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Discover the best Antigua beaches to enjoy on your Caribbean holiday

Best beaches in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Let’s walk barefoot along the beach in Antigua, swim in the calm, clear water, rest a while under the swaying palm trees, go snorkelling by the rocks to spot tiny coloured fish and then have a lunch of lobster with a bottle of chilled beer at a local beach bar. The beaches in Antigua were definitely among the best of all the Caribbean islands I’ve visited in terms of beauty and sheer number. They say there are 365 beaches between Antigua and its sister island Barbuda, one for each day of the year, and I can well believe it!

This article is published during the Coronavirus emergency, so we advise you to follow your local government health guidance and use this article as travel inspiration to plan a visit when it’s safe to do so.

Half Moon Bay Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Half Moon Bay Antigua

I enjoyed a week on the island and spent much of it exploring all the Antigua beaches, from those that are lively with plenty of watersports and beach bars, to the empty, secluded and wilder beaches that the locals favour. I soon realised that Antigua has endless lovely beaches, so you never have to travel very far to find one. The decision is more about deciding which gorgeous beach is most convenient for where you are staying.

Read more from this trip: 30 fun things to do in Antigua

Bear in mind that your experience of different beaches will be coloured by the wind and weather and also when you visit. The same beach may be deserted and peaceful on a weekday, but busy with family groups enjoying their BBQ and loud reggae music at weekends.

Many of the best beaches in Antigua have resorts hotels on them and in some of the Caribbean islands I’ve visited this creates an access problem if you’re visiting independently. It’s worth knowing that all beaches are public and free to use in Antigua, but hotel facilities are, with a few exceptions, just for hotel guests, so you can’t rent a sunlounger, use their watersports or have lunch in their beach bars.

Long Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Long Bay in Antigua

This is less of a problem in Antigua since almost all the beaches I visited were large enough to accommodate independent visitors and often had beach bars, restaurants, watersports and other facilities that were not exclusive to the hotels. So let’s take a tour of the best Antigua beaches that I found, to discover what you can expect when you visit them and where you can stay nearby.

Antigua Beaches Near English Harbour

Pigeon Beach in Antigua

Pigeon is a justifiably popular beach that’s at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour, often visited by those staying in the marina since its a short walk from the Antigua Yacht Club. The atmosphere was quiet when we visited and the setting idyllic with a view of yachts at mooring in the bay.

But we did see cruise ships dropping off guests here and I suspect it gets busy at weekends, so I’d choose your timings carefully as Pigeon Beach will be busy at certain times. If you like walking, this is a good place to take the Middle Ground Trail that takes you in about an hour to English Harbour with fantastic views and the old fort to look at on the way.

If you prefer to go hiking with a guide, check out this 3.5 hour guided hiking tour to explore some of the hiking trails on Antigua

Pigeon Beach Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Pigeon Beach Antigua

Location: A 10 minute walk from Falmouth Harbour, taking the lane beside the Antigua Yacht Club. You can also drive and leave your car by the beach.

Facilities: Parking area | Childrens play area | Public toilet and shower facility for a small charge

Where to eat: At one end of the beach is a casual beach bar Bumpkins and at the other is the stylish Catherine’s Cafe which has a French restaurant with Provence style influences and a private relaxation area on the beach.

Where to stay nearby: Check out the understated luxury of South Point Hotel in Falmouth Harbour with 23 waterfront suites overlooking the gardens and marina, in a fantastic location if you enjoy watching the yachts come and go in the harbour.

Read more: The Cayman Islands: Watersports, Stingray City and the best beaches in Grand Cayman

Pigeon Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Pigeon Beach in Antigua

Galleon Beach in Antigua

Galleon Beach is at the mouth of English Harbour, with a long stretch of sand that’s calm and protected by being within the bay. The beach has been the subject of some interesting archaeological excavation, since this was the closest beach for ships that moored in English Harbour during the 18th century when Nelson was stationed here, with graves and other artefacts found at the back of the beach.

The excavations were featured in a BBC documentary called “Nelson’s Caribbean Hell Hole” showing how fever was rife and the death rate high among sailors stationed in Antigua at that time. We didn’t see any evidence of the excavations, but just found a pleasant sheltered beach, with a number of houses built on the road behind it.

