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We have over two decades of travel experience and since 2018 have led a full-time nomadic lifestyle.

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ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA TRAVEL GUIDE

Antigua and Barbuda is a captivating island nation located in the West Indies, known for its rich history and vibrant culture. The country gained independence from British rule in 1981 and has a population of just over 100,000 residents. Its flag symbolizes the strength and spirit of the nation, with red representing the vitality of the people, black for the fertile soil, and the rising sun for the dawning of a new era. 


The islands boast stunning pink-sand beaches and are home to one of the largest colonies of frigate birds in the world. Antigua and Barbuda's national dish, fungee and pepperpot, reflects its cultural heritage and offers a taste of the local cuisine.

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⬇️ COUNTRY GUIDE ⬇️

  • Capital: Saint John's

  • Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

  • Area: 443 sq km

  • Population: 96 286 (2018)

  • Language: English (official), Antiguan and Barbudan Creole

  • Religion: 73.2% Protestant (21.5% Anglican), 19.6% Other

  • Electricity: 230V/60Hz (UK plug)

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

The best time to visit the Caribbean is generally considered to be December to April, when it’s slightly cooler (particularly in the northern Caribbean), drier and less humid, and tourists flock to escape the northern winter. May to November can be soggy, with hurricanes possible from July to October – though these are rare in the far south.

 

  • High Season (Dec–Apr) - People fleeing the northern hemisphere winter arrive in droves and prices peak. This is the Caribbean's driest time and can be cool the northern islands.

  • Shoulder (May–Jun & Nov) - The weather is good, rains are moderate throughout. Reduced visitor numbers and the best mix of affordable rates and good weather. makes this an ideal time to visit the Caribbean.

  • Low Season (Jul–Oct) - Hurricane season; the odds of being caught are small, but tropical storms are like abound. During this time room prices can be half or less than in high season and you will find eastern Caribbean’s beaches good for surfing.

BEST TIME FOR:

Antigua and Barbuda offer a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and cycling. Trails like the Mount Obama and Ridge Trail present a challenging hike with rewarding views, while the Falmouth to Rendezvous Bay Beach trail is a popular choice for cyclists. 


The best time to visit for these activities is during the dry season, from December to April, when the weather is most favorable for outdoor adventures.

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ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA TRAVEL COSTS

The Caribbean is not cheap, but there are ways to get the most bang for your buck with a little forward planning and some savvy choices

 

  • Budget less than US$150 Room away from the beach: under US$100, Meal at a locally popular restaurant: US$10, Ride local buses: US$3

  • Midrange US$150–300 Double room in the action: US$200, Visit parks and beaches that are free, rent bikes or snorkel for US$10 per day Rental car for exploring: US$40 to US$60 a day.

  • Top end over US$300 - Beautiful rooms at the best resorts in high season: US$400 and over, Activities in beautiful places: US$100 and up, World-renowned meals: US$100 per person and more.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Here are some of the best ways to save money:

  • Travel in groups Bring your friends and other couples along with you and rent a villa.

  • Book far in advance For high season deals.

  • Book at the last minute For incredible deals as hotels dump empty rooms.

  • Follow the divers They demand great value near beautiful waters.

  • Ride buses and ferries You meet folks and may have an adventure.

  • Live like a local Save money while having a more authentic visit.

  • Travel in low season Prices can drop 40% or more.

 

GETTING AROUND ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

  • Boat: Bumpy 90-minute catamaran rides operated by Barbuda Express link St John’s with the River Wharf Landing in southern Barbuda. Boats leave at 9am (noon Sunday) and return from Barbuda at 3:45pm (2:30pm Sunday). There is no service on Mondays.

  • Bus: Antigua’s ‘public’ transportation is operated by private minivans that travel along the main roads. Buses to the south and west leave from the West Bus Station opposite the Public Market in St John’s, buses to the north and the east leave from the East Bus Station on Independence Ave. Barbuda has no buses.

  • Car: Rental companies can all issue the compulsory local drivers’ license for US$20, which is valid on both islands. Driving is on the left, the steering wheel is on the right.

  • Taxi: Taxis are plentiful and fares are government-regulated. On Antigua, the one-way trip from St John’s to English Harbour, for instance, costs US$24. Private island tours are charged at about US$24 per hour for up to four people with a two-hour minimum. On Barbuda, taxis wait at the ferry dock, but you may prefer to prearrange a transfer or an island tour through your hotel or the Barbuda tourist office.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

On Antigua, life is litteraly a beach. Its corrugated coasts cradle scores of perfect little strands lapped by beguiling blue water, while the sheltered bays have provided refuge for everyone from Admiral Nelson to pirates and yachties. If you can tear yourself away from that towel, you’ll discover that there’s a distinct English accent to this classic Caribbean island with its narrow roads, candy-coloured villages and fine historic sights.

