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Antigua and Barbuda - Brief Summary of the area

Does a beach for everyday of the year, sound like a tropical paradise to you?  If so, Antigua is for you.  Although Antigua's 365 beaches are reason enough to visit the island, there are many, many other reasons to visit this island treasure 

Boating and Yacht charters, phenomenal fishing and reefs, home to beautiful, brilliantly colored fish are just a few of the other reasons to visit Antigua.

For visitors that really want to immerse themselves in Antiguan culture, the annual Antigua Carnival is a must.  Tourist will be left in awe as the Antiguans display their creativity in song, dance and pageantry in a series of exciting steel band and calypso competitions featuring the island's best musicians and performers.

With all that this island has to offer, why not book a trip today? 

Most popular Beach Locations: (if applicable)

There are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for each day of the year.  The great majority rest inside the calm, protected waters of the island's Caribbean side. All are open to the public, and so the challenge posed to a visitor is not how to gain access to the best beach but simply how to locate the beach that suits one's taste.  Exploring on your own is the best way to do this, although it is wise to bring a companion along to particularly isolated locations.  Antiguans are understandably reluctant to divulge their own favorites, so here are a number of good starters.  Be sure to acquire specific directions before you go.

Northwest Coast - Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay, located along the island's developed northwestern coast, are the place to go for those who want the fully-loaded resort beach experience.  The beaches most convenient to St. John's are Fort James, a locally-popular public beach, and Deep Bay. Galley Bay attracts surfers during the winter months and joggers during the evening.  The series of four crescent beaches at Hawksbill are also highly regarded, one of which is nudist.

Southwest and South Coast - The beaches of the hilly southwest corner of Antigua are generally less developed than those around St. John's further north.  On the road that winds along this coast are Fryes Bay, Darkwood Beach, and the beaches around Johnsons Point. Rendezvous Bay and especially Doigs Beach, both located on the central southern coast at Rendezvous Bay, are especially quiet beaches worth the rough travel necessary to reach them.  Pigeon Point, near English Harbour Town, is a convenient balm after a day at Nelson's Dockyard.

East Coast - On the southeast corner of the island is Half Moon Bay, now a National Park and a good choice for a family outing.  Long Bay, on the easternmost point of the island, is another good choice for families, as it is completely protected by its reef. {Source - Official Site of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism}

Traveler Facts

Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc) How to get there - By air - VC Bird International is situated on the outskirts of St John's and to the north of the island.  It has regular flights from UK and America, along with smaller planes from elsewhere in the region.  It is a fully functioning airport with Wi-Fi capabilities and is currently under construction.

LIAT, which merged with Caribbean Star recently, has a hub in Antigua, operating flights to various destinations in the Eastern Caribbean.

By cruise ship - Many tourists come to Antigua via cruise ships such as Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Lines, and Celebrity Cruises.  Excursionist enjoy themselves in St. John's the port where the dock.  There is a duty free shopping Center right by the dock and also a lot to eat and see.

Getting around by car - Cars may be hired from numerous places around the island.  Contact your hotel for more information.  However, there is a 30 mph speed limit on the island, so driving can be a tad tedious.

By taxi - Taxis are fairly cheap in Antigua, and as the road surfaces can be a bit patchy in places, they will take you along the best routes. {Source – Wikitravel}

Entry Requirements; passports, visa, etc. - As of 23 January 2007 all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the USA and Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda are required to present a valid passport or other approved document when entering or re-entering the U.S.. {Source – U.S. Department of State}

Languages Spoken / official language – English is the official language of Antigua and Barbuda.

Currency – The official currency of Antigua is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. 

Tipping – Tipping in Antigua is the same as in the U.S.; 10-15 percent depending on the service.  Some restaurants and hotels will automatically add a 10 percent gratuity.  If in doubt, just ask.  Give porters and bellhops 50 cents per bag, taxi drivers 10-15 percent of the fare. Official Site of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism}

Taxes – Antigua and Barbuda has a $20.00 airport departure tax, a room tax of 8.5 percent and service charge of 10 percent (in lieu of tipping). Official Site of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism}

Electricity - 120V 60 Hz

2 parallel flat prongs


220V 50 Hz

2 parallel round prongs

Most hotels have both voltages available.

