In the heart of the Caribbean, the tropical sister islands of Antigua and Barbuda contrast each other while having lots in common. Larger and better known, Antigua is a lively island of around 80,000 people, while Barbuda has just 1,300. Both are low lying, but Antigua rises to 402m at its highest point, Boggy Peak in the south-west, whereas Barbuda’s limestone highlands rise to a mere 38m. Both offer lovely rugged scenery and gorgeous beaches (one on Barbuda is at least 19km long).
Antigua was born out of the sea by a volcano about 30 million years ago, making it a young island in geological time. When global sea levels rose dramatically around 10,000BC, Barbuda became separated from Antigua by about 45km.
Today parts of Barbuda are geologically flooded, forming interesting lagoons that provide a home to the world’s largest breeding and nesting colony of frigate birds. Unthreatened by development, this reef-fringed island has a huge diversity of native habitats and indeed may be one of the best kept ecological secrets in the West Indies.
Antigua and Barbuda also have a fantastic array of award-winning accommodation including world-class resorts, boutique spa hotels, luxury villas, historic inns, intimate guest houses and contemporary apartments – something for everyone!
When to visit
Mid-December to April is Antigua and Barbuda’s peak season thanks to the pleasant temperatures and low rainfall, but both are year-round destinations: hot and humid yet refreshingly cooled by the gentle trade winds that sweep the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles chain.
Antigua and Barbuda’s rich culture has been shaped by African heritage, British colonial history, maritime legacy and modern influences – something seen in their language, food, architecture, religion, art and even sport.
Antigua and Barbuda are not just about beaches. Gain an understanding of local people at museums, interpretation centres and art studios, on walking tours, or by watching a cricket match or game of warri.
These islands are a great place for music lovers and for dancing, with drums, steelpan, iron bands, calypso and soca music all to be enjoyed. Fabulous festivals include Antigua’s Carnival celebration.
Visit 365 beaches
Antigua famously has 365 beaches – one for every day of the year. This means lots of water-based activities for water-lovers to engage in, from swimming with stingrays to romantic sunset catamarans, from jet-ski adventures to day trips to explore Barbuda or an off-shore island.
Adventure across Antigua
For land-lubbers, fantastic things to do on Antigua include walking tours through St John’s and the UNESCO-listed English Harbour, off-road island safaris, horse-riding, zip-lining through the rainforest, deep-sea and reef fishing, cycling, bird-watching, helicopter rides and golf at the island’s PGA-rated course.
Experience local cuisine
Antigua and Barbuda are brilliant for foodie travellers, offering everything from local specialties to global classics in an array of venues suited to all moods. But you can immerse yourself even more fully in Antigua and Barbuda’s food and drink scene with a cooking class with an expert local chef, or a rum tour.
Antigua's global cuisine
Antigua and Barbuda’s fantastic dining scene is an exciting blend of national cuisine and global dishes prepared with Caribbean flair, reflecting the islands’ history and popularity with visitors from all over the world. More than 100 restaurants on Antigua include West Indian, Italian, French, Chinese and Swiss-German offerings.
The Antigua dining experience
Antigua is a place for top-notch fine dining as good as you will find anywhere in the world, but it’s also a place for relaxed, toes-in-the-sand dining in colourful waterfront cafés and beach bars, and for food on the hop in enticing fast-food options.
Barbuda is most famous for its impeccably fresh seafood. One of the best things to do here is take up the opportunity to dine in a local home and visit village shops, for an authentic immersion in island life.
This resort dates back more than 60 years, but the number of repeat guests shows it hasn’t lost any of its family-run charm. It's a place that firmly encourages its guests to explore the island, with excursions including beach horse-rides, deep-sea fishing and nature walks. On-site, think eco-friendly, non-motorised water sports and school-holiday activities for kids.
Part of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World portfolio, this lovely hotel has separate adult and family sections. Adults love the sundowners around the fire-pit at the toes-in-the-sand Jetty Bar and the award-winning organic spa, while everyone appreciates the secluded bay with its calm waters and the chance to kayak to mangrove lagoons to spot turtles.
This adult-only, super-luxury, all-villa boutique hotel in Devil’s Bridge National Park opened to great acclaim in late 2019. Among its highlights are the inventive cuisine by a chef trained by Michelin-starred masters, highly personalised butler service, three infinity pools cascading down to the boardwalk and private stretch of pristine white sand with complimentary non-motorised water sport.
This 300-acre private island hideaway off Antigua combines ultra-luxury with raw nature. Car-free and with just 40 suites, it’s a place to spy on swooping pelicans, nesting turtles and the island’s black belly sheep, to kayak, SUP paddle-board, windsurf, scuba dive and more, to explore the protected shoreline by bike, and to enjoy a game of croquet or tennis.
Voted one of the Best New Hotels Around the World by Travel + Leisure in 2019 and popular with young professionals, this characterful contemporary collection of suites, residences and villas includes a rooftop bar overlooking the beach, nightly DJ sessions, an Atlantic-facing adult-only infinity pool and the standout NaCl (SALT) restaurant by Edward Lee, with a rum sommelier.