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?

  • Antigua has 365 beaches, one for each day of the year.
  • The capital city of Antigua is St. John's.
  • Antigua is the heart of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.
  • Antigua was once a British colony and is now an independent country.
  • Antigua has a rich cultural history and is home to the oldest working dockyard in the Caribbean.

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

Overview

The twin-island nation of Antigua & Barbuda, the largest and most developed tourist destination in the Leeward Islands chain, has much to offer visitors of many stripes.

Home to most of the nation’s better-known hotels, Antigua is the larger of the two islands at about 108 square miles. From its upscale resorts for the very rich to comfy hideaways favored by sailors, Antigua’s hotel choices are varied, although they lack the presence of a U.S.-based chain.

Islanders claim their home boasts 365 beaches, and while the count is questionable, the beaches are beautiful. Topography is varied as well, with rugged mountain peaks ideal for island overviews, undulating fields of grass once used to grow sugar cane, winding roads lined by pineapple fields, with desert-like conditions rounding out the scenery.

The long reach of the British Empire is still evident in both the formal demeanor of the local population and in the fascinating, must-see historical site called Nelson’s Dockyard. Another place that’s popular with visitors is Shirley Heights. Once used by the British Navy as a lookout post, the site offers panoramic views, and is the home of a twice-weekly party and barbecue for sunset-watchers. Although it’s mobbed with tourists and the food is overpriced, the atmosphere is pure fun and local bands play infectious dance music.

Barbuda, the smaller sister island, is wild, woolly and barely inhabited. Most visitors arrive by propeller plane from Antigua at tiny Codrington Airstrip, which consists of one tiny cement block structure - the alleged terminal building - and a short runway.

About 1,000 inhabitants reside in Codrington, and beyond town are beautiful stretches of uninhabited beach accessed by rutted roads surrounded by scrub brush and cacti.

The most popular attraction here is actually offshore - the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. Bereft of visitor-friendly signs and amenities, this mangrove swamp is accessed by boat and is aflutter with majestic frigate birds.

Among but a handful of hotels, the island’s best-known resort is the tony K-Club, a very private redoubt that serves the rich and famous. Most visitors, though, are day-trippers, who can arrange a one-day tour with lunch while staying on Antigua.

History

Antigua is a small island located in the Caribbean Sea, known for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and rich history. The island was originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Carib peoples before being colonized by the Spanish in the late 15th century.

In 1632, the British arrived and claimed Antigua as a colony, establishing it as an important sugar-producing island in the Caribbean. The island’s fertile land and ideal climate made it a perfect location for sugar plantations, and the British brought in enslaved Africans to work on these plantations.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Antigua became a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade, with thousands of enslaved Africans passing through the island on their way to the United States and other Caribbean islands. This dark period in Antigua’s history had a lasting impact on the island, shaping its culture and society.

In 1834, slavery was abolished in Antigua, and the island’s economy shifted to focus on cotton and other crops. However, the end of slavery did not bring immediate prosperity to the island, and many former slaves struggled to make a living. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century when tourism began to boom that Antigua’s economy began to thrive.

In 1967, Antigua and its neighboring island of Barbuda gained independence from Great Britain, and the country of Antigua and Barbuda was formed. With its newfound independence, the island began to develop its tourism industry, attracting visitors from around the world with its beautiful beaches and warm climate.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Antigua became a popular destination for celebrities, including Princess Diana and Oprah Winfrey, further boosting its reputation as a luxury vacation spot. Today, tourism is the main economic driver of Antigua, with the island welcoming over one million visitors each year.

Despite its small size, Antigua has played a significant role in history. In addition to its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, the island was also a key location during the Cold War. The United States established a naval base in Antigua, using it as a surveillance station to monitor Soviet activity in the Caribbean.

Antigua’s fascinating history can be seen in its architecture, with beautiful colonial buildings and ruins scattered throughout the island. The island also celebrates its past through festivals and events, such as the annual Carnival, which showcases traditional music, dance, and food.

Today, Antigua continues to be a popular destination for tourists, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Its rich and complex past has shaped the island into the vibrant and diverse place it is today.

Stingray City

A great place to see stingrays in their natural habitat, they are quite friendly creatures.

Stingrays are supposed to be dangerous, right? Not at Stingray City. You'll take a boat from Seaton's Village, Antigua to the barrier reef where you'll find 30-plus stingrays in their natural environment. Your experienced guide will take you swimming in the shallow, crystal-clear waters where you can pet, feed and even hold these usually-territorial animals. There is a coral reef encircling the area which also makes this a great place to snorkel. It's an experience that's fun for the entire family, even non-swimmers.

Shirley Heights Lookout

Shirley Heights Lookout has the most famous views on the island.

The view from Shirley Heights Lookout is without question the most famous view on the beautiful island of Antigua in the Caribbean. Located within the National Parks, overlooking English and Falmouth Harbours, this panoramic view, on clear days takes in Guadeloupe to the south and Montserrat with it's still active volcano to the south west. Shirley Heights Lookout is home to the 'biggest and best' party on the island every Sunday for the last 25 years where crowds of visitors and locals converge from 4 pm to reserve their spot to watch the most wonderful view of the sunset on the island, as the Steel Band plays. As hunger strikes there is an excellent barbecue with a huge selection of dishes to choose from.

Sheer Rocks

Whether you need daytime snacks and drinks, or a romantic evening watching the sun set Sheer Rocks is a must place to visit!

Sheer Rocks is perched high up on a rocky cliff, in the center of Antigua's gorgeous west coast. During the day guests will enjoy tapas lunches, but at night experience dining featuring a romantic sunset backdrop. Featuring two superb cliff-front plunge pools and linen draped day beds, there is no shortage of luxury at this exquisite venue.

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

10 words

1. Public buses - affordable and reliable
2. Taxis - convenient for short distance travel
3. Tuk-tuks - unique and fun way to explore the city
4. Rental cars - flexibility to travel at your own pace
5. Bicycle rentals - eco-friendly and scenic option
6. Shuttle services - convenient for airport or hotel transfers
7. Water taxis - ideal for island hopping
8. Horse-drawn carriages - charming and romantic mode of transportation
9. Private transfers - comfortable and personalized option
10. Walking - great for exploring the city’s historic sites and landmarks.

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

Before making their way to Antigua , 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: zone:-4 (GMT/UTC )
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

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 Antigua villas for honeymoons.