The Caribbean island of Antigua is probably most famed for its absolutely stunning beaches – in fact, there’s one for every day of the year (we’re talking 365 beaches here 😎 🏖 🍹) but there’s so much more to Antigua than just beaches.
Suffice to say, you probably don’t need much convincing to visit the Caribbean (or indeed, this beautiful island) so let’s get started with what to do when you visit… and don’t worry, we’ve thrown in some of the best beaches in the island to save you from agonising about which ones to visit. 😄
Let’s get started!
1.) Ffryes Beach
Makes perfect sense to start with a beach!
Located just outside of Jolly Harbour in the southwest, Ffryes beach is a perfect combination of calm, blue waters and warm sands to enjoy. Take advantage of the calm waters by enjoying a swim or snorkel. The shops and amenities are fairly limited here, so pack the stuff you absolutely need with you when you visit (sunscreen, towels…etc).
2.) Half Moon Bay
On the northeast of the island just over three miles from Mamora Bay, Half Moon Bay check all the beach boxes: warm blue waters (it’s a lot bluer than it looks in my GoPro photo), beautiful fine sand – with bars and shops within walking distance(not that I needed any – we went on a boat trip here, rum punches inclusive! 😄 🍹 ).You could snorkel here if you wanted but there are better places for snorkelling on the island – this spot is for relaxing and soaking up that Caribbean sunshine.
3.) Nelson’s Dockyard
This marina and cultural heritage site is located in English Harbour and is worth popping into, even if just for a brief history of this island (and the occupation of it by the British). Once a strategic docking point for the Royal Navy, the area is now filled with shops, restaurants, hiking trails and historic forts.
On Friday evenings, there’s a fish fry here where you can get some of the juiciest lobsters and tastiest fresh fish you’ll have on the island – complete with music, dancing and – you guessed it, even more rum!
4.) Dickenson Bay
For another fantastic Antiguan beach, check out Dickenson Bay in the northwest coast. A variety of large resorts are located in the area, so food, bars and other amenities are readily available (essential – come here prepared to have fun and let your hair down). It’s a stunning beach with all of the action.
5.) Fort James
It comes as no surprise that the Brits were very busy in the 18th-century building forts to protect their strategic military harbours and Fort James was one of them. Constructed specifically to help guard St. Johns Harbour, it is now a site to explore history and to stop at for a great view of the island of Antigua. W
6.) Shirley Heights Lookout
At just under 500-feet, this lookout is a great place to get a bird’s eye view of English and Falmouth Harbours. The walk to the stop is steep and challenging but it is totally worth it for the view. We actually didn’t hike up here when we visited, we had the driver drop us here (the first time was on a tour of the island and the second time was to watch the sunset and part on Sunday. Speaking of which, when you’re in Antigua, you have to head out here (pre-sunset) for the Sunday party – preceeded by an epic sunset before totally indulging delicious food, dancing to Caribbean music and as much rum as you want.
7.) Darkwood Beach
Another beach worth checking out on the island is Darkwood Beach, located on the southwest coast. Due to the vegetation surrounding the area, this beach feels a bit more secluded and is probably more suited to people looking to escape most of the crowds (not that Antigua feels very crowded to be honest). Don’t forget your sunscreen – despite the vegetation, there is very little shade! Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, and a concession stand is nearby if you need a snack.
8.) Devil’s Bridge
This cool geological formation is located in a national park in the northeast of the island. It isn’t a bridge per say, but rather an arch developed by sea erosion and ancient reef formation. The water around the formation is rough, with multiple blowholes spouting water so be careful when you visit.
9.) Betty’s Hope
Established in 1650, Betty’s Hope is a former sugarcane plantation. Today it is an open-air museum that you can visit and explore the plantation, while taking in the history of the island (some of which isn’t nearly as pleasant as the name would have you believe – remember plantations back then were run on slave-power).
10.) Long Bay
Located a short 5-minutes from the nearby village of Willikies, Long Bay is another fantastic beach where you can relax, snorkel and catch some rays. It’s the perfect balance for people who want to enjoy their beach time but also like having the option to pop into nearby bars for a drink or a bite to eat.
11.) Monk’s Hill
Just under 3 km from Falmouth Harbour, Monk’s Hill is home to historic Fort George. The fort has since been overrun by nature (it’s pretty much a ruin now) and now has a unique, Indian Jones-esque feel.
Not many visitors make it out this way and the hike to the top is steep (*again, you can drive here) but the challenge is well worth it for the amazing view.
12.) Stingray City
This is one of the most popular activities on the island (well, it’s not actually on the island, you have to take a boat to a sandbank in the middle of a huge bay to find the stingrays) and is a rather different experience to have in Antigua.
As the name suggests, in stingray city, you get to swim with ‘wild’ stingrays (technically, they’re wild but they’re so used to human contact they definitely don’t act like wild stingrays anymore) and feed the stingrays. Before you get started, you will be briefed about how to interact with the stingrays to ease any nervousness you might have about visiting.