Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a Caribbean destination that’s both exotic and accessible. Here you’ll find a rich history to explore, some of the finest rums, unique delicacies like the Antigua Black pineapple—considered the sweetest in the world—and, in the surrounding waters, a vibrant sailing scene unmatched in the West Indies.

Caribbean sea, Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua island, windmills of Betty Hope, old cane sugar plantation

RIEGER Bertrand

Overview

How to get around Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua’s location at the middle of the West Indies island chain means it’s closer than about half of all other Caribbean destinations. From the United States, several major airlines land at VC Bird International Airport, just five miles from the island’s capital of St. John’s. Soon, the older, though not terribly bad, facilities will be retired, as a modern, brand-new terminal is slated to open in early 2015. No visas are required for travelers from the U.S., Canada, and a wealth of other European Union countries. Barbuda has just one tiny village, Codrington, where the miniscule airport and ferry landing dock are located.

You’ve got two main options. One, a trusted taxi driver. Inquire at your hotel for someone they regularly use. A driver will happily shuttle you around, rates are fairly reasonable, and you won’t have to worry about overindulging in the great rum selection. Or, rent a car. It costs less than being driven, and you’re completely free to explore at your leisure, uncovering unique experiences with a little direction and a lot of chance. Most hotels and resorts can arrange a car for you once you’re on the island. Just remember, all those years of British influence mean they drive on the left in Antigua and Barbuda.

Local travel tips for Antigua and Barbuda

Barbuda is blissfully undeveloped. The island is famous for its bird population, and is a choice spot for birders. To see the island on a day-trip from Antigua sign up for a tour with the Barbuda Express (they also offer island day trips for people staying in Barbuda as well) and they operate the daily catamaran service between the sister islands. If you’re staying on the island, know that most of the independent restaurants in Barbuda require 24-hour advance reservations, because they only buy enough food for confirmed guests.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
Whether you’re traveling with toddlers, teens, grandparents, or in-laws, these Caribbean retreats offer a balance of ocean and cultural adventures, plus endless opportunities for play.
Resources to help plan your trip
With just three proper resorts (and a handful more guesthouses), Barbuda remains an undiscovered Caribbean hideaway, perfect for an off-the-beaten track holiday. Antigua’s sister island lies just 27-miles to the north, but feels worlds away. Barbuda’s major export is sand, which despite shipping out by the ton, it still has plenty of, in silky pink and white, fronting its gin-clear, aquamarine sea. It’s also home to a thriving reef system providing excellent snorkeling and amazing birdlife.
Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) encompasses 108 square miles of coastline and 365 white sand beaches between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. For an uncommon, all-inclusive Caribbean holiday, stay at The Galley Bay Resort and Spa. In and around the property are ruins of forts hundreds of years old, wrecks for snorkeling, a spa with tree houses for treatment rooms, plenty of authentic dining options, and even world-class sailing opportunities.
It’s time to drink like a local in Antigua: the island plays host to stellar spirits & brews, with the majority coming from two local places: the Antigua Distillery Limited and Antigua Brewery Limited. From Antigua’s distillery you get national rums like Cavalier and English Harbour, while from the Brewery there’s Wadadli and also Wadadli Gold, which kicks up the manliness a notch. But if you really want to drink like a local, check out Bushy’s and get a taste before it’s gone!
It’s not difficult to find the forts of Antigua; as one of Britain’s crown jewels in the Caribbean, Antigua was fortified with watch stations, formidable ramparts, and more to keep her harbors safe. Today, these forts and fortifications lie in various states of ruin, but many have been given new life as party venues, restaurants, and destinations for the best views on Antigua. Here are my favorite four... plus a curious church, all worth a visit!
The best hotels in Antigua are all about beach access and poolside lounging. Fulfill your private island fantasies at Jumby Bay, set on a private 300-acre island 10 minutes by boat from Antigua. Antigua’s Curtain Bluff Resort has one of the island’s most envious settings straddling two beaches, while guests at the St. James Club & Villas hotel have to choose between the beach or six different swimming pools. Foodies should be sure to book a reservation at the restaurant at Carlisle Bay.
With just three proper resorts open on the island – all of which are all inclusive – and only a handful more small guesthouses and dining options, Barbuda is definitely a sleepy tourist destination. Which is exactly why the visitors who have discovered this West Indies island, just 27 miles from Antigua, keep returning.
You’ll need a bit of time if you plan on visiting each of Antigua’s best beaches - if you visited a different one every day, it would take an entire year to sample all of Antigua’s sugar-white sandy beaches. Yes, the island may have only 54 miles of coastline, but it boasts 365 beaches! And don’t think it’s all quantity and no quality. Many of Antigua’s best beaches are found on the protected Caribbean side, and all are open to the public.
These 5 restaurants may be the best authentic eateries in the diverse melting pot of the Caribbean. Whether it’s eating in an extended family’s back yard, learning how to be happy with a rum-loving German, or sitting on some steps tucking into a local lunch plate—you can’t go wrong with any of these Antiguan restaurants. And if you want to give back to the Antigua community with your gourmet dinner purchase, well, there’s a place for that, too!
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