Antigua & Barbuda has been on my list of places to visit for the longest while. But, more so than ever after their twin island, “Barbuda” was destroyed last year from hurricane Irma.
To somewhat boost and give back, I’ve spent a week to see and do as much as I possibly could to better help plan your trip on your next visit. Whilst Antigua is filled with some of the most pristine-white-sand beaches, in fact, a beach for each day of the year — ‘the beach is just the beginning‘. Eventually, you’ll want to explore something different. Here are my recommendations on the 10 best things to do in Antigua.
1.Antigua Reef Riding & Snorkeling
I can’t begin to express how much of fun experience this was. It’s one thing to go for a swim but it’s another to ride the waves. The tour departs from the Jolly Habour and goes on for about 2 1/2hours on your own speedboat. At first, you get to “speedboat” across the ocean blue waters of the bay before arriving at Cade’s Reef where you snorkel with the fishes.
It’s a scenic ride on your way to Cade’s Reef, you will get to see much of the south-west coast of Antigua, Valley Church Bay, Ffryes Bay, Darkwood Beach before arriving at Johnson’s Point and then onto Cade’s Bay.
These are some of the clearest (and bluest) waters I’m yet to see. We went out on the Bay with Antigua Reef Riders with tour prices starting at $80 (USD) per person. If you are a fan of riding the waves and snorkeling then definitely add this to your list of things to do when visiting the island.
To Book: Antigua Reef Riders
2. Explore the Devil’s Bridge
Only about a 30-minute walk from The Pineapple Beach Club Resort; arriving here is almost like a bittersweet moment. Sweet as the views are jaw-dropping, but, bitter as the Devil’s Bridges got its name from stories that slaves were known to leap to their death here during Antigua’s period of slavery.
The Devil’s Bridge is formed by waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashing into Antigua’s east coast over a period of thousands of years; as a result, a natural limestone arch is formed.
*The crashing waves are intense here. Walking or getting close to the actual bridge is not permitted.
3. Views from Shirley Heights
The views overlooking the English and Falmouth Harbours are on point. But, just before we go any further, here’s a bit of history. This location was once used as a military lookout and gun battery. The once used military complex gained its name after, Sir Thomas Shirley, the Governor of the Leeward Islands, who played a huge role in Antigua’s defenses in 1781.
A 360 panoramic view can be obtained here with also a perfect seat for sunset. If you fancy some live music, some drinks and food (in addition to the views amazing views); visit Shirley Heights on a Sunday Afternoon. You’ll get to enjoy the Caribbean style of live steel pan music.
Entrance fee to the lookout is $10 USD. An additional fee is required for the Lookout Sunday Afternoon Party (with food).
4. Swim with the Stingrays
A visit to Stingray City is only about a 10-minute speedboat ride to one of Antigua’s offshore islands.
You’ll get to swim, feed, hug, and snorkel with them for a few hours. The water is crystal clear, shallow (only about 4ft deep) and you can see them flowing through at the bottom in their natural habitat. To be honest, I was little scared at first to get in the water, but after a few minutes, I couldn’t believe how harmless and friendly the stingrays were. If you are up for a little stingray adventure, go for it! It’s fun.
5. St. John’s City Centre
Explore the downtown area of the island’s capital. This is where most of the locals go to do business. On the days where cruise ships come in, the city happens to be busy. Otherwise, it is pretty laid back; good for a stroll around the town. The downtown colors are also very vibrant and colourful; a total Caribbean feel.
6. Sailing Week Antigua
I did a lot of really exciting and fun things while in Antigua, but this was the highlight during my one week visit. Sailing Week Antigua happens to be a big deal and I am happy is it. If there is one activity that uniquely separates each Caribbean island from the pack, then it is Sailing Week Antigua… for Antigua.
During my last full day here with the Traverse Events group, we got onto a Catamaran and “Chased The Race”. A day out at sea, up close and personal where we could see the pro-sailors in action. I never thought being a part of this would be so enticing. I am already thinking about next year’s events.
Sailing Week Antigua 2019 dates are already published. From April 27th- May 3rd you can join in on the fun as one of the top things to do in Antigua.
7. Through the jungle on a Zipline
I opted out of this activity due to a scheduling conflict, but my friends who had a chance to ‘fly through the jungle’ with Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours expressed how much of a fun activity it was. You have the option to go with a half-day or full day canopy tour. Completed with plank bridges, rope swings, and a 328-foot long zip-line labelled “The Screamer”, going through the jungle is said to be a whole lot more fun than scary.
8. Explore Betty’s Hope
These are the last two pillars surviving pillars from Antigua’s Sugar Plantation which was in operation for about 300 years. The site was recently restored and currently operates as a museum.
9. Recharge with a Seafood dinner
When you’re by the coast, it is always a good idea to recharge on seafood. If you’re looking to somewhat have a 3-course meal in a posh setting, be sure to check out St. James Club & Villas. I went with the Lobster dish as a main course, which was pretty up-to-par.
10. Hike to the Pillars of Hercules
Another opportunity I missed during this trip but will be sure to add it to the list on the next visit. You can hike up to the Pillars of Hercules where you’ll be surrounded by stunning secluded beaches with a great spot for both snorkeling and diving. To get to here, you will need to access the trailhead from Galleon Beach. The trail itself is said to be beautifully lined with cactus. Bring lots of water!
Also, a fun fact: there is a direct flight right outside of Kingston to the island’s capital.
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