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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Antigua

Antigua Holidays

Antigua is the stuff of holidaymakers' dreams. Tiny though it may be, its white-sand borders stretch out to coral reefs and shipwrecks on one end and restaurants touting easy-going Caribbean music on the other. Cheap holidays to Antigua are part-beach, part-cuisine and all relaxation.

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An island in the sun

Antigua is a pinprick of an island in the eastern Caribbean, only 22 kilometres long and 17 kilometres wide. Think of its pint size as an advantage though, as nothing is too far away. When you first take in the incredible stretch of wrap-around coast on your Antigua holidays – featuring white-sand beaches and pale blue water – you'll be sure to thank your lucky holiday stars.

The island of Antigua is split into six distinct parishes, with St John as its capital. Antigua's low annual rainfall makes it one of the sunniest islands in the eastern Caribbean and the area remains comfortably warm throughout the year.

Quick Tips

  • Christianity
  • East Caribbean Dollar
  • English
  • Approx 80,000
  • GMT -4

White sand dreams

Aquamarine water and powdery white sands aren't an anomaly in Antigua, in fact they're a regular thing. The island and its neighbour Barbuda are home to an impressive 365 beaches in total – that's one for every day of the year.

Dickenson Bay is widely regarded as the most popular beach on the island, lined with hotels, bars and restaurants. Plus there are watersports ranging from glass bottom boats to jet skiing.

The beach is a particular favourite amongst families and has the crowds to show for it, but you can always head south toward Runaway Bay for more secluded vibes with much of the same Caribbean beauty.

Pigeon Beach in the English Harbour area is another top spot for sunbathers, as that's almost exclusively what's available here. No vendors, watersports or sunbeds in sight, just pink-white sand and the sound of waves lapping against the shore.

Maritime past and present

From the time explorer Christopher Columbus named Antigua in 1493, it became a crucial port for many important shipping routes. The island especially rose to prominence when Admiral Horatio Nelson established a dockyard for the British navy in what is now called the English Harbour area, which was particularly good for sheltering ships during storms.

Nowadays, Nelson's Dockyard serves as a well-preserved throwback to the British colonial days, and features a museum, hotels and restaurants in original buildings. It was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of the larger Nelson's Dockyard National Park, along with Shirley Heights, a famed lookout point on the island.

Still very much in touch with its sailing history, Antigua holds the internationally-renowned Antigua Sailing Week. Taking place in late April and early May, the event attracts sailors and nautical-enthusiasts from around the world with yacht races and beach parties. Even if sailing isn't your thing, All Inclusive Antigua holidays offer a little of the high-life all year round.

Diving down

Lying beneath the water's surface along much of Antigua's coastline is a wall of coral reef teeming with aquatic life. That combined with Antigua's unbelievably warm water makes snorkelling an incredibly popular activity on the island.

It's not just reefs you'll have the chance to visit, either. Also under the water's edge are a number of shipwrecks ripe for exploring, such as the 100-year-old Andes ship.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Antigua's cuisine includes a blend of seafood, grains and veggies grown on the island. Think sweet potatoes and corn, along with dishes from its Caribbean neighbours and a hint of European, American and Asian influences. In other words, it's a giant melting pot of flavours.

When dining in Antigua you can look forward to restaurants scattered along the coastline with unrivalled views of the water. Caribbean cafes serve up jerk chicken and bottles of the local beer, while creature comforts come in the form of gourmet French food, pizzerias and familiar Mediterranean fare.

Everything on your doorstep

For much of the time, nights in Antigua involve laid-back sunsets at beach bars with a cool cocktail in hand. Casual Caribbean music will sometimes float on the breeze, while other times you'll be serenaded by nothing more than the sound of the waves.