Antigua Guide

Know Before You Go...®

If you’re planning a trip to Antigua or Barbuda, you’ve come to right place for information about these islands. Even though they’re neighbors in the Caribbean Sea, they are quite different, with very distinct personalities. Check out the other tabs to learn more about beaches, museums, and all the many things to do during your stay, and to find out basic information about Antigua and Barbuda.

Why Antigua?

  • Beaches, beaches, beaches
  • Antigua Sailing Week
  • The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda
  • Luxury hotels

Antigua Weather/Climate

Average Temperatures

January
82° F
71° F
February
82° F
71° F
March
83° F
72° F
April
84° F
74° F
May
85° F
76° F
June
86° F
78° F
July
87° F
78° F
August
87° F
76° F
September
87° F
75° F
October
86° F
75° F
November
85° F
74° F
December
82° F
72° F

Average Rainfall

January
3 inches
February
2 inches
March
2 inches
April
3 inches
May
4 inches
June
5 inches
July
5 inches
August
5 inches
September
6 inches
October
6 inches
November
6 inches
December
4 inches

History

One fateful day in 1684, Sir Christopher Codrington arrived on Antigua. An enterprising man, Codrington had come to Antigua to find out if the island would support the sort of large-scale sugar cultivation that already flourished elsewhere in the Caribbean. His initial efforts proved to be quite successful, and over the next fifty years sugar cultivation on Antigua exploded. By the middle of the 18th century the island was dotted with more than 150 cane-processing windmills—each the focal point of a sizeable plantation. Today almost 100 of these picturesque stone towers remain, although they now serve as houses, bars, restaurants and shops. At Betty’s Hope, Codrington’s original sugar estate, visitors can see a fully-restored sugar mill.

Most Antiguans are of African lineage, descendants of slaves brought to the island centuries ago to labor in the sugarcane fields. However, Antigua’s history of habitation extends as far back as two and a half millenia before Christ. The first settlements, dating from about 2400 B.C., were those of the Siboney (an Arawak word meaning “stone-people”), peripatetic Meso-Indians whose beautifully crafted shell and stone tools have been found at dozens of sites around the island. Long after the Siboney had moved on, Antigua was settled by the pastoral, agricultural Arawaks (35-1100 A.D.), who were then displaced by the Caribs—an aggressive people who ranged all over the Caribbean. The earliest European contact with the island was made by Christopher Columbus during his second Caribbean voyage (1493), who sighted the island in passing and named it after Santa Maria la Antigua, the miracle-working saint of Seville. European settlement, however, didn’t occur for over a century, largely because of Antigua’s dearth of fresh water and abundance of determined Carib resistance. Finally, in 1632, a group of Englishmen from St. Kitts established a successful settlement, and in 1684, with Codrington’s arrival, the island entered the sugar era.

By the end of the eighteenth century Antigua had become an important strategic port as well as a valuable commercial colony. Known as the “gateway to the Caribbean,” it was situated in a position that offered control over the major sailing routes to and from the region’s rich island colonies. Most of the island’s historical sites, from its many ruined fortifications to the impeccably-restored architecture of English Harbourtown, are reminders of colonial efforts to ensure its safety from invasion.

Horatio Nelson arrived in 1784 at the head of the Squadron of the Leeward Islands to develop the British naval facilities at English Harbour and to enforce stringent commercial shipping laws. The first of these two tasks resulted in construction of Nelson’s Dockyard, one of Antigua’s finest physical assets; the second resulted in a rather hostile attitude toward the young captain. Nelson spent almost all of his time in the cramped quarters of his ship, declaring the island to be a “vile place” and a “dreadful hole.” Serving under Nelson at the time was the future King William IV, for whom the altogether more pleasant accommodation of Clarence House was built.

It was during William’s reign, in 1834, that Britain abolished slavery in the empire. Alone among the British Caribbean colonies, Antigua instituted immediate full emancipation rather than a four-year ‘apprenticeship,’ or waiting period; today, Antigua’s Carnival festivities commemorate the earliest abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean.

Emancipation actually improved the island’s economy, but the sugar industry of the British islands was already beginning to wane. Until the development of tourism in the past few decades, Antiguans struggled for prosperity. The rise of a strong labor movement in the 1940s, under the leadership of V.C. Bird, provided the impetus for independence. In 1967, with Barbuda and the tiny island of Redonda as dependencies, Antigua became an associated state of the Commonwealth, and in 1981 it achieved full independent status. V.C. Bird is now deceased; his son, Lester B. Bird, was elected to succeed him as prime minister.

