Wherever you’re staying in Antigua, a visit to the capital, St John’s, as well as English Harbour in the south, will give you a sense of the island’s historic significance. In the elegant 18th century former courthouse in St John’s, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda traces each step of the twin islands’ history, right through to independence. Nearby, Fort James and Fort Barrington, built to deter the French, now offer wonderful views of the town and its harbour, while the impressive St John’s Cathedral is well worth a look.In the south, Horatio Nelson’s former dockyard at English Harbour is now a beautifully restored marina with attractive stone warehouses now converted into shops, galleries and restaurants. Take time to stroll around and admire the magnificent super-yachts now moored in the place of Royal Navy ships. For a change of scene, Fig Tree Drive is a very pretty route around the hills of the southern coast, winding its way through banana plantations, orchards and old sugar mills. Roadside stalls sell freshly picked black pineapple and thirst-quenching juices, and there are wonderful views across the rainforest interior.
As on all the Caribbean islands, good food, great music and fun-loving people means there’s always plenty going on once the sun goes down. From rustic beach bars to chic yacht clubs, reggae to calypso, each town and resort has something special to offer, washed down with a rum punch or two. Many bars offer a happy hour while restaurants, serving both local and international dishes, often feature live music into the night. You can even try your luck at the casino in St John’s.Sunday evenings, however, belong to Shirley Heights, the most famous gig on the island. From around 4pm, locals and visitors alike gather to savour the stunning sunset from the old fortifications above English Harbour as the barbecue party gets underway. The steelband kicks off proceedings, handing over to other local musicians a little later to widen the musical experience. This is a don’t-miss Antiguan institution - and everyone’s invited!
Along with the crafts, beachwear and souvenirs available all over the island, you’ll find one of Antigua’s key shopping attractions is jewellery, with everything from silver costume pieces to rare gemstones. St John’s is one of the Caribbean’s cruise ship ports of call and has a number of stores, mainly at the attractive Heritage Quay, where gems, designer watches, sporting goods, perfume and cosmetics are among the goods available duty free to overseas visitors.Overlooking the harbour, the historic Redcliffe Quay was once a busy dock where coffee, sugar, rum and slaves were traded. It’s now a collection of brightly coloured shops and eateries where you can pick up pretty batik fabrics, paintings and pottery by local artists, as well as a wide range of clothing and accessories. The old Dockyard at English Harbour is another popular place to browse, with boutiques and gift shops housed in the old warehouse buildings. For a taste of local life, and some less than familiar fruit and vegetables, don’t miss a chance to visit St John’s Saturday morning market, a feast of colourful produce from mangoes and pineapples to tamarind and breadfruit.
Renowned for having a beach for every day of the year, Antigua is blessed with a truly stunning coastline that offers something to suit every taste. The Atlantic winds along the east coast create some excellent conditions for experienced windsurfers and it’s no coincidence that the island’s annual sailing regatta attracts competitors from all over the world. The dazzling Half Moon Bay, despite its breezy location on the southeast coast, is protected by a reef and offers great snorkelling on calm days and bodyboarding fun when the waves are a little higher. The exquisite coves and bays along the calmer west coast are some of the prettiest you’ll find anywhere. Dickenson Bay and its neighbour Runaway Bay, just north of St John’s, are popular choices and enjoy breathtaking sunsets while the lovely Pigeon Point at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour is a great option for families. Jolly Beach’s long stretch of white sand and crystal clear, tranquil waters make this an ideal place to hire a kayak or try your hand at small catamaran sailing.
Average monthly temperature and rainfall for the Antigua holiday season°C