Everyone knows of The Caribbean, but how much do you know about the individual islands that make up this wanderlust-worthy part of the world? Do you know which Island you’d choose if you were planning your own holiday to The Caribbean? As a way to round up my recent experience on the island of Antigua, I want to share 7 reasons why I loved Antigua. In turn, they’re also pretty good reasons to choose Antigua for your Caribbean holiday. So if you’re planning your own paradise break or simply want a little escapism, grab the most tropical drink you can get your hands on and enjoy this colourful post…
1. You Can Visit During The Antigua Carnival
Without a doubt the highlight of my trip to Antigua was attending the Antigua Carnival. The Carnival takes place on the first weekend of August every year and celebrations span over 13 days around it. Tourists are welcome to attend any of the events, but a bit of advance planning is recommended. Whilst some music events are ticketed for a small fee, it’s completely free to spectate the street parades. For an even more authentic Carnival experience, you can join a troupe and actually dance in the parades! I joined the Myst Carnival Troupe (one of Antigua’s biggest troupes) and danced in the Judging of the Bands parade on the 7th August.
The energy, music and colours combined to make it one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Visiting Antigua during the Carnival added an extra dimension to my Caribbean experience as I got to witness the Caribbean culture and practices. Be sure to check out my Best Dressed at The Antigua Carnival post.
2. It’s an Island Paradise with 365 Beaches
Local’s love to claim that Antigua is home to 365 beaches – one for every day of the year! I can’t confirm whether this is true, but I can confirm that the beaches in Antigua are some of the best I have ever seen. Imagine fine white sand, aquamarine waters and the warm, calm Caribbean sea. If you’re dreaming of those picture perfect beaches with #nofilter required, Antigua has them in abundance. I stayed on Dickenson Bay which is where the Sandals Antigua is located. As with the rest of the beaches, Dickenson Bay was perfect.
3. It’s home to incredible Seafood
I had some of the most delicious seafood I have ever tasted in Antigua and it sticks in my mind as another highlight. Being surrounded by ocean, you always know that the seafood is incredibly fresh and it tastes all the better for it. Regional classics like lobster and conch are always on the menu but I also got to try some totally new fish including fillet of Mahi Mahi. Head to Papa Zouk Fish and Rum bar on the outskirts of St John’s for an independent, authentic and incredibly tasty seafood restaurant.
4. You Can Sail Round the Whole Island in a Day
Antigua has a circumference of 86km and there are various boat tours, which allow you to sail around the entire island in half a day. It’s a great way to see the spectacular coastal landscape and the famous sights including Shirley Heights, Nelson’s Dockyard and Eric Clapton’s Cliffside holiday home. I joined the Tropical Adventures Circumnavigation tour which picks up and departs from Dickenson Bay. The catamaran boat trip lasted around 6 hours and included a BBQ lunch, unlimited drinks and a snorkelling around Great Bird Island.
5. The Sunset at Shirley Heights is Breath-taking
Another highlight of my trip was attending the sunset party at Shirley Heights. This iconic spot is known for its 18th century ruins and is located 487 feet above the English Harbour. The view is breath-taking at any time of day, but the best time to visit is for the sunset. Every Sunday you can attend an epic BBQ night at Shirley Heights when the resident reggae band and a steel drum band provide entertainment all night. We sipped on rum punch and danced the night away to local Soca music. I will mention that 95% of the people there are tourists, but it’s the perfect holiday night out for couples, friends and families.
6. St John’s will Surprise You
St John’s is the largest town in Antigua and is well worth a trip for anyone visiting Antigua. You can expect to find a cocktail of colonial architecture, coloured buildings, graffiti and reggae vibes. A visit to St John’s helps you to understand the real Antigua, away from the bubble of your beach resort. Spots worth visiting include Redcliffe Key for a bit of shopping and the fruit and veg hall in the Public Market (where you’ll find avocados bigger than your hands!) For some tasty grub in the heart of St John’s check out Big Banana.
7. You Can Fly Direct from The UK
The 7th and final thing I loved about Antigua is that you can fly there direct from London. I flew from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic but British Airways also operate regular flights. The outbound flight took around 8 hours and 45 minutes and the return flight took a straight 8 hours. Although it’s a long haul flight, there’s no hassle of a transfer. For UK travellers who live in the North like me, it might be worth travelling down to London in order to make the most of the direct flight.
Top Luxury Hotels in Antigua
The A-Lister’s resort of choice. Jumby Bay is a Rosewood Resort and is the most highly regarded hotel on the island, or even The Caribbean. Find out more.
Curtain Bluff is known as the island’s best inclusive resorts with 2 beaches, a spa and great restaurants, tucked away in a private paradise. Find out more.
Carlisle Bay is a luxury 5 star resort on Antigua’s south coast. Imagine white sand and palm trees with a backdrop of emerald rainforest. Find out more.
Budget Hotels in Antigua
Sibodey Beach Club, Dickenson Bay
This is where I stayed during my trip to Antigua. Sibodey Beach Club offers budget accommodation which is well-located on beautiful Dickenson Bay. It has a pool for guests (although no beach loungers) and a restaurant called Coconut Grove. I found the restaurant service here to be pretty poor but if you need budget air-con accommodation on one of Antigua’s best beaches, Sibodey Beach Club fits the bill. Find out more.
What did you think of these 7 reasons to choose Antigua for a Caribbean holiday? Have you visited Antigua too or are you dreaming of going? If you enjoyed this post or think there is anything else worth mentioning about the Island, please leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x
My trip to Antigua was complimentary as part of a press trip with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. All thoughts and photos are my own.