One of the most excellent aspects of taking a vacation to Antigua is the fact that even though there is so much to do, in one or two weeks on the island, you will be able to see the vast majority of things that you want to see. Nothing is ever more than 45 minutes away and it’s a good thing because there is a lot to do on the island — as well as just relax in the sunshine!
Whether you are in the midst of planning a trip or are simply looking for some extra inspiration for your wanderlust, read on for eight fantastic things to do and see when traveling in Antigua.
First and foremost, the biggest draw for most travelers to Antigua is the fact that there are more than 365 beaches around the island —a significant amount when you consider that Antigua is only 108 square miles long and 13 miles across! If you are looking for beautiful Caribbean waters and silky soft sand, head to some of the most popular beaches including Valley Church Beach, Pigeon Point Beach, Dickenson Bay, and Half Moon Bay. Antigua truly is home to some of the Caribbean’s most jaw-dropping beaches.
When you travel to another country, it is almost always of interest to find out about the history of the place. While in Antigua, your first historical stop should be Betty’s Hope, one of the first sugar plantations on the island. Here you can observe the restored sugar mill while learning about the sugar-making process and the sugar industry’s impact on Antigua’s history.
As the only continuously working Georgian dockyard in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nelson’s Dockyard is a must-visit for everyone who adventures to Antigua. Formerly the most important base for the British Royal Navy for over 200 years, it now endures as one of the Caribbean’s most magnificent models of historic preservation. Make sure to have your camera when you visit as the surrounding park is gorgeous, as are the harbor, the walking trails through the forest, and the historic ruins and buildings.
If you are interested in history, make sure to include a stop in your itinerary at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. Located in an elegant 18th-century Courthouse in St. John’s, the museum’s exhibits follow the history of the islands from their geological origins through their political independence in 1981.
Everyone knows that it isn’t a proper trip until you have purchased some local items to take home as souvenirs. Luckily, this isn’t too challenging in Antigua, as there is an abundance of shopping options from which you can choose. Whatever you are interested in purchasing clothing for yourself, handicrafts for others, or ceramics for everyone, there is no denying that you will be able to find the perfect item that is created by local artists and craftspeople. Some of the best art pieces can be found at the local artisan’s market which takes place every two weeks at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina.
Originally built to prevent intruders (in particular the French) from gaining access to the country, Fort James is now known as an iconic 18th-century bastion in St. John’s while Shirley Heights can be found on the south coast inside the English Harbour National Park area. If you choose to pay a visit to the Fort, you will see the remainder of the original cannons, a powder magazine, and wall remnants. And Shirley Heights offers one of the most incredible views on the island.
For those who are more interested in off-the-beaten-track cultural sights, the Wallings Dam & Reservoir is perfect. Built by the British in the early 1900s, the purpose of the dam and reservoir was to supply water to the surrounding villages. Regrettably, due to three years of drought, in 1912 it was drained and then reforested. However, if you visit, you will be able to see the Victorian-style dam as well as hike along the Wallings Dam Trail which is home to a variety of plants and trees (such as mahoe, ironwood, locust, mango, and white cedar). A local guide can add some depth and flavor to the hike.
Considering Antigua is one of the two major islands that comprise the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, it makes sense to charter a sailboat and take a day trip to the sister island of Barbuda which is only a few hours away. Barbuda is home to pink and white sand, caves, exotic birds, and an even more relaxed vibe than Antigua.
With so much to do on the island, don’t be surprised if you start considering Antigua citizenship by investment!
Have you ever been to Antigua? If so, do you have any tips or tricks to share with others? If not, is it somewhere that you would like to visit? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Kal Kennard is a Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.