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My 1st trip to the Lesser Antilles landed me on the bigger of Caribbean island pair Antigua and Barbuda. The country of Antigua is known as the island of 365 beaches despite being only around 108 square miles― which is smaller than Kingston, Jamaica. Its prime geographical location where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean allowed me to experience both during my Antigua excursions and all-inclusive stay at St. James Club Resort― the only hotel in the country that has both water bodies on its property. If you’re thinking of visiting Antigua, feel free to copy my 7-day itinerary and spend less time researching and more time planning! Here are some of the best things to do in Antigua:

Sample 7-Day Itinerary: Best Things to Do in Antigua

Day 1: Beach

Day 2: Snorkeling Tour + Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Day 3: Zip lining + Private Island

Day 4: Swim with Sting Rays + Zumba

Day 5:  Rum Making + Beach

Day 6: Explore the capital + Duty-Free Shopping + Bea­­ch

Day 7: Nelson’s Dockyard + Beach + Shirley Heights

By the way, before you continue…

Pin for future travels!

1. Antigua’s 365 Beaches

Imagine you’re on an island that has enough beaches to visit a different one every day of the year― that island is Antigua. Every beach I saw or visited looked pristine, covered with mostly powdery white sands stretching into cerulean waters. What’s even better? Every single one of Antigua’s beaches are FREE for everyone to access (yes, even the ones that are by resorts)!

Popular Beaches in Antigua that I visited

  • Dickenson Bay is one of the most popular beaches in Antigua. It is the island’s most developed beach, boasting numerous bars and restaurants, water sports, tour operators, and a grand all-inclusive resort. I had an Americano lunch at 1 of its many eateries called Ana’s on the Beach.
  • Darkwood Beach is dotted with colourful parasols, reputed for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling from the shore. Its namesake restaurant specializes in local cuisine, and is where I got my 1st real taste of authentic Antiguan food.
  • Fort James Beach is a favourite swimming spot for locals and cruise ship visitors alike. It’s about 7 mins from the cruise pier in St. John’s by vehicle. A bit obvious from the name, it is where the historic Fort James rests. I grabbed a really tasty lunch here at a seaside-chic restaurant called Beach Limerz.

2. Antigua Snorkeling Tours

Antigua’s surrounding vibrant blues call you to get wet. It has a rich marine ecosystem filling the waters with common sights of turtles, sting rays and schools of fish. Some of its beaches are great for snorkeling from off the shore, while some require a boat tour. The reef-lined beaches create captivating scenes that await snorkelers off the Antiguan coast including over 100 shipwrecks and the 2-mile long Cades Reef, one of the largest barrier reefs in the Caribbean.

If you’d like a personal suggestion, I highly recommend CocoVibes Tours to explore some great snorkeling spots in Antigua off Marina Bay. Snorkeling in Antigua with Captain George included a fun guide that promoted environment-friendly practices, plus shared some history and general knowledge throughout the trip to 4 beaches and 2 snorkel sites.

Travel Tip: Antigua has both typical snorkeling and motorized scooter snorkeling tour options.


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 3. Antigua Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Caribbean sunsets are stunning, and Antigua is no exception! What better way is there to admire the solar art spectacle than at sea aboard a catamaran? Tropical Adventures offers Mystic Cruises sunset catamarans that sail the Antiguan coastline, complete with an open bar and hammock floors.

If you’re looking to party Caribbean style, I’d say this may be one of the best Antigua boat tours to get moving. In addition to the DJ setting the vibe for the catamaran cruise around the harbour, popular soca aerobics instructor ‘Tony the Tiger’ helped to warm up our waistlines. The Caribbean music inspired singalongs and guided dance choreography, bringing everyone on their feet! The boatload of us moved [somewhat] in unison, covering the catamaran cruise perimeter with conga lines and turning the whole vessel into a dance floor.

4. Antigua Zipline Tour

The Antigua Rainforest Zipline is the only attraction of its kind on the island! It takes you through the lush rainforest in the heart of Fig (Banana) Tree Drive, high above the canopies. Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour is open to all ages and can be fun for the entire family, as long as you meet the introductory safety requirements. Zip line in Antigua through a series of up to 12 treetop cables, as high as 300 feet above the ground. The aerial view brings a new perspective and admiration of the surrounding greenery. Imagine whizzing through the air for as long as 328 feet on ‘The Screamer’! It’s only fitting to end your zip line tour in Antigua with an ice-cold drink at the hillside bar while soaking in the views, don’t you think?

