Located in the Lesser Antilles. Antigua is all about the beach. There are 365 beaches, so you could come for a whole year and visit a new beach every single day – that’s pretty impressive.
The ocean that surrounds Antigua is where the warm Caribbean Sea and the rough Atlantic merge, making the sea cool and calm. The island is surrounded by offshore reefs that slow down the waves and keep the beaches swimmer-friendly.
There are plenty of resort holidays on offer, and the most popular hotspots for luxury and all-inclusive holidays are along Dickenson Bay, Jolly Harbor, and Five Islands Peninsula.
The west coast is less of a beach destination, but it does have some great spots history lovers will enjoy.
Some of the best beaches include Rendezvous Bay, which is more secluded and takes a walk through the rainforest to get to, and Half Moon Bay where you can dine on fresh fish and sip on piña coladas as the sun goes down.
You’ll spend most of your time on tropical beaches, but there are also plenty of things to do in Antigua. You should definitely explore Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, the island’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit architectural wonders like St John’s Cathedral.
16. Long Bay
Long Bay is on the east coast of Antigua. It’s home to sandy beaches and luxurious resorts. One of the most popular resorts is the Verandah Resort and Spa, the perfect holiday accommodation if you’re looking to relax in style.
When you’re in Long Bay head to Long Bay Beach, where there are great snorkeling opportunities in the calm and clear ocean, and brightly colored wooden shacks selling all sorts of local souvenirs.
Spend all day tanning on a sun lounger, cooling off in the sea, and sipping on tropical cocktails. Long Bay encourages you to slow down and simply be.
15. Fort James
Travel to the north side of St John’s Harbour and you’ll find yourself in Fort James, an old military stronghold that dates as far back as 1706. Fort James once had 36 cannons, and some of them are still there. Even today, they stare out to sea and await invaders.
There are also remnants of the old wall that was built to protect the area and serve as cover during battles. Abandoned and rather run-down, there’s an eerie feel to Fort James.
Gather round history fans, this little known destination is a hidden gem! You can get there by taxi from St John’s in no time.
14. Galley Bay Beach
Galley Bay Beach is the perfect destination for couples who want to enjoy a tranquil and laid-back holiday in the sun. The setting is intimate, romantic, and quintessentially tropical.
The hotels and resorts along the shore are hidden behind a canopy of palms and tropical shrubs, giving the impression that the beach is remote and hidden away – even though you could book a hotel just steps away!
Keep an eye out for wildlife too, the beach is sometimes visited by shy sea turtles who lay their eggs here before quietly slipping back into the sea. Picturesque and serene, there’s no reason not to visit Galley Bay Beach for a day or even a long weekend.
13. Devil’s Bridge
The rocky and rugged coast along Antigua’s northeast coast is where you’ll find the Indian Town National Park. This stunning coastal park is the perfect place to come hiking, and it’s got some surprises in store!
Devil’s Bridge is a naturally formed limestone bridge that has been slowly carved over time by the rough waves that crash onto shore. You can walk over the narrow stone bridge and stare down at the ocean beneath you!
If the sea is rough be careful – you don’t want to get dragged in! The park is also a great place to come birdwatching, and there are thought to be more than 35 bird species within its bounds.
12. St. John’s Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral is in the island’s capital city, St. John’s. The cathedral has an elegant and charming exterior, with two identical towers at either side of the cross at the church’s front.
The cathedral was built in 1720 and it replaced the old wooden church that had served the community since 1681, but had become too small and damaged.
Built using white English brick in a baroque-style, the cathedral has a charming exterior and a mostly wooden interior. See if you can spot the figures of St. John the Divine and St. John the Baptist on the outside of the cathedral. Legend has it the figures were stolen from a French ship in 1756!
11. Betty’s Hope
This old sugar plantation was the first on the island. It was founded in 1674 by Christopher Codrington and named after his daughter Betty. The plantation is down a dirt road off the road to Long Bay, south of Pares.
At the height of its success, the plantation had some 400 slaves working on cultivating and refining the plantation’s sugar cane. Daily life on the plantation was far from easy, and you can learn all about the hardships the workers faced at Betty’s Hope.
There is an interpretive center that has information about how the sugar cane was grown, harvested, and then crystalized into tiny, sweet granules that were in demand all over the world.
There’s an old windmill and remnants of the Great House at Betty’s Hope, so you’ll get a great deal of insight into the plantation’s past.
10. Museum of Antigua and Barbuda
The Caribbean Islands have a long and fascinating history, and Antigua and Barbuda is no exception. Come along to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda and find out all about the island’s diverse ecosystems and complex human history.
Throughout time, Antigua has been the home of a diverse group of inhabitants, from indigenous Arawak peoples to European colonizers.
Antigua lived through a long period of slavery and colonization before gaining political independence in 1981 – that’s right, less than 50 years ago!
