I’ve just been lucky enough to spend a week on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea. Antigua isn’t a large island but it has a lot of heart and to say I wish I had longer to spend would be an understatement. There are lots of things to do in Antigua on a vacation but don’t feel stressed by that. The main reason most of us visit the Caribbean is to unwind, relax and enjoy the beaches.
Where to stay in Antigua
There are lots of places to stay in Antigua but all I can speak about is The Verandah Resort and Spa.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Verandah Resort and Spa, it felt a world away from everything and was beyond relaxing. It also had some great private beaches as well as a short walk away from an island attraction called “The Devil’s Bridge”. I liked the room I had with private balcony, the buffet meals that kept me coming back for more plates than I needed and the laid back vibe of the place.
While at The Verandah Resort and Spa I also had the pleasure of visiting the spa.
The treatment I went I had was a simple massage and quite simply put, it was fantastic. It felt like the hands of an angel were massaging my body and time slipped away fast. Next thing you know the routine is over but of course, wish it wasn’t. If you do stay there, have a coconut smoothie for me, or better yet a mango one.
If resorts aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options for every taste and budget.
Things to do in Antigua
There are lots of things to do in Antigua and what you get up to really depends on how you wish to spend your time.
Same is true for most of life, yes? Clearly you’re looking to unwind somewhere sunny as you’re thinking of spending some time in Antigua. While in Antigua I did a lot things which are mentioned below. If you spend a week in Antigua you can easily do lots while not stressing yourself and making sure you get lots of beach time to unwind. Below are some of the activities I enjoyed.
The Devil’s Bridge is a beautiful part of Antigua where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Sadly, it’s also a place with lots of sad history regarding suicide of the slaves who resided in nearby estates. The northeastern tip of Antigua is quite rough and The Devil’s Bridge is an arch that appears to have been created due to erosion. This is one of those things to do in Antigua someone told me before I left.
As a result it’s a beautiful but deadly spot. It doesn’t matter how strong a swimmer you are, if you jumped off that arch you’d be dead in the water. If the fall didn’t kill you the rough water would swallow you in seconds. Not only is the Devil’s Bridge a natural phenomenon but it’s also part of the island’s history. If you’re making a tour of the island, be sure to visit, you’ll be glad you did. If you’re staying at The Verandah Resort like I was, it’s a 5 minute walk from the resort limits.
Shirley Heights Lookout Trail
Waladid Trail Blazers has a hike to Shirley Heights Lookout Trail which leaves at 6am. It’s a great way to see a beautiful part of the island. The start time of 6am might sound early but it’s perfect, you beat the heat of the day. This was one of my favourite things to do in Antigua.
By getting your hike in early, it leaves the rest of the day for relaxing by the beach.
The hike wasn’t difficult so it’s an option for all ages and anyone with at least basic fitness. There is a steep hill near the end of the hike but it’s nothing to worry about. The guides were super fun and friendly which made the trip that much more enjoyable.
Zipline Antigua Tours
Let’s be serious for a moment, shall we? Ziplining anywhere is good times, yes?
Ziplining at Antigua Rainforest Zipline was no exception and a large group of us went one afternoon.
There were about 14 different stations to zip line to and from so it made for quite the experience. The area itself was quite beautiful and I should let you know, cameras are not allowed.
I mention this because if you do wish to film some of the experience, bring a GoPro. You can mount the GoPro to your head and of course take photos when you’re waiting at the stations in-between zips.
Sunday BBQ at Shirley Heights Lookout
From what I understand the Sunday BBQ at Shirley Heights Lookout is somewhat of a tradition. If you’re feeling active be sure to hike the Shirley Heights Lookout Trail on the way up. People from all over the island come to enjoy great music, vibes, food and views.
Since it was Sailing Week while we were there the place was packed. They had all sorts of BBQ goodness to choose from as well as live music from start to finish. Something which has to be mentioned is that the view from the Lookout is out of this world. Seriously, the sunset from Shirley Heights Lookout is a scene you’ll remember for some time.