At one end of the beach is a path that leads up along the cliffs with views over the sea, with another path called the Lookout Trail that starts from the road behind the beach and runs up the hill to Shirley Heights. Galleon is also a popular local’s beach at weekends when you may find BBQs and loud music. From one end of the beach you can snorkel on a boat wreck that’s just below the surface and the Pillars of Hercules at the far end of the beach are also a favourite snorkelling spot for stronger swimmers.

Check out this 2 hour Turtle Beach Power snorkelling adventure that takes you to snorkel at the Pillars of Hercules.

Galleon Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Galleon Beach in Antigua

Location: Galleon Beach is in the south of Antigua, within the large sheltered bay of English Harbour. The road from English Harbour takes you up the hill, as if heading to Shirley Heights, then you can drive down to the beach and park on the small road that runs along the back of the beach. If you are in Nelson’s Dockyard there’s also a water taxi outside Copper and Lumber Store Historic Inn to take you across the bay to Galleon Beach. They make regular trips to and fro during the day, but check the time of the last water taxi back so you don’t get stuck.

Facilities: I didn’t see any toilets or other public facilities there, although toilets are available for customers at the beach bars and restaurants. The beach is backed by small trees that offer some shade.

Where to eat: We had a lovely lunch in the beachfront Reef restaurant of the Inn at English Harbour. It’s open to non residents who reserve in advance or depending on space available, as they give priority to hotel guests at their elegant luxury hotel. I heard there is also beach bar which hadn’t yet opened when we were there in November.

Where to stay nearby: The Inn at English Harbour is a small luxury hotel with colonial style buildings that run from the hillside down to the beach, with its own water jetty and boat to ferry guests across the harbour.

Galleon Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Galleon Beach in Antigua

Windward Beach in Antigua

As the name suggests, Windward Beach is on the less sheltered, windward coast of the island and it has a wilder feel, with patches of rock among the sand and a backing of mangroves bushes. As the beach is less sheltered, the waves here are often stronger and you may have to walk over rocks as you go for your swim.

At the end of the beach is an area of rocks that is a favourite for snorkelers who sometimes swim around the headland back to Pigeon beach. Take special care here, especially around the rocks as there have been accidents at this beach, so don’t swim alone. Windward is a great beach if you are a strong swimmer, enjoy snorkelling or want a wilder experience.

Read more from this trip: 30 fun things to do in Antigua

Windward Beach Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Windward Beach Antigua

Location: Windward Beach is in the South of Antigua, close to Falmouth and English Harbour, a short walk from Pigeon beach if you pass by Catherine’s Cafe and continue a bit further up the track. The security barrier for private villas means you can’t take your car any further, so leave it at Pigeon beach if driving.

Facilities: This is a wild unspoiled beach with no facilities.

Where to eat: There’s no cafe on the beach, but you can have lunch or refreshments at Catherine’s Cafe or Bumpkins on Pigeon Beach.

Where to stay nearby: There’s no hotel directly on Windward Beach but South Point Hotel is nearby offering 23 suites decorated in pared back, contemporary style, overlooking the gardens and marina. The Antigua Yacht Club Marina Resort also offers rooms and apartments set on the hillside behind the yacht club.

Read more: 20 fabulous things to do in St Lucia

Windward Beach Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Windward Beach Antigua

Antigua Beaches in the south west coast

Carlisle Bay Beach in Antigua

Where Fig Tree Drive meets the south coast of Antigua, Carlisle Bay is a long beach that’s backed by high slopes covered by rainforest. Half of the beach is undeveloped with shady palm trees hanging over the beach, shallow calm water and rocks at one end.

The other half of the beach is taken up by the Carlisle Bay Antigua Hotel, and while the beach in front of it is for everyone, the sunloungers, bars, watersports and other facilities are for guests only.

Read More: Top 10 things to do in St Kitts for Cruise Visitors

Carlisle Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Carlisle Bay in Antigua

Location: Carlisle Bay is in the south west of Antigua and is the first beach you come to when you drive down the hill through the rainforest along Fig Tree Drive.

Facilities: Park under the trees at this uncommercial beach with no cafe or facilities, but a small kiosk half way along the beach was selling some drinks, snacks and souvenirs. The sunbeds, watersports and restaurants at Carlisle Bay Hotel are only for the use of hotel guests.

Where to eat: Buy a snack or drink at the small beach kiosk or bring your own. The Carlisle Bay Antigua Hotel is a mainly inclusive hotel so restaurants are for the use of hotel guests only.