 

If life on Antigua is a beach, Barbuda is an actual beach: one smooth, pink-tinged strand hemming the reef-filled waters. Birds, especially the huffing and puffing frigates, greatly outnumber residents on this perfect Caribbean dream island.

 

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

ONE WEEK (This itinerary focuses on Antigua with day trips to Barbuda and Montserrat)

  • St John’s, Antigua Start with the colourful capital of St John’s, stopping by the Public Market for great photo ops and pineapples.
  • Valley Church Beach Pick this or any of the other sparkling beaches between Jolly Harbour and Old Road Town and top it with a leisurely lunch and rum-punch sundowners at a funky beach bar.
  • Signal Hill Work off all those lobster dinners by exploring Antigua’s rich eco-diversity on foot. The trek up Signal Hill is among the most rewarding.
  • English Harbour Flash back to colonial times at the still-working Georgian marina at Nelson’s Dockyard, then hit Happy Hour at the Mad Mongoose and wrap up with dinner at locally adored Trappas.
  • Shirley Heights Head up the hill above English Harbour for wildly popular Sunday afternoon BBQ parties and stunning views of sea, sunset and sails as a steel-band plays its gentle rhythms.
  • Barbuda Escape – by boat or by helicopter – to this still virtually untouched island paradise with its footprint-free beaches and squawking frigate bird colony.
  • Montserrat See how this ‘modern-day Pompeii’ is recovering from the 1995 volcano eruption that left two-thirds of the island covered by ash and debris. A scenic flight over the ‘Exclusion Zone’ is ideal to fully comprehend the extent of the devastation.

 

Download map waypoints for Antigua & Barbuda here: KML / GPX

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

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More location details are available in the above map

ANTIGUA

Antigua’s capital, ST JOHN'S, is tucked into a sheltered bay, about 5 miles west of the airport. Most hotels and resorts cluster north of here along Dickinson Bay and south in historic English Harbour. The best beaches hem the west coast between Jolly Harbour and Old Road Town. The wind-swept east is sparsely settled and has only a few beaches.


Intriguingly tatty, St.John's, is worth a spin for its cafes, restaurants, shops, cute museum and bustling market. The town all but shuts down at night and Sundays. North of here, the middle market of Antigua’s holidaymakers finds fun in the sun along Dickenson Bay, which has good swimming and plenty of aquatic activities.


Sparsely populated EASTERN ANTIGUA gets few visitors. There's plenty to keep you pondering Antigua’s colonial past while poking around the stone windmills straddling a quiet hill south of Pares, off the road to Long Bay where you will find the Great House and the distillery of Betty’s Hope, the island’s first sugar plantation, built in 1674. Continuing east, you’ll soon reach the turnoff to Seatons, home of Stingray City Antigua, where you can feed and swim with friendly stingrays and snorkel around a coral reef. Just before Long Bay itself, a rough 1-mile dirt road (better with a 4WD) veers off to Devil’s Bridge (near Willikies, Long Bay), a windswept bluff ringed by rugged cliffs shaped by the relentless crashing of powerful waves. If the tide is right, you can see the powerful blowhole at the far end in action. Views from the bluff are especially dramatic at sunset.


A short drive south of St John’s, JOLLY HARBOUR is a busy marina and dockside condominium village with a supermarket, ATM, pharmacy and a few restaurants and bars. South of here, the coastal road winds past some of Antigua’s best beaches, which are popular with locals on weekends - but otherwise often deserted.


Down in CADES BAY, the road passes a pineapple farm before cutting through rainforest as Fig Tree Dr which culminates in Swetes. From here, you’re back in St John’s in 20 minutes.


Nowhere does Antigua flaunt its maritime heritage more than in ENGLISH HARBOUR. It sits on two sheltered bays, Falmouth Bay and English Harbour, where salty boats and ritzy yachts bob in the water. The era when the British Navy was based here is still encapsulated in the beautifully restored Nelson’s Dockyards, the island’s top historical attraction.

BARBUDA

Barbuda’s only village, sleepy CODRINGTON, is home to most residents and the minuscule airport. It’s about 3.5 miles north of the ferry landing on the eastern edge of the lagoon with its famous frigate bird colony.

There is no such thing as a bad beach in Barbuda. All of them are hypnotic strips of pristine powdery white sand perfect for strolling, swimming, chilling and picnicking. The longest one is 17-Mile-Beach, also known as Palm Beach, which stretches along the western side of the narrow strip of land hemming in Codrington Lagoon. Coco Point in the south, next to the eponymous luxury resort, is just as sublime.

