There’s so much picture-perfect sand on Antigua that you could visit a different public beach every day for a year without coming back to the same one twice. Add friendly locals, great sailing and clear blue waters for a classic Caribbean holiday.
St John’s is the retail capital of Antigua, with the best shops gathered around the High Street area. You’ll also find a selection of exotic boutiques near the Redcliffe Quay waterfront, including jewellery store Goldsmitty (11 Redcliffe Quay) and The Gazebo (Friars Hill Road), which sells everything from salvaged furniture to local handicrafts. The shopping centre at Heritage Quay has a large selection of duty-free shops, but for high-end fashion try independent stores such as Rain Boutique (Lower St Mary’s Street) and Noreen Phillips (Redcliffe Quay). The Saturday market in Market Street is a character-packed affair specialising in exotic fruit and veg.
Food & Drink
Caribbean cuisine is a melting pot of flavours, encompassing everything from sweet tamarind balls to spicy ducana (sweet potato dumplings – a local speciality). Many of the best restaurants are attached to hotels – Sugar Ridge (Tottenham Park, St Mary’s), Carlisle Bay (Old Road) and Cocobay (Valley Church) all have classy eateries. Harmony Hall (Brown’s Bay Mill), overlooking Nonsuch Bay, serves exquisite Mediterranean-style dishes, while Le Bistro (Hodges Bay) spices up classic French fare with the odd Caribbean twist. Seafood café Trappas (English Harbour) is a great place to snatch a light lunch, or soak up colonial charm at nearby Hamilton’s Wine Bar and Bistro (Nelson’s Dockyard). Dennis’s Cocktail Bar and Restaurant (Ffryes Beach) specialises in traditional Caribbean food at wallet-friendly prices.
A & B International Kite Festival
Whether you’re a keen kite flyer or a spectator, this colourful family event makes for a fun day out. Kites in every conceivable colour, shape and style fill the skies above Antigua during the week-long festival.
Antigua Sailing Week
The sailing capital of the Caribbean hosts one of the most prestigious sailing regattas in the world every year. Based at Nelson’s Dockyard, this five-day event attracts the international sailing elite, as well as a crowd of well-heeled hangers-on.
Sports Fishing Tournament and Seafood Festival
This traditional festival starts with a fishing competition and ends with a general celebration of Antigua’s rich marine pickings – it’s the high point of the island’s gourmet calendar.
This lively summer celebration features a programme of music, dance, food fairs, pageant and parades. The highlight of the event is the j’ouvert, which sees brass and steel bands perform to huge crowds.
Anniversary of Independence
The ceremonial parade making this important date for Antiguans begins with displays of uniformed platoons at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium. After the parade, make the journey into St John’s for the Annual Street and Food Fair.
The sandy shores of Antigua are home to some of the Caribbean’s most exclusive hotels. Carlisle Bay (Old Road), set along the bay of the same name, attracts a jet-set crowd with its idyllic jungle-backed beach and breezy rooms, while The Inn at English Harbour (Freeman’s Bay) is a favourite of honeymooning couples. Equally luxe but less pricey, Antigua Yacht Club Marina Resort (Falmouth Harbour) is a buzzy hotel with plenty of character. Travellers on a budget should look to the English Harbour area for well-priced accommodation – the apartments at Donkey on the Beach (3550 Cobbs Cross) combine luxury and seclusion with excellent value.