Where to stay nearby: Stay at the Carlisle Bay Antigua Hotel, a luxury resort that caters for both families and couples, with watersports, spa and four different restaurant options, backed by the emerald hillside covered with rainforest.

Hiking in Grenada: Waterfalls, Hot Springs and Plantation walks

Carlisle Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Carlisle Bay in Antigua

Curtain Bluff and Morris Bay Beach in Antigua

Continuing along the coast road, we looked down on another beautiful beach with a view of Curtain Bluff Hotel at one end. From the cliff above we couldn’t see any obvious way to get down to it, other than possibly through the hotel itself, so we just stopped for a roadside photo and continued to the next bay.

Curtain Bluff in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Curtain Bluff in Antigua

We parked at the next beach in Morris Bay, a long sweep of sand, that has plenty of parking space and some picnic tables under the trees. The Curtain Bluff Hotel extended over one end of the beach but the rest was all open and natural, with little development and the water is shallow and clear for swimming.

Morris Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Morris Bay in Antigua

Location: In the South West of Antigua you’ll find Curtain Bluff and Morris Bay as you drive along Old Road that skirts the coast.

Facilities: It didn’t seem possible to access Curtain Bluff beach except through the hotel, although it makes a great photo if you stop on the high ground above the beach. We continued to Morris Bay where there’s a parking area off the road. I didn’t see any toilets or other facilities on this beach.

Where to eat: In Morris Bay, stop at Gina’s Cook Shop which is by the road, selling home cooked food, drinks and fresh fruit from a roadside stall. This is the place to try local style dishes such as pepperpot and barbeque meat and fish at weekends.

Where to stay nearby: The Curtain Bluff Hotel is an all inclusive hotel with accommodation spread across the two beaches and on the Bluff of high ground between them. The hotel offers four championship tennis courts, swimming pools and access to the two different beaches.

Morris Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Morris Bay in Antigua

Turner’s Beach in Antigua

Continuing along the coast road, we got some lovely views as we drove along Old Road and arrived at Turner’s Beach, which has a well known cafe and large parking area. This is a very long, sandy beach with lots of space for everyone and a good choice for families, since you can base yourself near Turner’s Beach Restaurant.

Near Turner’s Restaurant we did some snorkelling by the rocky headland and saw some small fish over the rocks. The long stretch of fine sand leads up to Keyonna Beach Resort at the other end of the beach. Turner’s is a great beach for swimming and snorkelling in shallow water, although I thought it was slightly marred by some half finished buildings at the back of the beach.

If you enjoy snorkelling, try out Eli’s Eco tour, for a trip around the island stopping at the best snorkelling stops

Turner's Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Turner’s Beach in Antigua

Location: On the western coast of Antigua, the coast road follows the coastline and brings you to Turner’s Beach which is easily accessible from Jolly Harbour.

Facilities: If you base yourself at Turner’s Beach Restaurant you can rent sunbeds from them, buy refreshments and use their toilets. I didn’t see any other facilities further up the beach. There’s a large car park by Turner’s Restaurant.

Where to eat: The Turner’s Beach Restaurant is large and well set up, serving drinks, snacks and meals throughout the day. The restaurant was quiet when we visited and we enjoyed our drink there, but I’ve read that it is a favourite stop for cruise visitors and tour groups, so you may find it quite busy at times.

OJ's at Turner's Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

OJ’s at Turner’s Beach in Antigua

A little beyond Turner’s beach, where the road runs in front of the beach, we stopped to take a look at OJ’s Beach Bar. It’s more of a proper restaurant specialising in seafood and festooned with fishing nets and a great place for a sundowner, with views of the sun setting over the sea. Nearby also look out for the Rum Bus, a quirky pink painted double decker bus that’s converted into a beach bar – you’ll spot it from the road.

Where to stay nearby: Keyonna Beach Resort is the main accommodation on Turner’s Beach, a luxury all inclusive couples only resort. The accommodation is in boutique style beach front cottages, each with its own small plunge pool.

Turner's Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Turner’s Beach in Antigua

Darkwood Beach in Antigua

We stopped briefly at Darkwood beach, which is backed by a lagoon that’s preserved for fishing and wildlife. The beach has a long stretch of soft sand backed by scrub but little shade, so you’ll need to rent sun loungers and umbrellas from the restaurant.

