Enjoy the good life by visiting these 10 great Antigua and Barbuda attractions

English Harbour, Antigua

The friendly island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean’s hidden gems. Blessed with an abundance of beaches, rich history and some of the region’s friendliest people, it offers visitors some exciting and unique experiences that will make memories that last a lifetime. Here are 10 that I recommend:

Have you hugged a stingray today?

If petting a stingray is tops your bucket list, then Antigua is the place to be. At Stingray City, southern stingrays have been conditioned to come for free handouts of squid. The result is that the fish have been practically domesticated to the point that they tolerate being held by humans. Guests are whisked out to a nearby floating dock by speedboat where they hop out onto a shallow sandbar where they get to feed and hold these fascinating creatures. Yes, these stingrays have a venomous barb in their tail, but the venom won’t kill you and the chances of being injured by one are vanishingly remote

Hurtle yourself through Antigua’s forest canopy

Antigua might be famous for its beaches, but if you venture to the rugged southwestern corner of the island, you’ll find mountains and forests that are part of the country’s “Green Corridor,” an area where local tourism businesses have embraced sustainability. One of them is Antigua Rainforest Zipline, the only attraction of its kind on the island, where visitors not only thrill to rush of ziplining through the forest canopy, but learn about the ecosystem surrounding them.

Sail around Antigua on a catamaran

Antigua boasts some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the Caribbean, but if you were to drive around the island, you’d realize that vast stretches of it are inaccessible by car. If you want a better look, the best way to visit the island’s more secluded bays and beaches is on one of the catamarans that circumnavigate the island every day. Along the way, your boat will drop anchor in one of those remote areas where you can take a dip and then enjoy a delicious local lunch onboard.

Enjoy the sunset, then join the party on Shirley Heights

On the hills overlooking the naval dockyard of English Harbour, the British built a military compound known as Shirley Heights. Now part of a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the heights offer stunning views of the harbour below, but the view is especially beautiful at sunset. While you can enjoy the lookout any day of the week, the best time to go is on Sunday evening when a weekly BBQ party is hosted there that features plenty of food and music for an experience that will be one of the highlights of your visit to the island. 

Learn how to cook Caribbean style with a chef

One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in Antigua’s culture is through its food. You just might discover a dish that you wish you could replicate back home that will transport you back to your time here every time you make it. One way to learn how to do that is through a hands-on cooking class with Chef Nicole Arthurton Dennis. Her top-rated classes are run out of her beautiful home overlooking the national capital St. Johns that will have you making jerk dishes, cooking with rum, learning about Caribbean curries or preparing a delcisious seafood dish. It’s a top-tier experience you won’t soon forget.

Hang out with the Rastafari

Rastafarianism began in Jamaica in the early parts of the 20th century but has spread worldwide among the African diaspora, especially in the Caribbean. If you’re curious to know more about this religious movement and its significance in Antigua, Humble and Free Wadadli offers a unique series of eco-tours that explain what the Rastafari are all about. Located on the remains of a sugar plantation that once used enslaved labour, Humble and Free Wadadli provide visitors and locals alike with access to Antigua’s lesser-known trails, hidden past and breathtaking scenery through unique and engaging experiences. As for the Wadadli part of their name, that’s what Antigua’s original Indigenous inhabitants called the island.

Enjoy a chocolate experience

While cocoa isn’t grown in Antigua, you can still enjoy a Caribbean chocolate experience at the Antigua House of Chocolate. This artisanal chocolate maker provides organic and healthy chocolate products while supporting small chocolate enterprises across the Caribbean. Their offerings include freshly brewed cocoa tea which can be enjoyed hot or cold, chocolate dipped truffles (with or without local rum) and shelf chocolate seasoned with roasted coconut flakes, lemongrass, ginger and other spices. Eventually, they hope to offer hands-on bean-to-bar chocolate-making experiences.

Get as close as you can to Devil’s Bridge

On the easternmost tip of Antigua you’ll find Devil’s Bridge, a scenic limestone outcropping along the shore that faces the Atlantic Ocean. When its windy, mighty ocean waves pound the rocks sending great sprays of water in every direction. It’s a beautiful place for photos, a nice spot for a seaside picnic or simply a place to sit on a bench where you can listen to the waves and the seabirds and let your mind wander.

Visit a different beach every day of the year

The folks that market Antigua and Barbuda to tourists are keen to point out that the country has 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. That’s certainly a convenient number if you’re a marketer and while I haven’t been able to find a complete list of all of them, I’ve been told it includes beaches on both main islands and other smaller offshore islands. True or not, the country is certainly blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches, all of which are accessible to the public, and you can’t go wrong visiting any of them. Favourites include Jolly Beach, Dickenson Bay and Valley Church Beach.

See the magnificent frigatebirds

Antigua and Barbuda is an exciting place for birdwatchers looking to add new birds to their life list, but one of the most amazing avian experiences to be had is on Barbuda. The smaller of the nation’s two main islands is home to the largest magnificent frigatebird colony in the western hemisphere. Located in Codrington Lagoon, the sanctuary is home to more than 5,000 frigatebirds and is only accessible by a boat with a tour guide. The sanctuary is also home to more than 100,000 other birds representing more than 170 species.

DON’T MISS: Hanging out with the rays at Stingray City in Antigua

Mark Stachiew

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