With its 365 beaches, emerald water, sunshine and friendly locals it is easy to see why Antigua attracts so many visitors each year. It’s a beautiful place and is well worth a visit, or two!
While some people love to hit the beach and are quite content to stay within the confines of their hotel’s grounds for the whole holiday, others like to get out and explore and get off the beaten tourist track. Antigua has plenty to offer both types of visitors, but here is a look at how you can experience the real Antigua and get away from the crowds.
Watch and learn
If you would like to learn a bit about the island’s ecosystems and history then Eli Fuller’s Eco Tour is the perfect trip for you. Hop onto Eli’s boat to explore the North Sound area of Antigua with its 22 stunning offshore islands. Eli teaches visitors about turtle protection, mangroves, reef rejuvenation, and leads a walk to the top of Great Bird Island before guiding visitors to some of the most beautiful waters to snorkel in.
July is party time in Antigua as the locals celebrate the annual Antiguan carnival. If you plan to visit Antigua while the carnival is on it is an experience not to be missed! The festival links back to the days of slavery and the locals celebrate their freedom with concerts, steel drums, food fairs, colorful parades and of course a few rum punches on the beach! Join in the party spirit for an experience you won’t forget.
To experience the real Antigua you need to get away from the main tourist centers and attractions. Join an off-road safari in a Land Rover for an exciting and bumpy trip over rough terrain through parts of Antigua that aren’t accessible to the masses by coach. Immerse yourself in the beautiful and unspoilt tropical rainforest and visit rural villages to experience a different kind of island culture where locals sell fruit and hand-made gifts from small huts.
Just because you want to explore a less touristy Antigua doesn’t mean you don’t want to visit one of the island’s stunning beaches. Half Moon Bay is the perfect solution. It’s one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, yet also one of the quietest. The semi-circle of white sand used to home a resort but it closed after the 1995 hurricane and is yet to re-open. As it faces the Atlantic it is more exposed to the elements and attracts a few windsurfers and kitesurfers, but the Northern end of the beach is protected and offers some of the most amazing snorkeling on the island. There is rarely more than a handful of people on the beach, and if you time it right you might even have it all to yourself.
Walk with the locals
Nobody knows Antigua like the locals do, so why not join their 5am Hike Club? What started as a small group of 10 people has grown into a weekly hike of about 70 islanders keen to explore more of their beautiful island. They meet early every Saturday morning to watch the sunrise as they undertake a different route each week. The hikes usually range from 3-4 miles and are given a difficulty rating so you know what you are getting yourself into!
If you are planning on being more independent and exploring Antigua there are a few things to remember while packing for your holiday. Heading out for a day in Antigua may mean being exposed to the sun all day so make sure you bring plenty of sun lotion, a sun hat and a long sleeved top to protect yourself from the sun. The sun is very strong and even on a cloudy day you can get burnt! Mosquitoes are at their most active at dusk and dawn so if you plan to be out and about at either of those times pack some mosquito repellent or you will spend the remainder of your holiday itching!
Getting off the beaten tourist track means you may be dealing with locals who don’t have much interaction with tourists so won’t be able to accept credit cards, travellers cheques, or anything but their own Eastern Caribbean currency or US dollars, so make sure you bring enough with you. Work out what trips or excursions you plan to do, how many meals you will need to pay for if your accommodation is not all inclusive and any extras you plan to spend money on such as souvenirs and gifts and then add a little extra. If you are expecting to tip remember to bring some small denominations. When you are travelling remember to split the cash and store it in several different places within your luggage and on you so if any of your luggage goes missing you don’t loose all your money at once. Try to book accommodation that offers a safe so you can safely store any cash that you don’t take out with you on day trips.
Ready to go
With so much to see and do, Antigua offers a holiday experience that you will remember forever. Get booking now and you can start counting down the days until you start the holiday of a lifetime.