Everyone defines ‘the perfect vacation’ differently. For some, it’s quiet relaxation, taking advantage of beach time to catch up on a page-turner while sipping on wine, beer or cocktail.

For others, it’s about packing in as much adventure and adrenaline as possible.

If this is you, here’s how to make your Antigua getaway as exciting and memorable as possible.

You have a lot to look forward to. But first, let’s give you a brief overview and history of Antigua.

About Antigua…

Shirley Heights, Antigua

As the largest of the British Leeward Islands, Antigua features a warm climate, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbors and a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. In 1784,  this lended well to legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson who sailed to Antigua to establish Great Britain’s most important Caribbean base.

The signs are all still there.

Admiral Horatio Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

Now, more than two centuries later, it’s still the tropical climate, luxurious coastlines and secluded natural atmosphere that attracts vacation-goers to its shores, making Antigua one of the Caribbean’s most widely sought-after vacation destinations.

The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into the English Harbor now fuel one of the world’s foremost maritime events: Sailing Week.

Hobie Cats, St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua

The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today’s trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery-soft beaches.

The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from across the world.

Antigua’s fascinating sister island of Barbuda – once a scavenger’s paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs – is now home to some of the region’s most significant scuba diving sites.

It’s all this and more that makes Antigua an amazing vacation destination for adventures and escapists alike. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Adventure #1. Zip-Lining

Photo Credit: Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours

The screams of the jungle might seem a bit out of place in Antigua, where rolling rainforest hills and tucked-away coves of golden sand are an escapist paradise.

But make your way down Fig Tree Drive and suddenly it all makes sense.

The Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour  is a unique eco-tour through Antigua’s lush rainforest that will send you careening over canopies, rock formations and river ravines, some 300 feet in the air.

Photo Credit: Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours

As the only tour of its kind in Antigua, this adrenaline-inducing excursion offers six different options, including an hour-long taste of flying with a total of eight zips—the longest being ‘the Screamer’ for good reason.

This ripper seems to last longer than its 328 feet…somehow, time slows as your feet dangle midair. You spin, catching views far down the valley and back up to the top of the tree-line. Point yourself straight forward again just as the staff send out the foam block to halt your flight, bringing you in for a perfect landing.

With your feet back on the treetop wooden platform, it’s time to breathe easy again— that is, until you jump off into the air on your next adventure..

Adventure #2. Pink Panther Safari 

Pink Panther Safari, Antigua

With 365 beaches—technically now 366, thanks to Hammock Cove Antigua’s recent addition—this stunning Caribbean island offers far more stretches of powdery-white sand than most travelers see in the typical week-long getaway.

They can however, see and experience the entire island by Land Rover (a hot-pink one nonetheless), and still make it back to the resort in time for happy hour.

Our female-led Pink Panther Safari tour packs in the sights, along with laughs, snacks and free-flowing rum punch. Your driver, Kamesha Joseph, who is TikTok famous in Antigua for her singing, makes the tour lively and fun thanks to her nonstop humor and energy.

Get a lay of the land with stops at scenic and historical landmarks like Devil’s Bridge National Park, Betty’s Hope and Shirley Heights—a former English fort and gun battery now home to a rollicking open-air barbecue and live Caribbean music dance party every Sunday.

Devil’s Bridge National Park, Antigua

By day, Shirley Heights is a serene spot, wind-swept and delivering 180-degree views of the island’s south side, from the restaurants of English Harbor to the homes high on the surrounding hillsides. The anchor and shops of Nelson’s Dockyard can also be seen from this high perch.

Shirley Heights overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

Easily a highlight of the tour, Turner’s Beach is the stuff of Corona ads. With its gently sloping white-sand and a sea bottom perfect for bobbing and sipping a rum drink, it’s a great spot to grab a bite and chat with the friends you traveled with—or those you made along the way.

Between the laughter and sightseeing, you can’t help but strike up a conversation with like-minded vacationers that you will want to meet up with back at the resort. Whether it be a Piña Colada at The Verandah Resort & Spa’s iconic Rasta Bar on the beach, or a cappuccino at the Mamora Bay Café at St. James’s Club & Villas, your next adventure isn’t far away.

