Antigua and Barbuda

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Antigua and Barbuda - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Nelson's Dockyard

    Historic District/Site

    Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua's most famous attraction is the world's only Georgian-era dockyard still in use, a treasure trove...

    Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua's most famous attraction is the world's only Georgian-era dockyard still in use, a treasure trove for history buffs and nautical nuts alike. In 1671 the governor of the Leeward Islands wrote to the Council for Foreign Plantations in London, pointing out the advantages of this landlocked harbor. By 1704 English Harbour was in regular use as a garrisoned station. In 1784, 26-year-old Horatio Nelson sailed in on the HMS Boreas to serve as captain and second-in-command of the Leeward Island Station. Under him was the captain of the HMS Pegasus, Prince William Henry, duke of Clarence, who was later crowned King William IV. The prince acted as best man when Nelson married Fannie Nisbet on Nevis in 1787. When the Royal Navy abandoned the station at English Harbour in 1889, it fell into a state of decay, though adventuresome yachties still lived there in near-primitive conditions. The Society of the Friends of English Harbour began restoring it in 1951; it reopened with great fanfare as Nelson's Dockyard on November 14, 1961. Within the compound are crafts shops, restaurants, and two splendidly restored 18th-century hotels, the Admiral's Inn and the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel, worth peeking into. (The latter, occupying a supply store for Nelson's Caribbean fleet, is a particularly fine example of Georgian architecture, its interior courtyard evoking Old England.) The Dockyard is a hub for oceangoing yachts and serves as headquarters for the annual Boat Show in early December and the Sailing Week Regatta in late April and early May. Water taxis will ferry you between points for EC$5. The Dockyard National Park also includes serene nature trails accessing beaches, rock pools, and crumbling plantation ruins and hilltop forts. The Dockyard Museum, in the original Naval Officer's House, presents ship models, mock-ups of English Harbour, displays on the people who worked there and typical ships that docked, silver regatta trophies, maps, prints, antique navigational instruments, and Nelson's very own telescope and tea caddy.

    Dockyard Dr., English Harbour Town, St. Paul, Antigua and Barbuda
    268-481–5027

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $2 suggested donation
  • 2. Pink Beach

    Beach

    You can sometimes walk miles of this classic strand without encountering another footprint. It has a champagne hue, with sand soft as silk;...

    You can sometimes walk miles of this classic strand without encountering another footprint. It has a champagne hue, with sand soft as silk; crushed coral often imparts a rosy glint in the sun, hence its unofficial name (officially the part in front of the exclusive former K Club has been renamed Princess Diana Beach). The water can be rough with a strongish undertow in spots, though it's mainly protected by the reefs that make the island a diving mecca. Hire a taxi to take you here, since none of the roads are well marked. Amenities: none. Best for: snorkeling; solitude; walking.

    , Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 3. Redcliffe Quay

    Business District

    Redcliffe Quay, at the water's edge just south of Heritage Quay, is the most appealing part of St. John's. Attractively restored (and superbly...

    Redcliffe Quay, at the water's edge just south of Heritage Quay, is the most appealing part of St. John's. Attractively restored (and superbly re-created) 19th-century buildings in a riot of cotton-candy colors house shops, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques are linked by courtyards and landscaped walkways.

    Redcliffe St., St. John's, St. John, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 4. Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    At the south gate of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine are figures of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine, said to have...

    At the south gate of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine are figures of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine, said to have been taken from one of Napoléon's ships and brought to Antigua. The original church was built in 1681, replaced by a stone building in 1745, and destroyed by an earthquake in 1843. The present neo-baroque building dates from 1845; the parishioners had the interior completely encased in pitch pine, hoping to forestall future earthquake damage. Tombstones bear eerily eloquent testament to the colonial days.

    Between Long and Newgate Sts., St. John's, St. John, Antigua and Barbuda
    268-461–0082
  • 5. Betty's Hope

    Museum/Gallery

    Just outside the village of Pares, a marked dirt road leads to Antigua's first sugar plantation, founded in the 1670s. You can tour the twin...

    Just outside the village of Pares, a marked dirt road leads to Antigua's first sugar plantation, founded in the 1670s. You can tour the twin windmills, various ruins, still-functional crushing machinery, and the visitor center's exhibits (often closed) on the island's sugar era. The private trust overseeing the restoration has yet to realize its ambitious, environmentally aware plans to replant indigenous crops destroyed by the extensive sugarcane plantings. Indeed, the site is somewhat neglected, with goats grazing the grounds.

    Pares Village Main Rd., Pares, St. Peter, Antigua and Barbuda
    268-462–1469

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $2
  • 6. Darkwood Beach

    Beach

    This ½-mile (1-km) beige ribbon on the southwest coast has stunning views of Montserrat. Although popular with locals and cruise-ship passengers...

