Antigua – Image courtesy of searchantigua.com
Antigua offers a choice of three major resort areas along the sheltered west coast at Dickenson Bay, Jolly Beach and Five Islands; all are close to the capital, St John’s.
You can also choose from a selection of more intimate and exclusive resorts that are scattered along the coastline of this lush and hilly, 280km² island.
Dickenson Bay – Explore Antigua’s most developed resort area, with a choice of mainly large, all-inclusive resorts facing a long crescent of soft white sand lined with restaurants, beach bars and water sport concessions.
Sunbathe and swim from the powder white sands or sign up for a parasailing, windsurfing, sailing, diving, snorkelling or kayaking trip to explore the coastal regions.
Dickenson Bay is 3km north of St John's and 11km northwest of the airport.
Jolly Harbour – The well-developed resort area of Jolly Harbour on Antigua’s west coast, south of the capital St John's, is home to several large and all-inclusive resorts, as well as duty free shopping and a wide choice of beachfront water sports.
Unwind on the powder-white sand of Jolly Beach (photo), head off on a guided snorkelling excursion or tee-off from the Jolly Harbour Golf Course.
After dark, enjoy a flutter at the gaming tables of the Grand Princess Casino, then dance the night away at the casino’s disco (arguably the island’s best) or head to the lively bars overlooking Jolly Harbour (check out Castaways).
St John's – The island’s capital, St John's boasts the nearby Five Islands Village, an exclusive and primarily gated resort district located on a peninsula.
Here you can relax on white-sand beaches, be pampered with a range of creature comforts and dine at one of the island’s finest restaurants – Chez Pascal.
In St John's, stroll cobblestone streets past weather-beaten wooden houses featuring louvered verandas. Visit colonial sights such as the 17th century Anglican Cathedral of St John the Divine then explore the picturesque remains of Fort Barrington and Fort James, which overlook St John's Harbour.
Browse for duty free bargains in the shops of St John's Heritage Quay and in Redcliffe Quay. After dark, enjoy a flutter at King's Casino or dance the night away at one of the local clubs.
St John's is located on the northwest coast, around 8km west of the airport.
English Harbour – On the south coast, English Harbour boasts the island’s best range of nightlife options and is the centre of Antigua’s sailing and yacht charter scene.
By day, explore historic Nelson's dockyard, the world's only Georgian-era dockyard still in use and one of the Caribbean's best-preserved historic districts, dating from 1745.
Browse the nautical museum, shops and art centre and enjoy lunch in one of the quaint restaurants. Then take an excursion across the rolling countryside to Shirley Heights, an 18th century fortress dominating the entry to English Harbour.
Best beaches in Antiqua
Antigua is famous for its numerous and idyllic white-sand beaches that sit in picture-perfect bays facing the shimmering turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The best beaches on the island, anti-clockwise from Dickenson Bay, include …
Dickenson Bay Beach
(Northwest Coast) – Dip your toes into the soft sugar-white sand of this 900m-long beach that shelves into calm turquoise water that is perfect for swimming and snorkelling around the rocky headlands.
A favourite of families with small children, Dickenson Bay is edged by a choice of hotels, restaurants, bars and water sports concessions including windsurfing and parasailing.
Facilities such as umbrellas and sun loungers are supplied by the beachfront hotels, which typically require a small fee for non-guests.
Should the beach get too crowded, wander south to Runaway Bay or to the north side of Dickenson Bay. Hire a boat and visit one of the tiny uninhabited offshore islets that are perfect for beachcombing and snorkelling offshore reefs – try Paradise Reef, a 1.5km-long coral garden to the north of Dickenson Bay.
Come for a day or stay in luxury at the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – a sprawling, all-inclusive mega-resort with seven outdoor pools, including one of the largest free-form pools in the Caribbean. Dickenson Bay is 3km northeast of St John's.
(West Coast) – Choose from several idyllic white-sand beaches (including one clothing-optional beach) that lie in picture-perfect coves framed by rocky headlands facing the shimmering turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Just offshore lies a rock that resembles a hawksbill turtle.
Mainly secluded, these gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, including Royal Palm Beach (photo) offer powder-soft sand for sunbathing and clear waters for swimming and snorkelling above coral gardens that teem with colourful reef fish.
Facilities include sun loungers and umbrellas as well as various amenities supplied by a choice of luxurious beach resorts, including the Hawksbill by Rex Resorts, an all-inclusive resort popular with families and couples.
Or try the laid-back but luxurious Galley Bay resort, which sprawls across a manicured garden facing a 900m-long white-sand beach – the largest of the Hawksbill Beaches.
Hawksbill Beaches lie on the Five Islands peninsula, around 6km southwest of St John's.
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(West Coast) – Pick your own spot to sunbathe on this 700m-long white-sand beach that gently shelves into calm, crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
This secluded beach is scattered with towering palm trees, framed by bush-covered headlands and edged by Valley Road, which offers good access from anywhere on the island.
A beachfront bar offers snacks and cold drinks; other than this, there are no facilities. A short stroll away sits the equally gorgeous Ffryes Bay Beach, an enticing escape should Darkwood get too crowded for your liking.
