Antigua and Barbuda travel guide
About Antigua and Barbuda
“We have 365 beaches here – one for every day of the year.” If you were given a dollar every time you heard that in Antigua, your holiday would surely be paid for. It’s the national catchphrase and you’ll get tired of hearing it. But locals have every right to be proud of Antigua and its dashing twin, Barbuda: with their powdery beaches and swaying palms they’re the quintessence of Caribbean island idyll.
Most of the action takes place in Antigua, a glamorous island where expensive yachts float in the harbor, honeymooners frolic in the surf and scuba divers explore colourful coral reefs in crystalline waters. You can see why Giorgio Armani and Oprah Winfrey keep homes here.
Away from the glamour, there are many attractions: from steamy rainforests to historic sites such as Shirley Heights, a military lookout with views over Nelson’s Dockyard, the only working Georgian dockyard in the world.
Antigua’s highest point, Mount Obama, begs to be climbed. It’s also worth checking out the island’s national parks and billowing blowholes, such as Devil’s Bridge, which are caused by the colliding surf of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
The buzzing Saturday market in St Johns, the capital, is a must: pick up anything from fresh fruit to local crafts. Antigua springs to life at night, with dozens of places to party including Shirley Heights, which is the setting for Sunday night “jump ups” (street parties) featuring live music and lots of rum punch.
Antigua’s little sister Barbuda is quieter, but no less beautiful. Lying 43km (27 miles) to the north, its beating heart is Codrington, which is widely referred to as “The Village”. Codrington consists of only a handful of streets and offers a glimpse of Caribbean life as it used to be.
Although small, there is much to do in Barbuda. The island is a haven for wild deer and exotic birds, and is home to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. Important Amerindian rock carvings can be found at Two foot Bay, while sumptuous beaches abound.
Total: 441.6 sq km (170.5 sq miles).
92,738 (UN estimate 2016).
209.3 per sq km.
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Rodney Williams since 2014.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne since 2014.
220/110 volts AC, 60Hz. Most hotels have both voltages, and American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without round grounding pin) are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
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.
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.
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 might drive above the speed limit.
Take great care at all times when swimming as currents can be deceptively strong and not all beaches have lifeguards and/or warning flags. You should monitor all beaches carefully and obey any local warnings.