Most Popular Places to Visit in Antigua and Barbuda 2023, Top Attractions

Best Places to Visit in Antigua and Barbuda, Top Attractions

Barbuda, a string of pristine sandy shores located just a few nautical miles away, has a mellower vibe than Antigua. On both islands, opportunities to get out on the water abound, from yachting excursions to snorkeling. Antigua and Barbuda are a sun-and-sand destination for travelers worldwide. Part of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, these twin islands are located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. They are popular destinations for cruise travelers, and shore excursions that guarantee on-time return to your ship can help you make the most of your time in port. For travelers who plan to linger longer, tours that include hotel pickup and drop-off minimize planning and maximize convenience. Antigua remains strongly influenced by its past British colonization; nowhere is this more apparent than in the capital of St. John’s, where colorful colonial buildings line the streets. A sightseeing tour of this city combines a visit to the local produce market with duty-free shopping at Heritage Quay shopping complex. Or go more in-depth with a sightseeing tour of the entire island: An island tour hits all the highlights of Antigua, including a stop at English Harbour, the historic district that houses Nelson’s Dockyard and where salty seagoing vessels and luxe yachts bob in cerulean waters. With bird’s-eye views over the whole island, Shirley Heights is a great place to catch the sunset.

#1- Darby Cave, Barbuda
Darby Cave, caused by dissolution of the limestone, is one of Barbuda's most intriguing natural features. Although it is often described as a cave, the site is actually a sinkhole more than 100 meters in diameter. In contrast to the dry surrounding brush, the lush vegetation flourishing inside resembles a rain forest, with ferns, tall palmetto palms, and thick lianas lacing around the tree trunks. Many birds can be spotted amid the foliage.

#2- Martello Tower
The 17-meter-high Martello Tower is the tallest building in Barbuda and an important landmark on the island. The British constructed these defensive buildings all over the British Empire, and this particular structure is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the Caribbean. The tower lies on the beach at River, a few miles south of the village, and was built by the British in the early 19th century on the site of a previous fort that was probably constructed by the Spanish.

#3- 17 Mile Beach
Those who lay eyes on Barbuda's 17 Mile Beach, will probably never see a more ravishing stretch of coast. Lapped by pale aqua seas, this stunning stretch of pink-tinged sand separates the Barbuda lagoon from the Caribbean Sea and impresses even the most jaded of beach connoisseurs. Strolling along these sublime shores is one of the most popular things to do in Barbuda. The sand here is soft as flour, and its remote location means you can walk for miles and not see another soul.

#4- Fig Tree Drive
Along Antigua's southern coast, Fig Tree Drive winds through rainforest, farmlands, and fishing villages. This picturesque drive offers a glimpse of local life. Banana trees (called "figs" by the locals), mango trees, and coconut palms dot the landscape, as well as the ruins of sugar mills. Look for the roadside stands selling fresh-picked fruit — especially the super juicy pineapples.

#5- Frigate Bird Sanctuary
Barbuda's Frigate Bird Sanctuary is a haven for birders. Accessible only by boat, the bird sanctuary lies in Barbuda's northwest lagoon and is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of frigate birds in the Caribbean. These large sea birds are known for their bright red gullets and one-and-a-half-meter wingspan.

#6- St. John's, Antigua
St. John's, the capital city and cruise ship port of Antigua and Barbuda, is a kaleidoscope of candy-hued colonial cottages and market stalls piled high with tropical fruits and flowers. Looming above the skyline are the white neo-Baroque towers of St. John's Cathedral, one of the city's most distinctive buildings. It is currently undergoing a thorough restoration. For an overview of the island's history, head to the petite Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in the 18th-century former Court House, and to soak up more stories from Antigua's past, take a stroll around Betty's Hope, the 17th-century ruins of the island's largest sugar plantation. A small museum here highlights the lives of the slaves who built it.