    This ½-mile (1-km) beige ribbon on the southwest coast has stunning views of Montserrat. Although popular with locals and cruise-ship passengers on weekends, it's virtually deserted during the week. Waters are generally calm, but there's scant shade, little maintenance, no development other than Darkwood Beach Bar (and Admiral's Bar across the coastal road), and little to do other than bask in solitude. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: solitude; swimming.

    2 miles (3 km) south of Jolly Harbour and roughly ½ mile (1 km) southwest of Valley Church, off Valley Rd, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 7. Devil's Bridge

    Nature Sight

    This limestone arch formation, sculpted by the crashing breakers of the Atlantic at Indian Town, is a national park. Blowholes have been carved...

    This limestone arch formation, sculpted by the crashing breakers of the Atlantic at Indian Town, is a national park. Blowholes have been carved by the hissing, spitting surf. The park also encompasses some archaeological excavations of Carib artifacts.

    Dockyard Dr., Long Bay, St. Philip, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 8. Dickenson Bay

    Beach

    Along a lengthy stretch of well-kept powder-soft white sand and exceptionally calm water, you can find small and large hotels (including Siboney...

    Along a lengthy stretch of well-kept powder-soft white sand and exceptionally calm water, you can find small and large hotels (including Siboney Beach Club, Sandals, and Rex Halcyon Cove), water sports, concessions, and beachfront restaurants (Coconut Grove and Ana's on the Beach are recommended). There's decent snorkeling at either point. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming; walking.

    2 miles (3 km) northeast of St. John's, along main coast road, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 9. Falmouth

    Town/Village

    This town sits on a lovely bay backed by former sugar plantations and sugar mills. The most important historic site here is St. Paul's Church...

    This town sits on a lovely bay backed by former sugar plantations and sugar mills. The most important historic site here is St. Paul's Church, which was rebuilt on the site of a church once used by troops during the Horatio Nelson period.

    , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 10. Fig Tree Drive

    Scenic Drive

    This often muddy, rutted, steep road takes you through the rain forest, which is rich in mangoes, pineapples, and banana trees ( fig is the...

    This often muddy, rutted, steep road takes you through the rain forest, which is rich in mangoes, pineapples, and banana trees (fig is the Antiguan word for "banana"). The rain forest is the island's hilliest area—1,319-foot Boggy Peak (renamed Mt. Obama), to the west, is the highest point. At its crest, Elaine Francis sells seasonal local fruit juices—ginger, guava, sorrel, passion fruit—and homemade jams at a stall she dubs the Culture Shop. A few houses down (look for the orange windows) is the atelier of noted island artist Sallie Harker (v26972853www.sallieharker.com) whose work displays shimmering seascapes and vividly hued fish incorporating gold leaf. You'll also pass several tranquil villages with charming churches and Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tours here.

    Fig Tree Dr, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 11. Ft. George

    Town/Village

    East of Liberta—one of the first settlements founded by freed slaves—on Monk's Hill, this fort was built between 1689 and 1720. Among the ruins...

    East of Liberta—one of the first settlements founded by freed slaves—on Monk's Hill, this fort was built between 1689 and 1720. Among the ruins are the sites for 32 cannons, water cisterns, the base of the old flagstaff, and some of the original buildings.

    Great Fort George Monk's Hill Trail, St. Paul, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 12. Half Moon Bay

    Beach

    This ½-mile (1-km) ivory crescent is a prime snorkeling and windsurfing area. On the Atlantic side, the water can be rough at times, attracting...

    This ½-mile (1-km) ivory crescent is a prime snorkeling and windsurfing area. On the Atlantic side, the water can be rough at times, attracting intrepid hard-core surfers and wakeboarders. The northeastern end, where a protective reef offers spectacular snorkeling, is much calmer. A tiny bar called Tibby's has restrooms, snacks, and beach chairs. Half Moon is a real trek, but one of Antigua's showcase beaches. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; surfing; windsurfing.

    On southeast coast, 1½ mile (2½ km) from Freetown, Dockyard Dr, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 13. Harmony Hall

    Store/Mall

    Northeast of Freetown (follow the signs), this art gallery/restaurant is built on the foundation of a 17th-century sugar-plantation great house...

    Northeast of Freetown (follow the signs), this art gallery/restaurant is built on the foundation of a 17th-century sugar-plantation great house. No longer affiliated with the original Jamaican outpost, the Antigua facility is run by enterprising Italians who operate a fine restaurant and six spare but chic cottage suites (with a villa development planned). Its remote location is a headache, but you can allot the whole afternoon to enjoy lunch (Tuesday through Sunday; dinner Wednesday through Saturday), soak in the historic ambience and panoramic ocean views, browse through the exhibits, comb the beach, and perhaps even snorkel at nearby Green Island via the property's dragon boat, Luna.

