Antigua and Barbuda is a place of sheltered coves, gentle waters, the softest sandy beaches and a culture that’s uniquely Creole with a twist of English charm. It is where the rainforest meets reef-lined shores and where golden sunsets set over the harbour as barbecues start sizzling and live steel pan music starts to play. Here’s my guide to the best of Antigua to create the ultimate sunny escape.
While the locals will attest to having 365 beaches “one for every day of the year”, you don’t need to visit them all to appreciate the incredible beauty of Antigua. It is no surprise that the beach plays a major part in island life, visit some of the fabulous beachside bars and follow some of the beach bar trail.
One of the most popular beaches, Dickinson Bay is dotted with colourful beach towels and umbrellas, buzzing with sun-worshiping locals and visitors. Just around the corner from Blue Waters, there are plenty of amenities, from beach bars to travelling vendors, that will keep you comfortable all-day-long.
If you travel a little further down the coast to the southwest of Antigua, you’ll find a number of beaches that are relatively remote, but equally as beautiful. A mere five-minute drive south of Jolly Harbour, Darkwood Beach is the perfect place to enjoy a spot of quiet snorkelling, with a pleasant warm breeze and forest-lined sands. You can grab a bite to eat and hire out equipment from Darkwood Beach Bar.
Discover the island’s culture
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during one of the island’s annual events, you must check them out as they’re an unforgettable experience. There are a few notable events to try and catch, Sailing Week starts at the end of April, Antigua Carnival takes place each year from the end of July until the first Tuesday of August, and the Antigua Charter Yacht Show happens every year in December. Even if you miss these, Antigua is an island full of life with a contagious atmosphere that you’re bound to catch!
Ana’s by the Beach
At Dickinson Bay, art lovers can check out Ana’s by the Beach, which boasts a wonderful art gallery with both national and international artists on display, as well as a fantastic bar and restaurant. Don’t miss the catch of the day for a chance to taste the freshest fish the island has to offer.
Part of Nelson’s Dockyard National Park on the southern coast of Antigua, this Georgian harbour was first put into regular use in 1704, and is the only one of its kind still in use today. It’s surrounded by scenic, thick forest and is the base for Antigua’s Sailing Week each year. Don’t miss the Dockyard Museum, which is housed in the Naval Officer’s original house, to find out more about the harbour’s history.
Colesome Farmers Market
To taste the best Antiguan food and prepare it back at your villa, enjoy rubbing shoulders with the locals at Colesome Farmers Market. Located in the heart of the island, the market is open every day and covers three acres of land.
Almost everything sold here is grown on the island, even more exotic fruits and vegetables such as white carrots and soya beans. The rest is sourced from an international network of sustainable farmers and suppliers, and if you’re keen to know more, the vendors on hand are more than happy to help.