Darkwood Beach is just 3km south of Jolly Harbour.
Crab Hill Beach
(Southwest Coast) – Unwind on this idyllic white-sand beach, one of several interconnecting beaches that stretch south of Crabbe Hill to secluded coves around Johnson’s Point.
Sunbathe on the soft powder-white sand, swim in the clear turquoise waters and snorkel above rich coral gardens teeming with rainbow-hued tropical fish.
Facilities on this wide beach include umbrellas and sun loungers for hire and a selection of iconic beach bar/restaurants, including OJ's, Gibson's, Turner's and the 3 Martini Bar – all perfect for savouring sunsets over distant Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis islands.
Crab Hill Beach is around 5km south of Jolly Harbour.
Carlisle Bay Beach
(South Coast) – Unwind on the soft white sands of this palm-fringed beach that lies beneath the exclusive Curtain Bluff Hotel.
Sunbathe on the beach or go swimming in the stunning blue waters. Then be pampered with a range of creature comforts at the bluff-top hotel.
Pigeon Point Beach
(South Coast) – Unwind on this gorgeous white-sand beach – the best beach near English Harbour – shelving into calm clear waters that are excellent for swimming and snorkelling.
Enjoy views of mega-yachts anchored in Falmouth Harbour Bay. Facilities include umbrellas and sun loungers for hire as well as several nearby bars and restaurants.
Pigeon Point is southwest of Falmouth on the south coast.
Half Moon Bay Beach
(Southeast Coast) – Pick your own spot to sunbathe and swim on this gorgeous, 1.5km-long, powder-white beach that is arguably Antigua’s finest, yet is one of the least crowded.
Lying beneath low vegetation-clad hills and facing the brisk waves and winds of the Atlantic Ocean, Half Moon is the ideal spot for kite surfing and windsurfing.
The northern end is sheltered from the open ocean and is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Facilities include a public park, toilets and a beach bar, which also rents beach chairs and umbrellas.
Half Moon Bay lies east of English Harbour, around 2.5km from Freetown.
(East Coast) – Relax on the soft sands of this idyllic 500m-long beach that shelves into the shallow turquoise waters of Long Bay.
Sunbathe on the powder-white sand framed by bush-clad cliffs, swim in the warm waters and snorkel above stunning coral reefs teeming with rainbow-hued tropical fish.
Facilities include sun loungers and umbrellas for hire, as well as a selection of water sports. Come for a day or stay longer at the Long Bay Hotel or Pineapple Beach Club.
Pineapple Beach is north of Half Moon Bay and near Indian Town Point on the east coast of Antigua.
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What to do and see in Antigua
Beyond the beaches, Antigua offers a wide range of sights and activities. Learn about the island’s history on a visit to partially restored Betty's Hope, Antigua's first sugar plantation, and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua’s oldest building, dating from 1750.
See Devil’s Bridge and dramatic blowholes spouting foaming Atlantic surf while hiking through Indian Town National Park on the wild north-eastern tip of the island.
Enjoy panoramic views from Boggy Peak, the island’s highest point at 402m above sea level. See marine life (without getting wet) in a glass-bottomed boat, cruise the islands on a replica pirate ship and see various species of birdlife on an excursion to Great Bird Island from Dickenson Bay.
Hire a car to explore Antigua’s coast along the scenic Fig Tree Drive, a 32km-long circular drive past picturesque fishing villages; just don't expect to see any fig trees – fig is Antiguan for bananas.
Watch locals play cricket or the national game of warri – an ancient board game traditionally played using shells placed in cups.
Get a bird's-eye view of Antigua's rainforest on a rainforest canopy tour or from even higher on a helicopter tour of the island, flying over lush rainforest and Antigua’s myriad beaches and cays.
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Where to stay in Antigua
If you can afford to splash out, try one of the super-exclusive properties such as Carlisle Bay, arguable the most opulent and luxurious hotel in Antigua, located on a picture-perfect bay.
Antigua offers newlyweds an excellent choice of honeymoon accommodation options to suit all budgets, including the following hotels…
Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort - All Inclusive
Location: Long Island, Antigua
Ave nightly price: AUD1,780 per room
Description: This Long Island resort is next to a golf course, nestled on a private white sand beach and within easy reach of area attractions such as Dutchman's Bay, American University of Antigua, and Kitesurf Antigua. Local attractions also include Hell's Gate Island and Jabberwock Beach. At Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort - All Inclusive, spend the day on the private white sand beach where you can enjoy snorkeling. Then return for a meal at one of the resort's 3 restaurants. All 40 rooms offer thoughtful touches like espresso makers and bathrobes, along with free WiFi, free wired Internet, and patios. Guests will also find iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and minibars.