News and Notable

Eric Clapton, Oprah and Giorgio Armani have owned real estate on Antigua.

Nelson's Dockyard National Parks Authority
One of Antigua's most popular tourist attractions.

His Majesty's Antigua Naval Yard at English Harbour was built starting about 1725. Its function was to maintain the Royal Naval warships that captured valuable sugar islands of the Eastern Caribbean thus cutting off enemy trade and increasing Britain's own wealth. By 1889, the Yard had been abandoned by the navy, and was released by the Admiralty to the Colonial Government in 1906. From the beginning of restoration in 1951, the yard became known as Nelson's Dockyard in honor of Admiral Horatio Nelson who had served as a Captain in the Leeward Islands from 1784-87. The DOCKYARD MUSEUM in the Naval Officer's House interprets the story of English Harbour and of the people that toiled in this famous Georgian Royal Naval Yard. It also explains the 20th century return of sailing ships and the aims and aspirations of Nelson's Dockyard National Park. There is also a small "Nelson's Room" with a life sized portrait of Nelson researched through archaeological means. A LIBRARY, with copies of original documents and a database of Caribbean naval history, is available for researchers.

Carmichael's
Best sunset views over Jolly Harbour.

Carmichael's gourmet restaurant sits at the highest point of Sugar Ridge. Guests can take in the views due to the floor to ceiling windows surrounding the restaurant. If you can't decide on just one entree, indulge in the Chef's Tasting Menu, where you will be able to sample from 7 courses that are certain to not disappoint.

Carmichael's
Best sunset views over Jolly Harbour.

Carmichael's gourmet restaurant sits at the highest point of Sugar Ridge. Guests can take in the views due to the floor to ceiling windows surrounding the restaurant. If you can't decide on just one entree, indulge in the Chef's Tasting Menu, where you will be able to sample from 7 courses that are certain to not disappoint.

Transportation on Antigua

Getting to Antigua and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.

Entry Documents

Passport and return or ongoing ticket required for entry. Citizens of the U.S. and Canada may enter with a return ticket and one of the following: Passport or original Birth Certificate and a photo I.D. in the form of a valid driver’s license.

Airlines Flying Here

  • Air Canada
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Caribbean Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • jetBlue
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • WestJet

Airport

V. C. Bird International Airport

Departure Tax

$28 U.S.

Driving

Renting a car is an ideal way to discover more of Antigua while on your vacation. In addition to a valid driver’s license from your country of residence, or an international driver’s license, a permit to drive in Antigua is required. The rental agency can assist you in getting the temporary license.

Local Transportation

Public transportation, apart from a usually reliable taxi system, is non-existent, which includes Uber/Lyft..

Antigua Weddings and Honeymoons

Vacationers don’t just stay in Antigua villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! Complete an application at the Ministry of Legal Affairs in St. John’s.  Cost: US$40 registration fee, US$150 special marriage application fee, US$50 for a marriage officer.  Documents Required: Passports. Divorce or death certificates, if applicable. Wait Time: No waiting period.

See our favorite villas for honeymoons.

Know Before You Go...® - Antigua Travel Tips

Before making their way to Antigua villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in Antigua even more relaxing.

Capital:
Saint John's
Population:
85,000
Size:
108 square miles; 14 miles long by 11 miles wide
Electric Current:
220
Time:
07:09 am zone:-4 (GMT/UTC -4)
Official Language:
English (official), local dialects
Currency:
East Caribbean dollar (XCD). U.S. dollars widely accepted. The conversion rate is about US$1 to EC$2.70.
Tipping and Taxes:
  • Tipping: 10-15 percent depending on the service. Some restaurants and hotels will automatically add a 10 percent gratuity. Tip porters 50 cents per bag.
  • Tax: Effective January 1, 2021, an accommodation tax of 14% will be applied.
Dress Code:
Attire is informal, but conservative. Beach attire is not appropriate for town, shops or restaurants. If you’re heading into the restaurant in the evening, you’ll need to be dressed in tailored shorts and smart casual wear including collared shirts. Flip flops are not permitted when dining out in the evening. Please note that it's illegal to have army/combat/camo type clothing or print.
Topography:
Antigua has a variable climate with mostly flat plains of limestone and coral, with some volcanic/mountainous areas.
Telephone:
International Country Code: 268 Dial +1 + 268 + 7 digit number

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