Destinations

Ultimate Travel Guide for Antigua and Barbuda: Tips, Secret Beaches, Hotels & More!

Last updated on December 7th, 2023
Things to do in Antigua

If you are looking to visit Antigua and Barbuda soon, this travel guide is for you! I have compiled the best things to do in Antigua and Barbuda if you are looking to explore the island. I have also included some of the best restaurants in town and my top recommendations for places to stay!

Antigua and Barbuda was a Caribbean destination that I honestly didn’t know too much about at first! I had started to look for reasonable flights out of Toronto and it popped up! I had no idea there was direct flights to this underrated island.

My husband and I described it as a mix of Mo’orea ( in French Polynesia) combined with Turks and Caicos. It has lush and mountainous settings paired with some of the clearest water I have ever seen! I was truly blown away by it’s beauty.

Facts about Antigua and Barbuda, West Indies

One of my favourite parts about travelling is learning about different cultures and the history of each place I visit. The facts about Antigua and Barbuda really fascinated me as I started to learn more about this country!

Here are some facts about Antigua and Barbuda worth noting before you visit:

  • The National sport of Antigua and Barbuda is CRICKET! When you land at the airport you will likely pass by a beautiful cricket arena. If I had more time I would have loved to go watch a match!
  • Antigua and Barbuda- though it sounds like only 2 islands- is actually made up of 3 islands!!
  • This Caribbean island is home to some pretty unique wildfire. Barbuda especially! The Antiguan racer snake is one of the rarest snakes in the world and it can only be found here. Happy to report I didn’t have a run in with it though haha  
  • Antigua and Barbuda is one of the smallest countries in the world.
  • It has a big British influence and is still part of the United Kingdom ‘s Commonwealth
  • They have a Prime Minister over a President. Their current Prime Minister is Gaston Browne
  • Princess Diana used to vacation at “Princess Diana” beach in Barbuda

Explore the 365 Beaches in Antigua

Probably one of the most interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda is that it is home to 365 beaches. This means that you can literally visit a new beach everyday if you wanted to! Seems like next time I will have to extend my trip by say 50 weeks or so 😉

Antigua and Barbuda Weather: What is the best time to visit Antigua and Barbuda?

The best time to visit Antigua and Barbuda would be between December through April. This is when the amount of rain is the smallest and the temperates are consistently beautiful.

We visited in November and honestly the weather was perfect. It rained a bit at night time ( 10PM onwards) and we loved waking up to the smell of fresh rain. It always cleared up by the time the morning hit and it was nothing but sunshine!

Prices are a bit lower during November and in May so I would explore these months if you are looking to avoid the crowds and save a bit.

Hurricane season runs from June- October so I would avoid these months if you can. In October in particular the island experienced a pretty bad tropical storm and the roads and infrastructures endured some damages. Climate change has definitely made the seasons a bit more wonky overall I would say

What is the currency in Antigua and Barbuda?

The best currency in Antigua and Barbuda to use is the East Caribbean Dollar or USD. Many restaurants accept both.

We did grocery shopping before getting to our hotel and both grocery stores that we went to accepted our credit cards. Bigger restaurants also accept credit cards but it’s very important to have ECD or USD currency in Antigua for when you visit smaller beach restaurants or if you event want to use a water taxi.

We had to hit up a ATM when we discovered this cute rum bar that we wanted to try. They accepted the East Caribbean dollar as well as USD!

How many days do you need in Antigua and Barbuda

I would definitely recommend a week in Antigua and Barbuda. This would give you enough time to relax, explore near by attractions and even do a day trip to Barbuda

If you want to spend a few days in Barbuda, I would recommend 10 days total so you aren’t rushed.

We met some families who were there for 2 weeks and while being on vacation in the Caribbean certainly is not a bad idea- I think I would personally find it too long!

The Best Hotels in Antigua and Barbuda

Since Antigua and Barbuda is such a small country, it doesn’t have loads and loads of massive resorts.

You can certainly find places to suit your needs (whether you are looking for adult only or a more family oriented property) but you won’t find a beach area that is lined with massive hotel chain one by one….and thank GOD for that.

I truly think this is what makes Antigua super unique and special. While I love popular hotel chains at times, I often find myself drawn to boutique hotels that offer something special. The hotel we stayed at in Antigua was just that.

Tamarind Hills

Tamarind Hills might just be one of the best hotels I have stayed at! It is a luxurious cliff side resort and villa property located on the west coast of Antigua aka the best coast in my opinion!

Each suite or villa has stunning ocean views, kitchenettes or even full kitchens in each room, and an aesthetic that is straight out from a design magazine. I was blown away by all the details there!

Between their sleek modern pool and quite arguably best beach on the island, we really wrestled each day on where we should set up shop for the day. My kind of vacation problems!