Other (immunizations, health issues) - Before visiting the Antigua, your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.  {Source – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention}

Marriage Requirements, Licenses & Wedding Information

More and more people are getting married while on vacation, and it's now easy to do in Antigua and Barbuda.  Even cruise ship visitors can now get married.  There are three simple steps – 1. Visit the Ministry of Justice located on lower Nevis Street in downtown St. John's with your valid passports.  2. Complete the application and pay applicable fees.  3. Confirm a date and time for the ceremony with a Marriage Officer, and get married!

There is a registration fee of US$40 that must be paid at the courthouse in the new government buildings on Queen Elizabeth Highway.  The application fee for the special marriage license is US$150, and the Marriage Officer's fee is US$50.

Both the bride and groom-to-be will need valid passports as proof of citizenship.  If either of have been previously married, then bring along the original divorce decree or, in the case of a widow or widower, the original marriage and death certificates.

Both parties must be over 15, if under 18, written authorization from your parents or guardians is required. It is important that all documents presented are original or certified original by the issuing departments or offices.  Ensure that all documents are in your legal name, and provide affidavits in cases where you are known by another name.  Your marriage must also be solemnized or celebrated in the presence of two or more witnesses, apart from the Marriage Officer. {Source - Official Site of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism}

Tourism Office address, phone and Web site

Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism and Trade
25 S.E. 2nd Avenue, Suite 300
Miami, FL 33131
Tel:  305-381-6762
Fax: 305-381-7908

Other Travel related Web sites for the country or location

Climate Information (what the seasons are like & when is the best time of year to travel)

High & Low Season for travel – Many travelers flock to the beaches of Antigua during the high season, but vacationers will find something to do on the island regardless of the time of year.  Travelers come to the island to enjoy Sailing Week in late April, to revel in Carnival in August, and to relax on a beach in December.

Visitors to Antigua could spend a full year on the island and never go to the same beach more than once. Although Antigua's 365 beaches are reason enough to visit the island, travelers should research the island's seasonal conditions in order to make informed decisions about the time and duration of their stay.

The high season in Antigua coincides largely with the high season in the rest of the Caribbean.  Most travelers flock to the island from the middle of December to the middle of April, when the island experiences less rain, heat, and humidity.  The colder winter weather in the United States, Canada, and Europe also drives vacationers in large numbers to Antigua.

Despite the heavy crowds during these months, the tourist season remains a highly popular and appealing time to visit the island.  Although the island is relatively dry throughout the year, there is less rainfall during the Caribbean winter.  The decrease in rainfall is coupled with the end of the Atlantic hurricane season in late November.  At the same time, cool trade winds blow in from the west to keep island temperatures mild and enjoyable.

Restaurants, hotels, tours, and other services all run at their fullest capacity during these busy months. Travelers who want to take advantage of these extra amenities should consider traveling during the high season.  Hotels often schedule more events and options for their guests during this time, and the large crowds invigorate island night life.  Many restaurants extend their hours in the high season to accommodate a greater number of diners.  With the increased business, hotels, restaurants, and recreation services are often booked well in advance.  Travelers looking to travel during the high season should consider making hotel reservations several months in advance.  Dinner reservations are recommended at even moderately priced restaurants during this busy season.

Travelers who wish to avoid large crowds and significantly increased prices should consider traveling in the off season of mid-April to late November.  While rainfall increases and temperatures rise at this time, Antigua remains relatively dry throughout the year, and the hotter temperatures are made tolerable by air conditioning and the trade winds.  Airline fares and hotel rates drop significantly during the off season - sometimes up to 50 percent - making the increased heat a little easier to bear.  The restaurants and golf courses that remain open in the off season have fewer crowds, making reservations less necessary. {Source – Antigua Guide}

Link to a good Map

Map of Antigua

Local Attractions & Must Do’s

Scuba diving - there are many reefs off the eastern coastline and as a result, there is some pretty awesome fish to see.  Snorkeling is also pretty good here, as the water is very clear, and it's a lot cheaper!

