Antigua

A sun lover's paradise with numerous coves and deserted white sand beaches, Antigua is popular with couples and families who appreciate the great beaches, safe swimming and the laid-back atmosphere.

Island Guide
Antigua island guide
Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadaloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.

First discovered by Columbus in 1493 and later colonised by the British today's visitors will find an island is full of culture and diversity. Rarely humid with less rain than many other Caribbean islands and cooled by soothing trade winds, the island is generally level with gently rolling hills and flowering trees.

Antigua

Getting to Antigua
There are regular scheduled services from Gatwick to Antigua. A weekly Manchester Antigua flight departs from November to March providing 7 night and 14 night stays.

Four miles from the capital St John's, the airport is also the hub for regional carriers, making Antigua ideal for twin or multi-centre holidays. Especially with St Kitts, which is only 20-30 minutes away.

The Duty Free selection is not huge but prices are quite keen. Check official taxi prices on the notice board just outside the arrivals hall. Fill in the Customs Forms correctlyon arrival as local officials can be officious! The importation and wearing of camouflage clothing is prohibited in Antigua and Barbuda. Visitors should leave such items at home to avoid confiscation.

Antigua the airport departure tax - see fact file

Antigua hotels
Hotel choices are pretty good. Firstly, they almost always offer a fine sandy beach and tend not to be bunched up together. Hotels are dotted all around the coastline so only two real resort areas stand out. Closest to St John is Dickenson Bay where there are a few hotels, bars and restaurants and the other is Jolly Beach where there are several hotels, a marina, golf course, shops, restaurants and a couple bars. Options vary from deluxe five star to all-inclusive and more modest self-catering options.

Out and about
Antigua


Start off with a good map amd hire a car, get a taxi, or try the local bus service. Sign posting on the island almost non-existent, so taking an organised tour or using a taxi is usually well worthwhile. Fortunately they drive on the left here, but if driving stay aware of potholes, narrow roads and stray cows or goats in the road! St John's is worth spending a morning or afternoon wondering around the market stalls and duty free shops (although avoid days when cruise ships are in town as it will be extra busy).

Sightseeing
English Harbour is one of the world's most attractive natural harbours and a centre for yachting, but it's also a hot spot in the evening. Shirley Heights overlooks English Harbour with the renovated Nelson's Dockyard now a National Park. Imagine past battles between Redcoats and Pirates as you take a cruise around the historical harbour. Sunday School takes place on Shirley Heights, with steel bands and reggae played into the evening. Also known as a Jump up, great fun is had by locals and visitors alike. Hire a taxi for the day and take an island tour. Try to include Fig Tree Drive, Boggy Peak, Betty's Hope, St John and a swim at Johnson's Point. The Jolly Roger is a popular fun day out on the water with lots of sun, swimming, reggae and rum punch. Mind how you step off the boat though! How about seeing a live volcano? Caribbean Helicopters offer trips over to nearby Montserrat to view the eruptions from a safe distance!

Antigua


Antigua beaches and activities
Think of palm fringed sands and turquoise waters, hammocks and ice cooled rum punch. With 365 beaches to choose from, there's a different one for every day of the year! Jolly Beach, Deep Bay and Dickenson Bay offer very safe swimming with gently shelving sands. All manner of motorised and non-motorised watersports are available. Most hotels offer windsurfing, snorkelling, sailing, kayaks and pedaloes free of charge. Scuba diving is popular and there are several SCUBA diving centres. The best dives are off Barbuda, Antigua's little sister island. Sailors love Antigua, which offers some of the best sailing conditions in the world, and the acclaimed Antigua Sailing Week (held at the end of April) attracts yachts from around the world.

Antigua


Golfers have the choice of two courses on island. Cedar Valley with 18 challenging holes is close to St John's and Dickenson Bay, while the 18-hole Jolly Harbour course offers a more leisurely round. Most hotels offer tennis and squash courts are found at two sports centres. Cricket is a passion and taxi drivers will even show you where the stars live - streets are named after some of the famous cricketers.

Shopping in Antigua
Not a shopper's paradise, but you can find interesting pottery, batik and jewellery within the Heritage Quay development. In town the local street market sells all manner of tourist trinkets and T-shirt's. Locals like to shop on Saturday mornings, take a wander around the stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. Avoid cruise ship days as town can get very busy.

ANTIGUA FACT FILE
Capital
St John's

Population
(Antigua) 81,800

Currency
Eastern Caribbean Dollar US$1=EC2.7 (variable)

Local Antigua airport departure tax (pp)

Eastern Caribbean Dollars: EC$70 (US$28) to be paid when you depart Antigua.
NOTE Collection and increase of Antigua airport departure tax changes from 21 Sep 2012
For travel from 1 Nov 2012 onwards, a departure tax of £23 pp will be collected in the flight cost and therefore removes the requirement for passengers to pay the departure tax in cash at Antigua airport.

Official Language
English

Status
Independent nation; Member of the British Commonwealth

Business

Banks open Mon to Thurs 8am-1pm; Fri 8am-12noon and 3-5pm.

Shops open Mon to Fri 8.30am-4.30pm and Sat 8.30am-12noon.

Credit cards widely accepted. Many Shops stay open later if a cruise ship is in port.

Electricity

110 volts AC 60 cycles with 220 volts in some areas. Most hotels have both.

Time

-4 GMT - Antigua Time does not operate UK Daylight-Saving Time.

Antigua Wedding Information


Minimum stay

24 hours residence before applying for a License and ceremony can be conducted 3 working days after arrival. Antigua weddings are conducted Monday to Friday excluding Public Holidays.

Minimum age

18 or over

Documents Required

  • Birth Certificate
  • Valid 10 year Passport.
  • Full names, addresses, occupations and religions
  • If divorced you need the Decree Absolute
  • If widowed you need the Death Certificate of former spouse and previous Marriage Certificate.
  • If name changed by Deed Poll, you need legal proof.
  • You must take originals (not copies) of all required documents with you on holiday.

Note local laws and customs

  • You should be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.
  • Car and transport: It is not illegal to travel without an infant/child car seat in Antigua. Official taxis and transfers cars are not required by law to provide car seats. We recommended you to bring your car seat from home. Please check with the airline for infant/child checked baggage allowance.
  • Further travel advice from www.fco.gov.uk

Eating and drinking
Red Snapper, Saltfish and Lobster are hugely popular (along with chicken and goat) and are served 'blackened' by local chefs. Whatever you choose off the menu, chase it with a local Carib beer or try a local rum shack for a sample the island's favourite drink. European fine dining options are limited but some very good restaurants that feature the flavours of the Caribbean are emerging in and around St John's. Take home some local Cavalier rum for memories of sun filled days on the beach! Don't forget to tip in restaurants.

Weather In Antigua
Antigua weather varies only mildly between seasons. In the winter, Antigua weather averages in the mid-seventies with slightly cooler nights. Summer time is just as pleasant, some say the most pleasant in the West Indies, with Antigua weather maintaining a temperature in the mid-eighties. Antigua weather is also officially classified as the sunniest and driest in the Eastern Caribbean, with an annual rainfall of just 45 inches. Most of this comes down in brief spurts between July and October, but rarely for long and seldom over consecutive days. Antigua weather is also relatively low humidity so that all but the hottest days remain bearable. Like most Caribbean islands, Antigua weather includes a near constant dose of the cooling trade winds that blow southeast to northwest off the water, so positioning yourself on a beach in the path of these breezes will temper even the hottest days.

Hurricane season is from June to November and affects Florida, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Although the odds are pretty small that a hurricane will hit a particular Caribbean island while you're on holiday, they are higher in hurricane season than for stays from December to May.
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