13 Exciting & Underrated Things to Do in Antigua

By Cait KontailsCait KontailsCait KontailsCait is a Chicago-based Greek-American but spends most of her year floating around the globe. She holds a B.A. in Communications and a M.A. in Nonprofit Management. Her favorite destinations include visiting her homeland in Greece, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and wherever her partner is stationed abroad.Meet Our Team | Updated on June 5, 2024 | Posted In: Honeymoon Destinations

Antigua, part of the independent state known as Antigua and Barbuda, is a breathtaking slice of paradise in the Caribbean. It offers travelers 95 miles of pristine coastline, promising an escape into a world of clear azure waters and unforgettable scenic views. Often mentioned alongside Barbados as part of the sovereign nation in the West Indies, Antigua is perfect for those with an itch for island living.

With its immaculate beaches, Antigua is not just a hotspot for romantic getaways. It’s also a family-friendly and solo traveler’s haven, offering a diverse range of activities to cater to every type of adventurer.

Whether you’re after a vacation packed with beach hopping or prefer the intimacy of private tours, Antigua promises an array of activities to fill your itinerary. To truly unravel the essence of this island, you might find that a week is barely enough. This guide will uncover 13 of the best things to do in Antigua.

Things to Do in Antigua

Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, our list promises to guide you on an extraordinary journey. Without further ado, here are the 13 most exciting and underrated things to do in Antigua.

1. Stay at a Luxurious Resort

Given the sheer abundance of options, choosing the right resort in Antigua can feel a bit overwhelming. For that quintessential beachside experience, aim for a spot where the sand is literally at your doorstep —because, let’s face it, the pristine beaches are the real stars here.

Couples in search of romance might find themselves drawn to the world-renowned Sandals Grande Antigua. Nestled on the inviting sands of Dickenson Bay, this resort offers a unique blend of rustic beach village vibes and all the secluded beauty one could dream of.

Voted by U.S. News as one of the best resorts in Antigua, Sandals Grande Antigua crafts the perfect adults-only getaway with its all-inclusive packages, covering everything from your cozy stay to savoring gourmet meals and unlimited drinks. Home to 12 tantalizing restaurants and six sparkling pools, plus a lineup of day-to-night entertainment and live shows – boredom is simply not possible.

2. Go Beach Hopping

St John Beach in Antigua
Photo by Torrez Joseph on Unsplash

When you visit Antigua, immersing yourself in the island’s beach culture is a must. Each beach has its own unique charm and offers something special for everyone.

  • Dickenson Bay: Famous for its soft sands and clear waters, it’s a paradise for those looking to enjoy water sports. With Sandals Resort located right here, access couldn’t be easier. Step out of your villa, and the beach awaits you with activities like wakeboarding, jet skiing, tubing, parasailing, and more.
  • Valley Church Beach: This beach is perfect for those looking to relax. Its clear blue waters and soft sands make it ideal for sandy naps and playful snorkeling.
  • Darkwood Beach: Known for its picturesque views and less crowded vibe. It’s a great place to enjoy the waves and the beauty of the island.
  • Ffryes Beach: Offers calm waters and stunning sunsets. Ffryes Beach is the epitome of Caribbean beauty, ideal for a peaceful day by the sea.

Beach hopping in Antigua is an adventure in itself, with each beach offering a new perspective of the island’s natural beauty. Whether you’re looking for high-octane water sports or a secluded spot to relax, Antigua’s beaches have it all.

3. Discover the Best Local Cuisine

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While the convenience of all-inclusive resorts might make you hesitant to dine out, Antigua is home to a plethora of dining options that are simply too good to miss. Venturing out to local restaurants allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s rich culinary culture and enjoy dishes that are as diverse as they are delicious.

  • Cecilia’s High Point Café: Well-loved for its efficient service and vibrant atmosphere. Cecilia’s is a hotspot for those in search of freshly made, flavorful meals and refreshing beverages. The café’s welcoming vibe and exceptional hospitality promise a memorable dining experience.
  • Sheer Rocks: Perched atop a cliff, Sheer Rocks boasts panoramic views that are as breathtaking as its food. Specializing in Mediterranean cuisine with a tropical twist, the restaurant offers everything from laid-back tapas lunches to sophisticated a la carte dinners, ensuring every visit is a culinary adventure.
  • The Larder: For a taste of local flavors, head to The Larder. This cozy eatery serves up authentic Antiguan dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From hearty breakfasts to flavorful lunches and dinners, every dish is infused with traditional Antiguan spices and ingredients.