There’s also a big inflatable waterslide for families and fun seekers but if that isn’t your thing, there’s a lot of beach to find a quieter spot for a swim. I did read that there’s a steep drop in the water here, something to be aware of if you have young children or are not a strong swimmer.

Read more from this trip: 30 fun things to do in Antigua

Darkwood Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Darkwood Beach in Antigua

Location: Darkwood Beach is on the west coast of Antigua, just south of Jolly Harbour and is easily accessible by the coast road. It’s a popular beach for cruise visitors as the cruise port in St John’s is a short taxi ride away.

Facilities: Toilets for customers at the Darkwood Beach restaurant where you can also rent sunbeds. Parking by the roadside. There’s also an inflatable water playground with water slides just off the beach.

Where to eat: Eat at the Darkwood beach restaurant serving drinks, meals and refreshments throughout the day.

Where to stay nearby: Tamarind Hills set on the high point above the beach offers luxury villas with gorgeous views and private plunge pools.

Lagoon near Darkwood Beach, Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Lagoon near Darkwood Beach, Antigua

Coco Beach and Ffryes Beach in Antigua

The final stop on our day’s tour of the Antigua beaches in the west and south west of the island ended with Coco Beach and Ffryes Beach. These two adjoining beaches are a little off the main road and are backed by a small coastal lagoon.

They were both pleasant beaches, with sun loungers available to rent and used by guests from the nearby CocoBay Resort and Tamarind Hills Villas. I noticed that the sand quality here was a bit more gritty here than some of the other beaches that are more to the south and south-west of Antigua, but if you are staying in the area of Jolly Harbour or St John’s these are good beaches to spend some time on.

Ffryes Beach, Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Coco Beach, Antigua

Coco Beach Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Coco Beach Antigua

Location: Coco Beach and Ffryes Beach are on the west coast of Antigua, close to Jolly Harbour, accessed by smaller roads off the main Valley Road.

Facilities: There are sunbeds available to rent | Parking at the back of the beach | Toilets at beach restaurants for the use of customers.

Where to eat: The Sheer Rocks Restaurant overlooks the sea, within the Coco Beach Resort but is run as a separate restaurant and open to non-residents, for lunch and dinner. On Ffryes beach, try Dennis beach bar and restaurant offering modern Caribbean cuisine.

Where to stay nearby: At one end of Coco Beach is the CocoBay Resort, an all inclusive adults only resort with pastel cottages set on the hillside. Dennis Beach bar on Ffryes Beach offers simple cabanas to rent and Tamarind Hills set on the high point above the beach offering luxury villas with gorgeous views and private plunge pools.

Ffryes Beach, Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Ffryes Beach, Antigua

Antigua Beaches Near St John’s

Fort James Beach in Antigua

If you are looking for a bit of history and a nice beach that’s just a short taxi ride away from St John’s, head to Fort James which is set at the mouth of Deepwater Harbour, the bay that protects Antigua’s island capital.

The fort is named after King James II of England and was built in the 1740s, housing barracks and an impressive array of canons aimed across the water to ward off any incursion by the French navy in the 18th century. These days there’s not much happening here and you can freely enter through the arched gateway of the fort, see the ruined buildings and admire the canons that are still impressive, lined up along the fortress wall.

The Russell’s restaurant next to the fort had closed down when we visited but nearby we stopped for a juice at the Beachlimerz bar that’s close to the walls of the fort. This would be a good place to base yourself if you are visiting on a cruise and want a nice beach cafe with access to sunbeds, great food and swimming. We didn’t eat here, but the menu offers plenty of seafood and Caribbean flavours and it would be a great place for a sunset cocktail. There’s also another local style beachfront cafe Thirty six 5 at the same end of the beach.

Read more: My 10 favourite things to do in Aruba

Fort James Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Fort James Beach in Antigua

One of the fun things to do on Antigua is to go horse riding on the beach and we saw a group of riders on Fort James Beach although I didn’t go horse riding myself. There are lots of horse riding tours on Runaway Beach and Fort James Beach that can be booked as a cruise excursion or tour although I could not locate a specific riding stable for direct booking on this side of the island. On these horse riding sessions you may get to ride through the water so that the horses can cool off in the sea spray.