Chase the Race
One of the highlights of my trip was attending Chase the Race which was held during Antigua Sailing Week. Obviously we can’t all be racing during sailing week but that doesn’t mean we can’t be right in the action.
I didn’t know much about yacht racing before the event and by no means am an expert now. That said, I do have an idea of what yacht racing is all about and find it fascinating. Also, pretty sure you can’t chase the race unless it’s happening…
Chase the Race was the perfect way to partake in sailing week in my opinion.
We followed some of the race in a large catamaran before moving to Carlisle Bay. There we enjoyed some swimming, a great lunch and good times before heading back to Falmouth Harbour where it all began. Falmouth Harbour is where the yachts were moored. If you’re going to Antigua and could go during Sailing Week, make it happen.
Fort Barrington is an incredible viewpoint and was built by British troops in 1751. Not much happening there today but hey, the view hasn’t changed so worth checking out. This view is one of those things to do in Antigua that isn’t to be missed, look at that view!
Lunch at Galley Bay
Galley Bay is a fabulous resort on the western side of Antigua. Myself and the group I was with went there for lunch one day and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Galley Bay has an incredible location with a great swimming beach in the front. If you do go for lunch, bring your swimsuits and make an afternoon out of it. After a delicious three course meal, people went swimming while others like myself took a long stroll down the beach. The key to this activity, like your whole time on Antigua is to take it slowly and enjoy your surroundings.
Road Trip Around Antigua
If you’re not scared of driving in a foreign country, rent a car and go on a road trip. This wasn’t my idea but I did join a group one afternoon and it was a lot of fun. The first stop was Carlisle Bay and what can I say, out of this world…
When you drive along the coast it’s just endless postcard worthy photos and inviting beaches. You can make a morning, afternoon or day out of a road trip. I do recommend you give it a day though, you’ll be glad you did.
Tips for Visiting Antigua
Eat a lot of Seafood
A tip I have is to eat as much seafood as possible while on the island of Antigua. One night at The Verandah Resort there was a blackened baked fish. This fish was simply out of this world, in fact all the seafood I ate while on the island was good. I had some smoked tuna and swordfish while at Galley Bay, it was sensational.
Drink the rum
If you’re one who enjoys a drink from time to time, don’t miss out on the rum.
There are many great rums to try on the island; indulge as you’re on vacation.
Let’s be serious, if you drink, a trip to the Caribbean isn’t complete without a little rum. It let’s you connect to the place and channel your inner pirate even if it’s just ever so slightly!
Rent a car
If you’re going to be visiting Antigua, a tip I have for you is to rent a car.
You don’t have to rent it for your entire stay but do rent a car and explore Antigua for a day or so.
Since the island isn’t very big, it’s easily done in a day. Also, the island has 365 beaches, so it won’t take you long until you find a beach to relax on that will simply blow your mind.
Meet the islanders
Talk with as many islanders as possible, it’s one of my favourite things to do in Antigua. The island has a tropical climate and gets a lot of sun but the real warmth is from the locals. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly, positive and helpful. Much like the rest of the Caribbean, there is an attitude which is contagious. These people know how to live life in the present so have a positive conversation and walk away feeling a little wiser.
Figure out what you want before you visit
My final tip is ask yourself what you want out of the vacation… If relaxation is what you’re after then staying at a resort makes sense. It’s nice not having to worry about anything except maybe renting a car and exploring a Caribbean paradise for a day or two. Also, all resorts can arrange any activities or transfers you desire so no need to drive if you don’t want to. I thoroughly enjoyed the resort life, just wish I wasn’t writing this from the plane home.
I hope this gives you an idea of what to do in Antigua if you have a week. I didn’t mention a visit to St. John’s in this because I have no photos to share. Also, the day I joined a road trip we had to rush back when we made it to St. John’s. It looks like an interesting spot and definitely worth making a stop if you’re spending a day driving around the island.
In closing, I’d like to thank Elite Island Resorts and The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Board for their hospitality during my stay. That said, all thoughts are that of my own as they always have been and always will be.