5. Party on Prickly Pear Island Antigua

Prickly Pear Island in Antigua is a pristine, uninhabited sandbar about 7 minutes off shore by boat from Hodges Bay Luxury Resort. Before you see it in the distance, a 22-foot Boonji Spaceman sculpture greets you and marks the departure point before heading to the islet. A series of boats visit this spectacular sandbank that’s equipped with its own bar and a scenic lounge set up. The water immediately surrounding the islet is about ankle deep, stretching into the Caribbean Sea. Most people visit to enjoy the beach, explore the isle, and do some snorkeling. The Prickly Pear Beach Club looks and feels like a sweet escape for the elite, complete with a gorgeous, sweeping view of Antigua’s landscape.

During my visit to Antigua I had the pleasure of catching the sunset here before enjoying dinner under the stars and dancing the night away at a private party. The island vibe was in full swing with complements of a steel band, costumed cultural characters, and the pulse of Caribbean music on the soft sands!

 6. Swim with Stingrays

In addition to its wealth of beaches, Antigua has a number of mangroves and sandbanks. If you’ve ever wanted to interact with a stingray in its habitat, Stingray City attracts the flattened fish with regular feedings on a sandy lagoon sheltered by coral reef. It is like a commercial open-air aquarium where these creatures are used to being fed by humans; in that way it’s somewhat a similar experience to Dolphin Cove in Jamaica. This snorkel adventure is one of the most popular things to do in Antigua, allowing you to swim, interact and feed a stingray. Stingray City has southern stingrays, which are characteristically non-aggressive and only have 1 barb on its tail.

Personally I didn’t opt for this Antiguan excursion because my biggest concern was “are stingray tours ethical, or safe?” I’m sure many of us are apprehensive ever since the untimely demise of beloved wildlife expert Steve Irwin years ago, but I’ve since learned how rare a fatal stingray attack is (1 – 2 annually worldwide). Stingray attacks usually happen when they are stepped on, caught or otherwise disturbed. They are normally docile creatures, which flick their barbs as a reflex defense if they sense danger. Nonetheless, they are still wild animals and thankfully not in captivity here.


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7. Rum Making in Antigua

At some point while visiting the island, you may become familiar with popular Antigua rum brands like Cavalier Rum and English Harbour Rum; they are key ingredients in their must-have rum punch after all. For my fellow rum lovers, what excursion sounds as interesting as rum making in Antigua? Probably not many if any, right? I’ve done my fair share of drinking excursions including Appleton and Worthy Park rum tours in Jamaica and a Champagne tour in France, but Antigua’s Academy of Rum was my first time making my own liquor!

Academy of Rum’s open-air masterclass is located on Antigua’s Galleon Beach. This is like a mini Antigua rum distillery tour providing a fully-immersive experience of how Caribbean rum is made. The immersive learning experience includes sampling traditional and non-traditional alcoholic flavours. The selection noticeably stimulated the taste buds (and also lightened some heads I’m sure), ranging from aged rum to peanut butter flavours. Each person worked with their own pot still and palate to create a custom 750ml blend of rum unique to them, topped with a personalized bottle label and a wax-sealed cap.

8. Zumba Class in Antigua

Vacation is usually a time when we relax, indulge, and often neglect routines such as workouts. If you’re not familiar with Zumba, it is a fun aerobic exercise that incorporates dancing. I ended up doing a 45-minute Zumba class with Celene Senthouse on the beautiful lawns of the Weatherills Rekindled Hotel. The lovely setting looks like it’s straight out of a postcard, with a restored 17th-century mansion and a functioning windmill as the backdrop to your workout. After working your muscles to tropical beats, I recommend ascending the stairway inside the windmill to reveal a remarkable view of Antigua’s landscape!

9. St. John’s Capital City

You know me, as Simply Local Life I had to break away from the resort and tourist hotspots and see what Antigua’s capital city had to offer. St. John’s is where locals flock and cruises dock. The streets are noticeably busier and more places of business are concentrated here compared to everywhere else in Antigua I went. The weekends are punctuated by food markets, shops and bar socials. Your introduction to Saint John’s may be after you arrive in the country at the V.C. Bird International Airport. Early on in my 45-minute journey from the airport to St. James Club Resort, I couldn’t ignore the Antiguan flag seating overlooking the road from the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium. Later in the trip I visited the stadium for a satisfying local lunch platter by the on-site Boundary Bites by Twos restaurant. The bustle coupled with the infrastructure I saw while visiting St. Johns kinda reminded me of the vintage meets modern feel of Downtown Kingston, Jamaica.

