Antigua and Barbuda Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Antigua and Barbuda
There are a number of small supermarkets and shopping centres around the island such as Woods Mall in the North of the island which stock essentials, but for the best souvenirs and luxury duty free shopping head to St John's and its two main shopping areas, Heritage Quay and Redcliff Quay.
Brightly painted pottery and crafts, spices and of course bottles of rum are the best souvenirs of Antigua, but shops in St John's sell everything from precious gems to pirate outfits.
Heritage Quay Complex is a shopping and entertainment area with over 50 duty-free shops, restaurants and a casino with a supper club. It forms part of the newest development in central St John's. Brightly stocked stalls of fruit and vegetables are sold at the Public Market, along with a few locally-made crafts.
Efforts have been made to unclog the public roads of street-vendors so pedestrians and vehicles can move more freely. They now ply their trade of handicrafts, clothing and souvenirs from 150 stalls in the multi-storey Vendor's Mall.
Saturday morning is the best time to watch the locals buying and selling everything from coconut water to antiques. Arrive early (from 0700 onwards) to catch the best atmosphere and take in a hearty Antiguan breakfast at one of the local cafes afterwards.
Redcliff Quay is colourful, picturesque shopping district. Overlooking the harbour in St John's, it is located in one of the oldest parts of the town, dating back to the 17th century. Formerly a trading place for slaves and sugar, today it is home to a number of exclusive shops including jewellers, boutiques and craft shops. There are also art galleries selling work by local artists and potters, and some charming restaurants, coffee shops and wine bars. It is hugely popular with cruise ship passengers so you may want to avoid the area on those days when the cruise ships are in port, as it can get very busy.
There are only a few small shops at the airport so it is a good idea to buy souvenirs in town before you leave.
Mon-Fri 0830-1600 Sat 0800-1200. Stores in Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay are open on Sundays and public holidays when cruise ships are docked.
Nightlife in Antigua and Barbuda
As on most Caribbean islands, you are never far from music and partying on Antigua and Barbuda, with bands playing in bars and on the beaches around the islands.
Most of the nightlife is centred in St John's, although hotels and casinos around the islands usually provide in-house entertainment for both hotel guests and non-residents. The strip on the junction of Falmouth and English Harbour is probably the liveliest location, with a number of bright bars playing live music popular with locals and tourists alike. During Antigua Sailing Week these haunts are full to bursting with yachties and the rum and beer flows.
There are also a number of beach bars along the coast which are lazy by day but jump into life at night with music ranging from jazz and blues to reggae and calypso.
Casinos generally offer more than just gambling; live music, restaurants and bars are standard in most, a wide choice of restaurants and bars around the main tourist areas offer international and authentic Caribbean food.
Some of the best steel bands in the Caribbean can be found travelling around the hotels along with limbo dancers and calypso singers. They perform nightly during the high season (November to April).
The best party on the island is at Shirley Heights Lookout. Crowds gather on the terrace of this fortification every Sunday evening from 1600 to 2200 to enjoy unparalleled views over English Harbour with a BBQ, live music, drinks and incredible sunsets.