What are the five best things to see and do in Antigua?

McLean Robbins

Antigua offers something for everyone, from adventure seekers to leisure lovers alike. Here are a few of our favorite things to see and do:
 
1. Tour the Dockyards. Admiral Nelson’s dockyard is one of the pre-eminent tourist attractions on the island, part of a 15-mile national park and the only remaining Georgian-style dockyard in the world. Peruse open-air market stalls for kitschy souvenirs (pick up a bottle of the local hot sauce) or pop into the restored building (we loved the British-style telephone booth). If it’s luxury you crave, you can walk the docks and gaze at the mega-yachts that come to dock in English Harbour – some of the world’s greatest ships sail in and out of this port.
 
2. Visit Shirley Heights. Want to party? Shirley Heights is actually the name of a military complex that runs across a large ridge, but tourists know it as the name of one of the biggest parties on the island. Arrive early and wander the 18th century buildings, and then stay for sunset over English and Falmouth Harbours, the most famous view on the island. On a clear day, you can see the neighboring island of Montserrat.
 
3. Go underwater. Enjoy the island with a sail, snorkel or scuba dive. Naturally protected by coral reefs, the island’s crystal clear waters make it easy to see the island’s many types of sea life. If you’ve never seen pink sand, hop a quick flight to sister island Barbuda, which is famous for its pink beaches.
 
4. Hit the beach. With 365 white sand beaches, nearly all of which are public, it’s hard to go wrong with a day at the beach.
 
5. If you’re a history buff, visit the town capital, St. Johns, and tour the historic cathedral, a baroque masterpiece. If you can, visit on a Saturday, where you’ll enjoy a vibrant local market.

  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best beaches in Antigua?

    On an island that boasts 365 beaches, there’s one for every type of traveler on charming Antigua. From untouched stretches of pristine white sand to rocky shores perfect for climbing and hiking, you’ll find one to suit your needs. Here are Forbes Travle Guide’s editors’ picks for the best beaches in Antigua.
     
    1. Rendezvous Beach. Those who prefer privacy should head to this beach, accessible only by water, horseback or a long hike through the hills. The difficulty in reaching Rendezvous means this private beach on the south coast of the island is often deserted.
     
    2. Half Moon Bay, Dutchman’s Bay and Jabberwok Beach. If you’re in Antigua to windsurf, kite surf or just plain surf, these three beaches have long stretches of sand and often see waves of three to six feet, which make them the best bet for the active enthusiasts.
     
    3. Hawksbill Bay Beach. A very adult locale, this remote collection of four beaches offers the only nude sunbathing spot on island.
     
    4. Dickenson Bay. This accessible white stretch of beach is perfect for travelers who just want to soak up the sun, but come nightfall, it also offers a great sunset view.
     
    5. Great Bird Island. This rocky outcropping of sand is the perfect jumping off point for a quick hike. Travel to the top and you’ll get great views of the entire island.
  • On June 27, 2012
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    What is the best thing to bring home from Antigua?

    You’ll love visiting Antigua, but one of the best memories of any trip is having something to bring home to remember your visit by. One of our favorite recent takeaways was a native loofa, which we plucked and peeled ourselves from a tree. (Did you know loofas grew on trees? We didn’t either, until we visited Antigua.) You’ll also want to pick up a bottle of the local hot sauce, Susie’s, which is a spicy peppercorn blend (sold in the airport for just $3 to $6, and in flavors like mango and raspberry). The island also grows local peppercorns and vanilla that would make a great gift for a cook.
  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the five best Antigua food experiences?

    Antigua is a land of simple island fare, specializing in fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. You’ll find foods and cooking styles similar to those found on many other Caribbean islands, including jerk seasonings and lots of rice and pasta sides, as well as sweet and savory side dishes such as beans or plantains. Here are just a few of the best food experiences on Antigua.
     
    1. Local rum. Antigua’s own English Harbour rum, a local and Caribbean favorite, is made at the only on-island distillery. Try it alone or mixed into a classic drink, like a dark ‘n’ stormy.
     
    2. Susie’s hot sauce. Cult favorite hot sauce, Susie’s, made with local peppercorns, is a great treat to take home. Find it in restaurants and shops around the island.
     
    3. Fungie. The national dish of Antigua is fungie (sometimes spelled fungi), and it’s an enticing pepper pot usually made with okra and cornmeal, sometimes served with fish or beef.
     
    4. Big Banana pizza. Be sure to try Big Banana pizza, a local island chain favorite – locals swear it’s as good as New York style pizza (we’re not so sure), but it’s definitely simple and easy, with two airport locations.
     
