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What To Do In Antigua: The Island’s Best Attractions


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Luella Vang



Welcome to Antigua, a charming Caribbean island known for its pristine beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture. Located in the West Indies, Antigua is the largest of the Leeward Islands and offers a multitude of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From historic landmarks to natural wonders, this tropical paradise has something to offer every traveler.


Antigua’s history is deeply rooted in its colonial past. The island was once a thriving sugar colony and the heart of the British Caribbean fleet. Today, remnants of its colonial heritage can be seen in the well-preserved architecture of places like Nelson’s Dockyard and St. John’s Cathedral. The island’s cultural diversity is also reflected in its cuisine, music, and festivals.


But Antigua is not just a destination for history buffs. The island is renowned for its stunning beaches, with powdery white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Whether you prefer lounging on the beach with a refreshing cocktail or diving into the vibrant coral reefs for a snorkeling adventure, Antigua has it all.


In this article, we will explore some of the best attractions that Antigua has to offer. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, these highlights will give you a taste of what this Caribbean gem has in store for you. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the beauty and charm of Antigua.


Nelson’s Dockyard

Nelson’s Dockyard is a fascinating historical site located in English Harbour, on the southern coast of Antigua. Named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, the dockyard played a crucial role in the British Navy’s operations in the Caribbean during the 18th century. Today, it has been beautifully preserved and stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Visitors to Nelson’s Dockyard can explore the restored buildings that were once bustling with naval activity. The dockyard includes a museum that showcases the history of the site and the naval heritage of Antigua. You can stroll through the old stone pillars and cobblestone streets, marvel at the impressive Georgian architecture, and imagine life in the dockyard during its prime.


One of the highlights of Nelson’s Dockyard is the commanding view from Shirley Heights, a nearby hilltop lookout. It offers a panoramic view of the dockyard, the surrounding harbors, and the azure Caribbean Sea. Many visitors come here at dusk to witness the breathtaking sunset and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the weekly Sunday evening party, where local musicians play Caribbean music and barbecue is served.


In addition to its historical significance, Nelson’s Dockyard is also a hub for yachting enthusiasts. It serves as a marina for sailboats and yachts from around the world. If you’re lucky, you might even witness a regatta or sailing race during your visit.


Nelson’s Dockyard is also home to a variety of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and accommodations, making it a vibrant and lively destination. Whether you’re interested in history or simply looking for a picturesque spot to relax and enjoy Caribbean vibes, Nelson’s Dockyard is a must-visit attraction in Antigua.


Shirley Heights

Perched high above English Harbour, Shirley Heights is a must-visit destination in Antigua. This scenic hilltop lookout offers breathtaking views of the harbor, the rugged coastline, and the Caribbean Sea. It is the perfect place to soak in the natural beauty of the island and enjoy unforgettable sunsets.


Shirley Heights is famous for its Sunday evening parties, which have become a staple for locals and tourists alike. As the day transitions into the evening, the hilltop comes alive with the sound of Caribbean music, laughter, and the delicious aroma of barbecue. Visitors can mingle with the friendly locals, savor mouthwatering local cuisine, and dance to the rhythmic beats of steel drums.


Aside from the lively parties, Shirley Heights is also a great spot for nature enthusiasts and hikers. There are several scenic trails that wind through the area, allowing visitors to explore the lush vegetation and take in stunning panoramic views along the way.


If you happen to be an early riser, watching the sunrise from Shirley Heights is an experience not to be missed. As the island awakens, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking display of colors illuminating the sky, casting a magical glow over the land and sea below.


For history buffs, a visit to Shirley Heights wouldn’t be complete without exploring the nearby historical sites. Just a short walk from the lookout, you’ll find the ruins of Fort Berkeley, a 17th-century fortress that played a significant role in protecting English Harbour and the island from enemies.


Whether you come for the parties, the stunning vistas, the hiking trails, or the historical sites, Shirley Heights offers a unique and unforgettable experience in Antigua. So make sure to add it to your itinerary and prepare to be enchanted by the beauty and vibrant atmosphere of this hilltop oasis.


