Welcome to the country that houses 365 beaches where you can visit 1 beach every day of the year and visit the paradise that we all dream of.
Antigua and Barbuda which is known for its white and pink sand beaches is a destination that many people most probably never heard of but this promising destination has a lot to offer.
It is a picturesque island that people dream of visiting when they fantasize about a Caribbean getaway.
Let’s dive into it!
Where is this located?
Antigua and Barbuda are a twin-island nation in America and it lies between the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. It is the 14th smallest country in the world with a total area of 442 km2 (171 mi2)
It is situated in the Caribbean east, southeast of St. Kitts, and north of Guadeloupe and Dominica.
The country is made up of two islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and other small islands such as Long, Green, Great Bird, Guinea, Maiden, York Islands, and further south, the Redonda Island.
St. John is the capital city and largest portion of Antigua and with Codrington the largest town in Barbuda.
History of Antigua and Barbuda
The first inhabitants that are known to have lived in Antigua were the Siboney or ‘stone people, back to 2400 BCE. Arawaks settled subsequently, around the 1st century CE.
The Caribs arrived later but abandoned Antigua around the 16th century due to the shortage of fresh water.
Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 and named it after a church in Seville, Santa Maria de la Antigua. Which means “Ancient” in Spanish.
After unsuccessful attempts at colonization by the Spaniards and French. Antigua was colonized by Sir Thomas Warner in 1632 and became a British colony in 1667.
Britain annexed Barbuda in 1628. However, in 1680 Charles II granted the island to the Codrington Family, who held it until 1860, in which year it was annexed to Antigua.
Independent Antigua and Barbuda
The two islands attained their independence from the United Kingdom in 1981 and became the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
The country was led to independence by Bird on the 1st of November, 1981.
King Charles III, the country’s current head of state since September 8, 2022. As sovereign, he is the personal embodiment of the Crown of Antigua and Barbuda.
The currency used in Antigua and Barbuda is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) but most shops will accept the US dollar and other currencies can be easily changed at banks and Bureaux de Change.
Credit Cards, Debit Cards & ATMs
Major Credit Cards including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted all over the islands.
Major Debit Cards are accepted all over the islands.
ATMs are available on the island, with a mod in the major resorts and towns such as St. John’s.
Visitors from the USA
The EC dollar is tied to the US dollar, but you will find that exchange rates will vary depending on where you wish to change your money.
it is always advisable to confirm and check the currency rate, which is typical $1 USD to $2.7 XCD. (As of September 2022)
There are no limits on the import of local and foreign currency, provided it is declared upon arrival. Amounts exceeding the equivalent of US-$10,000 need to be declared.
Climate in Antigua and Barbuda
The climate in Antigua and Barbuda is tropical, hot, and humid all year round.
A relatively cool, dry season from January to mid-April and a hot, humid, and rainy season from mid-June to mid-November.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the power plugs and sockets are of types A and B. The standard voltage is 230-V and the standard frequency is 60-Hz.
Technology and Communication
Purchase a local sim card to avoid paying high roaming fees while in Antigua and Barbuda.
A prominent mobile telecommunications provider in Antigua and Barbuda is Digicel, which is widely known as the largest mobile telecommunications operator in the Caribbean.
Infrastructure & Transport
The island state of Antigua and Barbuda relies on a variety of means of transportation.
Antigua and Barbuda’s main seaport for industry and tourism is St. John’s deep-water harbor, a major transportation hub for the Caribbean
Everyone will arrive in and depart from Antigua through the V.C. Bird International Airport unless they are traveling by cruise ship.
While an additional light aviation airstrip is available at Codrington, Barbuda. Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) is a successful Antigua and Barbudan airline.
Safety and Who to contact in case of Emergency
Antigua has a low crime rate, but stay vigilant at all times. Your valuables shouldn’t be left unattended on a beach towel; instead, keep them in the hotel safe.
Dial 911 or 999 for all emergencies.
There is no need to worry about language barriers when visiting the country.
English is the widely spoken national and official language in Antigua and Barbuda.
Everyone has excellent English skills, and people are easy to understand.
A large percentage of the population speaks their own Creole English dialect which is English with some African words and phrases.
A small part of the country speaks Spanish, mostly comprised of immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
There is no real gay scene in Antigua and Barbuda but no overt discrimination either.
Same-sex relationships were once prohibited by discriminatory laws; however, they were later abolished by Antigua and Barbuda’s High Court of Justice on July 5, 2022.
You may read more here.
Christianity is the dominant religion in Antigua and Barbuda. 77% of the population in the nation is Christian.
Other religions practiced in the country include Islam, the Bahá’í Faith, Rastafari, etc.
How to get there?
Antigua and Barbuda do not have their own national airline but many airlines do operate regular direct flights there.
LIAT (www.liatairline.com) operates an inter-Caribbean service to other islands including St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Dominica, and Guadeloupe.
