Independent since November 1981, Antigua was initially discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named after the miracle-working virgin Santa Maria de la Antigua of Seville Cathedral in Spain. Beautiful and welcoming, the Caribbean island of Antigua is the largest of the English-speaking Windward Islands, and is renowned for its lovely beaches and fantastic sea. It is said there are 365 beaches, one for every day of the year, making this a "beach with an island in the middle."
Antigua is a low-lying island, distinguished mainly by its circumference of sandy beaches, surrounded by a rim of reefs. Its highest peak, renamed in 2009 for President Obama, rises to nearly 400 metres in the island’s southwestern section of volcanic hills.
The local fauna tends to be rather small scale and exotic: tree frogs, lizards, a few harmless snakes. The waters surrounding the island, however, are full of dramatic displays by whales, dolphins, and sea turtles.
Surrounded by dramatic reefs, there's fabulous safe diving, swimming and watersports and for those preferring "terra firma", tennis, golf, squash, hiking, and horse riding.
Things to see
Fascinating Nelson's Dockyard at English Harbour, for centuries recognized as one of the finest shelters in the entire Caribbean, was built by the famous Admiral and still stands just as it was. An excellent marina and facilities make it a favourite for yachts people from all over the world and it is now the home of one of the world's biggest ocean racing events. "Sailing week" is a fun-filled experience in itself. There is also a wonderful world famous Classic Yacht week, normally held in April.
Its famed countless, silky beaches lapped by iridescent azure seas are cooled by soft sea breezes. The beaches along the northwest coast are more developed, while the southwestern and south coastal areas are more deserted and quiet, and worth the occasionally bumpy ride to get to them. Half Moon Bay on the east coast is a National Park, and Long Bay offers a tranquil, reef-protected beach.
Antigua enjoys balmy Caribbean weather all year round, with temperatures hovering in the mid-70s to mid-80s, and caressed by the northeasterly trade winds. It is one of the sunniest islands, with very low humidity and a very low average annual rainfall.
Entertainment is both local and cosmopolitan and soft Caribbean sounds can be heard throughout the island. Summer carnival is the cultural and entertainment highlight of the year and one of the liveliest!
How to get there
Thanks to a network of excellent services to and from the international airport, Antigua is closer than you think. British Airways, in conjunction with Caribbean Airways, operates a daily service via Barbados and Trinidad, and Virgin flies twice weekly.
© Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office