Antigua

Antigua is one of the 2 major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Ringed with coral reefs, the island is known for its many sandy beaches. Set along English Harbour, restored Nelson’s Dockyard, which Admiral Horatio Nelson made his base in the 1780s, includes a marina and the Dockyard Museum. Trails lead up to Shirley Heights, a former military lookout with panoramic views.

If you love beaches, then Antigua is your paradise– this Caribbean island is home to a beach for every day of the year, and enjoys the good weather that lets visitors and locals alike get the most out of them. Tucked along the ragged shore, over 300 strips of powdery sand await you, rimmed by some of the bluest water you’ve ever seen. When – and if – you manage to tear yourself away from your towel, you’ll find cultural delights reminiscent of Britain on this tiny English enclave in the Caribbean.

Antigua is a year-round destination. Temperatures are usually warm, and the hottest months are Jun–Oct. The driest time is Feb–Apr. Beach and diving holidays are popular Dec–Mar. The local hurricane season is Jun–Nov, and there may be tropical storms during this period. Antigua Sailing Week (Apr–May) includes races, plus parties and events in English Harbour. The annual Antigua Carnival (Jul–Aug) features parties, parades and live music all around the island.

Travelers from your area typically stay 5–8 days.

All the signs pointed towards Antigua. The island had warm, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbors, and a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. It would make a perfect place to hide a fleet. And so in 1784 the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson sailed to Antigua and established Great Britain's most important Caribbean base. Little did he know that over 200 years later the same unique characteristics that attracted the Royal Navy would transform Antigua and Barbuda into one of the Caribbean's premier tourist destinations.

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The signs are still there, they just point to different things. The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into English Harbour now fuel one of the world's foremost maritime events, Sailing Week. The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today's trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery soft beaches. The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba diversfrom all over the world. And the fascinating little island of Barbuda -- once a scavenger's paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs -- is now home to one of the region's most significant bird sanctuaries.

 

Antigua3Location:

Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadaloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.

Size:

Antigua, the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Its highest point is Mount Obama (1319 ft., 402 metres), formerly known as Boggy Peak, located in the southwestern corner of the island. Barbuda, a flat coral island with an area of only 68 square miles, lies approximately 30 miles due north. The nation also includes the tiny (0.6 square mile) uninhabited island of Redonda, now a nature preserve. The current population for the nation is approximately 68,000 and its capital is St. John's on Antigua

Climate:

Temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September. Low humidity year-round. 

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The Beaches of Antigua and Barbuda

There are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for each day of the year. The great majority rest inside the calm, protected waters of the island's Caribbean side. All are open to the public, and so the challenge posed to a visitor is not how to gain access to the best of them but simply how to locate the beach that suits one's taste. Exploring on your own is the best way to do this, although it is wise to bring a companion along to particularly isolated locations. Antiguans are understandably reluctant to divulge their own favorites, so here are a number of good starters. Be sure to acquire specific directions before you go.

Northwest Coast:
Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay, located along the island's developed northwestern coast, are the place to go for those who want the fully-loaded resort beach experience. The beaches most convenient to St. John's are Fort James, a locally-popular public beach, and Deep Bay. Galley Bay attracts surfers during the winter months and a joggers during the evening. The series of four crescent beaches at Hawksbill are also highly regarded, one of which is nudist.

Southwest and South Coast:
The beaches of the hilly southwest corner of Antigua are generally less developed than those around St. John's further north. On the road that winds along this coast are Fryes Bay, Darkwood Beach, and the beaches around Johnsons Point. Rendezvous Bay and especially Doigs Beach, both located on the central southern coast at Rendezvous Bay, are especially quiet beaches worth the rough travel necessary to reach them. Pigeon Point, near English Harbour Town, is a convenient balm after a day at Nelson's Dockyard.

East Coast:
On the southeast corner of the island is Half Moon Bay, now a National Park and a good choice for a family outing. Long Bay, on the easternmost point of the island, is another good choice for families, as it is completely protected by its reef.

On Barbuda:

Barbuda's smooth coastline is edged with long pink and white sand beaches protected by barrier reefs. In fact, the pristine pink beaches of the southwestern shore stretch as far as ten miles without interruption. The beaches of the island's eastern shore, facing the Atlantic, are somewhat rougher, although they are outstanding for beachcombing.

ANTIGUA FAST FACTS

Approximate flight times

NYC/Newark 4 hours, 30 minutes

Philadelphia 6 hours

Boston 5 hours, 30 minutes

Chicago 6 hours

Miami 3 hours

Los Angeles 9 hours

(Some flights may require connections)

Entry/departure requirements

A U.S. passport valid for three months beyond your departure date and with a blank page, return or onward tickets, and proof of accommodations are required. 

Climate

Tropical climate with low humidity, with the islands tempered by sea breezes and trade winds. The average temperature ranges between 70-86°F.

Currency

East Caribbean Dollar, which is fixed to the U.S. dollar.