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antigua beach shoreline with bright blue skies, white clouds and green palm trees lining the beach

An Antigua holiday can be the perfect travel destination to experience true wanderlust. The Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is famed for having a beach for every day of the year but there is so much more to the country than that! Although, we do love a good beach! Genuinely friendly locals, delicious cuisine, glorious sunshine and a laid-back atmosphere makes an Antigua holiday a verifiable luxury on earth. Whether you are researching for your next trip, or have your flights booked already, this guide has everything you need to know before travelling to Antigua.

Table of Contents:

What is the Best Time of Year for an Antigua Holiday?

The most popular time to visit this island, for an Antigua holiday, is between December and April. Between these months is Antigua’s dry season, when temperatures average highs of 28° and lows of 23°. The summer months are a few degrees warmer but also coincide with hurricane season so you can expect a higher frequency of tropical storms. Overall, the island is located in the tropics, meaning whenever you choose to take a holiday to Antigua, the weather should be fairly consistent all year round!

How to Get to Antigua

The easiest way to reach Antigua for a holiday is by plane. Antigua only has one international airport: V.C.Bird International Airport (IATA code: ANU). The airport is named after Antigua’s first president Sir Vere Cornwall Bird and is located in the country’s capital city of St. John’s. Similarly to reaching the beautiful Greek Islands by plane, you can take direct flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick. The average time it will take you to reach the Island of Antigua is between 8-9 hours.

Antigua Holiday Accommodation

Choosing the perfect accommodation for your Antigua holiday can set the mood for your whole trip. There are a few neighbourhoods that stand out when you are looking for a homebase for your holiday. The capital of St John’s on the north west coast is a bustling and lively area with pastel coloured houses lining the streets. However, you’re better off venturing slightly further from the capital, to the more tranquil but still exciting resorts of English Harbour and Jolly Harbour.
On the south coast, English Harbour is a gorgeous seaside town filled with historic sites such as Nelson’s Dockyard and is where the Transatlantic Row challenge finishes. Jolly Harbour on the west coast is equally charming with a supermarket, beach bar and plenty of restaurants all within walking distance. Spoilt for choice? The good news is that you can easily travel between all these areas in a 45 minute drive maximum.

a herd of goats walking down an Antigua road

How to Get Around the Island

With so many interesting places to explore, while on holiday to Antigua, it’s a great idea to hire a car for at least some of your stay. Buses are available but they are unreliable and this isn’t a country where you want to be waiting out in the hot sun for a ride! There aren’t many road signs so it’s good to know that the max speed limit is 40 mph in the country and 20mph through towns. This may sound slow but don’t push it as the roads can be full of potholes and it’s not unusual to have to slow down to let a goat or donkey pass!

The Top Attractions to Experience in Antigua

Aside from the many spectacular beaches, there is so much to keep you busy while holidaying in Antigua. The following are just a teaser of what the island has to offer:

  • Museum of Antigua and Barbuda; this is a great place to learn about the past of the island. The museum has exhibits documenting Antigua’s geological origins, colonial history, slavery and independence in 1981.
  • Snorkel at the Pillars of Hercules; years of crashing waves have carved part of Antigua’s coastline into huge distinct columns. Magnificent to behold in their own right, this is also a great spot for snorkelling. 
  • Mermaid Gardens; one of Antigua’s best kept secrets, a gorgeous coastal walk will bring you to these natural rock pools. Fish and crabs won’t be afraid to swim around you, just watch you don’t step on any spiky urchins!
  • Betty’s Hope; this sugar plantation is one of the oldest and dates back to 1651. Learn about the horrific conditions enslaved people were subjected to here as you walk around the ruins. 
  • Nelson’s Dockyard; this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the oldest continuously operating Georgian Dockyard in the world. The restored stone buildings are beautiful and the history is fascinating.
  • Barbuda; if you have a little spare cash, it’s well worth hopping on the ferry to Barbuda (return trips cost 85US$). The amazing pink sand beach and frigate bird sanctuary are two of the top attractions here.
scuba driver on an Antigua holiday with clear blue waters and sky

What Language is Used in Antigua?

Due to colonisation by the British, English is the official language of Antigua so it is easy to converse with locals and navigate around. You may overhear locals talking to each other in Antiguan Creole English. This dialect is much quicker and has different intonation patterns which make it sound like its own language.

3 Nightlife Locations to Visit on Your Antigua Holiday

Sunset in Antigua occurs at around 6pm every day with nightlife kicking off soon after. Generally, parties finish quite early on the Island, but we have 3 top spots to experience:

  • One of the best spots for a dance is Cloggy’s in English Harbour which plays music into the night and has a great location overlooking the dock.
  • If you fancy sunset cocktails and having your breath taken away, visit Sheer Rocks for a splash of luxury and unbeatable views. 

Visiting Shirley Heights for a night of dancing under the stars is a must. Located on a cliff edge 150m above the sea, Shirley Heights looks out over the ocean, English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. From 4pm on Thursdays and Sundays, there is a steel drum band followed by live music, a local style bbq and plenty of rum punch!

What Currency is Used in Antigua?

Antigua uses 2 currencies:

  • The U.S. dollar (USD)
  • The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD or XCD). 

To make things extra difficult, both are referred to as dollars and both use the dollar sign! Don’t worry though, when on holiday to Antigua, the locals know the conversion rate and will do the maths for you alarmingly quickly in their heads. In general, most prices will be in ECD but you can pay in USD, you just might receive ECD back in change. If you are thinking of taking out cash, we recommend withdrawing USD as this is more stable against other currencies.

The Geographical History of Antigua

Before jetting off on your Antigua Holiday, we wanted to share a brief history of the location of this island. 30 million years ago, a volcanic crater rose out of the Eastern Caribbean Sea just north of the equator. This is the land that would become known as Antigua and Barbuda. 

Around 10,000 BC, the sea levels of the world rose considerably and about 28 miles of water split the land into the two islands of Antigua and Barbuda we know now. Sizing in at only 108 square miles, the main land of Antigua is a little smaller than the Isle of Wight. These interesting facts can show your passion for the island when visiting Antigua on your next holiday!

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Jay is the owner of Wine, Travel and Song - a blog to share many eclectic adventures in taste, sight & sound

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