WHAT TO EAT IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Look out for:

  • Pepperpot - Antigua’s national dish is a hearty stew blending meat and vegetables, such as okra, spinach, eggplant, squash and potatoes. It’s often served with fungi, which are not mushrooms but cornmeal patties or dumplings.

  • Black pineapple - The local pineapple was first introduced by the Arawaks and is smaller than your garden variety. It’s known as ‘black’ because it’s at its sweetest when kind of dark green. It grows primarily on the southwest coast, near Cades Bay.

  • Rock lobster - This hulking crustacean has a succulent tail but no claws and is best served grilled. (And you’ll be forgiven if after a few rum punches you’re humming a tune by the B-52s while digging in.)


The following dishes can be found across the Caribbean:

  • Callaloo - A creamy thick soup or stew blending a variety of vegetables (eg spinach, kale, onions, carrots, eggplant, garlic, okra) with coconut milk and sometimes crab or ham. The base can be spinach-like.

  • Roti - Fiery chutney sets off the curried chicken, beef, conch or vegetable fillings in these burrito-like flat-bread wraps.

  • Conch - Look for farm-raised versions as conch in the wild are endangered. This large pink mollusk is cooked with onion and spices in a stew, fried up as fritters, or sliced raw and served with a lime marinade.


Take time to meet the locals by doing what they do – you’ll enjoy a more affordable and authentic experience.

  • Eat at lunch wagons or stalls. The local fare is cheap and often incredibly good.

  • Drop by a local bar – often the de facto community center. Besides a drink, you’ll get all sorts of useful – or wonderfully frivolous – advice.

  • Look for community fish fries or barbecues in the Eastern Caribbean.

LGBTQ IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

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WHERE TO STAY IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Antigua is expensive and besides a few guesthouses and moderately priced properties, resort-type complexes (often all-inclusive) dominate the market.


When visiting Antigua for the first time, choosing the right area or region to stay in is essential for a memorable experience. Here are recommendations for each area:


Where To Stay in St. John's (Capital Region):

St. John's is the capital and cultural hub of Antigua, offering historical landmarks, vibrant markets, and lively nightlife.

  • Budget: Connie's Comfort Suites - Affordable rooms with easy access to downtown St. John's.

  • Mid-range: Heritage Hotel - Comfortable accommodations with a central location and modern amenities.

  • Luxury: Carlisle Bay Antigua - Five-star luxury resort with beachfront villas and spa facilities.


Where To Stay in English Harbour (Saint Paul Parish):

English Harbour is famous for Nelson's Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and picturesque harborside views.


Where To Stay in Dickenson Bay (Saint John Parish):

Dickenson Bay boasts beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect for relaxation and water sports.

  • Budget: Halcyon Cove by Rex Resorts - Affordable rooms with beach access and family-friendly amenities.

  • Mid-range: Antigua Village Beach Resort - Comfortable accommodations with self-catering options and a beachfront location.

  • Luxury: Sandals Grande Antigua - Luxury all-inclusive resort with elegant rooms, multiple pools, and gourmet dining options.


Where To Stay in Jolly Harbour (Saint Mary Parish):

Jolly Harbour offers a marina, golf course, and shopping complex, making it a convenient base for recreational activities.

  • Budget: Jolly Beach Resort & Spa - Affordable rooms with access to a white sand beach and multiple dining options.

  • Mid-range: Sugar Ridge Resort - Stylish accommodations with panoramic views and a spa offering holistic treatments.

  • Luxury: Cocos Hotel Antigua - Adults-only luxury resort with individual cottages, infinity pools, and stunning sunset views.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

When visiting Barbuda for the first time, choosing the right area or region to stay in is essential to ensure a memorable experience exploring its pristine beaches and natural beauty.


Where To Stay in Codrington (Capital and Largest Town):

Codrington is the main settlement on Barbuda, offering easy access to amenities, cultural sites, and beautiful beaches.

  • Budget: Barbuda Cottages - Affordable self-catering cottages near the town center.

  • Mid-range: Barbuda Belle - Boutique beachfront resort with spacious suites and personalized service.

  • Luxury: Barbuda Ocean Club - Luxury beachfront villas with private pools and exclusive amenities.



Regardless of where you choose to stay, Barbuda offers a peaceful and unspoiled environment for travelers seeking a tranquil beach getaway. Keep in mind that accommodations on the island may be limited, so it's recommended to book your stay well in advance, especially during the peak tourist season (from December to April), to ensure availability.

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