Submitted by Kadene Buchanan on November 17, 2015
Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean’s premier tourist destination, is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Situated in the middle of a partly volcanic island arc, this twin island country boasts 365 beaches, one for each day of the year, and lush rainforests.
The country’s location in the island arc exposes it to warm, steady winds, and the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Its expansive, winding coastline offers secluded, powdery white sandy beaches. One of the island’s main tourist event is Sailing Week that features six days of yacht shows, racing, and social activities.
Antigua’s coastline is surrounded by a nearly unbroken wall of coral reefs, while Barbuda is home to one of the Caribbean’s most significant bird sanctuaries. Visitors to the islands enjoy sailing, hiking, snorkelling and scuba diving among other exciting and relaxing activities.
The islands have been known to be major contributors in the West Indian and International Cricket! This sport is a favourite past time for many locals. In fact at any given time, you will people playing this sport on fields or even in the street.
A perfect Caribbean getaway, Antigua and Barbuda has yearlong sunshine with temperatures ranging between the mid-seventies in winter months and mid-eighties in the summer. This makes for the perfect year round vacation destination. With low humidity and cool trade winds, the summer months are still a wonderful time to visit.
Rainfall occurs mostly during the months of July and October, with short daytime showers at any time. Its location vis-à-vis the Atlantic Ocean exposes the country to occasional heavy rains and high surf at some beaches. Visitors should be mindful of the hurricane season, which occurs between June and November. However, hurricanes occur very infrequently.
The winter tourist season sees many European and North American tourists on the island, and many yachts docked in the English Harbour. Therefore, the summer months are slower, quieter and are perfect for those visitors who desire a quiet and relaxing vacation.
Food and Beverage
Antigua and Barbuda’s cuisine is rich in flavour and spices. The local cuisine features indigenous dishes and recently, a fusion of dishes from other Caribbean countries. The local cuisine is reminiscent of the island’s indigenous Arawaks, and colonial influences. These dishes are paired with local beverages of fruit juices, speciality beverages, beers, sodas and rum.
The island’s national dishes are pepper pot and fungie. Pepper pot is a rich spinach soup flavoured with pork, corned beef and scotch bonnet pepper. Fungie, similar to Italian polenta, consists mainly of cornmeal and okra. Locals also enjoy sweet treats, such as sugarcake, raspberry and tamarind stew and peanut brittle.
Local dishes also include jerk chicken of Jamaican origin, roti of Trinidad, and Arabian shawarma, kebabs and gyros. A typical breakfast meal would consist of cured codfish, eggplant, eggs and lettuce. Lunches include meats such as fish, chicken, pork, beef; starches such as rice, pasta and vegetables; and side dishes macaroni pie, scalloped potatoes and plantains.
Antigua offers several options for dining out from local bars and restaurants, and international cuisines – French, Italian, Asian, and Spanish. These restaurants offer a range of dining experiences from party atmospheres to private and fine dining.
A country true to its Caribbean location, Antigua and Barbuda has the locally produced and award winning English Harbour Rum. Locals enjoy locally brewed beers and malts along with Red Stripe beer, Heineken and Guinness Stout. Fruits juices are made from raspberries, mangoes, passion fruits, guavas, tamarinds, and soursop. Other beverages consumed on the island include ginger beer, soft drinks or sweet drinks, and lemonade. Speciality beverages include a tree bark based beverage known as Mauby, seamoss made from Irish moss, and Ponche Kuba Cream Liqueur a celebratory alcoholic drink.
Popular Vacation Spots
St. John’s – The nation’s capital and largest city. Tourist attractions include a Botanical Garden, St. John’s Antigua Light, and forts such as Fort James, Fort George and Fort Barrington.
The capital features picturesque, colourful buildings, sugar plantation ruins, the white towers of St. John’s Cathedral, and cruise ship piers.
The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, housed in a 1750s colonial courthouse in St. John’s, offers an experience of the Island’s early cultures, geological formations, indigenous peoples and recent cultural practices. The Museum also has a library with a large collection of pre-Colombian and historical artefacts.
English Harbour – Is located along the south coast of Antigua. Previously the base of the Royal Navy, it is now a centre for yachting. The Harbour features the only Georgian dockyard in the world – Nelson’s Dockyard! The sites of interests include Clarence House, built for the King William IV; Dow’s Hill Interpretation Center; and Shirley Heights, a colonial observational post from which visitors can see the neighbouring islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe.
Popular events at the Harbour features nature walks through a forest to Shirley Heights, barbeques, live music, and yacht cruising and sailing. The Harbour offers the perfect viewing spots for Antigua’s Sailing Week.
Jolly’s Harbour – A township located at the southwest of the island. A full vacation spot, Jolly’s Harbour contains shops, restaurants, a golf-course, a marina, boatyard and private houses.
Visitors can enjoy land based activities such as tennis and golfing; and water based activities such as boating, fishing tournaments, and sailing. The Jolly Harbour Golf Club is a premier golfing venue with an 18-hole championship golf course. The Jolly Harbour Marina Village offers boat rental and fishing.
Barbuda – The twin island to Antigua is more suited for the nature and adventure lover. The island houses two resorts, a bird sanctuary, and the Indian Cave with ancient Amerindian petroglyphs. Activities include swimming, snorkelling, fishing, and caving.
Language – The Island’s official language is English. The locals speak Antiguan Creole.
Airport – The Island has one international airport, the VC Bird International Airport, located in the North-East of the island and five miles from the capital.
Immigration – U.S. Canadian, and U.K. nationals only require a valid passport, original or certified birth certificate to enter the island. All visitors must have a return or onward ticket. Visitors are allowed a maximum of six months stay, and must be able to produce evidence of their ability to maintain themselves during their visit.
Cruise ship passengers, who are in transit, do not require a visa and are allowed a maximum stay of 24 hours.
Please contact the Consulate General of Antigua and Barbuda at 212-541-4119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org any further information on visa and entry requirements.
Currency – The official currency used is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). US currency is accepted at resorts, restaurants and other tourist locations. Travellers’ cheque and major credit cards are accepted everywhere. Where change is required for transactions conducted in US currency, it will be issued in EC dollars.
It is advisable to conduct transaction in EC dollars. However, upon departing the island, the bank may not take back EC dollars that you may have left over.
Banking – Banking hours are Mondays to Thursdays 8:00am to 1:00pm and from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Friday from 8:00am to 12:00pm, and 3:00pm to 5:00pm. The following banks are on the Island:Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank
Antigua and Barbuda Investment
Bank Antigua Commercial Bank
Bank of Antigua
Bank of Nova Scotia
Barclays Bank PLC
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Caribbean Corporation Bank
Royal Bank of Canada
Swiss American National Bank of Antigua
Tipping/Gratuity - Tipping is not necessary at restaurants as a 10% service charge is added to the bills. Tipping and gratuity is at 10-15% depending on the service. An acceptable amount for tipping bellhops and porters is 50 cents per bag, and 10-15% of the fare for taxi drivers.
Transportation – Local transportation is done mostly by cars with a few buses. East Bus Station serves the North and East of Antigua, while West Bus Station serves the villages of South and English Harbour.
Hired transportation is available by car. A valid driver’s license and another license which can be purchased on at police stations or at the airport are required for car rentals. Driving is done on the left side of the road.
Boats are available for various activities, including daily excursions to surrounding small islands and Barbuda; mini-cocktail cruises; and big game fishing.
Travelling with Pets – Antigua and Barbuda allows travellers with pets provided that the requisite permits are obtained, and the pets have been tested for Rabies Titer at an approved laboratory.