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The Top Things To Do In Antigua


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Berrie Skaggs



Located in the eastern Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda is a stunning twin-island nation that offers a wealth of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. With its warm turquoise waters, powdery white sand beaches, and lush tropical landscapes, this idyllic paradise has become a popular destination for travelers from around the world.


Antigua, the larger of the two islands, is famous for its 365 stunning beaches, one for each day of the year. From secluded bays to bustling shores, there’s a beach to suit every type of traveler. Barbuda, known for its pristine and untouched beauty, offers a tranquil escape with its pink coral sand beaches and diverse wildlife.


But Antigua and Barbuda offer more than just sun, sand, and sea. The islands boast a rich historical past, with landmarks and sites that bear witness to their colonial heritage. Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-visit attraction. This beautifully restored Georgian naval dockyard is steeped in history and offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s past.


For those seeking adventure, Antigua and Barbuda offer a plethora of outdoor activities. Explore the lush rainforests with a thrilling zipline tour, or snorkel and dive in the crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful marine life. Hike to the famous Devil’s Bridge, a natural limestone arch carved by the sea, and marvel at its unique geological formations.


Food lovers will be delighted by the islands’ vibrant culinary scene. Sample local delicacies such as seasoned jerk chicken, fresh seafood, and delicious rum-infused cocktails. And no visit to Antigua and Barbuda would be complete without experiencing the vibrant Antigua Carnival, a captivating celebration of music, dance, and culture.


Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, Antigua and Barbuda offer a truly unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, put on your sun hat, and get ready to discover the wonders of this Caribbean gem.


Explore Nelson’s Dockyard

One of the highlights of visiting Antigua is exploring the historic Nelson’s Dockyard. Located in English Harbour, this beautifully restored Georgian naval dockyard is a testament to the island’s rich maritime heritage. Named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who served as the dockyard’s captain in the late 18th century, Nelson’s Dockyard is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.


As you step into the dockyard, you’ll be transported back in time to the colonial era. The cobblestone streets are lined with picturesque buildings that were once used as workshops, offices, and barracks. Explore the Dockyard Museum, housed in the former Admiral’s House, and discover artifacts and exhibits that showcase the history of the dockyard and its importance in the region’s naval history.


Take a stroll along the marina and marvel at the collection of sailing yachts and superyachts that now call the dockyard home. The marina is a hub of activity, with sailors from around the world docking their boats here. Enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants, offering delicious cuisine and breathtaking views of the harbor.


For those with a passion for sailing, Nelson’s Dockyard is an ideal starting point for exploring the surrounding waters. Charter a boat or join a day trip to experience the thrill of sailing through the Caribbean Sea. Visit nearby attractions such as Shirley Heights, a lookout point offering panoramic views of the island, or hop on a boat to explore the neighboring islands of Barbuda or Montserrat.


Don’t miss the chance to attend one of the popular events held at Nelson’s Dockyard throughout the year. The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, held in April, showcases a stunning display of classic sailing vessels. The Antigua Charter Yacht Show, held in December, gives visitors the opportunity to tour and book luxury charter yachts.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a sailing enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique experience, exploring Nelson’s Dockyard is a must-do when visiting Antigua. Immerse yourself in the island’s rich maritime history, soak up the scenic beauty, and create lasting memories in this captivating UNESCO World Heritage site.


Visit the Shirley Heights Lookout

Perched on a hilltop overlooking English Harbour, the Shirley Heights Lookout offers some of the most breathtaking panoramic views in Antigua. This historic site, named after General Sir Thomas Shirley, is not only a popular tourist attraction but also a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike, especially on Sunday evenings when the famous Shirley Heights Sunday Party takes place.


Arriving at the Shirley Heights Lookout, you’ll be greeted with stunning vistas of the coastline, the harbor, and the nearby islands. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of neighboring islands such as Montserrat and Guadeloupe. It’s the perfect spot to capture Instagram-worthy photos or simply soak in the awe-inspiring scenery.


Aside from its natural beauty, Shirley Heights has a rich historical significance. Originally built in the late 18th century as a military lookout, the site served as a strategic position for monitoring activities in the surrounding waters. Today, you can explore the historic military ruins and learn about the area’s past through informative signs placed along the pathways.


Every Sunday, the Shirley Heights Sunday Party takes place, attracting locals, tourists, and expats from all over the island. This lively event features live music, delicious Caribbean food, and a vibrant atmosphere. Dance to the rhythms of steel pan and reggae music, indulge in mouthwatering jerk chicken, and sip on a rum punch as you watch the sun set over the island.


