As a former British colony, english influences are evident on this beautiful island in the Caribbean. Admire crumbling sugar plantations, the delightfully quaint and aptly-named English Harbour, watch locals play cricket and enjoy traditional afternoon tea.
For a more active holiday, Antigua is absolutely perfect for sailing and holds Antigua Sailing Week annually. The harbour really comes alive during this world-famous regatta that kicks off in late April and attracts skilled yachtsmen from every corner of the globe. If you visit during this period you’ll experience an incredible carnival-like atmosphere and enjoy live music and numerous parties as a cloud of billowing sails dot the horizon and the majestic yachts ride the sapphire waves in a thrilling race to victory. Island hopping is super easy so you could combine a stay here with the popular islands of St Lucia and Barbados as well as the lesser known islands of Anguilla and St Martin/St Maarten.
When to visit
Antigua is a popular year-round destination as temperatures tend to range between the high 20s and low 30s all year-round. The dry season is from December to June, wet season is from July to November when some showers are likely and humidity levels are high and hurricane season runs from June to November.
The capital, St John’s: dominated by the cathedral’s striking Baroque towers which are one of the first sights to welcome visitors arriving on the island by boat. St John’s offers a lovely mix West Indian gingerbread style houses, British colonial buildings, excellent harbourside restaurants and a bustling farmer’s market.
Nelson’s Dockyard National Park: a beautifully restored Georgian naval base that serves as Antigua’s historic heart. Soak up the atmosphere with lunch on the terrace at Admiral’s Inn and watch yachts docking in the pretty harbour.
Incredible beaches: enjoy romantic strolls along a deserted beach, leaving a trail of footprints behind you; relax on velvety sands before slipping into sparkling azure waters to explore colourful marine life; take the kids swimming in calm, clear waters. With little or no current in Antigua’s shallow water areas, the visibility is excellent which makes it ideal for snorkelling and diving.
Stunning scenery: venture beyond the beach to discover a number of fabulous look-out points. Follow the nature trail from English Harbour through forest up to Shirley Heights. Parts of the trail are quite steep but you will be rewarded at the top by incredible panoramic views over English Harbour.
Swimming and snorkelling: water temperatures average around 28°C year round
Walking and hiking for superb views, particularly Shirley Heights. This climb is steep in parts but well worth doing for the views from the top
Sailing: hire a yacht and skipper for the day to experience Caribbean life from the water
Exploring St John’s and Nelson’s Dockyard
Treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea
Visit Barbuda: just a 90-minute ferry ride north of the island. Antigua’s sister island is blessed with an impossibly romantic and deserted eight-mile pink sand beach which gets its unique rose petal hue from the crushed coral in the sand. Nature-lovers will adore the frigate bird sanctuary which is only accessible by boat and is a haven to 170 species of bird and over 5,000 frigate birds.