Exploring Antigua’s eclectic dining scene opens up a world of flavors that extend beyond the confines of resort dining. It offers an authentic taste of the island’s diverse culinary heritage. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual cafe atmosphere or an elevated dining experience, Antigua’s restaurants will impress.

4. Get Lost in the Markets

Antigua is a shopper’s paradise, featuring a mix of quaint shops and sprawling markets that offer everything from unique souvenirs to comprehensive gift options for friends and family back home. Here are some must-visit shopping destinations on the island:

  • Redcliffe Quay in St. John’s: Despite a dark history, Redcliffe Quay has transformed into a bustling shopping district. It’s not just a place for retail therapy but also a historical site where you can experience some of the best restaurants and stores Antigua has to offer.
  • Jolly Harbor: This vibrant area is lined with a variety of shops, from souvenir stalls and art galleries to liquor stores and supermarkets. Jolly Harbor is a great destination for those looking to browse or buy in a scenic setting.
  • Heritage Quay: If you’re searching for a unique shopping experience, Heritage Quay’s waterfront neighborhood is the place to go. Specializing in duty-free jewelry shopping, this area also boasts an array of cafes and restaurants, offering a relaxing break between shopping sprees.

Exploring these markets and shopping areas in Antigua provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, grab some great deals, and bring back a piece of the island with you.

5. Visit Iconic Historical Sites

Antigua Historical Sites
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If you want a little history on your honeymoon, Antigua presents a handful of sites that allow you to dive into its rich and complicated past. Here’s a selection of historical landmarks that offer both insight and incredible views:

  • Shirley Heights in English Harbor: Mark your first historical exploration with a visit to Shirley Heights. Situated above the Dockyard on the east side, these hills are not only steeped in history but offer breathtaking panoramic views of the harbor. A trip here is undeniably among the top activities for visitors in Antigua.
  • Fort Barrington: Delve into Antigua’s military past with a visit to Fort Barrington, a British fortification established in 1779. Positioned strategically on the shoreline, this fort served as a crucial lookout and defense point against French naval forces, playing a pivotal role in safeguarding the British colonies.
  • Fort James: Another significant British fortification worth exploring is Fort James. Dating back to the 18th century, this fort was key in protecting St. John’s Harbor from invaders. While it may be somewhat worn from the passage of time, its understated presence and historical significance make it a must-visit. Plus, it boasts stunning views and is usually less crowded, allowing for a peaceful reflection of Antigua’s past.

Visiting these historical sites not only enriches your understanding of Antigua’s historical landscape but also offers unique perspectives on how the island became the place it is today.

6. Explore the Bustling Art Scene

Amtigua Doors
Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

Antigua’s artistic heritage is rich and vibrant, offering art lovers a chance to explore the island’s creativity through various art galleries that showcase the talents of both local and international artists. These galleries provide a glimpse into the artistic prowess of Antigua and house shops where visitors can purchase unique pieces. Check out these art havens for an enriching experience:

  • Zemi Art Gallery: This gallery is a treasure trove of traditional Antiguan and Barbudan art intermingled with contemporary influences, presenting a refreshing take on local craftsmanship.
  • Gilly Gobinet Art Studio: Nestled in the heart of Antigua, this studio highlights the vibrant works of Gilly Gobinet, who specializes in acrylic paintings. Her collection features an array of subjects, including evocative nudes and charming pet portraits.
  • Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery: For those keen on exploring the diverse range of creativity that the Caribbean has to offer, the Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery is an essential stop. The gallery showcases an eclectic mix of crafts and paintings by local and Caribbean artists, providing a fantastic opportunity to purchase authentic and creative works of art.

Exploring Antigua’s art scene is not only a beautiful way to understand the island’s rich cultural heritage but also offers the chance to appreciate and acquire unique art pieces that embody the spirit of the Caribbean.

7. Take a Private Sailing Tour

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Discover the pristine azure waters of the Caribbean in the most splendid manner possible — by sailing. Embark on an adventurous sail around the renowned Cades Reef and the picturesque beaches dotting the region aboard a private vessel.

Snorkeling opportunities abound for those interested in getting their feet (literally) wet. Simply inform the captain in advance to ensure snorkeling equipment is provided and a designated stop is included in your tour to plunge into the vibrant marine life.

These private voyages are not just about the sail; they also come with an array of munchies, including barbeque lunches and refreshing beverages, ensuring a delightful gastronomic experience amidst the tranquil waters. Opt for a catamaran to glide along Antigua’s scenic west coast, where you can lounge on the deck, absorbing breathtaking views, or make a pause at a remote beach to indulge in the soft, white sands or a leisurely swim.