St. John’s Cathedral

Located in the heart of the capital city of Antigua, St. John’s Cathedral is a magnificent architectural masterpiece and one of the oldest Anglican churches in the Caribbean. Its striking white towers and impressive façade make it a prominent landmark on the island.


The cathedral’s history dates back to the early 19th century when it was built on the site of a previous church that had been destroyed by an earthquake. With its Gothic-style architecture and intricate details, St. John’s Cathedral is a sight to behold both inside and out.


Stepping inside the cathedral, visitors are greeted by a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The interior boasts stunning stained glass windows, beautiful wooden pews, and a magnificent marble altar. The high ceilings and detailed stone carvings add to the grandeur of the space, creating a truly awe-inspiring experience.


One of the highlights of St. John’s Cathedral is the historic King’s Casino Tomb. The tomb is the final resting place of Sir Thomas Warner, the founder of Antigua, and Sir Christopher Codrington, a prominent figure in the island’s history. It is an important historical landmark and a testament to the rich heritage of Antigua.


Visitors to the cathedral can also explore the adjoining Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, which houses a collection of artifacts that tell the story of the island’s past. From indigenous artifacts to colonial relics, the museum provides a fascinating insight into Antigua’s history and cultural heritage.


Attending a service at St. John’s Cathedral is a unique and enriching experience. The melodic voices of the choir fill the air, creating a sense of spirituality and reverence. Whether you’re a religious person or simply appreciate beautiful architecture, St. John’s Cathedral is a must-visit destination in Antigua.


After visiting the cathedral, take a stroll through the surrounding streets of St. John’s and explore the vibrant local markets, boutique shops, and quaint cafes. The bustling atmosphere and colorful buildings add to the charm of this historic part of the city.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, a visit to St. John’s Cathedral is sure to leave a lasting impression. Immerse yourself in the rich history and beauty of this iconic landmark, and discover the spiritual heart of Antigua.


Devil’s Bridge

Located on the northeastern coast of Antigua, Devil’s Bridge is a natural limestone arch carved out by the relentless force of the Atlantic Ocean. It is named after the powerful sea currents that crash against the rock formations, creating a spectacle of crashing waves and foaming surf.


Devil’s Bridge is not only a stunning natural wonder but also holds great historical and cultural significance. It is believed to have been a sacred site for the indigenous Arawak people, who considered it to be a bridge between the earthly and spiritual realms. Today, it is a place of tranquility and reflection.


The bridge offers a magnificent panoramic view of the rugged coastline, with the crashing waves providing a dramatic backdrop. Visitors can walk along the bridge, feeling the power of the ocean beneath them and marveling at the natural beauty that surrounds them.


Aside from its breathtaking vistas, Devil’s Bridge is also home to several blowholes, where the ocean water shoots up through narrow openings in the rocks, creating spouts of water and mist. This phenomenon is especially impressive during high tide and rough sea conditions.


As you explore Devil’s Bridge, keep an eye out for the fascinating geological formations that have been sculpted by nature over time. From rugged cliffs to intricate rock formations, the area is a testament to the power and beauty of the ocean.


When visiting Devil’s Bridge, it is important to exercise caution and respect the power of the ocean. The strong currents and crashing waves make swimming unsafe in this area. However, nearby Long Bay Beach offers a beautiful stretch of sand where you can relax and enjoy the Caribbean sun.


For those interested in learning more about the natural and cultural history of Devil’s Bridge, there is an informative visitor center nearby. The center provides insights into the significance of the site and the local ecosystem, including the diverse plant and animal life that thrive in this unique coastal environment.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Devil’s Bridge is a must-visit attraction in Antigua. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this natural wonder and let the crashing waves and stunning scenery take your breath away.


Betty’s Hope

Step back in time as you visit Betty’s Hope, a historic sugar plantation located on the eastern coast of Antigua. This fascinating site offers a glimpse into the island’s colonial past and the integral role that sugar played in its economy.


Founded in the 17th century, Betty’s Hope was once one of the largest sugar plantations in Antigua. Today, it has been transformed into an open-air museum, allowing visitors to explore the remnants of the sugar mill, the restored stone windmill tower, and the plantation grounds.