    Brown's Bay Mill, Dockyard Dr., Freetown, St. Philip, Antigua and Barbuda
    268-460–4120
  • 14. Heritage Quay

    Business District

    Shopaholics head directly for Heritage Quay, an ugly multimillion-dollar complex. The two-story buildings contain stores that sell duty-free...

    Shopaholics head directly for Heritage Quay, an ugly multimillion-dollar complex. The two-story buildings contain stores that sell duty-free goods, sportswear, down-island imports (paintings, T-shirts, straw baskets), and local crafts. There are also restaurants, a bandstand, and a casino. Cruise-ship passengers disembark here from the 500-foot-long pier. Expect heavy shilling.

    High and Thames Sts., St. John's, St. John, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 15. Johnson's Point/Crabbe Hill

    Beach

    This series of connected, deserted beaches on the southwest coast looks out toward Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts. Notable beach bar...

    This series of connected, deserted beaches on the southwest coast looks out toward Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts. Notable beach bar–restaurants include OJ's, Jacqui O's BeachHouse, and Turner's. The water is generally placid, though not good for snorkeling. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

    3 miles (5 km) south of Jolly Harbour complex, on main west-coast road, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 16. Megaliths of Greencastle Hill

    Nature Sight

    It's an arduous climb through thick bush (a local guide is recommended) to these eerie rock slabs in the south-central part of the island. Some...

    It's an arduous climb through thick bush (a local guide is recommended) to these eerie rock slabs in the south-central part of the island. Some say the megaliths were set up by early inhabitants for their worship of the sun and moon or as devices for measuring time astronomically; others believe they're nothing more than unusual geological formations.

    , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 17. Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

    Museum/Gallery

    Signs at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda say "Please touch," encouraging you to explore Antigua's past. Try your hand at the educational video...

    Signs at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda say "Please touch," encouraging you to explore Antigua's past. Try your hand at the educational video games or squeeze a cassava through a matapi (grass sieve). Exhibits interpret the nation's history, from its geological birth to its political independence in 1981. There are fossil and coral remains from some 34 million years ago; models of a sugar plantation and a wattle-and-daub house; an Arawak canoe; and a wildly eclectic assortment of objects from cannonballs to 1920s telephone exchanges. The museum occupies the former courthouse, which dates from 1750. The superlative museum gift shop carries such unusual items as calabash purses, seed earrings, warri boards (warri being an African game brought to the Caribbean), and lignum vitae pipes, as well as historic maps and local books (including engrossing monographs on varied subjects by the late Desmond Nicholson, a longtime resident).

    Long and Market Sts., St. John's, St. John, Antigua and Barbuda
    268-462–1469

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $3; children under 12 free
  • 18. Parham

    Town/Village

    This sleepy village is a splendid example of a traditional colonial settlement. St. Peter's Church, built in 1840 by English architect Thomas...

    This sleepy village is a splendid example of a traditional colonial settlement. St. Peter's Church, built in 1840 by English architect Thomas Weekes, is an octagonal Italianate building with unusual ribbed wooden ceiling, whose facade is richly decorated with stucco and keystone work, though it suffered considerable damage during an 1843 earthquake.

    , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 19. Pigeon Point

    Beach

    Near Falmouth Harbour lie two fine white-sand beaches reasonably free of seaweed and driftwood. The leeward side is calmer, the windward side...

    Near Falmouth Harbour lie two fine white-sand beaches reasonably free of seaweed and driftwood. The leeward side is calmer, the windward side is rockier, and there are sensational views and snorkeling around the point. Several restaurants and bars are nearby, though Bumpkin's (and its potent banana coladas) and the more upscale bustling Catherine's Cafe Plage satisfy most on-site needs. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.

    Off main south-coast road, southwest of Falmouth, , Antigua and Barbuda
  • 20. Runaway Beach

    Beach

    An often unoccupied stretch of bone-white sand, this beach is still rebuilding after years of hurricane erosion, with just enough palms left...

    An often unoccupied stretch of bone-white sand, this beach is still rebuilding after years of hurricane erosion, with just enough palms left for shelter. Both the water and the scene are relatively calm, the sand is reasonably well maintained, and beach restaurants such as Sandhaven and La Bussola offer cool shade and cold beer. Hug the lagoon past the entrance to Siboney Beach Club to get here; the Buccaneer Beach Club is the unofficial demarcation point between Dickenson and Runaway bays. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.

    Approximately 2 miles (3 km) northwest of St. John's, down main north-coast road from Dickenson Bay, St. John's, St. John, Antigua and Barbuda

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