If you’re in the mood for some exercise, you can embark on a hike from English Harbour to Shirley Heights. The moderate hike takes around 45 minutes to an hour, and along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views and a chance to immerse yourself in Antigua’s natural beauty. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.


For history buffs, visiting Shirley Heights during the day offers a chance to explore the military ruins and learn about the island’s colonial past. As you wander through the old fortifications, you’ll gain insights into the island’s strategic importance and the role it played in defending English Harbour. It’s a fascinating journey through time.


Whether you’re looking for panoramic views, a lively party atmosphere, or a glimpse into Antigua’s history, visiting the Shirley Heights Lookout is a must-do while in Antigua. Be sure to bring your camera, your dancing shoes, and an appetite for good food and good times.


Relax on the Pristine Beaches

When it comes to breathtaking beaches, Antigua and Barbuda is second to none. With 365 beaches to choose from – one for every day of the year – it’s no wonder that the islands are renowned for their pristine stretches of powdery white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters.


From the bustling shores of Dickenson Bay to the secluded beaches of Half Moon Bay, there’s a beach to suit every type of traveler. Whether you’re seeking a lively atmosphere with beach bars and water sports or a peaceful spot for sunbathing and relaxation, Antigua and Barbuda have it all.


One of the most popular beaches in Antigua is Jolly Beach, located on the west coast of the island. With its soft sands, gentle waves, and palm-fringed shores, this beach offers the perfect setting for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shoreline or take advantage of the water sports facilities available, such as kayaking and paddleboarding.


For those looking for a more secluded and tranquil beach experience, head to Half Moon Bay. This pristine beach, located on the east coast of Antigua, is known for its crescent shape, calm waters, and stunning natural surroundings. Take a long walk along the shoreline, marvel at the vibrant coral reefs just offshore, or simply unwind and soak up the serenity of this hidden gem.


If you’re visiting Barbuda, make sure to spend some time on the iconic Pink Sand Beach. As the name suggests, this unique beach boasts pink-hued sand, giving it a distinctive and romantic appeal. Lounge under a palm tree, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, and revel in the untouched beauty of this Caribbean paradise.


While the beaches themselves are a major draw, it’s worth noting that many of them are lined with beach bars and restaurants, offering a wide range of cuisine and refreshments. Indulge in fresh seafood, sip on a tropical cocktail, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere as you watch the waves roll in.


Whether you choose to spend your time sunbathing, swimming, or simply admiring the breathtaking scenery, a visit to the pristine beaches of Antigua and Barbuda is an essential part of any Caribbean getaway. Immerse yourself in the beauty of these idyllic shores and bask in the tranquility that only a beach paradise can offer.


Take a Trip to Devil’s Bridge

Located on the eastern coast of Antigua, Devil’s Bridge is a natural limestone arch carved by the relentless crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. This awe-inspiring geological formation is not only a fascinating sight but also a significant historical and cultural landmark.


Legend has it that the name “Devil’s Bridge” comes from the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the area. It was believed that only the devil himself could cross the bridge without getting swept away by the powerful currents. While the name may be ominous, the site is anything but; it is a popular destination for visitors to marvel at the forces of nature at work.


As you approach Devil’s Bridge, you’ll be greeted by the sight of the mighty Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rugged cliffs. The constant pounding of the waves has sculpted the limestone into a magnificent natural bridge. Standing atop the bridge, you’ll feel the raw power of the ocean as waves crash beneath you and spray shoots up into the air.


The arch itself offers a stunning vantage point to observe the coastal beauty of Antigua. From here, you can admire panoramic views of the rugged coastline, the crashing waves, and the dramatic rock formations that characterize the area.


Aside from its geological significance, Devil’s Bridge also holds cultural and historical importance. The site is believed to have been a sacred place for the indigenous Arawak people, who considered it a gateway between the human and spiritual realms. Today, you can still find remnants of the Arawak civilization, such as ancient petroglyphs etched into the rock faces.


Visiting Devil’s Bridge is not only about witnessing a magnificent natural wonder but also about immersing yourself in the history and culture of Antigua. Take a moment to reflect on the power of nature and the rich heritage of the island as you stand on this iconic bridge.


When visiting Devil’s Bridge, it’s important to exercise caution as the area can be treacherous. Stay within designated pathways, heed any warning signs, and respect the power of the ocean. It’s also advisable to wear appropriate footwear and bring water and sunscreen, as the area can be exposed to the elements.


