Hurricane Irma badly damaged Barbuda on September 6, and more damage with Hurricane Jose on the 9th. Many buildings were destroyed and Barbuda is still evacuated. There are no reports of damage to hotels or the tourist infrastructure on Antigua, and the airport is open. You can visit the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency to help with relief for Barbuda, or to get further information.
The beauty of Antigua, and its sister island, Barbuda, is the 365 gorgeous beaches, “one for every day of the year,” as locals love to say. Even the locals haven’t combed every patch of sand. On Antigua, life is a beach. It’s coasts have hundreds of perfect sandy spots with beautiful emerald-blue water, with lots of sheltered bays. Yet Antigua is the typical Caribbean island, full of candy-colored villages, a rum-infused mellowness and locals that greet you smiles and open arms.
If life on Antigua is a beach, Barbuda is a beach: one smooth, pink-tinged strand hemming the reef-filled waters. Birds, especially the huffing and puffing frigates, greatly outnumber residents on this Caribbean dream island.
Most of the action takes place on Antigua, where you will see expensive yachts in the harbor, honeymooners, and scuba divers exploring the colorful reefs. You can also find lush rainforests, historic sites, and a military lookout. Also, there are wondrous national parks and blow holes such as Devil’s Bridge.
Barbuda is much quieter, but just as beautiful. The island is a haven for wild deer, exotic birds, and is home to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. There are also Amerindian rock carvings at Two Foot Bay, and sumptuous beaches proliferate the island. To learn more about all the beautiful beaches on the island of Antigua and Barbuda, visit here. Now view our Antigua and Barbuda Travel Guide to help plan your next Antigua and Barbuda vacation!
Antigua has a tropical climate with the weather being warm and mostly dry all year round. The winter months are December through to March and still have an average pleasant daily temperature of 27°C or 81°F.
The typical temperatures on Antigua are in the region of 24°C in January and with an average rainfall of 1.5 inches, the islands are also quite dry. October is one of the hottest months and also has the least amount of rain, with a minimum temperature of 25°C an average of 24 mm of precipitation. The excellent weather means that water sports are one of the main pastimes on the islands and most people indulge in diving or sailing.
Hurricane season is June to September although there is also a chance of earth quakes and flash floods. The area is also prone to periods of drought during the dry season. The islands experience hurricanes frequently and most houses have been built to withstand the strongest winds. There is an average of 8 hours of sunshine each day, and even more during the dry season. Antigua and Barbuda are amongst the driest of the Caribbean islands in spite of the hurricanes.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to visit Antigua is from May to November, the island’s off-season. Rates are cheapest at this time, and although there is a slight threat of hurricanes, the weather rarely escapes 80 degrees. You’ll encounter less rain between December and April, but rates are expensive and crowds are abundant. The dry season begins in January, and though there are sometimes droughts, the sunshine creates one of the most pleasant climates in the Caribbean. But you’ll have to make flight and hotel reservations several months in advance as this is the peak tourist season. Antigua is often overlooked by the Spring Break crowds, so it’s perfect for dodging co-eds. However, the cruise crowds won’t taper off until the end of April, meaning that hotel rates remain relatively high during March and AprilGetting To Antigua & Barbuda
Getting To Antigua & Barbuda
To get into Antigua and Barbuda, you will need a passport valid for at least six months beyond the end of your stay, along with a blank page in your passport. A visa is also not required to visit Antigua and Barbuda, with the exception of nationals of Croatia.
There are direct flights going into Antigua and Barbuda. These include flights thru British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, American Airlines, and United. You can also fly inter-Caribbean with Caribbean Airlines or LIAT. Prices flying to Antigua & Barbuda can drop dramatically if you fly between May and mid-December.
Getting Around in Antigua & Barbuda
The Barbuda Express has a catamaran service between Antigua and Barbuda five days a week, which takes 90 minutes to get from one island to the other. The Barbuda Express also offers day tours around Barbuda, where you can visit many of the main attractions.
This is one of the best ways to explore the islands, since the drivers are happy to double as tour guides (in hopes of a higher tip). This is convenient, but it can also be expensive. Get a quote from the driver before getting in the taxi. Taxis are identified by “TX” on the license plate.
Rental cars are another popular mode of transportation, but you’ll have to get an Antiguan driver’s license. They can be issued by most car rental agencies and require a valid driver’s license from home, as well as an additional $20 fee. Don’t forget you need to drive on the left side of the road. Rental cars are identified by “R” on the license plate.
You can also rent bikes from the car rental companies, or from various hotels. Motorcycles are also available for rent at Jolly Harbor.
Must See Places
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua’s most famous attraction is the world’s only Georgian-era dockyard still in use, a treasure trove for history buffs and nautical nuts alike. Today its restored buildings house restaurants, hotels and businesses. The Dockyard Museum relates tidbits about Antigua history, the dockyard and life at the forts. The Dockyard Museum is in the Naval Officer’s House, and presents ship models, mock-ups of English Harbor, displays on the people who worked there and typical ships that docked, silver regatta trophies, maps, prints, antique navigational instruments, and Nelson’s very own telescope and tea caddy.
