Life’s a beach in Antigua, but what else is there to do besides lounging around on the pristine white sands all day (not that we have a problem with that of course)? The answer is… loads! Despite being the ultimate beach escape, there is so much more on offer for visitors to this wonderful island. Here’s the Kenwood Travel top eight unmissable Antigua experiences:
1. Rainforest Canopy Tour
Antigua may be known for the huge selection of watersports – namely diving, snorkelling, paddleboarding, kayaking – however also on offer are exciting land-based adventures. The rainforest canopy tour is the perfect choice for the active family or the thrill-seeker, providing hours of jungle fun for daring holidaymakers and guaranteeing to quench any thirst for adventure. Here participators can let loose in Antigua’s thick tropical forests, unleashing their inner Tarzan in the tour’s rope swings, zip lines, treetop obstacle courses and other adrenaline-fuelled challenges.
Antigua’s summer carnival is a 10 day fiesta beginning at the end of July. This annual festivity spreads a joyous atmosphere, bringing Antigua to life with colourful costumes, painted bodies, beauty contests, talent shows and plenty of rum punch and dancing. It is also a musical extravaganza with performances from some of the best reggae and calypso bands; J’ouvert is the most popular carnival event with all of the island’s brass and steel bands taking to the streets of Antigua’s capital, St John’s.
3. Swim with Stingrays
A short boat ride will take you to Stingray City for an incredible experience with the Southern Rays, nicknamed the ‘puppies of the sea’ for their docile nature and willingness to interact with their human visitors. Here you can swim alongside and feed the gentle giants in the shallow crystal clear Caribbean waters. It is a great tour for the whole family and a truly unforgettable marine-life encounter.
4. Pillars of Hercules
Guarding the entrance to the English harbour are giant limestone boulders named the Pillars of Hercules. Here the secluded beaches and reefs are perfect for snorkelling and diving, adding to Antigua’s extensive catalogue of watersports. The hike from Galleon Beach to this area provides spectacular scenery, the trail lined with towering cacti and agave.
5. Devil’s Bridge
The dramatic limestone rock formations and blowholes are the result of hundreds of thousands of years of furious Atlantic waves beating against the rock and consequently sculpting the picturesque arch. The site is as historic as it is naturally beautiful, since Ameridian artefacts were uncovered here, suggesting that Antigua’s first residents settled in this very spot.
6. Nelson’s Dockyard
Named after England’s hero of Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson, this English harbour is one of Antigua’s most treasured and most significant historic sites. The dockyards provided a safe place for the British Navy to keep their ships, enabling them to uphold their power and therefore seeing to it that Antigua was never conquered by another European power. Nowadays, private yachts take the place of the naval vessels which were once docked here.
7. Shirley Heights
If you missed carnival fear not, for what was once a colonial era guard station has now been transformed into a party venue with fabulous views of the English harbour. For 30 years The Lookout has hosted a lively Sunday celebration where you can dance the night away (following a hearty sunset barbecue) to the sounds of steel bands, soca, reggae and calypso. But it’s not all partying…Shirley Heights also boasts impressive historic relics of 18th century military forts and gun emplacements.
8. St John’s Public Market
On Friday and Saturday mornings in St John’s there is a colourful market where you can blend in with the locals, browsing and sampling tropical fruits that you may have never tasted before, including the Antiguan black pineapple. The market offers a jumble of sweet palate-pleasers that will forever spoil you.