    5. Tamarind juice. You’ll want to try the local tamarind juice, a sweet dark juice that tastes excellent over ice or mixed with local rum.
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  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    Where is the best nightlife in Antigua?

    Look forward to a friendly, laid-back nightlife scene with plenty of excellent Caribbean music and steel drum bands when you visit Antigua. The most famous party on the island is the Sunday evening barbecue and beach bash at Shirley Heights. Arrive early to watch the sun set over English and Falmouth Harbours from the ridge. If it’s gambling you crave, find it at the Grand Princess Casino in Jolly Harbour.
     
    If you prefer a casual cocktail on the water, English Harbour, home to Nelson’s Dockyard, offers several restaurants where you can do anything from sip a wine flight to order a martini or a casual beer. Our favorite is the low key Admiral’s Inn (try the fresh fruit daiquiris). Sugar Ridge Hotel also includes the Sugar Club, which offers popular Friday night entertainment and dancing. Ask the locals or your hotel concierge what’s happening on the nights you’re in town — if you’re lucky, you can hear some of the island’s native music, soca, which sounds like a poppy mix between hip hop and reggae.
  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What is the best way to see Antigua in one day?

    A popular dock for Caribbean cruise ships, Antigua is a small island that is easily seen in a single day. Begin at Nelson’s Dockyards, where you can stroll past historic buildings and marvel at mega-yachts (and pick up any touristy souvenirs you desire) before setting sail, either on a guided cruise or on a sailboat rental. We recommend Adventure Antigua, a friendly locally-owned company that combines relaxing stops at area beaches with snorkeling, hiking up famed mini-islands such as Hells Gate and even a bit of eco-tourism. Guides are well-versed in everything from the island’s history to the patterns of the sea turtles that come to nest on Antigua’s beaches year after year. Or skip the cruise and simply check out on one of the island’s 365 beaches, nearly all of which offer pristine white sand and public access. End the night with dinner and drinks at Sheer Rocks or Carmichael’s, both excellent restaurants serving cocktails and refined local seafood in a breathtakingly beautiful setting.
  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    Where is the best shopping in Antigua?

    Antigua’s best shopping is at its local markets, including the Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market in St. Johns. You can purchase local fruit and handmade goods while interacting with friendly locals. If it’s souvenirs you crave, find them at Nelson’s Dockyards – you’ll be able to seek out jewelry, tee shirts and more from local artisans. For local art, peruse Art on the Ridge, at Sugar Ridge Resort, where you’ll find an excellent selection of locally made goods including jewelry, oil paintings and pottery. Unlike other islands in the Caribbean, Antigua does not offer high-end or luxury shopping – you’d be best off taking back a jar of hot sauce by local company Susie’s for your loved ones.
  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Antigua?

    Antigua is an exceptionally family-friendly island. With a beach for each day of the year, a wide variety of water sports and friendly locals, the island is ideal for exploring with children. Here are a few of our favorite activities:  
     
    1. Tour the Dockyards. Admiral Nelson’s dockyard is one of the top tourist attractions on the island, and part of a 15-mile national park that’s the only remaining Georgian-style dockyard in the world. Peruse open-air market stalls for tourist tchotchkes (pick up a bottle of the local hot sauce) or pop into the restored building (we loved the British-style telephone booth). If it’s luxury you crave, you can walk the docks and gaze at the mega-yachts that come to dock in English Harbour – some of the world’s greatest ships come in and out of this port.
     
    2. Shirley Heights. Want to have some fun? Shirley Heights is actually the name of a military complex that runs across a large ridge, but tourists know it as the name of one of the biggest parties on the island. On a clear day, you can see the neighboring island of Montserrat. We’d suggest leaving soon after the sunset with children, but the early afternoons are low-key enough for older kids.
     
    3. Hit the Sea. Enjoy the island with a sail, snorkel or scuba dive. Naturally protected by coral reefs, the island’s crystal clear waters make it easy to see the island’s many types of sea life. If you’d prefer to take in the island via powerboat, tour company Adventure Antigua offers day-long and half-day tours that have an eco-component. Tour guides are well-versed on the island’s natural species and educate kids and adults alike in fun, friendly way.

    4. Beach Lovers United. With 365 white sand beaches, nearly all of which are public — it’s hard to go wrong with a day at the beach.
     
    5. Rainforest Adventure. It’s hard to believe, but the island known for its little rainfall and abundant sunshine boasts a vibrant rainforest. Take a morning canopy tour and ziplining adventure, perfect for adventurous families.
  • On June 27, 2012
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the five best things to see and do in Antigua?