#7- Shirley Heights Lookout
The best view of Antigua is from Shirley Heights Lookout, which towers above the island's southernmost point. A former military lookout, this picturesque attraction lies 490 feet above sea level, rewarding tourists with panoramic vistas of the "best view in Antigua." Both English and Falmouth Harbors can be glimpsed below. This is also home to a restored gun battery, guardhouse, parade grounds, officers' quarters, and other interesting reminders of the area's past. The restaurant is a real draw for those who enjoy the taste of fresh local dishes while being serenaded by steel drum music.

#8- Stingray City, Antigua
A five-minute speedboat ride off the island's east coast, Stingray City is a shallow pool with a sandy bottom amid a tropical reef, where hundreds of friendly southern stingrays glide through the crystal-clear waters waiting to be fed by visitors. The trip to Stingray City is one of the most popular things to do in Antigua.

#9- Nelson's Dockyard National Park
During a visit, you can learn more about the dockyard's rich history at The Dockyard Museum in the former Admiral's House Museum. But you can also soak up the ambience by wandering around all the beautifully restored stone warehouses, which contrast strikingly with the glitzy superyachts in the marina. Most of these old buildings are now home to hotels, restaurants, shops, and galleries.

#10- Valley Church Beach, Antigua
It's easy to see why Valley Church Beach is deemed one of the best places to visit in Antigua. Based on the edge of Jolly Harbour on Antigua's southwest coast, this fab beach boasts everything you'd hope for in a dream beach vacation: sugar-white sand, turquoise waves, and tall palm trees whose leaves provide much-needed shade on hot afternoons. Tourists love to swim in the warm and crystalline sea, lounge on the sand, or enjoy a meal at one of the beachside restaurants. Restrooms, as well as chair and umbrella rentals, are available on-site, making it easy to spend an entire day here.

#11- Devil's Bridge
Along the rugged northeast coast, the dramatic scenery of Indian Town National Park features the natural limestone Devil's Bridge, sculpted over the centuries by the pounding surf. At high tide, waves force geysers of water through blowholes in the nearby rock. The park also offers some rewarding hikes and excellent birding. More than 36 avian species roost in the park among the acacia trees, and the eastern point of the park is believed to have been an Arawak campsite.

#12- Betty's Hope, Antigua
These include a set of two stone windmills, one of which has been fully restored to its sugar mill state, with updated sails. This was once the largest sugar plantation on the island, and visitors will be amazed by the sheer size of some of the remaining structures. Today, these buildings and their accompanying museum stand as monuments honoring the hundreds of slaves who worked here prior to their emancipation. A visit will enlighten tourists about the area's colonial past.

#13- Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua
The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda is a great place to visit to get a feel for the history of these beautiful islands. You don't need much time here. The exhibits are all contained in one room, and they cover topics such as the island's geological origins, colonial history, slavery, archeology, sports, and political independence in 1981.

#14- Dickenson Bay, Antigua
Resorts and restaurants line this mile-long stretch of powdery white sand, and you can try your hand at a full range of water sports. Protected by an offshore reef, the bay is great for swimming, and you'll find activity booths along the sand renting everything you need for other aquatic activities, including jet skiing, snorkeling, and kayaking. The bay is also the hub for Antigua's windsurfing scene.

#15- Darkwood Beach, Antigua
If you're hoping to spend an entire day by the shore, we've found the perfect place to visit: Darkwood Beach. It's one of the largest beaches on Antigua's southwest coast, and the soft tan sand and offshore coral reef make this one of the most sought-after beaches, too. There is plenty of room to stretch out for a day, as well as a restaurant serving up refreshing drinks and tasty meals. Sun loungers and umbrellas can also be rented on-site. If you're expecting to eat quickly, don't. This is the Caribbean after all; things happen at a more relaxed pace.

#16- Half Moon Bay, Antigua
Half Moon Bay is fringed by one of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches. Protected by a reef, this idyllic crescent of fine white sand and azure sea resembles a crescent moon, hence its name. The beach is backed by natural foliage and offers excellent snorkeling on calm days, making it a great spot for families. That said, when the wind is up, the surf can be rough, so keep hold of children.

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