You can sometimes walk miles of this classic strand without encountering another footprint. It has a champagne hue, with sand soft as silk; crushed coral often imparts a rosy glint in the sun, hence its unofficial name (officially the part in front of the exclusive former K Club has been renamed Princess Diana Beach). The water can be rough with a strong undertow in spots, though it’s mainly protected by the reefs that make the island a diving mecca. Hire a taxi to take you here, since none of the roads are well marked. This beach is great for snorkeling, beach walking, and solitude.
This limestone arch formation, sculpted by the crashing breakers of the Atlantic at Indian Town, is a national park. Blowholes have been carved by the hissing, spitting surf. The park also encompasses some archaeological excavations of Caribbean artifacts.
Half Moon Bay
Water the color of Blue Curacao laps this undeveloped white crescent in the remote southeast. Bodysurfers head to the north end, snorkelers to the calm waters south, and everyone meets at the two beach bars for grilled-fish lunches and rum cocktails. For shade, unfold your towel beneath the shrub and sea grapes.
Frigate Bird Sanctuary
Off Barbuda’s northwest coast, Codrington Lagoon National Park protects a vast estuary that supports one of the world’s largest colonies of frigate birds. More than 2500 of these black-feathered critters roost amid the scrubby mangroves. The birds’ nesting sites are all abuzz with squawking, and the sight of all those blood-red inflating throat pouches is mesmerizing. The lagoon can only be visited by licensed sea taxi from the Codrington jetty. Make arrangements at least a day in advance through your hotel or the tourist office.
Your Stingray City Antigua Snorkel Adventure will be the highlight of your vacation, and an experience that will live with you forever. Enjoy a unique experience of interacting and feeding a Stingray, together with snorkeling amongst magnificent coral reefs and colorful tropical fish. For more information, call 268-562-7297, or visit them on the web at Stingray City.
Catch the Cat – Private Sailing Charters
Private day sailing charters aboard Catch The Cat offers a unique, intimate and exclusive experience. Catch The Cat is the newest catamaran sailing the coastal waters of Antigua. If you prefer More Sailing or snorkeling, relaxing at a secluded bay or spending time on a deserted beach- they can change your day to suit you at a moment’s notice. For more information call 268-464-7113, or visit them on the web at Catch The Cat.
WCT – West Coast Tours Antigua
Experience on the water excitement with our two person Reef Riders! Enjoy great views and snorkeling at Cades Reef. You don’t need any experience to enjoy this tour. Have a thrill of a lifetime that is safe, sturdy, reliable and tons of fun! They offer guided 3 hr. snorkeling tours. For more information call 268-728-5239, or visit them on Facebook at WTC Antigua Reef Riders.
40Knots Kitesurfing & Windsurfing School
Their school offers high quality kitesurfing and windsurfing tuition with IKO certified instructors (International Kitesurfing Organization) with the latest and safest equipment. The kitesurfing lessons will start from the beach of Green Island, a tiny island windward to Nonsuch bay, with white sand and crystal blue water; a perfect landing/launching area for kites. For more information call 268-788-9504, or visit them on the web at 40Knots.
Snorkeling Antigua W.I.
With a passion for Exploring, Experiencing and Learning; they want to share that passion with you. They noticed the search for a go good snorkeling spot and also that a lot of people miss out by not having the right place to go and learn. Explore – Experience – Learn snorkeling at your own pace. For more information call 268-732-2577, or visit them on Facebook at Snorkeling Antigua W.I.
Best Rated Restaurants
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ La Bussola
Bleached-wood ceilings, old island photos of Antigua, boating paraphernalia, and brightly painted plates enhance the relaxed, romantic mood. Try the artichoke-shrimp pie in satiny garlic sauce, lobster-asparagus risotto, shark tartare with grapefruit nestling on a bed of arugula, mahimahi with olive “pâté” in filo, or the “fishermen’s” spaghetti. Or savor the “true Italian-style” thin-crust pizzas. The carefully considered, affordable wine list showcases lesser-known Italian regions. For more information call 268-562-1545, or visit them on the web at La Bussola.
$$$$ Sheer Rocks
The menu encompasses a tapestry of creative tapas, many of which can be served in larger portions. Try the foie gras parfait with onion puree, lentil vinaigrette, and seven-grain toast; decadent truffle mac-and-cheese infused with porcini stock; or slow-cooked mahimahi with bok choy, black olives, and saffron sauce. Add a dash of sultry music, season with smashing views, complement with an admirable wine list for a remarkable experience. For more information call 268-562-4510, or visit them on the web at Sheer Rocks.
$$ Russell’s Bar & Seafood Restaurant
Russell’s delivers a delightful dining experience. Jazz and reggae on the sound system (live music Friday and Sunday, with open mike Monday), beamed ceilings, cool canvases of musical instruments in fevered Fauvist hues, and red or black hurricane lamps lend a romantic aura to the stone-and-wood terrace. The limited menu—local specialties emphasizing seafood—includes fabulous chunky conch fritters and whelks in garlic butter. For more information call 268-462-5479, or visit them on the web at Russell’s Bar & Seafood Restaurant.
