With endless white powdery beaches lapped by sparkling enamel-blue water, Antigua is everyone’s idea of a tropical paradise. Add in lashings of rum, candy-colored villages, gleaming yachts, and friendly locals and you have a seriously gorgeous travel destination. From pretty bays to tranquil islets here are the most beautiful places to visit in Antigua…
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Ffryes Beach – one of the most stunning places to explore in Antigua
A picture-perfect Caribbean beach, with beautiful white sand and crystal-clear azure water reaching out over the coral reef that surrounds the island. There are sunbeds to rent right on the beach, and the fabulous Dennis Cocktail Bar and Restaurant at the end of the beach offering drinks, food and entertainment from local singers.
The calm waters are great for swimming, however if snorkeling is more your thing, Little Ffryes beach just along the coast is the better option. Ffryes beach can get a little crowded when there are a lot of cruise ships at the island, but with plenty of space you can usually find a quiet spot for yourself to sit back, relax and soak up the sun.
Shirley Heights – a popular beauty spot to visit
Shirley Heights is one of the best vantage points on Antigua, and it was once a key military lookout post and home to a defensive gun battery. Today, those old military buildings are home to a bar, where you can sip your rum and admire the views.
The best place to see the sunset over English Harbor, Shirley Heights is worth a visit any time for the spectacular views but is something really special on a Sunday. Sunday is party day, with local bands playing music, you can dance the night away with the locals and enjoy a backdrop of those simply spectacular views.
St Johns – the gorgeous capital of the Caribbean island
Antigua’s pretty capital is one of the best places to explore on the island. It’s filled with beautiful candy-colored architecture as well as farmers’ markets, the ruins of sugar plantations, coral reefs and a working port.
Highlights include the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, with exhibits on indigenous tribes and plantation life. St. John’s Cathedral, the archaeological site Betty’s Hope, Redcliffe Quay and a collection of beautiful beaches.
Heritage Quay – a popular attraction and shopping destination in Antigua
Heritage Quay sits in the shadow of the cruise ships as they sit in port. The premier shopping venue in Antigua, Heritage Quay has a blend of locally made products and exclusive designer goods all in one place. The seaside location and colorful buildings create a wonderfully different feel than most malls as you know them, its shopping Antigua style.
There are some great places to eat here too, but they can get very busy when there a number of cruise ships in port. Many of the stores offer duty-free shopping for passengers, making it a must-visit if Antigua is part of your cruise itinerary.
Prickly Pear Island – a beautiful place to visit in Antigua
Sitting just off the north shore coast, just 300 feet long and 150 feet wide, Prickly Pear Island is the perfect spot for anyone who loves water sports. It’s a featured destination on many tours, attracted by the beautiful white sandy beach with gentle slops that make it perfect for families.
The beautiful azure waters are home to coral heads and sponges, with turtles and tropical fish in numbers in the area, making it a fantastic spot for snorkeling. However, with the island uninhabited, the rental business is very limited, so if you can, take your own snorkeling gear to avoid being left disappointed.
If you aren’t on a tour and want to enjoy the beauty of the island without the crowds, Saturday is the day to visit. A great place to just relax and enjoy the calmness of the sand and sea, Prickly Pear Island is a must-visit for anyone visiting Antigua.
Nelson’s Dockyard National Park – the largest of Antigua’s National Parks
In the heart of English Harbor, it is the only continuously operating Georgian dockyard in the world. A slice of history brought to life, Nelson’s Dockyard lets you learn about its rich history through the dockyard museum located in what was one the Admiral’s house. With the restored buildings housing some fantastic restaurants, a variety of shops and galleries, old and new blend together for a unique experience.
The area is also home to several nature trails and looking out over the marina you have some wonderful views too. A slice of Antiguan history and a great place to just sit back and take in the beauty of the island, the dockyard has something for everyone.
Dickenson Bay – one of Antigua’s best-loved stretches of sand
One of the island’s most popular beaches, Dickinson Bay sits at the northwest edge of Antigua, with stunning white sand and that familiar azure sea making it an idyllic paradise to rest and relax for a few hours.
With resorts and restaurants sitting along the beach, there are plenty of choices for eating and drinking, and a range of watersports on offer through numerous hire facilities. The bay is protected by an offshore reef, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling, while jet skis, kayaks and more are also on offer if you prefer.
If you visit, don’t forget to take your picture next to the famous red phone box, and enjoy fresh seafood to finish your day at any one of a number of wonderful beachside restaurants.
Fig Tree Drive – Antigua’s most picturesque drive
Sitting along the island’s southern coast, Fig Tree Drive takes you on a journey to a different Antigua, where local life goes on away from the tourist traps. As you wind your way along this picturesque trip, you pass through rainforests, bursting out into the glorious sunshine and open farmland, through traditional fishing villages, with the ever-present Banana trees, locally known as figs, lining the route.
Among the mango trees and coconut palms of the surrounding landscape, you will see the remnants of sugar mills, once the beating heart of the island economy. With local producers selling fresh fruit along the roadside you are never far from a good meal, the pineapples are a particular highlight.