As you stroll through the grounds of Betty’s Hope, you’ll be transported to a different era. The ruins of the sugar mill stand as a testament to the arduous labor and skilled craftsmanship that went into the production of sugar. The original machinery, including the cane crushers and boiling vats, give insight into the harsh working conditions endured by the enslaved Africans who toiled in the sugar industry.


An audio tour guides visitors through the plantation, providing a detailed history of the site and the process of sugar production. You’ll learn about the struggles faced by the enslaved workers and the economic significance of the sugar trade in Antigua.


Aside from the historical significance, Betty’s Hope also offers picturesque views of the surrounding countryside. Lush fields and swaying sugar cane provide a serene backdrop as you explore the plantation.


Visiting Betty’s Hope is not only an opportunity to learn about the island’s history, but it also serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of those who worked and lived on the plantations. The site stands as a tribute to their contributions and hardships.


Make sure to stop by the visitor center, where you can browse through exhibits and artifacts that further illustrate the plantation’s history. You can also enjoy a refreshing drink or a snack at the on-site café, which offers a peaceful spot to relax and reflect on your visit.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Antigua’s past, a visit to Betty’s Hope is a fascinating and educational experience. It provides a window into a bygone era and offers insight into the island’s complex history.


The Beaches of Antigua

When it comes to stunning beaches, Antigua is a Caribbean paradise that does not disappoint. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white sands, the island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, the beaches of Antigua offer something for everyone.


One of the most famous beaches on the island is Dickenson Bay, located on the northwest coast. With its long stretch of pristine sand and calm waters, it’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The beach is dotted with beach bars and restaurants, providing a lively atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.


If you’re looking for a quieter beach experience, head to Half Moon Bay on the east coast. This crescent-shaped beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and offers a peaceful escape from the crowds. It’s also a popular spot for snorkeling due to its vibrant coral reef formations.


For those seeking a bit of seclusion and natural beauty, Rendezvous Bay is a hidden gem. Accessible only by boat or by hiking through the rainforest, this untouched beach offers a true sense of tranquility. Lounge under the shade of coconut palms and listen to the gentle lapping of waves on the shore.


Antigua is also home to some excellent snorkeling and diving spots. Cades Reef, located just off the southwestern coast, features a diverse marine ecosystem, teeming with colorful fish and coral formations. The clear waters provide excellent visibility, making it a paradise for underwater enthusiasts.


Another must-visit beach is Pigeon Point Beach, situated near the capital city of St. John’s. With its picturesque setting and calm waters, it’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Explore the nearby monuments and historic landmarks, or simply relax under a palm tree and enjoy the gentle sea breeze.


With over 365 beaches to choose from (one for each day of the year!), Antigua offers an abundance of options for beach lovers. From the popular tourist spots to the secluded coves, each beach has its own unique charm and allure.


Whether you’re looking for a beach adventure, a romantic retreat, or a family-friendly outing, the beaches of Antigua will leave you in awe of their natural beauty. So grab your sunscreen, towel, and beach gear, and get ready to discover the stunning shores of this tropical paradise.


Fig Tree Drive

Ready to explore the lush and picturesque landscapes of Antigua? Look no further than Fig Tree Drive, a scenic route that winds its way through the island’s tropical rainforest and countryside. This 16-mile-long road takes you on a journey through the heart of Antigua, showcasing its natural beauty and offering a glimpse into rural life.


As you drive along Fig Tree Drive, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees, vibrant flora, and breathtaking vistas. The road meanders through valleys and hills, providing stunning panoramic views of the coastline and the distant mountains. Keep your camera handy, as there will be plenty of opportunities to capture the beauty of the island.


Along the drive, you’ll encounter numerous small villages where locals go about their daily lives. Take a moment to stop and explore these charming communities, interact with the friendly locals, and get a taste of traditional Antiguan culture. You may even have the chance to sample local delicacies or purchase handmade crafts and souvenirs.


One of the highlights of Fig Tree Drive is the lush greenery of the rainforest. The road is lined with tropical vegetation, including fig trees, bamboo, orchids, and ferns. The air is alive with the sounds of birdsong and the rustling of leaves, creating a peaceful and serene atmosphere.


