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Antigua

Antigua is blessed with an abundance of fine white-sand beaches, but only in the southwest of the island, where a ridge of rainforest-covered hills rises abruptly from the patchwork of farmland, is the scenery grand and lushly tropical. Secluded behind this barrier, the nearby coastline ...

Antigua is blessed with an abundance of fine white-sand beaches, but only in the southwest of the island, where a ridge of rainforest-covered hills rises abruptly from the patchwork of farmland, is the scenery grand and lushly tropical. Secluded behind this barrier, the nearby coastline has remained blissfully unspoiled. The country’s capital, St. John’s, is an uninteresting place much frequented by large cruise ships, but English Harbour in the south of the island is extremely pretty and is the site of Nelson’s Dockyard, a restored colonial naval station that contains an array of 18th-century neoclassical buildings. The highlight of the year is Antigua Sailing Week at the end of April.

The weather is dry and pleasant with little temperature variation year-round. December to June is the best time to visit.

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Destination Information


DIRECT DIAL CODES

To phone hotels in Antigua and Barbuda, dial 1 + 268 (Antigua and Barbuda code) + local numbers.

CURRENCY

Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). Set rate valued at XCD2.7 = US$1.00 as of June 2019. Note: Our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.

U.S. EMBASSY

None. There is a U.S. consular agency, Tel. (268) 463-6531. U.S. Embassy is located in Barbados, Tel. (246) 227-4000.

WHEN TO VISIT

The weather is dry and pleasant with little temperature variation year-round. December to June is the best time to visit.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Passport (valid for six months beyond end of stay). Visit travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, cdc.gov.

EDITOR TIPS

English Harbour Rum

Antigua is not well-known for its rums, but it has a robust industry and a couple of fine products. The most common bottling is the brand Cavalier, which is good for mixing. A more refined product is English Harbour. Among the iterations of this elegant rum are five and 10 years old. I thought the five made for a nice sipping rum before dinner, as its sweetness makes it resemble a stronger sherry, such as an Amontillado. The 10 is definitely for a reflective interlude after a meal. To me it seemed to offer intimations of lighter Highland single malts, Glenkinchie coming to mind. 

If you can find the Vintage 1981, grab it. It is a superior rum in every way. We had been assured that we would be able to find English Harbour at the airport before we left. Alas, that proved not to be the case. Another reason to return to Antigua.

The St. Johns Market

St. John’s can be overrun with cruise ship passengers, but I still make time for an excursion to its vibrant Saturday morning market. Vendors come from all over the island to sell fruits, flowers and handicrafts. It’s best to arrive early, around 8 a.m., before the market becomes too crowded.

Excellent Public Beaches

The main public beach on Antigua’s south coast, Pigeon Point is popular with families and locals and is the island’s best beach for people-watching. Additionally, Halfmoon Bay is an excellent option. While not entirely “undiscovered,” this pristine curve of pinkish-white sand is very often deserted.

Shirley Heights on Sundays

For picturesque sunset views, visit Shirley Heights on Sundays, when visitors can enjoy a barbecue accompanied by rum punch and a steel band. For more local flavor, experience the island’s vibrant music and dance scene during the Antiguan Carnival, which takes place at the end of the summer season.

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