Antigua and Barbuda: All You Need To Know
Originally written July 10, 2019, and updated September 22, 2023.
Many years ago, I made it to Antigua and Barbuda. It’s the Caribbean island that reminds me of Jamaica the most. As a matter of fact, most Antiguans sound like Jamaicans and vice versa. I returned in May of this year (2019) as a guest of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Board and Traverse Events in the U.K.
This is a two-island nation and sadly most people forget about the other island, Barbuda. A similar situation happens with Trinidad and Tobago as well. On both of my visits, I did not make it to Barbuda at all. I need to correct that on the third visit.
The islands have a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities and water sports, food and the kindness of its people. Here is some information to whet your appetite for a visit. After the hurricane damages, both islands of Antigua and Barbuda are up and running and waiting for you to visit. In addition, my friend and fellow blogger Lily also have some additional things to do here.
If you’d like to visit, I’ve compiled some facts to help you on your journey.
- Time Zone: GMT -6
- Currency: EC Dollar
- Language: English
Capital: Antigua – St. John’s. Barbuda – Codrington.
- Size: Antigua – 108 square miles (pop 85,000). Barbuda – 64 square miles (pop 1,600). It’s among the smallest countries in the world.
- Visa and Health Information: No visa is required for U.S. citizens traveling to Antigua and Barbuda. You do need a valid passport for at least 180 days after your last date of travel as well as a ticket for onward journey from the islands. Here is some additional information for U.S. Citizens. If you are not a U.S. citizen, use this link to check visa requirements.
- National Airline: Liat (LI).
Scheduled Service Airlines Serving V.C. Bird International Airport in St. John’s Antigua (ANU):
Air Canada (AC), American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA), Caribbean Airlines (BW), Delta Air Lines (DL), FlyMontserrat (5M), InterCaribbean Airways (JY), JetBlue Airways (B6), Liat (LI), Silver Airways (3M), Sky High Aviation Services (DO), Sunwing Airlines (WG), Tradewind Aviation (TJ), United Airlines (Star Alliance) (UA), Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS), WestJet (WS) and Winair (WM).
Ferries: Barbuda Express Ferry Service departs from Long Street in St. John’s for Codrington Barbuda
Airport To The City: You can rent a car or take a taxi to your destination. A local drivers license can be purchased at the airport and is valid for 90 days. Driving is on the left-hand side. You can take a local minivan as well. And there are plenty of taxis. They can be costly, so check on the rates first. There is a taxi rank just outside the airport terminal.
The People of Antigua
While in Antigua, I met a number of amazing people. It was great as they are all varied people doing varied things. I love interacting with locals as they give you the local news and love talking about their country with you.
Here’s a look.
People At The Saturday Market in St. John’s
Rasta Trevor At Devil’s Bridge
Ray, the horticulturist who works at Verandah Resort
Ray is amazing! He’s so knowledgeable about everything green at the Verandah Resort.
Ms Simon Street Vendor
Much like the rest of the Caribbean, hotels in Antigua and Barbuda are quite pricey. I stayed at the Verandah Resort and I can say its highly recommended. This is an All Inclusive that’s now for adults only. It was closed for renovation and re-opens on November 17, 2023.
On an adjacent property is the high end Hammocks Cove which is also an All Inclusive. When I visited, this property was under construction. It is now open and available for bookings.
Right across the street is the Pineapple Beach Club and is another All Inclusive Resort for adults only. These are all managed by Elite Island Resorts who also have many other properties on the island.
There are also many other properties with varying degrees of luxury and cost as well. Use the map below to search and make your booking:
You can also find some properties at www.simplyantiguabarbuda.com
Things To Do in Antigua and Barbuda
For a small island, there are lots of things to do and of course you are on vacation so you can just do nothing as well. Let’s take a look and see what we can find, plus here are some things that my friend Lily recommends doing.
Antigua and Barbuda has 365+ beaches; yes one for every day of the year and then some. Here are a few to whet your appetite:
- – Jabberwock Beach
- – Dutchman’s Bay
- – Half Moon Bay
This is a very popular beach by the locals.
- – Jolly Beach
- – Fort James
Antigua has many churches. Here are two of them. The primary religion is Anglican, although you’ll find many other religions and places of worship.
Like many of the Caribbean islands, there are a ton of festivals usually based on the harvesting of crops or the end of slavery. You can find a complete list at http://www.antiguanice.com/v2/aboutantigua.php?cat=94.
Carnival in July/August is the main event.
As Antigua and Barbuda was inhabited by the Spanish, the British and the French, yes the French for short time, there are many historical sites to peruse during your visit. These sites are maintained by the National Parks Antigua – www.nationalparksantigua.com branch of the government.
Let’s take a look at some of the historic sites:
- – Dow’s Hill
- – Fort George
- – Fort Charlotte and the Pillars of Hercules
I did not visit Betty’s Hope, but one of the locals I interviewed talked about it. It is one of the slave plantations in Antigua. Most of it is still intact.
Take An Island Tour
I took an island tour with Charles In Charge. It lasted about eight hours or so and we drove around most of the island and saw some of the infrastructure, sights and the beaches. I do recommend this tour as you get a chance to see quite a large part of the island. Here you can see a map from my Strava activity.
The entire island is like taking a nature hike. You’ll see what I mean when you finally get here. However, the Wallings Nature Reserve has an organized hike that takes you to Signal Hill where you can get a bird’s eye view of the island for almost 360 degrees.
You access Barbuda by air or by ferry, Barbuda Express.
The beaches on Barbuda are quite rustic and not frequented by many tourist. So if you want some alone time this is the place to go. Here are some of the beaches on the island of Barbuda:
- Fishing Creek
- Rubbish Bay
- Two Foot Bay
- Goat Island
River (Princess Diana Beach)
Things to See on Barbuda
- – Codrington Lagoon national Park: Frigate Bird Sanctuary
- – Martello Tower
- – Spanish Point
- – Caves
- – Darby’s Cave
- – Dark Cave
- – Highland House
What To Eat In Antigua and Barbuda
It’s a Caribbean islands so it has an abundance to eat. There is lots of natural foods and the food is spicy and amazing.
You can have food on the street, at the markets or a fancy restaurant all over the island. Just look at the photos below.
How To Peel A Pineapple
Have you made it to Antigua and Barbuda as yet? What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.