Most travelers’ first expectations of Antigua are endless stretches of unspoiled sand and an idyllic tropical island, and they would not be wrong. Antigua, after all, boasts over 365 beaches.
Finding one or two of your favorite beaches on this serene Caribbean island isn’t hard to do.
But this slice of paradise offers more than just towering palm trees, slow sunsets, and beguiling azure-blue water. Look a little deeper and a little more inland and you will find a treasure trove of amazing attractions, each uniquely different from the other and all waiting to be explored.
Life might be a beach in Antigua, but that’s just the start. Here are eight other attractions in Antigua that deserve as much attention as its perfect strands of golden sands.
1. Nelson’s Dockyard
Antigua has an extensive colonial history. The sheltered bays of Antigua are reminiscent of its colourful naval past. Historic forts and other remnants of its colonial times can still be seen today. And one of the best places to discover Antigua’s rich culture and history is at Nelson’s Dockyard.
Still in operation since being first opened in 1745, Nelson’s Dockyard has seen ships of all shapes and sizes sail into its port. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Nelson’s Dockyard is a bustling port of activity, featuring restaurants, hotels, and the Dockyard Museum.
Nelson’s Dockyard is now home to Antigua’s world-renowned sailing and yachting events, continuing its proud naval tradition.
2. The Saturday Market at St. John’s
A bustling affair that comes but once a week, the Saturday Market in the capital city of St. John’s is not to be missed. Market stalls dot Market Street offering fresh fruits, produce, and local artisan crafts.
The delightful gathering of bright-eyed travelers and locals with wide smiles makes for a lively atmosphere. Be sure to sample some of the market’s prepared food as well as its wonderful array of local produce and fresh tropical fruit.
3. Shirley Heights
Overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour lies the former military complex, Shirley Heights.
The hike up to Shirley Heights from Nelson’s Dockyard is enjoyable but challenging, so comfortable shoes are recommended. The top of Shirley Heights offers travelers an iconic view over English and Falmouth Harbours.
Make the journey in the late afternoon to see the breathtaking scenic landscapes of Antigua at sunset. What’s more, every Sunday, Shirley Heights hosts an evening party that has been going for over 30 years!
4. Betty’s Hope
As the island’s first sugar plantation, Betty’s Hope provides glimpses into Antigua’s former agricultural export industry. Parts of the estate have been fully restored to its former glory, allowing travelers to recount life at this heritage landmark.
Today, this sugar estate serves as an important archeological site, recounting life on Antigua in the 18th century.
5. Mt. Obama
Eponymously named after the former US president Barack Obama, Mt. Obama is Antigua’s tallest peak. Formerly known as Boggy Peak, it was renamed in 2009 to honor the 44th president of the United States.
Despite its name, this 1,319-foot peak is more of an uphill stroll than a technical climb. The trails to the peak are still a challenge so some caution when traversing to the summit is advised.
6. Cade’s Reef
Travelers with a preference for underwater pursuits have plenty to explore at Cade’s Reef.
This two-mile long barrier reef is a popular destination for both divers and snorkelers alike. Going with a boat tour is advised as the reef is located roughly 20 minutes away from Antigua’s southwestern coast.
As a protected natural landmark, Cade’s Reef is teeming with rich marine life. Huge pillar reefs provide shelter for a variety of sea creatures from spiny lobsters and docile reef sharks to cruising barracudas and nomadic hawksbill turtles.
7. Green Island
Located just east of Antigua lies the undeveloped Green Island. Those who make the voyage to this deserted island will be treated to some of the best snorkeling sites in Antigua as well as unspoiled white sand beaches to sink your toes into.
This uninhabited outer island is privately owned and only accessible by boat, making it the perfect day trip or as part of a boat excursion.
8. Devil’s Bridge
This tempestuous rock formation located at the northeastern point of Antigua is aptly named.
The Devil’s Bridge is a stunning glimpse into the power of nature’s elements. Over the centuries, powerful Atlantic waves have crashed upon the coastal rocks, resulting in the formation of this natural limestone arch.
Advisory alerts warn travelers of traversing across the bridge due to the slippery nature of the bridge.
It has been said that those who have been swept away from the Devil’s Bridge has never been recovered. Those still seeking adventure will find plenty in the surrounding geysers and blowholes.
Your slice of paradise awaits
The miles of golden sands at Antigua barely scratches the surface of what this idyllic island has to offer. Whether you’re visiting this dream vacation destination as a traveler or have arrived through a Caribbean Citizenship program, a world of wonder awaits.
Kal Kennard is a Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.