For a unique and awe-inspiring experience, be sure to include a visit to Devil’s Bridge on your Antigua itinerary. Witness the natural forces at work, learn about the island’s cultural history, and take in the breathtaking beauty of this remarkable landmark.


Discover the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour

If you’re a nature enthusiast or an adventure seeker, the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour is an experience you won’t want to miss. This thrilling eco-tour takes you on a journey through the lush rainforests of Antigua, providing a unique opportunity to explore the island’s natural beauty from a completely different perspective.


The tour begins with a scenic drive to the Antigua Rainforest, where you’ll be outfitted with safety gear and receive a brief orientation on zip-lining techniques and safety procedures. Then, it’s time to soar through the treetops as you embark on a series of zip-line rides. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you glide through the forest, taking in the stunning panoramic views and blending in with the fascinating flora and fauna.


The canopy tour consists of a series of platforms and zip-lines that are strategically placed throughout the rainforest. As you zip from one platform to another, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the diverse plant and animal life that call the rainforest home. Look out for colorful birds, playful monkeys, and exotic butterflies as you navigate your way through the towering trees and verdant foliage.


For those seeking an even closer encounter with nature, some canopy tours offer the opportunity to walk across suspension bridges that connect the treetop platforms. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in the rainforest environment and appreciate the unique ecosystems that thrive within it.


The Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour is not just about adrenaline-pumping activities. It’s also an educational experience, with knowledgeable guides providing information about the rainforest’s ecology, history, and conservation efforts. Learn about the different species of plants and animals that are found in this unique habitat and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of protecting these precious ecosystems.


Don’t worry if you’re new to zip-lining or have never done it before – the guides are trained professionals who ensure your safety throughout the tour. They’ll provide clear instructions and support, making sure you feel comfortable and confident as you zip through the canopy.


Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or simply looking to try something new, the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour offers an unforgettable experience. Soar through the treetops, immerse yourself in the beauty of the rainforest, and create lasting memories in this captivating natural wonderland.


Enjoy Water Sports at Dickenson Bay

For water sports enthusiasts, Dickenson Bay in Antigua is the ultimate playground. With its calm and clear turquoise waters, this magnificent beach offers the perfect setting for a wide range of thrilling water-based activities.


One of the most popular water sports at Dickenson Bay is stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Glide across the glassy surface of the water as you navigate through the bay, taking in the stunning views of the coastline. SUP is not only a fun and exciting activity but also a great way to improve your balance and core strength.


If you prefer something more fast-paced, try your hand at jet skiing. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you speed across the bay, exploring the coastline and feeling the wind in your hair. Jet skiing is a fantastic way to experience the thrill of speed and explore the surrounding waters from a different perspective.


Snorkeling is another popular activity at Dickenson Bay, thanks to its abundant marine life and colorful coral reefs. Rent snorkeling gear or join a guided tour to discover the vibrant underwater world. Swim alongside tropical fish, marvel at the intricate coral formations, and be amazed by the diversity of marine species that call these waters home.


For those looking for a more tranquil experience, kayaking is an excellent option. Paddle through the calm waters of Dickenson Bay, exploring hidden coves and secluded beaches along the coastline. Enjoy the peace and serenity of the bay as you soak up the sun and feel a sense of connection with the surrounding nature.


Dickenson Bay is also a hub for sailing enthusiasts. Charter a boat or join a sailing tour to explore the island’s coastline and neighboring islands. Set sail and feel the wind in your sails as you embark on an unforgettable sailing adventure. Take in the coastal scenery, anchor at secluded spots, and enjoy the freedom and tranquility of being out on the water.


After a day of exhilarating water sports, take some time to relax on the soft sands of Dickenson Bay. Set up your beach towel, sink your toes into the warm sand, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the bay. Watch as the sun sets, casting a golden glow over the water, and reflect on the amazing experiences you’ve had throughout the day.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced water sports enthusiast, Dickenson Bay offers a wide range of activities to suit all skill levels and interests. Dive into the turquoise waters, embrace the thrill of adventure, and create unforgettable memories in this water sports paradise.


Visit the Fig Tree Drive

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Antigua by exploring the picturesque Fig Tree Drive. This scenic road winds its way through the lush rainforests, rolling hills, and charming villages of the island, offering a delightful journey through some of the most breathtaking landscapes that Antigua has to offer.


The Fig Tree Drive is named after the majestic fig trees that line the roadside, creating a canopy of shade and adding to the ethereal beauty of the drive. As you make your way along this meandering road, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of vibrant green foliage, colorful tropical flowers, and panoramic views of the island’s interior.