Hermitage Bay - All Inclusive
Location: Saint Johnʼs, Antigua
Ave nightly price: AUD1,700 per suite
Description: This beachfront resort is in the secluded Hermitage Bay. On 16 acres of tropical gardens, it offers a Spa with massage services, an outdoor pool and a gym. The detached suites and cottages at Hermitage Bay All Inclusive are spacious and elegantly decorated. They offer sea or garden views and the hillside suites include a private plunge pool. All feature flat-screen TV, iPod docking station and a minibar. Hermitage Bay has a beachfront restaurant serving regional dishes made with organic produce. There is also a poolside bar and open-air lounge, and cookery courses and demonstrations are available. Water sports are provided on the beach, and yoga and pilates classes are offered. The Jolly Harbour Marina complex is just a 10 minute drive away, and has a golf resort and helicopter trips to Montserrat. Hermitage Bay is a 40 minute drive from VC Bird International Airport and St John’s can be reached by car in 30 minutes.
Galley Bay Resort & Spa - All Inclusive
Location: Five Island Village, Saint Johnʼs, Antigua
Ave nightly price: AUD681 per room
Description: Featuring a private white sand beach, this Galley Bay resort is 7.8 km from V C Bird International Airport. Indulge Spa, Sea Grape restaurant and spacious rooms with 42-inch flat-screen TVs are offered. Ocean views, an iPod docking station and coffee facilities are available in every room at Galley Bay Resorts and Spa. Each tropical room boasts a patio or balcony. Colorful island artwork is displayed in every room. Cedar Valley Golf Course is 4.5 km from the resort. Antigua rainforest canopy tour is 17.3 km away. Free snorkeling equipment, sailing and wind surfing are offered at Galley Bay Resorts. Guests can exercise in the air-conditioned gym. A tennis court is also available and the resort can arrange personal tennis lessons. Gauguin offers private dining in 2-person candlelit cabanas. A weekly Caribbean barbecue with live steel-drum music is offered at Sea Grape. Ismay’s Restaurant & Bar boasts local island dishes.
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Sandals Grande Antigua - All Inclusive Couples Only
Location: Dickinson Bay, St. John's, Antigua
Ave nightly price: AUD834 per room
Description: This award-winning resort sits along the powdery white sands and calm waters of Antigua's Dickenson Bay, 10 minutes from the capital, St. John's, and 15 minutes from V.C. Bird International Airport. This all inclusive resort offers 6 freshwater pools, 6 whirlpools, 11 restaurants, 7 bars, and a 24 hour fully-equipped fitness center. Guests can choose accommodations in the Caribbean Grove or the Mediterranean Village. Guests enjoy air-conditioned accommodations overlooking lush tropical gardens, pool, or the beach, and lots more. Most rooms feature king-size mahogany 4-poster beds, and patios or balconies.
Location: Old Road St. Mary, Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Ave nightly price: AUD525 per room
Description: This Carlisle Bay hotel is on the beach, 0.3 km from Carlisle Beach, and within 10 km (6 mi) of Turner's Beach and Darkwood Beach. Fryes Beach and Valley Church Beach are also within 15 km (9 mi). Catch some rays on Carlisle Bay's private sand beach or spend the day relaxing at the full-service spa. Then enjoy a meal at one of the hotel's 4 restaurants. All 82 individually decorated rooms feature free WiFi and 24-hour room service. TVs with satellite channels and DVD players provide a bit of entertainment, and guests will also appreciate thoughtful touches like bathrobes and slippers.
Verandah Resort and Spa All Inclusive
Location:Indian Town Road, Willikies, Antigua
Ave nightly price: AUD380 per room
Description: In Saint John’s, Antigua, the family-friendly Verandah Resort and Spa All Inclusive features a spa, 3 swimming pools and an 18-hole mini-golf course. The spacious Caribbean-style suites have a private patio or balcony. With Caribbean architecture and décor, the suites provide a flat-screen TV and a sitting area with sofa bed. A microwave, fridge and coffee-making facilities are included. Non-motorized watersports such as sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and snorkeling are included. The Verandah Resort also has a well-equipped gym and tennis courts. Nicole’s fine-dining restaurant offers Caribbean-inspired cuisine. Casual dining can be found at the Buccaneer restaurant, which serves light dishes and a dining menu. Devil’s Bridge is a short walk from from the Verandah Resort, and the Antigua rainforest canopy tour is 17.7 km away.
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Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these and more hotels and resorts in Antigua at TripAdvisor.
Best time to honeymoon in Antigua
The best time to visit Antigua is anytime. The hurricane season runs from June to November, however, typically, Antigua enjoys a pleasant tropical climate with sunny skies and warm dry days.
The average temperature is 25°C (75°F) from December to April, rising to an average of 28°C (82°F) from May to October with a high of 31°C (87°F) from August to October. Occasional rain showers are brief.
For more climate info: Antigua Weather Guide…
Antigua is the largest of the Leeward Islands group in the northeast of the Caribbean, comprising Antigua, Barbuda and Redonda.
By air, Antigua receives daily non-stop flights from North America, Europe and other Caribbean islands, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
By sea, St John’s deep-sea harbour is a favourite stopover for cruise liners from the USA, Puerto Rico, the UK, Europe and South America.
Information on how to get to Antigua… › Antigua Map
Latest update Antigua honeymoon destination:
16 March, 2018
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