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First Timer's Guide to Antigua

Plan your trip to Antigua and Barbuda

365 beaches for 365 days of sun? It sounds like a fairy tale, but feels oh-so-real the second you land on the sunny shores of Antigua.

This small Caribbean island shines with a rich and complex history that permeates through its colourful villages. From kicking back on a beach to kicking around with the kids, here are our top picks for when to go, where to stay and what to do in Antigua.

When to go

Antigua Sailing Week

A major maritime hub centuries ago, the Caribbean country harkens back to its nautical roots with the Antigua Sailing Week, its annual yacht regatta.

Join the festivities in spring, when sailors from around the world take on the turquoise waters of the Caribbean for five days of yacht racing. Little ones will love seeing the boats zip past, while grown-ups might prefer the infamous after-parties.

Antigua Carnival

Looking to soak in real Caribbean culture? Better pencil in the Antigua Carnival, amplifying the island’s good-time vibes. With a tagline claiming it as “The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival,” expect calypso dance parties, costumed parades and beating steel drums that keep you moving till morning.

Designed for all ages, kids even get a parade of their own, the Children’s Carnival, where they strut in vibrant frocks, evoking the cutest, mini versions of Caribbean icons.

Whenever!

We weren’t kidding about everyday sunshine. Antigua’s constantly balmy climate makes it a year-round destination for beach getaways.

Whichever week you book, make sure to save your Sunday for the afternoon BBQ at Shirley Heights Lookout, overlooking the English Harbour on the southern tip of the island. An Antiguan institution ideal for friends and family, it’s the place to be to take in the glorious sunset views, while a reggae band provides the soundtrack.
 

English Harbour Antigua

WHAT TO DO

DIVE IN

Coral reefs bursting with exotic fish surround Antigua, making it popular for diving and snorkelling in the Caribbean Sea.

The biggest reef, Cades Reef, off the southwestern coast, hosts an eclectic variety of marine wildlife, from parrotfish to (friendly!) sharks. On the island’s opposite end, wade into Stingray City to swim with the most gentle underwater creatures.

For the more adventurous, the mysterious waters of Deep Bay beckon you to discover the shipwreck of The Andes, a merchant ship lying at the bottom of the bay since 1905.

SEE THE SITES

Once a formidable naval base under the command of the British Admiral Nelson, Nelson’s Dockyard delivers a dose of history in a gorgeous setting. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the 18th-century marina now houses restaurants and shops for you to indulge in.

Experience local island life in the capital city of St. John’s where colonial architecture meets modern buildings coloured in tropical shades.

Head to the Public Market on Saturdays for the best home-grown produce (tiny pineapples!) and authentic arts and crafts.
 
Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua

WHERE TO STAY 

FOR FAMILIES

Family fun awaits at many Antigua resorts found in our Family Collection. Kids’ pool? Supervised clubs? Tons of activities? You name it, they’ve got it. For even more to enjoy together, look for Antigua all-inclusives part of our Play program.

FOR GROWN-UPS

For an 18+ Antigua vacation, check out the all-inclusive resorts of our Adult Collection. Adults can also focus on health and wellness with a vacation package to one of our spa resorts. Pampering yourself by the sea? Why not!

FOR ROMANTICS

Antigua and Barbuda was designated the Caribbean's Most Romantic Destination by the World Travel Awards. If you're not saying "I do" or on your honeymoon, you might just be falling in love. Choose it for your destination wedding—these resorts will even help you plan your big day.

FOR EVERYBODY

It doesn’t really matter where you stay. Antigua all-inclusive resorts are always near the best beaches. Look out for options near Dickenson Bay or Jolly Beach!
 
Antigua beach

WHAT’S NEXT

Start planning! Oh, and maybe swimsuit shopping? Pro-tip: check out amazing prices on packages to Antigua. Or learn more about the destination right here.