One of the highlights of the Fig Tree Drive is the opportunity to admire the lush rainforest that covers a significant portion of the island. Look out for exotic plant species, including towering ferns, delicate orchids, and towering mahogany trees. Listen to the chorus of birdsong and keep an eye out for glimpses of the diverse wildlife that inhabits this rich ecosystem.


Along the route, you’ll pass through quaint villages and communities, where you can get a glimpse of local life and experience the warm hospitality of the Antiguan people. Make a stop at one of the small roadside stands or local shops to sample fresh tropical fruits, homemade jams, or traditional handicrafts.


As you continue your drive, you’ll encounter hidden gems and points of interest along the way. Look out for signs pointing to secluded beaches and hidden trails that offer a chance to explore unspoiled natural beauty. Make a detour to Wallings Nature Reserve, a protected area known for its diverse bird species and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.


One of the most iconic stops along the Fig Tree Drive is the historic Betty’s Hope Plantation. Step back in time as you explore the ruins of this former sugarcane plantation, which played a significant role in Antigua’s colonial past. Learn about the island’s history of sugar production and gain insights into the lives of the enslaved people who worked on the plantations.


Whether you choose to drive the Fig Tree Drive yourself or join a guided tour, this scenic route offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rich history of Antigua. The ever-changing landscapes, charming villages, and fascinating cultural sites along the way make the Fig Tree Drive an unforgettable exploration of the island’s hidden treasures.


Explore the Betty’s Hope Plantation

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Antigua by exploring the iconic Betty’s Hope Plantation. Located on the eastern coast of the island, this historic site offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s colonial past and the legacy of the sugarcane industry.


Named after one of its early owners, Betty’s Hope Plantation was established in the 17th century and quickly became one of the most successful sugarcane plantations in Antigua. Today, it stands as a reminder of the island’s colonial history and the impact of the sugarcane industry on the island’s economy.


As you wander through the plantation’s ruins, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the process of sugarcane cultivation and the harsh realities of plantation life. Explore the remains of the stone windmill, which was once used to crush the sugarcane to extract its juice. Imagine the labor-intensive efforts required to turn the sugarcane into sugar, as you see the remnants of the boiling house and other structures.


The site is complemented by informative plaques that provide historical context and share the stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the plantation. Gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they faced, their resilience, and their contributions to the development of Antigua.


Visiting Betty’s Hope Plantation also offers an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. The plantation is situated in an idyllic setting, with rolling fields and lush greenery. Take a leisurely stroll along the pathways, surrounded by views of the countryside and the coast.


Additionally, the plantation is home to a small museum that showcases artifacts and exhibits related to Antigua’s history and the sugar industry. Delve further into the island’s past as you explore the museum’s displays, which include photos, documents, and objects that shed light on the plantation’s operations and the lives of those who lived and worked there.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Antigua’s heritage, a visit to Betty’s Hope Plantation offers an enriching experience. Immerse yourself in the stories of the past, marvel at the architectural remnants, and gain a deeper appreciation for the island’s complex history. It’s a chance to connect with the past and reflect on the journey that has shaped the present-day Antigua.


Experience the Antigua Carnival

If you’re seeking a vibrant and exhilarating cultural experience in Antigua, there’s nothing quite like the Antigua Carnival. This annual celebration of music, dance, and revelry is a must-attend event that showcases the best of Antiguan culture and Caribbean traditions.


The Antigua Carnival takes place in late July to early August and lasts for about two weeks. It is a time of excitement, color, and infectious energy that engulfs the entire island. The festivities kick off with a grand opening parade known as “J’ouvert,” which takes place in the early morning hours and sets the tone for the days of revelry that follow.


One of the highlights of the Antigua Carnival is the spectacular street parades, featuring vibrant costumes, pulsating music, and skilled dancers moving to the infectious rhythms of soca, calypso, and steel pan. Be prepared to be dazzled by the elaborate feathered headdresses, sequined costumes, and skillful choreography as the parade moves through the streets, creating an atmosphere of pure joy and celebration.


Another integral part of the Antigua Carnival is the party atmosphere. Soca and calypso music fill the air as locals and visitors come together to dance, sing, and celebrate. Various venues across the island host concerts, parties, and music competitions, creating a lively and festive ambiance that lasts late into the night.


The Carnival also features beauty pageants, talent shows, and cultural exhibitions that offer glimpses into Antigua’s rich heritage and artistic talent. From stunning displays of traditional food, crafts, and artwork to performances by local musicians and dancers, there’s always something to see, taste, and experience during this vibrant celebration.


