Most hotels, restaurants, beach bars, and watersports facilities lie north of the capital of St. John’s, in the northwest part of the island. St. John’s is a large, neatly laid-out town , just over 6 miles from the airport and less than a mile from Deep Water Harbour Terminal, where cruise ships may dock. This port city is the focal point of shopping. Protected within a narrow bay, St. John’s is charming, with cobblestone sidewalks and weather-beaten wooden houses with louvered Caribbean verandas. Trade winds keep the wide streets cool. Since all the major resorts are on good beaches, most visitors tend to stay put, going into St. John’s for a day’s shopping trip or to English Harbour for some history.
When is the best time to go to Antigua?
The high season runs from mid-December through April (basically- before Christmas until shortly after Easter) and that is the time when prices will be highest. During the lower season, spring, summer and fall, prices are considerably lower and while prices won’t be as cheap as some other Caribbean islands, for Antigua, it will be a bargain. Because it is low season, some of the smaller, family owned properties may close from August through October.
Weather in Antigua is pretty consistent with temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Antigua is one of the driest and sunniest islands in the Caribbean. Low humidity and lack of rain is pretty common even if most weather reports will anticipate daily rain on the island. The annual rainfall average at only about 45 inches and when it does rain, the showers are usually last for 10 minutes or less, and are followed by bright bursts of sunshine. The rainiest months are typically October – December, although My Vacation Lady has sent honeymooner to Antigua in these months and they had fabulous weather.
While Antigua does lie in the path of what is considered “Hurricane Alley”, there have only been six direct hits on the island in the past fifty years. Again, while the chances of being hit by a hurricane is rare, it is more common for Antigua to be affected by distant hurricanes which can bring strong winds, clouds, and heavy rainfall. There is never a crystal ball for when a hurricane or bad weather may hit, but Antigua has been lucky when it comes to hurricane season.
Beaches, Beaches and more Beaches
Antigua’s beaches are public, and many are dotted with resorts that have water-sports outfitters and beach bars.
Most restaurant and bars developed beaches and won’t charge for beach chair rentals if you buy lunch or even drinks; otherwise the going rate is usually a couple of dollars. Access to some of the finest stretches of sand, such as those at the Five Islands Peninsula resorts (including Galley Bay, Hawksbill Beach Hotel, and Coconut Beach Club), is somewhat restricted by security gates. Sunbathing topless or in the buff is strictly illegal except on one small beach at Hawksbill Beach Hotel. Beware that when cruise ships dock inSt. John’s, buses drop off loads of passengers on most of the west-coast beaches. Choose such a time to tour the island by car, visit one of the more remote east-end beaches, or take a day trip toBarbuda.
Darkwood Beach. This (1-km) beige ribbon on the southwest coast has stunning views ofMontserrat. Although popular with locals on weekends, it’s virtually deserted during the week. Waters are generally calm, but there’s scant shade, no development other than a basic beach bar, and little to do other than bask in solitude. It’s 2 mi (3 km) south of Jolly Harbour and roughly ½ mi ([3//4] km) southwest of Valley Church off the main (unnamed) coast road. Its neighbor across the headland (a seven-minute walk along the road),FfryesBay, is another fine pristine stretch.
Dickenson Bay. Along a lengthy stretch of powder-soft white sand and exceptionally calm water you can find small and large hotels, water sports, concessions, and beachfront restaurants. Be forewarned, however, that many operators such as Sea Sports and Big John’s Dive can be rather chaotic. Vendors pass by but generally don’t hassle sun-worshippers. There’s decent snorkeling at either point. The beach is roughly 2 mi (3 km) northeast ofSt. John’s along the (unnamed) main coast road.
Half Moon Bay. This ¾-mi (1-km) ivory crescent is a prime snorkeling and windsurfing area. On the Atlantic side of the island, the water can be quite rough at times, attracting a few intrepid hardcore surfers and wakeboarders. The northeastern end, where a protective reef offers spectacular snorkeling, is much calmer. A tiny bar has restrooms, snacks, and beach chairs. Vendors wander by intermittently; signs of life are few. Half Moon is a real trek (you can end up asking locals directions several times), but one ofAntigua’s showcase beaches. Follow signs for the villages of St. Philips orFreetown, both roughly 1.5 mi (2.5 km) away, and pray: all roads are unmarked and the island’s hinterland has no landmarks.
Johnson’s Point. This series of connected, deliciously deserted beaches of bleached white sand is on the southwest coast overlooking Montserrat, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, andNevis. You can explore a ruined fort at one end; notable beach bar-restaurants include OJ’s (try the snapper) and Turner’s. Just across the road, the amiable owners of 3 Martinis (a restaurant-apartment complex) serve excellent, inexpensive Italian food and cocktails. All are superb places to applaud the spectacular sunsets. The water is generally placid, though snorkelers will be disappointed. Follow the (nameless) main west coast road roughly 3 mi (5 km) south of theJollyHarbour complex.
Pigeon Point. NearFalmouthHarbour are these two fine white-sand beaches; the leeward side is calmer, while the windward side is rockier, with sensational views and snorkeling around the point. Several restaurants and bars are nearby, though Billy’s satisfies most on-site needs. There are two turnoffs from the (unnamed) main south coast road; the easiest to identify is just past the turn for the Antigua Yacht Club.
Runaway Beach. An often unoccupied stretch of bone-white sand, this beach is still rebuilding after years of hurricane erosion, with just enough palms left for shelter. Both the water and the scene are relatively calm, and beach restaurants such as the raucousBikini’s offer cool shade and cold beer. It’s roughly 2 mi (3 km) northwest of St. John’s, and just down the main north coast road from Dickenson Bay (hug the lagoon past the entrance to Siboney Beach Club).
What else is there to do in Antigua besides the beach?
As with most Caribbean islands, the beach and water sports represent a good part of the allure of the islands but Antigua is blessed with a rich culture, history, beautiful scenery and a bit of a night life and shopping. Some of the more popular excursions and activities in Antigua are:
- Snorkeling and Diving
- Swimming with Sting Rays
- Catamaran cruises and Sunset cruises
- ATV or Jeep Tours
- Horseback riding
- Deep Sea Fishing
- Kayak tours
- Zip line Tours
- Wind surfing and Kite Boarding
- Nelson’s Dockyard National Park
- St John’s Saturday morning market
- Shirley Heights
If all of this isn’t enough to make you want to honeymoon in the beautiful island of Antigua, CLICK HERE for a video on more of what Antigua has to offer.
My Vacation Lady is the highest rates honeymoon specialist located in New Jersey on both Wedding Wire and the Knot’s Wedding Channel. Contact us to see how we can help plan your dream honeymoon to Antigua.