About Five Islands beaches
The closest beaches to St John’s are found on the nearby Five Islands peninsular and are very fine indeed. The peninsular has several of the island’s better hotels, but the area is primarily gated and inaccessible unless you are a guest.
The beaches closest to St John’s are in the Five Islands area, most notably Galley Bay and Deep Bay, though the former is less protected and can have moderate to pounding surf. One beach, at the Hawksbill by Rex Resort, is clothing-optional.
Beyond the beach:
To look beyond the beach, you’ll have to look beyond the Five Islands peninsular. In St John’s are several interesting historic sights, including the Anglican Cathedral of St John the Divine, between Long and Newgate streets. The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda, in the former courthouse at Church and Market streets, has several hands-on exhibits. It’s easy to travel down to historic Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour, one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved historic districts and the only Georgian-era dockyard still in use; in addition to a museum, it’s filled with shops and restaurants.
If you are in a Five Islands villa, you really have to get out onto the island (or onto the sea) to find many kid-friendly activities. Kids appreciate sailing and snorkelling trips, most of which leave from Dickenson Bay or Jolly Harbour. A rainforest canopy zip-line tour, on Fig Tree Drive at the island’s southern end, will please both kids and adults. ‘Stingray City Antigua’, in Seaton’s Village, offers an opportunity to interact with stingrays in safe and controlled conditions.
Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, is just 42km (26 miles) north and can be visited easily either by a 15-minute flight or 90-minute ferry ride from St John’s. Day tours to see the island’s famed Pink Beach and bird sanctuary are easy to arrange but can be costly.
The island’s finest restaurant (perhaps one of the best bistros in all of the Caribbean) is Chez Pascal, on Galley Bay Hill on the Five Islands peninsular. Built on a hill overlooking the sea, the restaurant offers excellent sunset views in addition to delicious food. (You can even stay in one of the charming rooms.)