One of the most anticipated events of the Antigua Carnival is the Antigua Carnival Queen Show. Participants compete in various categories, including traditional wear, talent, intelligence, and evening wear, to vie for the coveted title of Carnival Queen. The show is a dazzling display of beauty, talent, and charisma, showcasing the cultural and artistic prowess of Antigua’s women.


As a visitor, you have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the Antigua Carnival experience. Don a colorful costume, join a parade troupe, and revel in the infectious energy. Dance to the beats of the music, sample local delicacies, and embrace the party spirit that permeates every corner of the island during this festive time.


The Antigua Carnival is not just a party, but a celebration of identity, pride, and unity. It brings people together from all walks of life to appreciate and embrace the vibrant culture of Antigua. Whether you’re a music lover, a dance enthusiast, or simply someone seeking an unforgettable experience, the Antigua Carnival is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Dive into the Caribbean Sea

One of the most captivating aspects of visiting Antigua is the opportunity to explore the wonders beneath the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a beginner, Antigua offers a diverse range of dive sites that are sure to leave you in awe of the marine life and underwater landscapes.


The warm and calm waters surrounding Antigua provide excellent diving conditions year-round. Dive sites such as Cades Reef, Deep Bay, and Spanish Point are teeming with vibrant coral reefs, colorful fish, and other fascinating marine creatures. Explore the coral gardens, swim through underwater canyons, and discover the hidden nooks and crannies that make up this underwater paradise.


One of the highlights of diving in Antigua is the opportunity to encounter a variety of marine life. Keep an eye out for graceful sea turtles gliding through the water, schools of tropical fish darting in and out of the coral, and curious stingrays gracefully passing by. If you’re lucky, you may even spot majestic eagle rays, playful dolphins, or elusive nurse sharks.


For those seeking a unique diving experience, explore the wreck sites scattered around Antigua’s waters. The Andes, a World War II-era shipwreck, and the Pillars of Hercules, a pair of coral-encrusted rock formations, are just two examples of fascinating sites to explore. These wrecks serve as a reminder of Antigua’s maritime history and now serve as artificial reefs, attracting an abundance of marine life.


If you’re new to diving, several dive operators in Antigua offer certification courses and introductory dives suitable for beginners. With the guidance of experienced instructors, you can take your first breaths underwater and discover the magic of the underwater world. Feel the weightlessness as you glide through the water, marvel at the vibrant colors of the coral, and witness the tranquility of this hidden realm.


Aside from diving, there are other water activities for you to enjoy. Snorkeling is a great alternative for those who prefer to stay closer to the surface. Explore the shallow reefs, swim alongside tropical fish, and witness the beauty of the underwater world with just a mask and snorkel.


With its abundant marine life and stunning underwater landscapes, diving in Antigua offers an unforgettable experience for water enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in a world of vibrant colors, fascinating sea creatures, and tranquil seascapes. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a first-time explorer, the Caribbean Sea surrounding Antigua is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.



Antigua and Barbuda truly offer a paradise like no other. From its pristine beaches and lush rainforests to its rich history and vibrant culture, these twin islands in the Caribbean have something for every traveler. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a cultural immersion, Antigua and Barbuda will not disappoint.


Explore the historic Nelson’s Dockyard and immerse yourself in the island’s maritime heritage. Marvel at the panoramic views from the Shirley Heights Lookout and dance the night away at the lively Sunday party. Relax on the powdery white sand beaches and dive into the crystal-clear waters to discover the vibrant underwater world. Embark on the scenic Fig Tree Drive and get a taste of local life in the surrounding villages.


Embrace the vibrant energy of the Antigua Carnival and witness the stunning costumes, pulsating music, and infectious atmosphere. Visit the historic Betty’s Hope Plantation and reflect on the island’s colonial history and the legacy of the sugarcane industry. And don’t miss the opportunity to dive into the Caribbean Sea, exploring the diverse marine life and underwater landscapes that make Antigua a diver’s paradise.


Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply someone in search of pure relaxation, Antigua and Barbuda offer an unforgettable experience. Lose yourself in the natural beauty of these twin islands, connect with the vibrant culture and history, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, pack your sunscreen, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to discover the wonders of Antigua and Barbuda. These islands are calling your name, ready to offer a vacation filled with beauty, excitement, and unforgettable moments. Are you ready to answer that call and embark on your Caribbean getaway?