Some features that I particularly loved about it were: Having the ability to cook onsite for dinner if you wanted ( this was so key with the kids), their daily breakfast on the ocean view terrace, the multiple areas to relax in ( felt like I had the place to myself some days), their trendy on site restaurant, the stand alone tubs in the bathroom AND……it’s on site MOKE that they use to transport some guests with. Dream car!

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Antigua and Barbuda Air Bnb Option

There is no getting around it- Antigua is expensive. It is one of those luxurious Caribbean islands – flat out!

The majority of hotels there are 5 stars and if they are not- they are priced to reflect that you are on a really exclusive island.

If you are looking to visit on a budget ( and it’s VERY much possible- don’t get me wrong), I recommend looking at some Antigua and Barbuda Air BNB options.

So many of the beaches are public meaning even if you aren’t staying at a fancy hotel, you can still visit the beach it resides on. Hot tip 😉

Here are some Antigua and Barbuda Air Bnb Rentals Worth Exploring:

Other Notable Hotels in Antigua and Barbuda:

Hermitage Bay Luxury Adult Only Hotel in Antigua

Hermitage Bay is situated on a secluded bay on the west coast of Antigua, providing guests with a private and tranquil setting. The resort offers individual cottages and suites nestled on the hillside or beachfront, providing stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. The accommodations are designed for privacy. Their plunge pools are especially a real draw here!

Curtain Bluff Best Family Friendly Hotel in Antigua

If you are bringing the kids along, an all inclusive resort is the way to go ( though I would still choose our hotel with kids since we had our own kitchens but depends what you are after!). In addition to the beautiful settings, they also have a ton of restaurants to choose from and lots of activities right on the property.

Coco Bay Resort– Another Adult Only Hotel in Antigua

Coco Bay Resort- like Hermitage Bay and Tamarind Hills- is located in the Saint Mary’s district of the island aka you can’t go wrong with any of them. One of the best and most popular restaurants on the island ( Sheer rocks!) is located within Coco Bay and while the hotel is super private and luxe- I would say it’s a bit more lively than Hermitage Bay if you are comparing the two.

Best Excursions in Antigua and Barbuda

Excursions in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is known for it’s beaches and as tempting as it is to just sit on the one at your resort, I highly encourage you to explore them by boat! There are so many excursions in Antigua that can take you to many secret beaches that are only accessible by water.

If boats are not your thing, there are so many excursions in Antigua and Barbuda that are cuisine and food centered, adventure based and even ones that have you learning about the history of the country. Something for everyone!

Swim with Pigs in Antigua

Looking for a truly unique out of this world experience? You need to check out Pigs in Paradise! This one of a kind experience gives you the chance to SWIM with piggies!

You get to feed them ( out of milk bottles), carry them, run down the beach with them and overall just have a pig-tastic time getting to learn all about them. It is seriously worth every penny -especially since the beach alone that it is situated on is one of the most beautiful ones on the island ( it looks like it’s from the movie Moana!)

The guides who run the tour are also phenomenal and do a great job at making every second interesting. I was so intrigued by all the pig facts that I learned.

TIPS FOR THIS EXCURSION

  • You need to secure your own transportation to this private beach. The road leading to it is very rough and due to some recent weather conditions has become undriveable unless you have a big SUV. Additionally – even if the roads were perfect- the location is a bit tricky to find so I would book a transport
  • Here is a Water Taxi Company I used via Whatsapp 1-268-771-5355. They can pick you up right in front of your hotel!
  • Here is a SUV transportation company: 1-268-781-3204. His name is Arthur
  • We brought our kids to the tour and I would say it’s suitable for kids 5 + up. Our youngest was still a bit scared of the piggies ( and also jealous they had bottles of milk haha)
  • Pricing includes water, juice or rum punch
  • Pricing is as follows as of 2023: Adults (16+) – $100.00 USD, Children (6 -15 yrs) – $50.00 USD , Infants (0 months – 5 yrs old) – FREE 

Explore the Secret Beaches of Antigua and Barbuda

While some of the main beaches in Antigua and Barbuda are breath taking, I really urge you to go off the beaten path and hire a boat to explore some lesser known beaches and gems. There are actually a lot of secret beaches in Antigua that many tourists do not visit!

  • Stony Horn at Pearns Point
  • Hells Gat Island
  • Carpenter’s Rock Trail ( more cliff side/rock formation but beyond stunning)
  • Heavenly Beach Bay-Critters Cove
  • Mermaid Gardens
  • Rendezvous Bay

Take a Day trip to Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are neighboring islands in the Caribbean. While Antigua is the most populated island and is where the majority of hotels and tourism is, Barbuda is certainly something special!

Barbuda offers a quieter and more secluded experience. It has started to build up a bit with an exclusive ocean club setting up shop there and even a Nobu!

