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It’s hard to believe, but the pictures are real: Antigua is a pristine island of soft, white-sand beaches, dark turquoise waters and unending sunshine. Winter’s mid-20s (°C) temperatures are as cold as it gets. This former British colony in the West Indies is only 22km long and 17km wide. Smaller and less touristy than other Caribbean islands, Antigua offers broad beaches and secluded coves - the perfect setting for those looking for the easy life.
Best time to visit: December-April
VC Bird International Airport (ANU) is 8km northeast of St. John’s
To bask in the sun and swim in the turquoise waters, book your Thomas Cook holiday to Antigua today.
Though you can easily spend all day lounging on one of numerous beaches, the island has many other enticing options. Popular activities in Antigua include snorkelling among coral reefs and diving down to shipwreck ruins. In addition to water sports, visitors can zip-line through tropical forest, take a helicopter tour or trek to the summit of Mount Obama.
Antigua has 365 immaculate beaches to satisfy any fan of sand and sun. Spend your morning soaking up the rays for a perfect tan. In the afternoon, take a dip in the clear sea, which stays a comfortable 26-28 (°C) year-round. Dickenson Bay can get crowded, but its southern extension, Runaway Beach, is a bit quieter. With so many strips of white sand along the coastline, it’s easy to find secluded places in Antigua to bask in the sunshine.
On a holiday in Antigua, popular water sports include diving among shipwrecks and snorkelling with tropical fish. You can also kayak, jet-ski and take a glass-bottom boat trip. The more adventurous can feed and interact with stingrays or ride a horse into the ocean waves. Away from the water, gaze at the super-yachts moored at English Harbour and take advantage of duty-free shopping at Heritage Quay.
Seafood and tropical fruit are island staples. Try the saltfish or cornmeal-based fungie, the national dish. Beach bars serve mango juice, coconut water and ‘rum punch’ - the most common alcoholic drink in Antigua, usually made with Cavalier or English Harbour rum. One of the popular dining activities in Antigua is the weekly barbecue party at Shirley Heights Lookout. Every Sunday, the former British colonial fort offers outdoor barbecue, Antiguan music and beautiful sunset views over the English Harbour.
Adventurers: Zip-line through the tropical forest.
Photographers: Capture the elaborate masquerade costumes at Antigua Carnival.
Families: Meet the gentle stingrays, waiting for you to feed them.
Language: The language spoken in Antigua is English
Currency: The currency used in Antigua is the East Caribbean Dollar (EC$)
Local time: Antigua is 4 hours behind GMT/UK time
Fly: VC Bird International Airport (ANU) is 8km northeast of St. John’s
Flight time from UK: Approximately 8.5 hours
Tourist information: Further Antigua tourist information can be found at www.visitantiguabarbuda.com
Visa & Health: Before your holiday to Antigua, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/antigua-and-barbuda for recommendations and advice on visas and health.
Temperature: Averages highs of 30 (°C) in summer and 27 (°C) in winter
Best time to visit: December-April
The island’s summer months can be too hot, and August through October is hurricane season. Winter and spring are warm and dry – a sunny escape from the cold weather in Europe.
By bus: Buses (large, privately owned minivans) won’t take you to the smaller beaches, but routes run between St John’s and English Harbour or St John’s and Jolly Harbour.
By taxi: Taxis are not metered, but fares are widely published. Confirm the rate before starting your journey.
By car: If visiting more remote beaches, you can hire a car. You must purchase a local driving licence, and prepare yourself for rough roads and a few goats.
Sailing Week: Every spring, trade winds off Antigua provide the setting for the Caribbean’s biggest maritime event of world-class yachting and sailing races.
Summer Festival: For 10 days, from the end of July to the first Tuesday in August, the island comes alive with colourful costumes and the sounds of steel pan drums.
Antigua Carnival: Summer Festival ends with Carnival Monday and Tuesday, when islanders parade through the streets of St John in elaborate masquerade costumes and dance to the tunes of brass and steel bands.