The museum is small, but it’s packed with intriguing artifacts, like Arawak pottery and a life-size replica of a traditional Arawak dwelling.
9. Dickenson Bay
This mile-long white sand beach is another of Antigua’s spectacular tropical beaches. It’s along the far northwest of the island and it provides its visitors with the perfect balance between a relaxing and active day by the sea.
There are plenty of watersports you can try, like jet skiing and reef snorkeling. If you’re more interested in a lazy beach day, sunbathe the day away or get a massage on the beach – there’s something for every taste.
If you want to take some holiday snaps get some Insta-worthy pictures at the red phone booth or on the white sand with the sea glistening in the background. When you’re done, dine at one of the local restaurants on the beach, the seafood is spectacular!
8. Ffryes Beach
I’m sure you’ve noticed that Antigua has a lot of beaches. They’re all stunning, but Ffryes Beach is worth a special mention. It’s along the west coast of the island, and it’s a great snorkeling spot.
From the sand, there are amazing views of lush green hills in the background that contrast beautifully with the picture-perfect sand and sea.
Locals and tourists come here for family picnics and to enjoy a lazy day on one of the island’s coolest beaches. The sea is always calm, so it’s great for little ones to swim in.
7. Heritage Quay
Heritage Quay is in St. John’s. The street is lined with colorful shops and boasts a selection of big brands, like Levis. Stunning jewelry shops entice passersby and island-themed patterns brighten up the window displays.
Come to this colonial-style outdoor shopping haven and try on all the most modern looks! What could be better than some retail therapy by the sea?
As an added bonus, Heritage Quay is known for its duty-free shopping. Just bring the boarding pass for your flight home and save some money on your purchases.
6. Valley Church Beach
This sleepy beach is a magical place to come and enjoy some quiet downtime. A sunset stroll along the soft white sand, views of the picturesque homes on the little hill in the distance, and an array of wildlife await!
Bring your snorkeling set and head out into the clear waters where you’ll get up close to bright, tropical fish that come in every color imaginable.
At Valley Church Beach soak up the Caribbean sun and work on that summer glow everyone back home will be so envious of. Simple and picturesque, this is another of Antigua’s fine beaches.
5. Stingray City Antigua
Southern Rays have a friendly demeanor and they are gentle-natured. The perfect exotic sea life to go swimming with! Stand on the little wooden deck floating on the ocean and watch the stingrays swim below you, then take a deep breath and jump in with them.
You just can’t miss out on this one-off chance to get up close to these majestic marine animals.
Swim alongside the stingrays in the shallow water and dive below to get a closer look, there can be dozens of them surrounding you at once! Swimming with rays promises to be unforgettable.
4. Darkwood Beach
Worried there weren’t enough beaches in Antigua? Well here’s another one just in case! Darkwood beach is one of the longer beaches on the southwest coast of the island, so you’ll have plenty of space to spread out.
The beach is just half an hour drive away from St John’s, so if you’re staying in the capital it’s the perfect beach-escape. It’s unique from many of the other beaches on the island because it has views of the nearby islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat in the distance.
The beach offers all the usual Caribbean highlights, like snorkeling and sunbathing – plus you can go scuba diving! You’ll need an instructor but it’s a must-do if you’re in Antigua.
3. Nelson’s Dockyard
Nelson’s Dockyard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top tourist attractions on the island, you can’t skip this one. The marina has been in use since 1745 and it was originally built in a Georgian-style. It’s named after Horatio Nelson, a British captain.
Most of the buildings have been restored now, but they still conserve some of their original features and there’s a colonial-era feel to them. Walk along the dockyard and imagine old pirate ships and European fleets sailing in as they would have in the past.
Once you’ve done that, sit along the water’s edge at one of the restaurants and enjoy some fresh seafood and a refreshing glass of wine. Make sure you visit the Dockyard Museum too – they’ve even got Horatio Nelson’s telescope on display!
2. Half Moon Bay
Along the bay there is an undeniably tropical feel. The coast is lined with palm trees, white-sand, lush green vegetation, and pristine blue waters. It looks like something out of a holiday brochure.
It’s also home to a crescent shaped beach, luxury resorts, fine restaurants, and fun beach bars. Spend the day on the beach then sip on a rum cocktail and chill as you watch the sun go down.
The bay has rougher waves on the south end, perfect for bodyboarding and surfing, and calm waters on the north end that attracts families and travelers who want to lounge and go for a mellow swim in the sea.
1. Shirley Heights
This popular lookout point was once a military lookout. In line with its past it was named after Sir Tomas Shirley.
From the top there are stunning views of the island and ocean below. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the English Harbour, and on clear days you can even see the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe in the distance.
You can drive up to the lookout or hike the 1.5 mile long Carpenters Trail to the top, starting at Galleon Beach. Excitingly, there is a restaurant-bar at the lookout that hosts sunset parties on a Sunday. Music, BBQ food, and dancing with spectacular views are on the menu!