This is a long beach, with plenty of room for everyone and as you continue up the beach you’ll come to the best known of the cafes on Fort James Beach, Millers by the Sea where you can also rent sunbeds and find some small kiosks selling souvenirs and beach gear. We didn’t eat there, but it’s quite a big place that I imagine gets busy at weekends when they have live music on Friday nights. Overall this is a great beach with different refreshment options that’s easily accessible by taxi from St John’s.

Why not take this cycle tour from St John’s which brings you to Fort James with time to relax on the beach.

Fort James Beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Fort James Beach in Antigua

Location: Fort James Beach is on the west side of Antigua, just north of the island’s capital of St John’s and an easy taxi ride from the cruise port.

Facilities: Parking on the road that runs at the back of the beach | Trees and shade in some parts of the beach | Sun Loungers and sun shades are available to rent from the beach bars such as Millers by the sea and Beachlimerz | There are some small beach kiosks at Millers by the sea | Toilets available at the beach bars for customers.

Where to eat: There are a few cafes to choose from, including Beachlimerz where we had a drink, and another more local beachfront cafe Thirty six 5 at the same end of the beach. A little further along is one of the best known of the cafes on Fort James Beach, Millers by the Sea with live music on Friday nights. Russell’s by Fort James was closed when we visited, which is a shame since it has such a wonderful location, so perhaps it will be open again in the future.

Where to stay nearby: There are no hotels at Fort James Beach although you may find inexpensive accommodation in St John’s, the island capital. You are better to stay a little further north at Dickenson Bay where there are lots of beachfront hotels such as Sandals, Halcyon Cove, Antigua Village, Siboney Beach Club or Buccaneer Beach Club

Antigua Beaches on the north west coast

Runaway Beach in Antigua

Driving north of St John’s along the coast road, the next beach is Runaway Beach, a beautiful broad sandy beach that’s backed by the lagoon of McKinnon’s Pond on the other side of the road. I didn’t stop long here, but there’s the large Mystic Beach Bar, brightly painted in the Rasta colours where I saw a few guys playing pool but not much else going on as it was early in the season.

Apart from the beach bar, this beach is wild and unspoiled so if you want to get away from all the other visitors just drive to the end of the beach away from the beach bar where there are some shady spots with mangrove vegetation backing the beach.

Runaway beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Runaway beach in Antigua

Location: Runaway beach is on the west coast of Antigua and close to the island capital of St John’s.

Facilities: Parking by the road but there’s not much in the way of facilities at Runway beach | Toilets at the beach bar for the use of customers.

Where to eat: The Mystic Beach Bar on Runway Beach serves food and drink and also rents sun loungers and umbrellas – I just had a quick look but didn’t stop here as it seemed to be more of a place for the locals playing pool.

Where to stay nearby: There are no hotels at Runaway Beach but at the next beach, Dickenson Bay, there are lots of beachfront hotels such as Sandals, Halcyon Cove, Antigua Village, Siboney Beach Club or Buccaneer Beach Club

Runaway beach in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Runaway beach in Antigua

Dickenson Bay in Antigua

Compared to Runaway Beach, the next beach of Dickenson Bay has a much more developed and sophisticated feel. There are a number of resort hotels, apartments and beach restaurants here. Dominating one end of the beach is the Sandals resort, but other resorts include Halcyon Cove, Siboney Beach Club and Antigua Village Resort. The large amount of holiday accommodation means that Dickerson Bay is a lively beach with plenty of bars, restaurants, watersports and other organised activities.

This is a good place to come for lunch and we enjoyed the Salt Plage Restaurant, where I tried their amazing lobster salad which was delicious and beautifully presented. Look out also for the floating Kon Tiki Bar and Ana’s on the beach, a bar, restaurant and art gallery with a boutique feel.

Because of the many hotels and resorts, I found one end of the beach a bit overcrowded, but you can easily walk in the other direction for a stretch of beach that’s less developed for a swim.

Adventure lovers will enjoy this Self Drive Boat and snorkeling tour in Antigua

Sandals Dickenson Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Sandals Dickenson Bay in Antigua

Location: On the north-west coast of Antigua, not far from the island capital of St John’s and the island’s airport.

Facilities: One end of the beach has a concentration of hotels, holiday apartments and restaurants set on the beach and each of these has their own parking area and toilets for the use of customers. There are sunbeds to rent and watersports available from Sunrisers Watersports who have a metal container on the beach offering paddleboards, kayaks and jet ski. Watersports and sunbeds also available further down the beach at Tony’s watersports and beach bar, located between Sandals and Halcyon Cove hotels.