8. Go Hiking

View of Antigua
Photo by Rick Jamison on Unsplash

Antigua is not just renowned for its beautiful beaches but also for its lush landscapes and rolling hills, making it a hiker’s paradise. Whether you’re looking to explore the island’s natural beauty or seeking to challenge yourself with a rigorous trek, Antigua has a trail for every type of hiker. Here are some of the best hikes in Antigua:

  • Shirley Heights Lookout Trail: This moderate hike leads you to one of the most famous vantage points on the island, offering panoramic views of English Harbour and the Caribbean Sea.
  • Wallings Nature Reserve: Perfect for nature lovers, this hike takes you through a dense rainforest to a refreshing reservoir. It’s a sanctuary for endemic flora and fauna.
  • Rendezvous Bay Trail: A challenging yet rewarding hike to one of Antigua’s most secluded and stunning beaches. The trail provides spectacular views and a serene beach experience.
  • Signal Hill: Located within the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, this hike offers a gentler climb and breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

These hikes allow you to immerse yourself in Antigua’s natural beauty and experience the island’s diverse ecosystem and breathtaking views.

9. Take an E-bike Tour

Consider taking an E-bike tour for a unique and eco-friendly way to explore the island. These electric-powered bikes make it easy for anyone to navigate Antigua’s hilly terrain while getting a closer look at local life and attractions. You can choose from various guided tours that take you through historic sites, beaches, and charming villages.

But if you prefer exploring on your own, you can rent an E-bike and create your itinerary. Either way, it’s a fun and sustainable way to experience Antigua and its stunning landscapes.

10. Snorkel with Turtles

Antigua’s crystal-clear waters make it an ideal destination for snorkeling, and one of the most exciting experiences is swimming with turtles. Several companies offer guided boat trips to the best snorkeling spots where you can see these gentle creatures up close in their natural habitat.

Alternatively, you can also rent a snorkel and explore on your own. Popular spots include Cades Reef, Green Island, and Great Bird Island. Just remember to respect the turtles and their environment by not touching or feeding them.

11. Take a Jeep Safari

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Explore Antigua’s rugged and off-the-beaten-path areas with a jeep safari adventure. These tours take you through forests, rough terrain, and local villages, allowing you to see parts of the island that are not accessible by traditional vehicles.

Depending on your preference, you can choose from half-day or full-day tours. Along the way, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about Antigua’s history, culture, and natural wonders from knowledgeable guides.

12. Try Kayaking and Canoeing

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Exploring the ocean waters of Antigua by kayak or canoe. Many local providers offer not just the standard kayaks but also the option for glass-bottom kayaks, allowing adventurers to see the marine life below.

For those who prefer paddleboarding, there are wonderful half-day tours that cater to every skill level. While paddling, keep your eyes peeled for the marine life that calls these waters home, including starfish, gliding ballyhoo, and the occasionally spotted shy turtle. After a day of exploration and exercise, there’s nothing quite like unwinding under the shade of a coconut tree, enjoying a well-deserved and hearty lunch.

13. Visit Spas

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After days filled with adventure and exploration, visiting a spa is the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate. Antigua offers a wide range of spa experiences that cater to every type of traveler.

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious spa day or a more down-to-earth wellness treatment, you’ll find something that suits your needs. Here are some top spas to consider:

  • Red Lane Spa: Offers a sanctuary for mind and body, featuring a blend of European spa practices and Caribbean treatments.
  • The Powder Room Spa: Known for its tranquil atmosphere and a wide array of services including massages, facials, and body treatments.
  • Blue Waters Spa & Wellness: Offers personalized wellness experiences, from rejuvenating facials to soothing body therapies in a serene environment.
  • Tranquility Body & Soul Spa: A great spot for those seeking a holistic approach to wellness, offering a range of treatments from massages to energy healing sessions.

Final Thoughts

Antigua is an island that welcomes honeymooners with its promise of adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable experiences. This island truly has everything from the gleaming turquoise waters inviting you to plunge into snorkeling adventures to the lush trails that appeal to your inner hiker.

Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumped days or moments of tranquil repose under the Caribbean sun, Antigua offers a diverse palette of activities to satisfy every type of traveler. Remember, every corner of this island has a story to tell and a memory to offer.

Don’t just visit; immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, indulge in the local cuisine, and make every moment count. Antigua isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to unfold.

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