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Here are some things to do in Barbuda

  1. Visit the Pink Sands Beach:
    • Barbuda is famous for its pink sand beaches, and one of the best-known is Princess Diana Beach (formerly known as K Club Beach). Enjoy the soft pink sand and crystal-clear waters.
  2. Frigate Bird Sanctuary:
    • Explore the Codrington Lagoon National Park, home to one of the largest colonies of frigate birds in the world. The sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
  3. Have a beautiful lunch at Nobu!
    • Sushi lovers, this is for you. Nobu is one of the most popular fresh sushi and sashimi spots with locations around the world.

How to get from Antigua to Barbuda:

There are a few ways to get from Antigua to Barbuda. You can take a private boat, do an excursion that takes you there and includes a boat transfer, take a flight from the airport ( really not necessary unless you plan to not explore Antigua) OR you can take the ferry from Antigua ( most popular and most economical option)

Ferry from Antigua to Barbuda

Take a ferry from St. John’s, Antigua to Codrington, Barbuda. The ferry ride takes about 90 minutes each way and runs every day so it’s pretty easy to hop on one! Most times depart around 7:30AM and come back from Barbuda around 3:30PM

Number for the Barbuda Express: 1-268-560-7989

Website: barbudaexpress.com
Email: info@barbudaexpress.com

Antigua Snorkeling Tours

Snorkelling in Antigua

One of the best things to do in Antigua and Barbuda is to explore their beautiful waters and all the sealife that is there

They have a water spot in particular called “Sting Ray City” that is filled with sting rays that you can snorkel and swim with! It also happens to be in an area that is so clear making everything very visible.

I felt like I was in a computer screen saver

Go on a Rum Tour

It doesn’t take long to learn that Rum is the beverage of choice in Antigua! There is Rum punch everywhere, on every menu and likely one of the first things your hotel will offer you once you arrive. Yes Please! Shortly after arriving, I was sipping on some Rum Punch and that theme continued during the majority of my trip.

Learning about the history of rum on the island was really neat and made me appreciate the liquor even more!

We did one official tour where we visited a Rum Distillery in St John’s and then we also did an unofficial rum tour where we visited multiple rum bars that were on the beach haha. Both equally enjoyable. The pictures above were from a local rum bar called Sunset Horizon just a 5 minute walk from our hotel and was a VIBE! Strong ( and delicious) punch and great fresh fish!

The Best Restaurants in Antigua and Barbuda

Best Restaurants in Antigua

A lot of hotels in Antigua have delicious restaurant options on site ( or some are all inclusive) making it tempting to not even try any other places on the island! Our Hotel- Tamarind Hills- had a stunning restaurant on site called Wild Tamarind. I would recommend coming here for a cocktail and mid day lunch! The setting is such a vibe!

Here are some restaurants in Antigua and Barbuda that I would not miss!

  • Sheer Rocks: Cliff side restaurant with awesome music, an exquisite cocktail and food menu, open air seating and even a pool if you want to extend your visit! This was absolutely our favourite place on the island to eat at and I could not recommend it enough!

Sheer Rocks Restaurant- a must visit

  • Rum Bus Beach: When the locals tell you about a place, then you know you have to try it out! I always trust local recommendations when it comes to cuisine that the island is known for. Rum Bus Beach Bar is such a spot spot in St. Mary’s.
Antigua Beach Bar
  • Cloggy’s: Cloggy’s is not just a restaurant, it is an institution in Antigua. You will find this restaurant on almost all “Where to Eat in Antigua” lists. Considered a true “Sailor Bar”, it turns into a happening place as the sun goes down.
  • Pillar’s Restaurant: This place looks like it’s not even real. You feel like you are brought back in time to the 18th century where you are dining Al Fresco outside of their Plantation style hotel. It’s located in English Harbour which is a must visit spot when you are in town
  • Ana’s On The Beach: Located in Dickenson’s Bay, Ana’s on the beach is a spot that is perfect for beautiful cocktails right on the beach! They have a tapas menu and even a great brunch if you want to get there early!

Important Things to Know before visiting Antigua and Barbuda

  • Language in Antigua and Barbuda: English is widely spoken everywhere. Jamaica is actually the biggest English speaking country in the Caribbean over all which makes travelling there very easy if you are from North America. The local language is Patois and you may hear it in some convo’s amongst the locals. I loved learning a few little words and expressions that are commonly used on the island!
  • Transportation in Antigua: If you truly plan to just stay at your hotel or resort and maybe do 1 day trip only, you wouldn’t need a car. However if you plan to visit a restaurant or two off site and factor in how much shuttle service is to and from the airport
  • Is Antigua and Barbuda Safe? The people we met in Antigua were some of the friendliest. No one was pushy or made me feel like I should be concerned or scared. I never felt unsafe once- even when we went off the resort to some more local spots.

Though the landscapes and scenery of Antigua are mind blowing, the peaceful and luxurious vibe that is felt during your time there is truly unmatched. I can’t wait to go very soon and hopefully stay a bit longer!

It is a dream destination that should be on everyone’s list!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Dawn Davis January 31, 2024 at 5:03 pm

    I love this read of my birth home Antigua and little Brother Barbuda. 🇦🇬

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