Where to eat: We had a delicious lunch at the stylish Salt Plage Restaurant within Siboney Beach Club which has a European feel and enviable location overlooking the beach, where I tried their amazing lobster salad which was delicious and beautifully presented. Look out also for the floating Kon Tiki Bar and Ana’s on the beach, a bar, restaurant and art gallery with a boutique feel.

Where to stay nearby: You’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of hotels and holiday apartments on Dickenson Beach which include

Sandals – an all inclusive resort with a lively atmosphere that’s aimed at couples and groups of friends, with plenty of watersports and activities on offer.

Halcyon Cove – A friendly small resort aimed at families and couples, which will be closed for a major renovation in April 2020.

Antigua Village A complex of holiday apartments with self catering studios and suites that are located close to the beach, with use of sport facilities at Halcyon Cove. No restaurant on site but plenty nearby as well as a small shop for provisions.

Siboney Beach Club – Offering suites set in tropical gardens that give out onto the beach. Meals can be taken in the Salt Plage beachfront restaurant.

Buccaneer Beach Club – An aparthotel offering suites and holiday cottages equipped with kitchenette. No restaurant on site but plenty nearby as well as a small shop for provisions.

Dickenson Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Dickenson Bay in Antigua

Antigua Beaches on the North Coast

Boons Bay and Hodge’s Bay in Antigua

As the road turns along the northern coast of Antigua, the Boons Bay area is well developed but mainly with private residential development. As you get closer to the American University of Antigua and VC Bird International Airport, there are a couple of other good places to eat that are worth looking out for.

We stopped at Garden Grill which is a casual cafe with an international feel, set back from the beach and also at the charming Cecilia’s High Point Cafe which is only open on Friday through to Monday and was closed when we visited. In this area you can stay at the luxurious Blue Waters Hotel and Spa that caters for couples and families.

Antigua Beaches on the East coast

Long Bay Beach in Antigua

Long Bay is in the north eastern corner of Antigua that has less resort hotels but is close to Stingray City and Devil’s Bridge, so it’s a good place to stop for a swim and relax in combination with these other attractions.

All of Antigua’s beaches are public, but as with many of the beaches Long Bay is dominated at one end by a resort hotel – The Pineapple Beach Club, while the other end is more used by locals and day visitors. The sheltered beach has gorgeous clear, calm water for swimming and fine white sand, with some shady areas with trees and mangroves.

There’s also a fair amount of commercial activity, with a whole row of colourful wooden beach shacks selling clothing and souvenirs, beach loungers for hire and some cafes and the popular Mama Pasta that overlooks the beach. The sailing boats and watersports are mainly for the use of hotel guests at Pineapple Beach Club, but if they are not too busy you may be able to negotiate rental of the watersports equipment.

You can visit the Devil’s Bridge, Betty’s Hope and Long Bay in this Island Safari 4×4 Discovery tour in a 5.5 hour trip from St John’s

Long Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Long Bay in Antigua

Location: Long Bay is on the eastern coast of Antigua, which would normally be a bit more windy and rough than the west coast, but the bay is sheltered by the reef and was quite calm when we visited. There are less hotels and development on this side of the island so it’s more of a local’s beach for those living on this side of the island.

Facilities: There’s a row of pretty painted beach shacks selling souvenirs and beach clothing. Parking is on the road or under the trees and toilets are available for customers at Mama Pasta restaurant.

Where to eat: The Mama’s Pasta restaurant is a popular local’s choice set just back from the beach, with a casual atmosphere serving fresh pizza and pasta. The Pineapple Beach Club is an all-inclusive hotel and the restaurants are only open to hotel guests.

Where to stay nearby: Stay at The Pineapple Beach Club, an all inclusive, adults only 4 star resort which offers plenty of activities and watersports at Long Bay.

For a more homestay feel, we stayed at nearby Blue Bay Antigua, which offers comfortable en suite bedrooms, shared living space and kitchen and a lovely pool set in gardens with views over the sea. Blue Bay Antigua is a good option for solo travellers, those who want to get away from it all or groups who want to take all three bedrooms, but you do need a car to explore the island.

For a totally luxurious and restful experience you can also stay near Long Bay at The Great House Antigua, set in an old historic plantation house which feels like you are stepping back in time.