Sailing - dinghies, cats, and cruisers can all be hired from many places around the island, and there are plenty of coves and natural harbors to explore.  Why not lay claim to the uninhabited island of Redonda?  

Party at Shirley Heights (an old British fort near Falmouth) on Sunday evenings to Antiguan music and see the spectacular sunset over English Harbor.  Entry is approximately $6 USD. {Source – Wikitravel}

One of Antigua's most exciting and thrilling activities is to swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery.  This once in a lifetime adventure gives you the opportunity to experience up close and personal playtime with dolphins, while gaining an understanding of these fascinating mammals.  Housed in a 5.5 million gallon lagoon at Marina Bay, these precious animals are sure to make your vacation unforgettable. 

Much of the appeal of the natural environment in Antigua and Barbuda is the multitude of bird species to be found there. The Frigate Bird Sanctuary on Barbuda, though accessible only by boat, is the largest bird sanctuary in the Caribbean and contains over 170 species; Long Island and Great Bird Island also offer outstanding opportunities for birdwatchers. {Source - Official Site of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism}

Top 5 Most Popular Hotels

Set on a 300-acre private island, Jumby Bay, Rosewood Resort, casts a spell of serene enchantment.  Nestled two miles off the coast of Antigua, the exclusive resort is noted for its landscape lush with rare tropical flowers, stately palm trees and abundant foliage.   A naturalist's haven, the island features three superb, white sand beaches. Jumby Bay, a secluded hideaway accessible only by boat, is known worldwide for providing discerning travelers with world-class service and distinguished amenities.

For over 45 years, Curtain Bluff has welcomed guests to Antigua.  American owners Howard and Michelle Hulford still have a presence here, with the resort being managed professionally for years by Rob Sherman and Cal Roberts.  The hotel’s ‘no key’ approach reflects the trust placed in their long-serving staff and many repeat guests.Fifteen acres of beach and gardens create spectacular vistas for the fully inclusive 72 rooms and suites scattered up the bluff, where cooling sea breezes render air conditioning unnecessary even though the amenity is available.  Renew your energy at the weekly beach luncheon (complete with steel band) or in the main restaurant, accompanied by a bottle from the prodigious wine cellar – only 450 different vintages to choose from.

Carlisle Bay Antigua is truly an exciting resort in the Caribbean.  Opened in December 2003 on the unspoiled south coast of Antigua, it brings chic contemporary luxury to the beach.  Carlisle Bay boasts cool calm interiors – 82 spacious ocean-facing suites, two outstanding restaurants, East and Indigo on the Beach – Three great bars – Fabulous, friendly service – Exceptional Blue Spa with 100% pure and natural products – A host of water sports – Gymnasium, personal training, yoga, Pilates – Nine tennis courts – Luxurious private screening room – Cool Kids Club – And much more…

Galley Bay is the perfect all-inclusive retreat for the discerning traveler. Its secluded setting on the tranquil west coast of Antigua enjoys forty-acres of tropical gardens between a bird sanctuary lagoon and a three-quarter mile beach. Great care has been taken to ensure the resort complements these natural surroundings.  Thatch, bamboo and terracotta establish an ambience of refined rusticity in the public areas, while a picturesque wooden deck ensures maximum exposure to the ocean views. There is little disruption from the outside world as access to the resort is via a wooden bridge.

An intimate, family-owned hotel, Blue Waters is one of Antigua’s longest established resorts.  Careful design and attention to detail have enabled Blue Waters to combine 77 rooms and suites of superior quality with the chance to experience the classic Caribbean vacation. Providing the highest standards of service, Blue Waters’ standing management and staff make for a warm and friendly atmosphere, resulting in numerous guests that return to enjoy this resorts unique family feel.