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With white sands, turquoise waters and lush greenery, Antigua is every bit the archetypal Caribbean paradise. Yet while it would be easy – and very enjoyable – to while away a week or two relaxing on one of the island’s many beaches, there is much more to Antigua than sun, sea, and sand. For one, there’s the island’s rich history. As a former British settlement, Antigua is peppered with vestiges of its colonial past, including the fascinating Nelson’s Dockyard. These days, Antigua is a hub of Caribbean culture, and its candy-colored towns and villages are filled with friendly islanders and lively local businesses.
Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport is located around 5 miles from the city of St. John’s and is serviced by direct flights from across Europe and the United States. The best time to visit the island is in winter, between mid-December and mid-April, when the daytime temperatures average 80 ° F. Avoid traveling to Antigua between August and October, when humidity is high and hurricanes are a very real possibility.
Antigua’s sister island Barbuda lies about 30 miles to the north, and while it is not significantly smaller, it is home to just a fraction of the population, with approximately 1,500 people living on Barbuda compared to over 80,000 on Antigua. As a result, the island feels much more rustic. Outside of Codrington, the island’s only town, the main attractions on Barbuda are the magnificent sandy beaches and a large lagoon. Nature-lovers, in particular, should be sure to visit the lagoon, which is a nesting ground for the unusual frigatebirds. The male birds have large scarlet gullets which they can puff up as large as a soccer ball to attract mates. Barbuda can be reached in around 90 minutes on the Barbuda Express catamaran service, making it the perfect destination for a day trip.
Though Antigua, along with Barbuda, is now an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations, the island was a British colony for hundreds of years, starting in the 17th century, when settlers transformed Antigua into a profitable sugar producer. The island’s most famous historical site is Nelson’s Dockyard, which received Unesco World Heritage status in 2016. Previously Britain’s main naval base in the north-eastern Caribbean – and one of the most heavily defended places on the planet – the dockyard is named for the celebrated British naval officer Horatio Nelson, who played a significant role in Antigua’s development. History buffs should also check out the town of Falmouth, which was the first British settlement on the island, as well as Betty’s Hope, the first major sugar plantation in Antigua, which was established in 1650.
The crystalline waters surrounding Antigua are a major draw for watersports enthusiasts of all stripes, but thanks to the island’s well-preserved coral reefs – and the lack of a dangerous current – the conditions are particularly well-suited to snorkeling and scuba diving. Antigua’s most popular spot for diving is Cades Reef, which is part of the Cades Bay Marine Park and is home to a very diverse array of underwater life. To glimpse one of the many shipwrecks that are stranded off the island’s coastline, head to Deep Bay. Here you’ll find the wreck of the Andes, which lies at a depth of just 35 feet is easily accessible to divers of all abilities. Antigua is also a great destination for sailing, with boats available to hire and tours around the island, which tend to set off from Falmouth Harbour.
It might be a little less picturesque than some of the island's smaller towns but Antigua’s capital St. John’s more than makes up for that with its fascinating culture. Visitors looking for a taste of the real Antigua are spoilt for choice with its restaurants and bars, many with live bands playing the island's typical music. St. John’s is also interesting from a historical perspective: the colonial architecture throughout the city is a testament to the town's complex past as a center of the slave trade, including the famous cathedral of St. John the Divine, which was rebuilt twice following earthquakes. For more insight into Caribbean's history of slavery, be sure to visit the city’s Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, where the topic is explored with great sensitivity.
For a memorable trip to the island, book your stay in one of our luxurious Antigua villa rentals.
Nestled on the 300-acre Long Island, which is situated two miles off the coast of Antigua, the exclusive resort of Jumby Bay is a private haven filled with lush greenery, shady palm trees, and white sandy beaches. As one of the most desirable luxury retreats in the Caribbean, your stay on the island is guaranteed to be special. So what are you waiting for? Check out our selection ofJumby Bay villas to rent now.
What could be better than falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the Caribbean Sea gently lapping the shoreline? If this is your idea of paradise then take a look at ourAntigua beach house rentals . For those traveling as part of a larger group, the expansive Ty Molineux has space for up to 16 guests, as well as a huge terrace with an infinity pool and colorful island-style interiors. Meanwhile, families and smaller groups will feel right at home at villas such as Bougainvillea and Frangipani, which boast elegant, traditional decor and all of the amenities you would expect from a luxury vacation rental.
Located just steps from the sandy shores and boasting non-stop ocean views, our vacation homes in Jolly Harbour will immerse you in tropical luxury. Stay close to the famed Ffryes beach at our Tamarind Hills properties, each with their own swimming pool. And if you’re traveling with golfers, you’ll be pleased to know that the Jolly Harbour Golf Club is less than a 10-minute drive away.