Caribbean Airlines operates (www.caribbean-airlines.com) connecting flights from Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados to Antigua as well as international flights.
How to explore Antigua?
The best time to travel to Antigua and Barbuda is the summer or fall months.
Renting a car is an ideal way to discover Antigua. Having access to your own vehicle allows you to live your vacation on your terms.
A temporary permit is necessary to drive in Antigua in addition to a valid driver’s license from your home country and an international driver’s license.
The rental car agencies assist foreign drivers in getting Antigua temporary driving permit, which is valid for six months.
Driving is on the left side of the road. The speed limit is 20 mph in built-up areas and 40 mph on open roads.
Say no to Plastic Bags
As of July 2016, plastic bags are now no longer available in Antigua & Barbuda.
Antigua was the first Caribbean Island that banned plastic bags and Styrofoam 3 years ago already. Plastic straws are banned as well.
Antigua has a rich cultural heritage deeply rooted in a mixture of African Heritage melded with the influence of Colonialism which together creates a vibrant, spirited culture that remains strong until this day. Whether it’s cricket, rum, food, or carnival, one thing is certain – feelings run deep.
The Ministry of Tourism is charged with making policy and establishing policy guidelines within the tourism industry in Antigua and Barbuda.
Ready to check your bucket list? Here are some activities you can do:
- Get an adrenaline rush by going, jet skiing, and tubing at Dickenson Bay
- Try your luck at a casino
- Hiking at the Lookout Trail and Carpenters Rock Trail
- Watch a cricket match at the Antigua Recreation Ground
- Soar over the beautiful blue waters of Antigua and Barbuda by parasailing
- Swim with the Stingrays
Traveling with your family or friends? Check these Family Travel Highlights:
- Horseback Riding Excursions
- Helicopter tour with Caribbean Helicopters
- Attend a Carnival week
- Visit Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation
Food to try:
- Saltfish and Fungi
- Susie’s Hot Sauce
- Goat Water
Drinks To Try:
- Slipping Rum
- Rum Punch
- Wadadli Beer
- Sea Moss Sorrel
Are you a social media butterfly? Visit these Photography Hot Spots:
- St. John’s Cathedral
- Tranquility Bay
- Nelson’s Dockyard
- Pier Jolly Beach
- Shirley Heights
- Mar Caribe
- Costa Luminosa
Looking for gifts for your friends? Souvenirs to buy:
- Lavender Jade
- Wood-Carved Masks
- Local Pottery
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Caribbean Clothing
More Than Just the Beaches
Antigua is categorized by its beautiful ocean views and turquoise blue waters.
What most people don’t realize is that there is a lot more to this island than just the beaches.
There are beautiful beaches like Half Moon Bay, Dickenson Bay, Galley Bay, and Valley Church.
These are just the right places to enjoy sunbathing, water sports with the family, swimming, and snorkeling fun, but there is so much more to do.
Betty’s Hope was the first and the most abundant sugar plantation on the island of Antigua. It stands as a reminder of the role that Antigua played in the British Colonial Era.
It was a plantation that helped Britain generate considerable wealth in the Caribbean. Established in 1674, it was named after the daughter of one of the former owners.
The comprehensive visitor’s center and museum educate tourists on the daily lives of slaves on this plantation. It also offers a way to step back into the past and understand Antigua’s rich history.
St. John’s Saturday Morning Market
St. John is the capital of Antigua and is the center of island life on Saturday mornings.
This market draws in vendors from all over the island and provides a wonderful place for tourists to spend time. This market is a beautiful reflection of Antigua.
You can get in touch with the locals, their incredible culture, and their fun way of life.
Nelson’s Dockyard National Park
Nelson’s Dockyard, located in English Harbor, served the British Naval Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). It also served as the headquarters for Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson from 1784-1787.
The area is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, shops, and even a museum where you can spend a fantastic day out in Antigua. Shirley Heights is a great hike that you can take from the Dockyard.
Named after Governor sir Thomas Shirley, who on November 26th, 1781 ordered fortifications to be built around English Harbour in order to further protect the Naval Dockyard.
Shirley Heights is just under 500 feet above sea level, and the summit of this hike allows for views of Guadeloupe island and the active volcanic island of Montserrat, both located just to the south.
It is also a prime spot for a great Sunday night party at the Shirley Heights Lookout Bar and Restaurant.
For more nightlife fun head to Falmouth and English Harbors. Tickets cost $10 per person.
With a wide selection of markets, shops, and restaurants to tour while in Antigua, this island filled with rich colonial history offers plenty of activities away from the beach.
Antigua and Barbuda are everything you could ask for in a Caribbean Island. It’s stunning, simple to travel around, and incredibly laid back and it is more than just the beaches.
ARE YOU READY TO VISIT ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA NOW? To plan your next vacation to Antigua & Barbuda call us at 440-940-4081 or complete our form here.