    Antigua offers something for everyone, from adventure seekers to leisure lovers alike. Here are a few of our favorite things to see and do:
     
    1. Tour the Dockyards. Admiral Nelson’s dockyard is one of the pre-eminent tourist attractions on the island, part of a 15-mile national park and the only remaining Georgian-style dockyard in the world. Peruse open-air market stalls for kitschy souvenirs (pick up a bottle of the local hot sauce) or pop into the restored building (we loved the British-style telephone booth). If it’s luxury you crave, you can walk the docks and gaze at the mega-yachts that come to dock in English Harbour – some of the world’s greatest ships sail in and out of this port.
     
    2. Visit Shirley Heights. Want to party? Shirley Heights is actually the name of a military complex that runs across a large ridge, but tourists know it as the name of one of the biggest parties on the island. Arrive early and wander the 18th century buildings, and then stay for sunset over English and Falmouth Harbours, the most famous view on the island. On a clear day, you can see the neighboring island of Montserrat.
     
    3. Go underwater. Enjoy the island with a sail, snorkel or scuba dive. Naturally protected by coral reefs, the island’s crystal clear waters make it easy to see the island’s many types of sea life. If you’ve never seen pink sand, hop a quick flight to sister island Barbuda, which is famous for its pink beaches.
     
    4. Hit the beach. With 365 white sand beaches, nearly all of which are public, it’s hard to go wrong with a day at the beach.
     
    5. If you’re a history buff, visit the town capital, St. Johns, and tour the historic cathedral, a baroque masterpiece. If you can, visit on a Saturday, where you’ll enjoy a vibrant local market.
  • On June 6, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to eat in Antigua?

    Antigua’s superb cuisine is simple and fresh, caught daily by local fisherman or incorporating on-island fruits and vegetables. Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ list of the five best places to eat in Antigua include:
     
    1. Carmichael’s. Perched high atop the rolling hills at Sugar Ridge Resort, the fine dining restaurant Carmichael’s offers open-air dining and some of the best views on the island, particularly at sunset.
     
    2. Sheer Rock. A walk from Coco Bay Resort, Sheer Rocks is known for its spectacular water views (dine at sunset) and an equally stylish setup of six tiered pavilions set out over – guess what – rocks.
     
    3. Gibson’s Beach Bar. Owned by a British expat, Gibson’s is a local favorite for its traditional Sunday brunch fare of roast and Yorkshire pudding.
     
    4. The Estate House. The fine dining restaurant at Jumby Bay, this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant is set in a separate Spanish Colonial house on the western edge of the private island. The restaurant serves dinner and afternoon tea Monday through Saturday.
     
    5. The Restaurant at Nonsuch Bay. In a peaceful open-air setting, chef Mitchell Husbands (recently voted Caribbean Chef of the Year) serves a refined menu of classic Carribean and international fare.
  • On June 6, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to stay in Antigua?

    Antigua has no shortage of luxurious hotels and resorts, many of which offer a rich and long history of visits from celebrity and high-profile guests. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best places to stay in Antigua.
     
    1. Jumby Bay. Located on a private island accessible only by ferry, this Rosewood-managed resort has a long and illustrious history. Recently revamped with a $28 million renovation, the hotel and resort is as well known for who it won’t allow as who it has hosted — the resort once famously turned away Princess Diana. 
     
    2. Hermitage Bay. Tucked on a hillside overlooking the beach, Hermitage Bay’s 25 cottage-style suites offer the benefit of access to a private beach and bay. 
     
    3. Carlisle Bay. Mixing beachside elegance with a tropical rainforest backdrop, Carlisle is one of the island’s most well known luxury properties. A bit larger than some of the island’s resorts, Carlisle Bay is still small with only 88 suites, most with breathtaking ocean views. Think you’re seeing something familiar? You are—this is the sister hotel to One Aldwych in London.
     
    4. Curtain Bluff. Curtain Bluff takes the meaning of “all inclusive” to a new level – it’s one of the few resorts where what would normally be thought of as “extras” like room service and mini bar items are included in the cost of a room, along with excursions like scuba diving and snorkeling. The 72-room resort sits on a rocky bluff that juts into the sea between two beautiful beaches. One is calm and ideal for swimming and watersports; the other beach is washed by ocean surf.
     
    5. The Verandah Resort & Spa. This eco-resort is bordered by Devil’s Bridge National Park, which offers one of the island’s most notable sites – a natural rock arch. Enjoy more than 30 acres of beachfront, plus added amenities like hiking trails for the more adventurous.