This beautiful twin-island nation, set in the heart of the Caribbean, is famous for its genuinely hospitable people, abundant activities and its 365 beaches - one for every day of the year. Crystal-clear turquoise waters and powder-soft white sand helped put it on the tourist map, while rolling hills, coral reefs and uninhabited outer islands teeming with indigenous wildlife are a draw for nature lovers. The tropical climate means year-round sunshine, tempered by gentle trade winds.
Antigua & Barbuda is distinguished by an authentic Caribbean charm and relaxed ambience. From deserted beaches to first-rate restaurants, vibrant flora and fauna to high energy Carnival festivities, it offers entertainment for all ages and interests.
As a regional hub, Antigua has regular direct flights to and from major international gateways including London, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Toronto, Frankfurt and Milan. The new modern VC Bird International Airport opened in August 2015 and now has an enhanced private aviation terminal.
The country has been independent since 1981, boasts a low crime rate and a stable political history. As a member of the Commonwealth, the Queen of England remains the formal head of state, represented locally by the Governor-General.
The economy is largely dependent on tourism which accounts for more than half of GDP. Accommodation ranges from boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts and private villas, with a recent trend towards the latter. In addition to tourism, another key source of employment is government services. Other industries include investment banking, financial services and agriculture.
English Harbour boasts a rich colourful history as the former headquarters of the British Royal Navy’s Caribbean fleet. Its centrepiece is historic Nelson’s Dockyard, named after the famous Admiral who lived here from 1784 to 1787. Built by slaves from the 1720s and with most of its original buildings restored to their former glory, it is the only working Georgian dockyard in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2016.
English Harbour’s maritime traditions continue to this day thanks to the natural harbours and pervasive trade winds which have made it the sailing hub of the Caribbean. With popular restaurants, historic sites and vibrant nightlife, the area comes alive each season from November to May when enthusiasts flock to take part in some of the globe’s most prestigious regattas. These include:
• Antigua Charter Yacht Show in early December
• Superyacht Challenge late January / early February
• RORC Caribbean 600 in February
• Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in April
• Antigua Sailing Week late April to early May
A stunning stretch of sand at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour, Pigeon Beach is the main public beach on the south coast and a favourite for both locals and visitors. Backed by sea grape trees and the occasional coconut palm, its calm, shallow water makes it ideal for families with children and provides great snorkelling too.
A rocky shoreline gives Windward Beach its rugged beauty while the pervasive breeze maintains its year-round cool. Tucked away just a short drive from Pigeon Beach, this secluded spot is one of Antigua’s best kept secrets.
Galleon Beach is situated at Freeman's Bay in the heart of the national park, overlooking historic Nelson’s Dockyard. The surrounding area is a beautiful blend of white sandy beaches, rolling hills, tropical vegetation, captivating marine life and intriguing historical sites.
Heavenly Rendezvous Bay is well worth making the bumpy journey by car to get there. If you’re feeling energetic, it makes for a beautiful hike too. The beach is a majestic stretch of soft white sand often labelled one of Antigua’s most beautiful for its natural intensity and mountainous backdrop.
Sports enthusiasts will find a wide variety of activities to keep them entertained in Antigua.
Springhill Riding Club in Falmouth is close to several beaches and to the historic sites in and around English Harbour. Ride in the cool of the morning and explore the area at a leisurely pace in the afternoon. Popular treks include scenic hillside trails or a ride through the valley culminating in a splashy wade in the sea.
Temo Sports has two floodlit tennis courts and two glass-backed international squash courts.
Ondeck Sailing offers a range of aquatic adventures from day charters and training courses to regatta racing and individually tailored trips.
Sunday evenings at Shirley Heights are an island institution. The party begins as the sun sets and the sound of a steel band reverberates through the air, followed by a live appearance by a reggae or soca act. The delicious barbeque, with both meat and vegetarian choices, is the perfect way to soak up the rum punch. The steel band also plays on Thursday evenings from 4pm.
From its hilltop spot, Shirley Heights offers unparalleled views of Antigua and across the sea to Guadeloupe and Montserrat with its still active volcano. This restored 18th century military lookout can also be reached during the day via Lookout Trail, a scenic nature walk.
Catherine’s Café on Pigeon Beach has long been a favourite haunt among gastronomes, with quality French cuisine and wine, a special beach menu and impeccable service.
Abracadabra transforms like magic from an elegant Italian restaurant in the early evening to a pulsating outdoor nightclub later on. During winter high season, this is a busy bar with reasonably priced drinks and friendly staff. Occasional live performances by world-famous DJs attract revellers in their droves.
Urban chic meets island style at South Point where the eclectic menu offers Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and local flavours. There’s also a sushi bar and extensive cocktail selection.
Sun Ra offers fresh home-cooked food in an authentic Caribbean atmosphere. The homely setting is enhanced by pretty surrounding gardens and impressive harbour views.
Cambusa prides itself on traditional Italian comfort food and the quiet atmosphere of its Catamaran Marina location. Its show kitchen allows guests to watch their meals be prepared in front of them.
Delicious leisurely lunches and cocktails are available at Boom Restaurant with its spectacular infinity pool overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard. Top it off with on-site spa treatment or a laze in the hammock.
Cloggy’s is a bustling café with stunning elevated views over Falmouth Harbour. Indoors is a bar, lounge area with low sofas and screens showing major sporting events. The gallery tables outside are perfect for enjoying quality cuisine in the gentle harbour breeze.
Famous Mauro, near Cobbs Cross junction, is named after skillful Sardinian pizza chef Mauro. The simple open air terrace offers a relaxed environment for his wood-fired pizzas.
There are several other popular restaurants and bars within easy walking distance.