No trip along Fig Tre Drive would be complete without a stop at the Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery, where you can see and buy vibrant local art. For a step back from beach life to see Antigua in a different way, Fig Tree Drive is a memorable experience.
Half Moon Bay – a gorgeous bay
Not only one of the most well-known of Antiguan attractions, but perhaps the best beach in the entire Caribbean, Half Moon Bay is found at the south eastern end of the island. Entirely protected by a reef, the beautiful blue water is great for swimming and snorkeling, while the white sandy beaches are backed by luscious natural greenery, with palms and other trees giving good protection even on windy days.
There is a small restaurant that provides a range of snacks along with rental for chairs and umbrellas. Off the beaten track, Half Moon Bay is a little difficult to find, and so remains relatively quiet, a great place to get away from it all.
Long Bay – one of the island’s finest beaches
Surrounded be reefs that keep the waters calm, Long Bay Beach is a great spot for families. Its also a popular spot for yachts, with plenty of mooring options throughout the relatively quiet waters of the bay. The waters are full of turtles, barracudas, dolphins, parrotfish and more, with a range of restaurants and hire facilities on offer for snorkeling, beach equipment and more.
Take a tour on a boat with a see-through bottom if snorkeling is not your thing and you can still see the wonders of the underwater world, or simply lie back and relax on the white sandy beaches. With diving, water skiing, and more, there is plenty to do in Long Bay, while bicycle tours let you explore the surrounding nature at your leisure. The town itself has examples of the original buildings intact, and you will find restaurants to suit all tastes.
Fort Barrington – the remains of an 18th-century defensive structure
Used as a defense post as far back as the 17th century, Fort Barrington is the only one of Antigua’s ports that ever saw military action. Today, all that is left is the massive gun emplacement, a powder magazine, and three small rooms, but aside from the impressive entire of the size of it, the views are well worth the trip.
It’s quite a walk, so wear some sensible shoes for this one, and don’t forget to see the wreck of the barque Andes, which sank in the bay in 1914. You can look down the slope next to the whitewashed building to the rear of the fort to see what is left of the three-mast steel merchant, which sank as a result of fire in the cargo. While you can snorkel to get a better view, it is a protected wreck, and it is illegal to take any items from the scene.
Deep Bay Beach – a popular snorkeling and swimming destination
Sitting under the endless watch of the remains of Fort Barrington is Deep Bay Beach, a crescent-shaped stretch of pristine white sand leading to clear azure sea. With its calm, flat water, it is as close as you will ever get to a natural swimming pool, and great for families with plenty of paddling for little ones.
You can snorkel out to the wreck of the barque, Andes, sitting there since 1914, but its protected, so don’t be tempted to touch or remove anything. There is scuba diving equipment hire options with guided swims in the bay, a catamaran tour of the area to take in the beauty from a different angle, but whatever you do, don’t forget to take time to relax and soak in the sun and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.
Great Bird Island – a tiny and pretty islet lying almost three kilometers north-east of Antigua
Just 20 acres of land, Great Bird Island sits just to the northeast of Antigua, a true desert island that you can explore. It was named by 17th-century sailors who were amazed by the sheer number of birds they found nesting there. The white sandy beaches at either end of the island are a fabulous place to relax and enjoy the quiet, with 20,000 visitors a year the island is never really crowded, and you can always find your own space. But it offers so much more.
A natural paradise, you can find any number of exotic and endangered species, including red-billed tropicbirds, brown pelicans, West Indian whistling ducks, frigate birds, man o’ war birds and a number of lizard species. In addition, this island is the only known habitat for the Antiguan Racer, a snake unique to the island and one of the rarest in the world.
A unique experience, whether you sit on the beach or explore the wildlife, Great Bird Island is a different way to enjoy Antigua.
Hermitage Bay – a stunning beauty spot
With tree-lined slopes surrounding the pristine beach, Hermitage bay has the feel of a private island with the stunning views that Antigua is famous for. Home to several boutique resorts, and with luxury villas dotted through the tree line, Hermitage Bay made the Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List in 2018, and its easy to see why.
If you want a tranquil, romantic location to spend time by the sea, few places can match it. With many options of open water mooring, it’s a haven for yachts too. Largely protected from the wind, it is almost a separate world away from the island. Enjoy a meal at any of the nearby restaurants while the sun sets in glorious beauty over the incredible scenery.
Indian Town Point – a prominent headland on the eastern coast of Antigua
Indian Town Point is a national park located along the rugged northeastern coast of the island, and is home to some of the most rewarding hiking opportunities in the Caribbean. With over 30 different bird species roosting among the acacia trees in the area, if you love nature, this is definitely somewhere that should be on your list.
Its not all about the birds though, and possibly the best-known attraction within Indian Town Point is the incredible naturally formed limestone bridge that reaches out into the ocean. Known as the Devil’s Bridge, this impressive sight has been sculpted by the incessant tides over thousands of years, and it is one of the most photogenic features on the island. For best effect, visit at high tide, where the force of the waves pushes sea water up through blowholes in the rock, producing geysers that spurt high into the air.