A guide to things to do in Antigua
As a small island with gorgeous stretches of sand, most Antigua holiday activities involve the beach. The groves of coral reef just off the coastline make snorkelling one of Antigua’s most popular activities, seconded only by the sites detailing its long maritime history. Antigua’s biggest historical draw, Nelson’s Dockyard, has even been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a popular spot for many visitors on holidays to the Caribbean.
Dive into Stingray City
Found just off the coast of eastern Antigua is a small jetty surrounded completely by open water. Slip beneath the surface and you’ll find an underwater landscape teeming with stingrays. They aren’t in tanks though – the stingrays here swim freely and know that, when the humans show up, it’s feeding time. On squid, of course.
There’s a local tour company that will get you suited up in a snorkel and supply you with a handful of calamari before heading out on a small boat to Stingray City. From there, you can swim alongside these wonderful creatures and explore their coral reef surroundings, petting their slick fins and feeding them gobs of squid. For the most part the area is awash with non-stinging rays, so you can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience without the worry.
Snorkel under the Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of Hercules are a towering sheet of limestone rock, cut with shallow caves that guard the entrance to Antigua’s Jolly Harbour. They’re reachable by boat or a hike, but if you choose the former, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of the Pillars of Hercules’ amazing snorkelling potential.
Just beneath the surface and extending 12 metres down are coral reefs swarming with fish. You can expect everything from stingrays to octopi, barracudas and blue tangs sharing the space around you.
Brave Devil's Bridge
Devil’s Bridge is a precarious stretch of limestone along Antigua’s north-eastern coastline. It was carved naturally by the rough sea churning below it, and over time has developed a rocky bridge that arcs over the water.
As you walk along its craggy edges, the sea has a tendency to spurt up through the crevices and douse unsuspecting passers-by. However, visiting for the unimpeded views out to sea alone is well worth the trip.
Wander through Nelson's Dockyard
Named for the famed victor of the Battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Nelson’s Dockyard is perhaps one of the best examples of England’s expansion to the Caribbean. Crucial to illustrating the long-ago shipping trade, it’s also one of the most recent additions to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
First established in the early 18th century, Nelson’s Dockyard was a port for English merchant ships in what is now known as Antigua’s English Harbour region. Now housed in its original buildings are hotels, a museum, restaurants and shops amid the background of a lush national park of the same name. The old naval ships have since been replaced by luxury yachts, so there really is something for everyone to see here.
Reach the top of Shirley Heights
The peak at Shirley Heights is also found within the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. Reach the top and you’ll be treated to sweeping views of Antigua’s southern coastline – distant slopes and the ocean included.
It’s a top spot on the island to catch a sunset and every Sunday evening live music and a popular BBQ spring onto the menu. You won’t have to worry about steep hikes, either – Shirley Heights is easily reachable by taxi.