Top events in Antigua and Barbuda

June
01

Attracting both local and international competitors, this event sees people crowding around Nelson’s Dockyard to see the biggest fish brought in...

July
01

A unique event which celebrates the delicious exotic fruit that grows around the islands. The two day festival showcases different varieties of...

July
26

This is one of the most exiting events on the island, and celebrates the emancipation of slavery in 1834. It lasts for two weeks from July to...

Pristine beach, Barbuda
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Pristine beach, Barbuda

© Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office

Antigua and Barbuda Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

Total: 441.6 sq km (170.5 sq miles).

Population

90,156 (2013).

Population density

204 per sq km.

Capital

St John's.

Government

Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1981.

Head of state

HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Louise Lake-Tack since 2007.

Head of government

Prime Minister Winston Baldwin Spencer since 2004.

Electricity

220/110 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are standard. Some hotels also have outlets for 240 volts AC; in this case European-style, two-pin plugs are used.

Antigua and Barbuda are the quintessential Caribbean islands: powder white beaches, swaying palm trees and a relaxed tropical atmosphere come standard. Renowned for their 365 beaches - one for every day of the year - and offering a cocktail of sun, sea and sand activities, the twin islands are naturally dominated by their stunning coastline.

Forming part of the Leeward Islands group in the northeast Caribbean, Antigua hosts regattas including the famous Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week which attract sailors from all over the world. Hotels offer sailing lessons, boat trips, bone fishing and caving whilst the coral reefs are ideal for divers and snorkellers. Beachcombing and of course sun worshipping are popular pastimes.

Giorgio Armani and Oprah Winfrey, among others, have expensive homes on Antigua which continues to be a magnet not just for yacht lovers, but also families and honeymooners. Cricket fans can indulge in their favourite sport and may bump into Antiguan cricket legends Sir Vivian Richards and Richie Richardson.

Away from the glamour, island life here is simple, carefree and relaxed. The twin-island destination has many attractions ranging from its natural rainforests to sites such as the military lookout Shirley Heights, with its views over English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining working Georgian dockyard in the world.

Nature lovers can discover the delights of Antiguan trails leading to the lush Body Pond valley and hikers can scale Mount Obama (formerly known as Boggy Peak) which is Antigua’s highest point. There are also national parks and blow holes including the Devil's Bridge, a natural phenomenon crafted by the colliding of Atlantic and Caribbean surf.

People watching and shopping at the buzzing Saturday market in the capital St Johns is entertaining, with a mix of coconuts, mango and guava for sale alongside antiques and crafts. Here the white baroque towers of St John’s Cathedral dominate the busy town.

Antigua springs to life at night, with dozens of places to party including historic Shirley Heights itself, which is the setting for Sunday night ‘jump ups’ (street parties) featuring live music where the rum punch flows.

Antigua’s little sister Barbuda is a low-lying coral island which lies 43km (27 miles) to the north. The main town housing the tiny airport is Codrington, officially the capital but referred to by all as ‘The Village’. Codrington consists of just a handful of streets and offers a glimpse of the Caribbean as it used to be.

Although small, there is much to do and Barbuda is an unspoiled natural haven for wild deer and exotic birds, and boasts the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. The island also has some important Amerindian rock carvings at Two foot Bay but most visitors stay around Barbuda's smooth coastlines edged with long pink and white sand beaches protected by barrier reefs. The pink beaches of the southwestern shore stretch as far as 16km (10 miles) without interruption and are a favourite with honeymooners.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 21 May 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of violent crime including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault.

You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.

Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.

Road travel

Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually help with this process. You must present a valid UK driving licence.

Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps. Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.

Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.

Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving.

In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.

Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as EC dollars.

Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers may drive above the speed limit.

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