Visitors to Antigua can easily get lost in the beauty of the island's beaches. Before settling down on the white sand, learn about the costs you will need to consider during your vacation. Knowing what to expect allows you to set a budget in advance, and that leaves you with one less worry while you soak up the sun.
Expenses are an unavoidable aspect of any vacation. While thinking about your budget may not be as exciting as thinking about a day of scuba diving, it is important to consider expenses such as accommodations, dining, and transportation. While these items represent a vacation's three biggest expenses, it is also important to factor in smaller daily expenses such as shopping, taxes, and tours.
One of the most important aspects of planning your trip to Antigua is choosing your accommodations. Deciding where you want to stay on the island, what time of year you wish to visit, and the kinds of amenities you desire all affect the cost of your lodging options. Vacationers can find accommodations that range from small villas and guest houses to luxurious all-inclusive resorts and hotels.
Most vacationers travel to the Caribbean during the busy winter months, and those looking to break the bank could find lodging on the northwest part of Antigua for more than $1,000(USD) a night during this time. On the other hand, simple rooms can be found for $50(USD) per night during the busy season. But visitors looking for a few amenities should expect to pay more than $100(USD) a night for a standard room. Costs for reasonably-priced hotels and resorts begin in this range and progress upwards to lavish accommodations that run from $400(USD) to $750(USD) per night. Guest houses and villas start at $200(USD) a night and go up to $5,000(USD) a week.
When considering these costs and making your reservations, it is important to factor in the government tax of 8.5 percent and a service charge of 10 to 15 percent that will be added to your bill. Always ask your hotel for a full list of included and non-included charges when you are being quoted a room rate.
Also, consider the amenities and services that may be included with your room in a more expensive or all-inclusive hotel. You may be able to significantly improve the level of service and attention for a reasonable price. Many times, all-inclusive resorts include extras and amenities in the room rate, so your additional expenses on things such as dining or scuba diving may be less as a result. Research a resort's attractions, events, dining options, and costs to see whether the extras included in the price of an all-inclusive will be worth the higher room rate.
Nonetheless, travelers who are concerned with keeping their budget down can find simple rooms for reasonable prices. They can also consider traveling to Antigua during the off season, when even the lavish hotels slash their room rates from 20 to 50 percent.
Dining is a large daily expense to consider while vacationing in Antigua. All-inclusive hotels usually include this cost in the room rate. Others can venture into St. John's or Dickenson Bay, for example, to find varied cuisine, ranging from local flavors to American favorites. Low-cost and fast food options begin at $5(USD), but travelers should generally expect to pay between $10(USD) and $20(USD) for dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. Fine dining costs can range up to $70(USD) per meal. If you want to sample local food or dine at an upscale restaurant, but are afraid of spending money on food you might not like or just can't afford, consider experimenting at lunchtime: The cost of lunch is generally much lower than dinner. Be aware that most restaurants add a 7 percent tax and a 10 percent service charge to the bill. When asking about prices for any service in Antigua, be clear about whether the quoted price is in U.S. Dollars or Eastern Caribbean Dollars.
Although tips at restaurants and hotels will make up a small portion of your budget, don't forget this necessity. If a service charge is included on your restaurant tab, feel free to leave an extra 5 percent if the service was good. The appropriate amount to tip porters and bellhops is $0.50(USD) to $1(USD) per bag, although many all-inclusive hotels prohibit guests from tipping their staff. Taxi drivers will expect a tip of 10 to 15 percent of the fare, and skippers on skippered bareboats should receive the same percentage on the cost of the charter.
Transportation can be another major cost factor in your trip budget. Taxi rates are meterless, and when split with more than one person, can be an intelligent and inexpensive option. A ride from the airport to St. John's will run about $15(USD); a ride from the airport to English Harbour will cost around $28(USD). A popular tourist option is take a $40(USD) taxi from St. John's to English Harbour, where the driver will wait for about 30 minutes while you look around. Bus fares are typically $1(USD), but service is unpredictable, and sometimes unsafe.
Major international rental car companies are present in Antigua, but renting a car is an expensive way of getting around and should only be used by those looking to tour the island. Securing a temporary driver's license on Antigua will cost $20(USD), and collision insurance can run from $9(USD) to $11(USD) per day. Rentals start at $35(USD) a day and go up to $55(USD) a day for a four-wheel drive vehicle. Weekly rentals can sometimes save you money and can be found starting at $210(USD) per week. Motorcycles can be rented from $35(USD) per day and go up to $150(USD) for a weekly rental. Meanwhile, bicycle rentals are much more affordable, starting at $20(USD) for a day and going up to $85(USD) for the week.
Other forms of transport to consider include ferries and day cruises. A day cruise aboard the Jolly Roger in St. John's will cost around $60(USD) for an adult and $30(USD) for a child under the age of 12. A return trip ferry ticket to Barbuda will cost $51(USD). Another option is the Barbuda Express, which offers passage to Barbuda as well as tours of such sites as the Corrington Family Home, provides an al fresco lunch, and taxis visitors back to Antigua for the all-inclusive price of $159 (USD).
Don't forget to factor the following into your daily spending allowance: guided tours, admission fees, and souvenirs. Tours of island sites such as Great George Fort and old sugar plantations can start at about $65(USD) per day, while a package tour to Montserrat will run about $130(USD). Also consider extra-curricular activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and golfing when mapping out your budget.
Shopping is a favorite pastime of many vacationers, and travelers will find ample opportunity to explore shops and local vendors as they disembark from their cruise ship or take a break from tanning on the beach. Duty-free shopping can be found on the island in Heritage Quay, and good shopping can also be found at Redcliffe Quay and in St. John's. Vendors have their own special mall in St. John's where they sell local goods such as straw and pottery work, rum, and fabrics.
When leaving Antigua, be sure to consider any fees imposed on goods brought back to your home country. In the United States, citizen may bring back the following items duty free: up to 1 liter of island produced liquor, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and 170 ml of perfume. Check with your native customs house to be clear on your home country's regulations.
International visitors to Antigua who stay for more than 24 hours are required to pay a departure tax of $20(USD) as they leave the island. Be sure to check with your airline to ensure that this fee is not included in your airfare. Restaurants will add a 7 percent government tax and 10 to 15 percent service charge, while hotels will usually add an 8.5 percent government tax and a 10 to 15 percent service charge.
Budgeting may be the least exciting part of planning your trip, but if done intelligently, can result in a trip free of monetary worries. Careful planning will let you kick back and enjoy fun in the Antiguan sun.
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