10. Fort James

Fort James was built during 1706 – 1739 by the British to protect against potential French invasion. It is named after the King James II and located at the entrance of the St. John’s Harbour. Some of its original cannons have been impressively preserved and still stand overlooking the harbour today. Its ruins however don’t seem to be as well-maintained; the fort looks like more of a secondary attraction compared with the views of the breathtaking Antigua seascape that it points out to. I’m not sure if I missed any, but I noticed I didn’t see any signage nor available guide to detail the history of the site, so I looked up the above info on my own after visiting. If neither of these exist here I could see Fort James (and others) having a lot more attraction potential than it currently does, but it is still worth a visit as is.

11. Designer Duty-Free Shopping in Antigua

Heritage Quay is a designer shopping district in Antigua. Its duty-free shopping complexes are on the waterfront in the heart of the St. Johns capital, which mainly come alive when tropical cruise ship voyageurs dock at the piers of the harbour. If you’re looking to do some retail therapy in Antigua you’ll find rows of bright-coloured stores, souvenir shops, plus eateries and bars at Heritage Quay.

12. English Harbour

Antigua and Barbuda gained independence relatively recently in 1981 from the British. English Harbour started as a British settlement, and is now a popular sailing hub. It boasts 2 of the Caribbean’s best marinas and 1 of my favourite viewpoints in Antigua. There are many conveniences in the area including a museum, fruit stands, pharmacies, liquor stores, eateries and more. Restaurants of all kinds line the tourist-oriented Dockyard Drive― a strip between Nelson’s Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour.

Photo Credit: Passport Heavy

13. Historic Nelson’s Dockyard

Nelson’s Dockyard is a former British Navy base, possessing 18th and 19th-century buildings that were restored in the 1950s. The naval dockyard was once an important base for ship repairs. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and these former colonial buildings now house shops, restaurants, and bars.

14. Shirley Heights

Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout point that was initially used during the war of American independence. Today it is a popular hangout for socializing and sunset gazing, some consider it the best in all of Antigua. The pinnacle of Shirley Heights offers a spectacular view of the English and Falmouth harbours. During my visit, Thursday and Sunday evenings seemed to be the peak party time which featured local bands, drinks, food and of course bigger crowds. Sadly I never got to visit during my eventful week-long trip, but I realized quite a few times it was the talk of the town by both residents and other tourists.

Things to Know about visiting Antigua

Now that you have learned some of the best things to do in Antigua, I’m hoping by now I’ve played a part in adding this Caribbean gem to your travel bucket list. If you do consider making the trip, here are a few things to know before visiting.

Photo Credit: Travel Antigua & Barbuda

Most of them are mentioned earlier in this article so let’s recap:

When is the best time to visit Antigua?

The “best time” to visit Antigua is based on your travel preference:

  • Peak season (and Dry season): Mid-December to April
  • Low Season: May to November
  • Wet Season: June to November
  • Shoulder Season: roughly late April to mid-May and October to mid-December

Peak season typically means higher prices, more crowds and available activities. Shoulder seasons are midway between high and low season.

What language(s) do Antiguans speak?

English is Antigua’s official language. Residents may also speak in their local dialect.

What currency does Antigua use? / Are US Dollars accepted in Antigua?

The official currency of Antigua is the East Caribbean dollar, but the US dollar is widely accepted. At the time of my visit in May 2023, the exchange rate was approx. $1 USD : $3 ECD

What airport do you fly into for Antigua?

The V.C. Bird International Airport is Antigua’s main international airport.

How do I get from Antigua to Barbuda?

You can visit the twin island Barbuda by ferry (most popular option), chartered plane or helicopter. It can be done as a day trip or overnight stay.

How do I get from Jamaica to Antigua?

At the time of this post, Jamaica offered direct flights to Antigua from Kingston via Caribbean Airlines. It’s a roughly 2.5hr flight.

Do you need a visa to go to Antigua?

You may find if your passport requires an Antigua visa here. Jamaican passport holders do not require a visa to visit Antigua.


The country of Antigua is more than just beautiful beaches; it oozes history, and as a Jamaican it was pleasantly surprising to see how much our cultures aligned. I’m grateful I got to experience this Caribbean gem for a global influencer conference curated by Traverse Events and Antigua and Barbuda Travel Authority in partnership with Caribbean Airlines.

If you want my advice, a few extra days to complete this itinerary are recommended. Though my fellow group members and I are proof that this 7-day itinerary is indeed possible, I would’ve been grateful for an extra 2 or 3 days to just relax on the beach more. You can keep that in mind when planning your own vacation in Antigua.

Which of these fun things to do in Antigua do you imagine yourself enjoying???