As you continue your drive, you’ll come across several natural attractions along the way. Among them is Wallings Reservoir, a scenic spot where you can stop for a picnic or simply admire the tranquil waters of the lake. You may even spot some indigenous wildlife, such as birds or agoutis, scurrying through the trees.


One of the most famous stops on Fig Tree Drive is the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour. This thrilling adventure allows you to zip through the treetops on a series of zip lines, providing a unique perspective of the rainforest. The tour also offers educational information about the flora and fauna of the area, making it a fun and educational experience for all ages.


Fig Tree Drive is a perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas of Antigua and immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty. Whether you’re seeking a scenic drive, an outdoor adventure, or an opportunity to connect with the local culture, Fig Tree Drive is a must-do activity during your visit to Antigua.


Jolly Harbour

If you’re looking for a vibrant and bustling hub of activity in Antigua, look no further than Jolly Harbour. Situated on the island’s west coast, this marina and residential community offers a range of amenities, entertainment, and beautiful beaches, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.


At the heart of Jolly Harbour is the marina, which boasts an impressive range of services for boating enthusiasts. The marina features over 150 berths and can accommodate boats of various sizes, making it a haven for sailors and yachters exploring the Caribbean. It’s also a great place to charter a boat for a day trip to explore the nearby islands and secluded coves.


Surrounding the marina, you’ll find a vibrant commercial center filled with restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment options. Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining, casual eats, or a refreshing drink, Jolly Harbour has plenty of choices to suit every palate. You can indulge in local Caribbean delicacies or savor international cuisine while enjoying stunning views of the marina.


One of the main highlights of Jolly Harbour is its stunning beach. With crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft white sand, it offers the perfect setting for a day of sunbathing, swimming, or water sports. You can rent jet skis, paddleboards, or kayaks to explore the tranquil waters, or simply relax under the shade of a palm tree and soak up the tropical ambiance.


For those who prefer land-based activities, Jolly Harbour also offers a golf course, tennis courts, and a fitness center. You can tee off amidst lush green fairways, play a match of tennis, or work up a sweat at the gym. The community prides itself on providing a range of recreational options to keep both residents and visitors active and entertained.


If you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy, Jolly Harbour hosts a variety of shops and boutiques where you can find everything from beachwear and accessories to souvenirs and local crafts. You can browse through art galleries, jewelry stores, and specialty shops, picking up unique mementos of your time in Antigua.


Jolly Harbour also serves as a gateway to nearby attractions such as the secluded Darkwood Beach, the vibrant town of St. John’s, and the scenic hiking trail to the historic Fort Barrington. It’s a convenient starting point for exploring the diverse offerings of Antigua.


With its lively atmosphere, stunning beaches, and wide range of amenities, Jolly Harbour is a must-visit destination in Antigua. Whether you’re here for the boating, the dining, the shopping, or simply to enjoy the Caribbean vibes, Jolly Harbour offers a vibrant and captivating experience that will leave you with lasting memories.


Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour

If you’re an adventure seeker looking to experience the natural beauty of Antigua in a thrilling way, the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour is not to be missed. This exhilarating zipline adventure takes you soaring through the treetops of the island’s lush rainforest, offering a unique perspective of the tropical landscape.


The Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour provides an exciting and safe environment for participants of all ages. Certified guides will lead you through the course, giving you insights into the flora, fauna, and history of the rainforest along the way. They will ensure that you are properly fitted with gear and provide thorough safety instructions to ensure a memorable and secure adventure.


As you zip from platform to platform, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the stunning beauty of the rainforest up close. From towering mahogany trees to vibrant tropical flowers, you’ll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors and scents. Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of native birds and other wildlife that call this canopy their home.


The course features a series of zip lines, rope bridges, and suspended walkways, taking you on an exhilarating journey through the rainforest canopy. The zip lines range in length, offering both fast-paced thrill and leisurely glides through the treetops. You’ll experience the rush of adrenaline as you soar through the air, feeling the wind against your face and the sheer beauty of nature beneath your feet.


