be under the care of expert guides the entire time. It’s a great day out for the whole family – just don’t look down!
Tip: The longest and fastest ziplines are right at end so don’t get too comfortable!
4. Party at Shirley Heights Lookout
Shirley Heights Lookout is one of the highest points on the island; famous for hosting the Sunday Barbecue party – one of Antigua’s main events where locals gather together to eat, drink and dance at the end of the weekend. All age groups from young to old are welcome and there are huge outdoor barbeques, 2 bars and a stage with live music. The party goes on from 4pm until pretty late. Don’t miss out!
5. Seafood & sunset cocktails
Enjoy a seafood platter and cocktails made by some of the best mixologists on the island at Nonsuch Bay Resort. It’s the perfect way to end off the day with an exotic cocktail while enjoying the views from the main restaurant. Live entertainment is held here every evening.
Tip: The best time of day to visit is around 6pm when you can watch the sun setting in the bay.
WHERE TO STAY
Blue Waters Hotel
The eternally popular Blue Waters Hotel is spread across two beautiful white sand beaches at the northwest tip of Antigua. The colonial-style resort offers a range of hillside and beachfront rooms, junior suites and villas, and a choice of superb restaurants. The luxury Cove Section of the property boasts additional pools and you can expect amazing food and faultless service with everything carried out with a genuine smile. Find out more.
Carlisle Bay is an incredible resort offering luxury with a modern twist. The Beach Terrace Suites are huge and perfect for families with direct beach access. Guests can look forward to contemporary design throughout the property with all the touches you would expect from a world class resort. Everything from food to service to ambience is incredible. Find out more.
Nonsuch Bay Resort
Nonsuch Bay Resort is a spectacular beachfront resort with some of the best watersport facilities on the island. Guests can look forward to 3 infinity pools, a kid’s club, and 40 acres of tropical gardens. The open-air restaurant offers some of the best ocean views. Find out more.
Sugar Ridge Hotel
Sugar Ridge Hotel is a stunning hillside resort with incredible views of Jolly Harbour. Rooms are exquisitely designed with large patios on the hillside/upper floors or their own plunge pools on the lower floors. The restaurant, Carmichaels, is one of the best in Antigua offering breathtaking views at the top of Sugar Ridge Resort. While Sugar Ridge is not set on its own beach, they do offer transfers for the short hop to Turner’s Beach which is one of the best on the island. Golf buggies are available for getting around the hillside resort. Find out more.
Antigua is a definite must if you want great hotels and truly amazing beaches with some of the friendliest people you will come across. Book your Antigua holiday today!
Cem Eryuzlu is a Caribbean sales expert and has travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean.