The Caribbean island of Antigua is known for its stunning beaches and amazing climate. While many people are happy to spend their vacation relaxing on the beach and soaking up the sunshine, there are plenty of other ways to spend your time in this stunning destination. There is a vast array of activities and attractions to enjoy, and there are some you should not miss if you want to get the most out of your time on the island and have a memorable break. Here are the 20 best things to do in Antigua to help you plan your visit.
20. Explore the Mangroves in a Kayak
The mangroves in Antigua have a unique ecosystem, and exploring these areas is something to add to your list of things to do during your visit to the island. One of the best ways to explore the mangroves is to hire a kayak and paddle your way through the various stretches of water between the trees. If you are inexperienced at kayaking or you are afraid of getting lost, then you can book yourself on a guided kayak tour.
19. Climb Mount Obama
Make Time to See the World recommends including a hike up Mount Obama in your itinerary if your vacation itinerary if you are an active person who enjoys the outdoors. Mount Obama, which is officially called Boggy Peak, is Antigua's highest point, and it has become known as a symbol of black achievement. While the hike is only short, it is challenging due to the uneven terrain and steep elevation to the summit. On average, the hike to the summit and back takes approximately three hours to complete. The effort is worthwhile, as the views from the summit are breathtaking. The trail takes you through the jungle of Antigua's national park.
18. Dine at The Inn
The Inn at English Harbor is one of the best hotels in Antigua. It is a 5-star resort set on a private beach. While the beach is private, the hotel's restaurant is open to the public, and this world-class eatery offers one of the island's finest dining experiences. The menu consists of Italian dishes, and there are options for meat lovers, seafood enthusiasts, and vegetarians alike. A relaxed atmosphere and stunning views across the bay also add to the dining experience.
17. Try Kitesurfing
If you have never been kitesurfing, then Antigua is a great place to try this fun activity for the first time. One of the best places to take kitesurfing lessons is at the Kitesurf Antigua, which is based a Jabberwock Beach. Alternatively, book a lesson with 40knots on Green Island.
16. Go on an Eco-Tour
One of the most popular day trips in Antigua is the eco-tours. These boat trips are a fascinating way to learn about the island's ecosystems and see the diverse landscapes and the surrounding waters. The tour takes you around the 22 uninhabited islands surrounding Antigua in the North Sound region. A tour guide educates those on the trip about the marine life, the rock formations, the mangrove system at Guiana Island, the reef ball system at Maiden Island, and the turtle project in Jumby Bay. You will also learn about the history of some of the islands in this protected area. The tour includes two snorkeling sessions in different locations.
15. Sample Antiguan Cuisine
Caribbean cuisine is noted for its spicy, strong, rich flavors. Although there are similarities in the cuisine throughout the Caribbean, every island has its own unique dishes. While you are in Antigua, you should sample some of the local cuisines, and there are many restaurants that serve traditional Antiguan dishes. If you want to learn more about the cuisine and how you can replicate the dishes at home, book yourself on one of the cookery classes that take place on the island.
14. Visit St. John's Cathedral
There are many interesting landmarks to see in the island's capital, but one that you should visit if you are interested in history and architecture is St. John's Cathedral. It is an interesting 19th-century Anglican church that is open to the public and holds regular masses. The cathedral sits on a hill close to the 17th-century Government Building.
13. Spend the Day at Half Moon Beach
All of Antigua's beaches are beautiful, and many of the hotels have direct beach access where you can spend the day relaxing in the sun or paddling in the cool blue waters. However, if you fancy a change of scenery, then one of the best beaches to visit is Half Moon Beach. As you approach the beach by road, it is as though the half-moon-shaped beach appears magically before your eyes, and you should take a photograph from this viewpoint, says Boundless Roads. Another gorgeous beach to visit is Pineapple Beach, which is one of the few beaches in Antigua where you can snorkel directly from the shore.
12. Have an Evening Out at the English Harbor
In the evenings, one of the best places to hang out is at the English Harbor, as this is where many of the best restaurants are located. Therefore, you can take your pick of venues to enjoy some delicious Caribbean food or choose an eatery that serves other international cuisines. The English Harbor is also home to Abracadabra, which is one of the most popular nightspots in Antigua.
11. See Devil's Bridge
Devil's Bridge is a naturally formed limestone bridge that is located just outside the village of Willikies. The bridge was given its name because many slaves have reportedly taken their own lives at this location. Despite its negative history, it is an interesting landmark to see, and the waves crashing against the rocks is spectacular. The rocks look particularly impressive at sunset and sunrise. Many people walk across Devil's Bridge, although they do so at their own risk as the limestone is wet and slippery. It is important to note that swimming at this location is forbidden.
10. Visit Barbuda
Barbuda is Antigua's smaller sister island, and it is possible to visit Barbuda by boat. You can catch the boat from the ferry dock at St. John's Harbor, and there are trips to the island six days a week. Before setting out on your trip, take some time to explore St. John's, which is Antigua's capital, or spend the evening there on your return. Barbuda is home to a bird sanctuary that you can visit, and you should spend some time at the beach, which is unusual as the sand is pink-colored.
9. Visit the Donkey Sanctuary
If you are an animal lover, you may enjoy a visit to the island's donkey sanctuary. In Antigua, donkeys are no longer used for work purposes. However, the island is home to many donkeys that live in the wild and roam freely. Unfortunately, some become too sick to care for themselves or are injured in road traffic accidents. These donkeys are taken to the sanctuary to receive the love and care they need. The sanctuary is on the east side of the island near Bethesda, and it is open to the public from Monday to Saturday.
8. Take a Road Trip
There are several options if you want to take a road trip to explore the island. The first is to join one of the tours. Second, you can use public transport, although public transport is limited and will restrict what you can see. The best option is to create your own adventure and head out in a car. Many of the island's hotels offer a car rental service, says Along Dusty Roads. Having access to a car means you can explore every corner of the island and see some of Antigua's sights and landmarks.
7. Hike to Fort Berkeley
In the past, Fort Berkeley was an important part of Antigua's defense as it has 25 canons. A popular activity in Antigua for those who enjoy the outdoors is hiking to the fort. The trail begins at the Superyacht Dock, which is behind Nelson's Dockyard. You will see goats, a stone quarry, and picturesque views of the English Harbor along the trail. You should wear sensible shoes to complete this hike as the trail is quite rocky.
6. Watch the Ships at Nelson's Dockyard
Nelson's Dockyard is always a hive of activity as it is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. There are many shops, bars, and restaurants along the dockyard, so it is nice to sit and watch the boats and yachts sailing in the sea while enjoying a drink or some food. An interesting fact about the dockyard is that it is the only continuously operating Georgian dockyard in the world, and it is linked to famous naval officers, such as Prince William Henry and Admiral Lord Nelson, after whom the dockyard is named. While you are at the dockyard, you should visit the Dockyard Museum, which was once the home of Admiral Lord Nelson.
5. Take a Boat Trip
A visit to Antigua is not complete until you have ventured onto the water on a boat trip. There are many boat tours available from various tour operators. Some trips take you out to the coral reef to go snorkeling, while the evening cruises are a great opportunity to watch the sun setting over the water. There are also cruise packages that involve food and drink on the trips and others with live music so you can party. You can also take sailing lessons as there are several sailing schools around the island's coast.
4. Climb Shirley Heights for a Barbecue
Some of the best views on the island are from Shirley Heights, which is a former military complex lookout and gun battery. It is named after Sir Thomas Shirley, who was the Governor of the Leeward Islands. Shirley Heights is a popular spot for enjoying the sunrise or sunset, as well as for the sea views. Every Sunday, there is a party and barbecue held at Shirley Heights that begins at 4 pm and ends at 10 pm. Guests can enjoy drinks and dance to Caribbean music. A similar event takes place on Thursdays at Shirley Heights, although the vibe is a bit quieter than the event that takes place on Sundays.
3. Go to Betty's Hope
Betty's Hope is a pair of sugar mills that now act as an open-air museum. The mills are the last two surviving structures from Antigua's first large sugar plantation. The British sugar mill was established in 1651, and it was in continuous operation until 1944. As they are an important part of the island's history, they were restored as part of the Antigua Government and OEC/ESDU Eco-Tourism Enhancement Project.
2. Whiz Through the Trees in the Antigua Rainforest
If you prefer to get active on your vacations or you just want a fun activity to enjoy for an afternoon or morning, the Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour is the most fun attraction in Antigua. The tours last from 45 minutes to 2.5-hours, depending on which you choose. If you choose the full tour, there is a zip-line adventure obstacle course with a 328-foot zip-line, rope swings, and a wooden plank bridge.
1. Get Up Close and Personal with a Stingray
According to Luxe Adventure Traveler, one of the best things to do in Antigua is to visit Stingray City to get up close and personal with a stingray. Many of the island's visitors say this attraction was one of the highlights of their vacation. A speedboat takes visitors out into a coral reef that is home to Southern Rays. They can then swim in the water with stingrays and other marine life, including hawksbill sea turtles.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn