With lush green land, hot sunny days and seemingly endless gorgeous beaches — Antigua truly is a tropical paradise. But if you can tear yourself away from the surf and sand, there are tons of things to do while staying on this amazing island. Here are some things that just can’t be missed.
Sailing is a way of life on this island. Every April Antigua hosts a huge sailing competition that brings in sailors (both recreational and competitors) from around the globe. It’s the fifth largest regatta in the world and the largest in the Caribbean. Whether you’re in Antigua during Sailing Week, or not, there’s always the opportunity to take on the waters on a sailboat. You can do more casual, leisurely sailing excursions around the coastline (an amazing way to see all the beaches), or take a more serious sailing trip that gets your hands in the action (Warning: Be prepared to work hard!).
If you think the waters look beautiful from the beach, just wait until you get a sneak peek at the life below the surface. A short boat ride off the coast will take you to calm, clear water that is ideal for snorkeling. The island is surrounded by underwater shelves — this provides amazing shallow water snorkeling and diving opportunities and one of the most popular spots for snorkeling is around the Cades Reef. You won’t want to miss the multi-coloured coral, schools of brightly-hued fish and maybe even a dolphin or two. You can even take a dive around a shipwreck that sank in 1905. Most hotels on the island will offer snorkeling trips in small groups, so you get the best experience.
English Harbour/Nelson’s Dockyard
Antigua has strong British roots, hence the name for English Harbour. It was a base for the British Navy, and served as the headquarters for the British in the Leeward Islands during the 17th century. The harbour was used mainly by the famous Lord Horatio Nelson (England’s most notable navy leader), Nelson’s Dockyard houses the world’s only Georgian dockyard, an old Inn, a residence built for the future King William IV (1765-1837) and original buildings. Think of it as a history lesson in the most beautiful setting.
Get a taste of the local scene by stopping by Shirley Heights on a Sunday night. The lookout point was originally used as a way to look over and protect the near by English Harbour. On Sunday nights, the lookout turns into a barbeque with delicious island food, dancing, live music and, of course, lots of rum punch. It’s a mix of locals looking to relax before a new week starts and tourists looking to get authentic island food. Be sure to get there late afternoon — it’s the best spot on the island to get a view of a Caribbean sunset.
Rain forest walks
Antigua’s lush rain forests can’t be missed. There are so many options for rain forest activities — zip lining, canopy rides and hikes. We opted for a rain forest walk/hike that took us to some amazing lookout points and amazing views of the island. Plus, you learn about the local fauna and flora. It might be a hot hike, but once you’re at the top it’s well worth it.