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

    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 HMS Boreas to serve as captain and second-in-command of the Leeward Island Station. Under him was the captain of 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., Antigua and Barbuda

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $2 suggested donation
  • 2. Princess Diana Beach

    You can sometimes walk miles of this classic strand without encountering another footprint. That has changed, just a little, now that Robert’s De Niro’s Nobu Barbuda restaurant has arrived on this pink shore. The beach has a champagne hue, with sand soft as silk; crushed coral often imparts a rosy glint in the sun, hence its unofficial name—Pink Beach. The water can be rough with a strong 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

    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., 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 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
  • 5. Betty's Hope Sugar Plantation

    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., Antigua and Barbuda

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $2, Closed weekends
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  • 6. Cathedral of St. John the Divine

    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. Call ahead to arrange a tour.

    Between Long and Newgate Sts., Antigua and Barbuda
  • 7. Crabbe Hill/Johnson's Point

    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.

    Antigua and Barbuda
  • 8. Darkwood Beach

    This attractive ½ mile (1 km) beach with warm, translucent waters and brown-sugar sands has everything you need for a fun and relaxing day on the beach, including a breathtaking view of Montserrat. Admired by locals and visitors, it can be quite crowded when cruise ships are in port, but desolate otherwise. Darkwood Beach Bar is your best option for a bite to eat and a cold drink; you can also rent snorkeling gear and chairs there. There are a few other food stalls along the beach. An inflatable playground is moored just off the coast—it's perfect for busying (and tiring out) tots. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

    off Valley Rd., Antigua and Barbuda
  • 9. Devil's Bridge

    Part of Indian Town Point National Park, this natural wonder was formed by the thrashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean against the delicate limestone of the coastline over hundreds of years. You may be tempted to cross the bridge for the thrill, but exercise caution—you do so at your own risk. If visiting during Easter, the skies over the bridge are home to hundreds of kites during the annual Kite Festival.

    Dockyard Dr., Antigua and Barbuda
  • 10. Dickenson Bay

    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 and Sandals), water sports, concessions, and beachfront restaurants (Salt Plage Beach Bar & Restaurant and Ana's on the Beach are recommended). There's decent snorkeling at either point. A floating bar, Kon Tiki, drifts just off the coast, catering to the fun and buzzed crowd. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming; walking

    Antigua and Barbuda
  • 11. Falmouth

    This coastal town with grand views of Falmouth Harbour is said to be one of the first towns established in Antigua, and its St. Paul’s Anglican Church is believed to be the nation's earliest church. The somewhat uncertain history in no way detracts from the township's sleepy beauty. There's also a vendors mall quizzically situated on a busy, meandering road, where visitors stop to pick up tchotchkes and witness a breathtaking view of the harbors.

    Antigua and Barbuda
  • 12. Fig Tree Drive

    This 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 ( 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
  • 13. Frigate Bird Sanctuary

    Barbuda’s unique ecosystem and well-preserved landscape make it the idyllic location for a bevy of fauna and flora. Codrington Lagoon is home to the sanctuary and (historically) around 5,000 frigate birds, however, the population is still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Irma. Tours are readily available to view these black beauties, as well as 180 other species of birds. During the breeding season, male Man O’ War (birds, not jellyfish) inflate their red throat sacs and show off their impressive 8-foot wingspan.

    Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 14. Ft. George

    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, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 15. Half Moon Bay

    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 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.

    Dockyard Dr., Antigua and Barbuda
  • 16. Heritage Quay

    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., Antigua and Barbuda
  • 17. King's Casino

    You can find abundant slots and gaming tables at this unintentionally retro (Naugahyde seats and 1970s music on the sound system) King's Casino. The best time to go is Friday and Saturday nights, which jump with energetic karaoke competitions, live bands, and dancing.

    St. John's, St. John, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 18. Martello Tower

    Barbuda's sole historic ruin is the 18th-century, cylindrical, 56-foot-tall tower, which was probably a lighthouse built by the Spaniards before English occupation.

    off Rte. 1, Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
  • 19. Megaliths of Greencastle Hill

    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
  • 20. Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

    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 various subjects by the late Desmond Nicholson, a longtime resident).

    Long and Market Sts., Antigua and Barbuda

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $3, Closed Sun.

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