Long Bay in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Long Bay in Antigua

Half Moon Bay in Antigua

Half Moon Bay was one of my favourite Antigua beaches and it’s a favorite with locals too, with a natural, unspoiled feel and very little development. Although the bay is quite sheltered and protected, the beach is on the Atlantic side of the island and when I visited the waves were quite high, so perhaps this is a good choice for strong swimmers and those who want a bit more wave action than the calmer Caribbean beaches offer.

Half Moon Bay has a wide sweep of sand that stretches in a crescent right around the bay, backed at each end with some shady trees and mangroves and sun loungers to rent.

Half Moon Bay Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Half Moon Bay Antigua

Location: Half Moon Bay is located on the western coast of Antigua and is an easy drive from English Harbour.

Facilities: There’s a parking area when you arrive and a couple of beach cafes here. At one end of the beach near the mangroves, you can rent sunbeds, although I was there at a quiet time so I didn’t see any. There are no public toilets but customers of the beach bars can use their facilities.

Where to eat:In the middle of the beach, near the parking area is a lovely beach bar – Beach Bum Bar and Grill, which serves drinks and food through the day and into the evening. Also on the road as you approach the beach is another restaurant Smiling Harry’s although I didn’t get a chance to try this myself.

Where to stay nearby:One of the attractions of Half Moon Bay is that there are no hotels on the beach, although close by in Exchange Bay there’s the Mill Reef Club, a private Member’s Club. You may not be able to stay here unless you know someone who is a club member, but another hotel that’s a short drive away is Nonsuch Bay, an all inclusive resort that is ideal for couples and family groups.

Half Moon Bay in Antigua

Half Moon Bay in Antigua

Best Antigua beaches

Visitor information for Antigua

You’ll find more information to plan your trip on the Visit Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Website

How to get to Antigua

If you are flying to Antigua from the UK the best flight options are with British Airways (6-7 times per week) or Virgin Atlantic (4 times per week) who both fly direct to Antigua VC Bird Airport (ANU) located in the north of the island. The flight time is around 9 hours. You can also take indirect flights that transit via US airports and if travelling from the USA there are also many direct flights to Antigua.

We recommend Skyscanner to plan flight routes and find the best prices.

Hotels in Antigua

I’ve mentioned lots of hotels that we noticed or visited on this trip to Antigua. Many of the resort hotels offer all inclusive packages and these will be good value if you mainly want a relaxing break spent around the hotel pool or on the beach. Compare prices and book for Hotels in Antigua

Tours in Antigua

I’ve mentioned quite a few fun tours throughout this article and you can search the Viator site for other tours in Antigua. Taking a round the island tour can be a great option if you decide not to hire a car, enabling you to see a number of places of interest easily in one day.

Getting around Antigua

If you like to explore as we do, then it’s probably best to hire a car for some or all of your stay. There are a number of car hire providers located at Antigua VC Bird Airport and you will require a local driving licence lasting for 3 months which your car hire company will issue to you for additional charge of $20 US. In general it’s cheaper to rent from the airport and rates will be better if you book for a longer period.

If you are mainly planning to relax at one of Antigua’s many all inclusive beach resorts, then you may find it easier and cheaper to arrange taxis locally or take tours and excursions to visit some of the places of interest around Antigua. Taxis can easily be called at hotels or restaurants, especially around St Johns, but if you are visiting a place that’s away from the main towns then it’s best to arrange the return taxi pickup in advance with your taxi driver.

Local minivan buses also run throughout the island, especially radiating out from the island capital of St John’s to the main villages and settlements. They are privately run leaving regularly once full, and are flexible in where they drop you although there are recognised bus stops. The mini buses are inexpensive and can be a fun way to get a more local experience, but be sure to take local advice on the routes so you don’t get stuck in a place with no return transport.

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Best beaches in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com
Best beaches in Antigua Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Amit wadhwani
    April 25, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Dear Heather, I am an avid traveler myself and this is the first time I’ve come across your blog. One word, Amazing! The way you have described every detail is worth appreciating. This place is definitely added to my travel list after reading your blog. Keep up the Great Work!

  • Reply
    Jared James
    May 3, 2020 at 10:19 am

    The water looks beautiful… something I missing for too long… Hope this end soon and we can visit the places we love 🙂

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