Why Not Go to Antigua?

Play it up on one island, then sequester yourself on the other

Photo credit: © Gary Wood

Why Not Go to Antigua?

Antigua is like the Buy One Get One Free deal of the Caribbean. Tourists visiting the island nation have ample opportunity to visit not only the main island of Antigua, but the lesser-known Barbuda as well. Further, each has a very different sense of style from the other, providing a place of reprieve for both high energy travelers and laid back explore.

Antigua: Facts at a Glance
Currency The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). The US dollar is widely accepted, and only the small local businesses use the EC$. The exchange rate is permanently fixed at about EC$2.70 to each $1(USD).
Electricity The island uses the 220-volt (60 cycles) system, so North American visitors will need converters.
GDP Per Capita The average per capita income is about $18,300(USD).
Island Size Anguilla covers about 108 square miles of land area
Language The official language is English, but many local dialects are spoken.
Population Antigua has a population a little over 80,100, and sees about 222,100 visitors per year, 27 percent of whom are from the U.S.
Entry Requirements For citizens of the U.S., U.K., and Canada, a valid passport or Original Naturalization Certificate are required to enter Antigua. Citizens of all other countries, including those of the Caribbean, are required to have a valid passport.

Geography and Weather

Three islands actually make up the chain that is Antigua, though the third, Redonda, remains uninhabited. Encompassing 108 square miles, Antigua is the largest of the British Leeward Islands. The islands are relatively low-lying volcanic formations, all though the terrain is mostly influenced by limestone deposits. The coastline of each island is characterized by lagoons, natural harbors, and beaches, and is protected by beautiful coral reef. A helicopter tour of the island is a great way to view the topography from above, in all of it's glory. The waters surrounding the island are so clear that you can often see the coral reef from two thousand feet in the air.

The people of Antigua believe in mutual respect. Respectful and polite behavior means a respectful and polite return, but even the slightest rudeness could turn a potential friend into a standoffish passerby. Residents speak English and are of African descent with a history of slavery. A strong British influence makes cricket a favorite sport among the islanders.

Antigua has an average annual temperature of 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and is considered to have one of the most temperate climates in the world because of its low humidity levels. The islands average 39 inches of rain each year, with the wet season peaking between September and November. Click here for more information about Antigua's weather.

Around the Islands


...many of Antigua's top attractions are all natural...


The great thing about a trip to Antigua is that you really can choose the style of vacation that suites you best; but step out of your comfort zone for a few hours if you are feeling up to it. Antigua is the more modern of the two islands, featuring posh restaurants, larger shopping facilities, and sprawling resort hotels.  Everything you want out of your vacation is at your fingertips on this island. Beach dwelling, sailing, hiking, and pampering can all be done in Antigua. Shopping in Antigua is duty free, and while some might argue that shopping is not a top priority on the island, savvy shoppers can easily come away with inexpensive designer goods, gems, and artwork.

For the outdoorsman, many of Antigua's top attractions are all natural, including the beaches, Devil's Bridge, and Mount Obama (formerly known as Boggy Peak).  Zip-lining through the Antiguan forest at 350 feet above land is an exciting way to take a tour, while hiking and kayaking tours also exist, perhaps without the thrill of the wind in your hair as you explore.  One of the best views in Antigua is at Shirley Heights, a one-time observation point used by the British military.  Sunday nights the site hosts not only a picturesque view, but a great steel pan and reggae party for everyone who is willing to attend. Don't forget that the last week of April brings sailors from around the world to Sailing Week, which show cases one of the top five regattas in the world.


Barbuda is for the vacationer who wants to get away from it all. The island is home to more frigate birds than humans, and remains largely underdeveloped. There are only a few hotels on this island, providing many guests with the seclusion and exclusivity they seek on their Caribbean vacation. Activities reflect the relaxed pace of the island; beach combing is one of the more popular past times, as are boating, tennis, golf, and swimming. Barbuda's attractions include the architectural remains of the Codrington Estate, the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, and of course, the beaches.

If you are visiting Antigua between the months of July and August, you are in for a special treat, because that is Antigua's Carnival time. Carnival is Antigua's celebration of Caribbean song and dance, featuring colorful costumes, lively pageants, food festivals, numerous concerts, and many street fairs. There is no better way to experience local culture than to attend Carnival.

Eat Up!

The truly adventurous traveler will want to sample Antigua's local delicacies, regardless of which island they visit. Black pineapple and breadfruit make for great snacks; while pepperpot, which is a beef and vegetable stew that is a little spicier than what you may be used to, and salted codfish are main course mainstays. Don't forget to whet your palate with ginger beer or an Antiguan Smile, a rum based concoction featuring crème de banana and pineapple juice. For more details about Antigua's culinary styles, click here.

If a beach for every day of the year isn't enough to entice you to visit Antigua, the temperate climate and wealth of natural attractions might just be. In truth, a vacation in the Caribbean isn't for everyone, but if you are looking for a tropical destination filled with options, Antigua is the place for you.

Health and Safety

Holberton Hospital in Antigua, a fully staffed and modern hospital, is the country's main medical facility. Tap water is usually safe to drink, but many visitors prefer bottled mineral waters. Although crime is not common, be careful at night as the streets can get very quiet and deserted during later hours. Of course, always guard your valuables. Following common sense is the key to safety in Antigua.


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