$$$ Papa Zouk
Seafood is king, from butterfish to Barbudan snapper, served either deep-fried or steamed with a choice of such sauces as guava-pepper teriyaki or tomato-basil-coriander. Tangy Caribbean bouillabaisse with garlicky Parmesan mayonnaise and the tapas platter are specialties, as are the knockout rum ti’ punches. For more information call 268-464-0795, or visit them on the web at Papa Zouk.
$$ Coconut Grove
Coconut palms grow through the roof of this open-air thatched restaurant, flickering candlelight illuminates colorful local murals, waves lap the white sand, and the wait staff provides just the right level of service. Top choices include pan-seared mahi mahi served over cauliflower puree with fingerling potatoes and mango-pineapple chutney, and sautéed shrimp with roasted plantain and hickory bacon finished with champagne-Parmesan sauce. The signature coconut shrimp is the best lunch option. For more information call 268-462-1538, or visit them on the web at Coconut Grove.
Bars & Nightlife
Ana’s On The Beach
A chic new restaurant and bar with Mediterranean cuisine situated on Dickenson Bay, with an open-air bar, beach cabanas and lounges, and al fresco as well as interior, open air dining, emphasizing luxury lifestyle and service. For more information call 268-562-8562, or visit them on the web at Ana’s On The Beach.
C&C Wine House
A casual, but sophisticated wine bar – perfect for lazy days and cooling out in the evening – a great place to take in the ambience of St John’s. For more information call 268-460-7025, or visit them on the web at C&C Wine House.
Castaways Beach Bar & Restaurant
The quintessential Caribbean beach bar — a rustic setting on a perfect white sand beach with a laid-back, Riviera-type vibe, and featuring unique Caribbean cuisine as well as barbecue, salad, steak and fresh fish. For more information call 268-562-4446, or visit them on the web at Castaways Beach Bar & Restaurant.
Darkwood Beach Bar
Located on Darkwood Beach, on the South West coast of Antigua. It offers a restaurant, bar, beach chair and umbrella rental, snorkeling equipment rental, free wifi and more. This is a great spot to watch the sun set over the Caribbean sea, while sipping a delicious tropical cocktail. For more information call 268-462-8240, or visit them on the web at Darkwood Beach Bar.
Sottovento Beach Club
Sottovento Restaurant is an enchanting restaurant located on the beach, a few steps away from the sea on the north coast of Antigua. The bar serves cocktails, fresh fruit juices, soft drinks and good selection of wines and beers to sip while listening to the waves of the sea. It is a romantic place. For more information call 268-562-8378, or visit them on the web at Sottovento Beach Club.
Top Antigua and Barbuda Hotels
This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. On Carlisle Bay, Carlisle Bay features a private beach, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center with personal training and a spa. The property features a tropical garden and free Wi-Fi. Carlisle Bay features 3 restaurants and bars that serve a range from Italian and Asian dishes and seafood. Room service is available 24 hours and breakfast and afternoon tea are included in the room prices. The property has laundry and dry cleaning service. On-site customers find a library, a tennis court, a children’s’ club, a private screening room and a gift shop. Activities in the vicinity include windsurfing, sailing, boat excursions and hiking. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Carlisle Bay.
South Point Antigua
Showcasing an outdoor pool and sun terrace, South Point Antigua is located in English Harbor Town in the region of Antigua Island. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit South Point Antigua.
Hermitage Bay – All Inclusive
Showcasing an outdoor pool and sun terrace, South Point Antigua is located in English Harbor Town in the region of Antigua Island. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. This hotel has a private beach area and car rental is available. The nearest airport is V.C. Bird International Airport, 9 miles from South Point Antigua. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hermitage Bay.
Galley Bay Resort & Spa – All Inclusive
This property is 3 minutes walk from the beach. Featuring a private white sand beach, this Galley Bay resort is 4.8 miles from V C Bird International Airport. Indulge Spa, Sea Grape restaurant and spacious rooms with 42-inch flat-screen TVs are offered. Free snorkeling equipment, sailing and wind surfing are offered at Galley Bay Resorts. Guests can exercise in the air-conditioned gym. A tennis court is also available and the resort can arrange personal tennis lessons. Gauguin offers private dining in 2-person candlelit cabanas. A weekly Caribbean barbecue with live steel-drum music is offered at Sea Grape. Ismay’s Restaurant & Bar boasts local island dishes. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Galley Bay Resort & Spa.
Keyonna Resort & Spa – All Inclusive – Couples Only
This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Set on the beachfront of Turners Beach, this boutique hotel offers panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and of Monsterrat Island. Keyonna Beach All Inclusive features a restaurant and a bar. Featuring a wooden terrace with lounge chairs and Balinese beds, the Beach Restaurant serves fresh seafood and daily specialties. The bar features a selection of international wines, Caribbean spirits and rums. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Keyonna Resort & Spa.