Things to do in Antigua besides working on your tan

For a small Caribbean island, the list of things to do in Antigua is a diverse and impressive one. Part of the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, it's everything you'd expect from the Caribbean with a few surprises along the way, and we've got the ultimate inspiration to get you up and off your beach towel.

Things to do in Antigua © Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority
Things to do in Antigua © Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority

Things to do in Antigua besides working on your tan

While spending a holiday lying on some of the hundreds of beautiful beaches would be time well-spent, those who manage to tear themselves away from their sun loungers will discover that there is so much more to this Commonwealth island, including the following attractions:

Take a land tour of the island

In Antigua it's easy to hire a taxi driver to be your tour guide for the day. It's a great way to get a feel for the island and its sites, while deciding if there is somewhere you might like to go back to. Taxis can be hired for a half-day or a full-day, simply approach a driver at a taxi stand or ask someone you trust for a recommendation.

Air conditioned taxi, Antigua © Dr Warner - Flickr Creative Commons
Air conditioned taxi, Antigua © Dr Warner - Flickr Creative Commons

Expect to pay around US $90 for a half-day tour and up to US $140 for a full-day tour including a stop for lunch, per car. If the taxi driver you're speaking to seems too pushy, walk away and find someone more willing to discuss exactly what you want to do for the day. Agree on a price before getting into the car.

Visit Stingray City

If you want to do something adventurous and death-defying, take a day to meet stingrays in Antigua's coral reefs at Stingray City. A speedboat will take you out to the crystal clear water where you can see straight through to the sand where the Southern Rays are swimming, feeding, and relaxing.

Stingray City, Antigua © Anthony DeFreitas - Flickr Creative Commons
Stingray City, Antigua © Anthony DeFreitas - Flickr Creative Commons

Southern rays are a gentle and attention-loving species without the poisonous barbs so handlers will help you feed them and show you how to get a hug from one of these amazing, flattened sea creatures.

Set sail on an eco adventure

No visit to Antigua is complete without a boat trip around the island. Taking a yacht or a catamaran is an option, but to really see the natural beauty of the island try an eco-tour with Adventure Antigua.

Adventure Antigua tour to Hell's Gate © www.adventureantigua.com
Adventure Antigua tour to Hell's Gate © www.adventureantigua.com

They can pick you up from your accommodation (if it's on the beach) in a boat that will take you on a tour of the coastline. From there you'll get to see the different types of ecosystems around the island, including the mangroves and barrier islands nearby. The tour will also take you up to Hell's Gate, a natural stone archway that separates the rough Atlantic Ocean from the tranquil Caribbean sea.

Lunch at Green Island © Andrew Moore - Flickr Creative Commons
Lunch at Green Island © Andrew Moore - Flickr Creative Commons

You'll also get a chance to visit one of Antigua's National Parks, Bird Island, and go on a hike with a guide who can point out different animal species. After lunch, take a dip snorkelling around part of Antigua's coral reef where there is endless marine life to see.

Explore Nelson's Dockyard and Fort Berkeley

Nelson's Dockyard is another one of Antigua's National Parks, and was once home to the British Navy. Dating back to the 18th century, the place gets its name from Horatio Nelson, the renowned Royal Navy officer who was the commander of this post. You can visit the museum and historical sites that have been restored while surrounded by hills and water.

Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua © Roger Hiscocks - Flickr Creative Commons
Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua © Roger Hiscocks - Flickr Creative Commons

Fort Berkeley was an integral part of Antigua's defense and makes for a complete military history visit of the island. The trail up to the fort starts behind the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel in Nelson's Dockyard at the Superyacht Dock. If in doubt, just follow the goats! Walking along the trail you'll find stunning views of English Harbour and the quarry that provided the stone used to build the fort.

Party Sunday nights away at Shirley Heights

Shirley Heights was once a military complex but now site of the infamous Sunday evening party. Head up to Shirley Heights with some cold drinks and watch the sun set over the English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard.

Sunset on Shirley Heights © Simon English - Flickr Creative Commons
Sunset on Shirley Heights © Simon English - Flickr Creative Commons

As the sun goes down the party picks up: steel band music starts playing, barbecues get going, and people start dancing. As the night wears on, reggae groups take over and the rum punch brings people out of their shells until the wee hours.

Surfing, snorkelling, and diving

Half Moon Bay Beach in the east of Antigua offers the best opportunity for surfers who want to catch some waves. This break is made up of a wind swell that doesn't get much higher than one and a half metres, so it's great for beginners and improvers.

Snorkelling in Antigua © www.adventureantigua.com
Snorkelling in Antigua © www.adventureantigua.com

Divers and snorkelling fans have plenty of options to see the underwater world in Antigua. Cades Reef is an underwater park that's perfect for scuba divers, while a short hike from Galleon Beach, you'll find the Pillars of Hercules which is an ideal spot for shallow dives and snorkelling, as well as secluded beaches and rare fish.

Fancy ticking off this list of things to do in Antigua for yourself? If you'd like to hug a stingray for less, check out the latest great travel deals on flights and holidays to the Caribbean from big names such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Alyssa James

Alyssa James
Posted on Tuesday 24th March 2015 in: Adventure Asia Culture Excursions

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