One of the most memorable moments of the tour is the Tarzan Swing, where you’ll have the chance to let go and swing through the rainforest, just like the famous character. It’s a heart-pounding experience that will leave you feeling alive and invigorated.


But the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour is not just about the zip lines and adrenaline. Along the way, your guides will share fascinating insights into the rainforest ecosystem and the importance of preserving this delicate environment. The tour promotes sustainable practices and educates visitors about the importance of protecting the natural beauty of Antigua.


Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or simply looking for a unique way to experience the rainforest, the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a chance to connect with nature, immerse yourself in the beauty of the rainforest, and create lasting memories in the heart of Antigua.


Antigua Market

Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and experience the flavors, colors, and crafts of Antigua by visiting the bustling Antigua Market. Located in the capital city of St. John’s, this lively market is a treasure trove of local produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs.


The Antigua Market offers a sensory feast for visitors. As you stroll through the market, you’ll be greeted by the aromatic scents of fresh fruits, spices, and local cuisine. Vendors proudly display their colorful array of tropical fruits and vegetables, giving you the opportunity to taste the exotic flavors of the Caribbean.


The market is not just about food; it is also a hub for local artisans and craftsmen to showcase their skills. You’ll find a variety of handmade items, such as intricate wood carvings, vibrant paintings, beautiful textiles, and unique jewelry. These authentic creations make for meaningful souvenirs and gifts to take back home.


Exploring the market is an opportunity to engage with the vibrant Antiguan community. Interact with friendly vendors who are eager to share stories about their products and culture. Learn about the traditional techniques used in crafting the items on display and gain insights into the local way of life.


One of the highlights of the Antigua Market is the Saturday Morning Market, where local farmers and artisans gather to sell their goods. This bustling event gives you a true taste of Antiguan culture, with live music, street food vendors, and a vibrant atmosphere. It’s the perfect time to mingle with locals, sample traditional dishes, and immerse yourself in the lively spirit of the island.


While exploring the market, don’t forget to try some delicious local street food. From mouthwatering jerk chicken and fresh seafood to flavorful Caribbean spices, you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds. Grab a plate of freshly prepared delicacies and savor the authentic flavors of Antigua.


Whether you’re looking to indulge in local cuisine, shop for unique souvenirs, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere, the Antigua Market is a must-visit destination. It’s a place where you can truly connect with the local culture, support local artisans, and bring a piece of Antigua’s vibrant spirit home with you.



Antigua is a destination that encapsulates the best of the Caribbean – from its stunning beaches and rich history to its vibrant culture and natural wonders. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a mix of both, this tropical paradise has something to offer every traveler.


The historic landmarks of Antigua, such as Nelson’s Dockyard and St. John’s Cathedral, provide a glimpse into the island’s colonial past and offer a deeper understanding of its cultural heritage. Exploring these sites allows you to appreciate the architectural beauty and learn about the stories that shaped the island.


For those seeking natural beauty, Antigua boasts some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. With their crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand, the beaches offer an idyllic setting for swimming, snorkeling, or simply relaxing under the gentle Caribbean sun. Each beach has its own unique charm and character, ensuring that you’ll find the perfect spot to unwind and soak up the beauty of the island.


Adventurers will find plenty to keep them entertained in Antigua. From the thrilling Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour, where you can zip through the treetops of the rainforest, to the scenic Fig Tree Drive, offering a glimpse of the island’s lush landscapes, there are ample opportunities to explore and discover the natural wonders of the island.


Immersing yourself in the local culture is essential to truly experiencing Antigua. Whether it’s browsing the lively markets, sampling local cuisine, or interacting with the friendly locals, you’ll find that the warm hospitality and vibrant spirit of the island leave a lasting impression.


As you explore Antigua, you’ll not only be captivated by its natural beauty and cultural richness, but you’ll also have the opportunity to create lasting memories and connect with a place that seamlessly blends relaxation, adventure, and authenticity. Whether you’re lounging on a pristine beach, exploring historical landmarks, or embarking on an exhilarating adventure, Antigua is a destination that will leave you with a sense of wonder and a desire to return.