Adventure #3. Scuba Diving

Mamora Bay Divers, St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua

You’ll find your next adrenaline rush at St. James’s Club & Villas as you embark on an underwater scuba diving adventure with Mamora Bay Divers.

The south side of Antigua delivers underwater drama in the form of towering boulders covered in corals and gardens of sponges claiming the patches in-between. Cades Reef rates as one of the island’s top sites, famous as a playground for eagle rays and nurse sharks. Lobsters wedge themselves into the crevices and schools of blue tang and Creole wrasse dart among it all, adding splashes of bright blue and purple against the patchwork of color behind.

Mamora Bay Divers, Antigua

Another favorite site, regularly visited by Mamora Bay Divers, sits just outside English Harbor. This dive site, set in between sandstone walls and more big boulders, fills with schools of tarpon and horse-eye jack. Mature green turtles—some so large that hitchhiking remoras hitchhike latch onto their backs—stay motionless, blending in among the sea fans, only rising up when groups of divers fin in close.

Depending on your experience level, your guide can take you deeper—up to 90 feet below sea level—for increased odds of seeing horse-eye jacks, Atlantic spadefish and even sharks. Stick to the shallow waters, and you’re more likely to happen upon octopi, eels and other tucked-away creatures.

Famous for its crystal-blue waters and stunning marine life, there are plenty of adventures to be had both below the sea-line and above it.

Adventure #4. Paddle Boarding & Kayaking

Kayaks and paddle boards, St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua

There’s a reason why the English navy took to Antigua so quickly. Looking much like a jigsaw puzzle piece, Antigua is riddled with bays and coves, which back in the time of pirates and maritime fighting, served as well-protected harbors.

Today, the bays offer flat, calm and ideal waters for paddle boarding, kayaking and other leisure watersports—all of which are non-motorized and included in your stay at any of our Elite Island Resort properties.

The Verandah Resort & Spa, Antigua

Set off from The Verandah Resort & Spa or Hammock Cove Antigua and wind your way along the U-shaped bay. Mangroves hem in the south side, serving as a rookery for snowy egrets, pelicans, white storks and cattle egrets. Moving counter-clockwise, paddling from The Verandah’s main beach, you’ll find yourself at Rasta Beach, where you can take a break with an ice-cold beer at Rasta Bar or enjoy a perfectly-grilled cheeseburger at the Wadadli Snack Shack.

Rasta Bar, The Verandah Resort & Spa, Antigua

Aside from the great watering holes and eateries that you can visit by water, the magic of paddling in the Caribbean is by far the unbeatable water clarity. The higher vantage of a paddle board allows for easy sightings of turtles among the seagrass beds as well as conch and schools of baitfish along the beaches.

Find the most drama where the bay meets the Atlantic. At the reef break, waves give you a boost of speed for the return journey. But you’re not done yet.

Adventure #5. Sailing

Hobie Cat Sailing, St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua

It’s hard to vacation in Antigua and not get caught up in sailing madness. You don’t have to be on island during Sailing Week—the nonstop action of racing and after-parties—to enjoy the thrills of this fast sport.

Every Elite Island Resort in Antigua includes access to non-motorized watersports like kayaking paddle boarding and pedal boats. But the most popular are Hobie Cats.

Made of the same lightweight material that revolutionized surfing (polyurethane foam), two asymmetrical hulls, a platform and sail, you too can explore the wonders of the Caribbean Sea. If you already know the basics, you’re welcome to play around with the Hobie Cats or windsurfing boards, stress-free.

Non-motorized watersports, Hammock Cove Antigua

If you’ve never helmed a boat, feel free to take advantage of a lesson. Our watersports team can show you the ropes—literally—easing you into the sport with an unofficial how-to session and a taste of what the sport is all about.

However, if you’d rather leave it to the professionals, consider taking a tour of the island and its surrounding topography aboard our Calypso Cat Catamaran Cruise. 

Calypso Cat Catamaran Cruise, Antigua

This double-decker charter cruise has plenty of open and covered seating, but with all the fun and excitement that awaits you, you won’t be doing much sitting.

From the moment you board, you’ll be greeted with an ice-cold beer or cocktail of your choice, as well as island tunes that will keep you grooving until you arrive at one of the best snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean.

Known to locals as the ‘Pillars of Hercules,’ this natural formation of limestone rocks, whittled into distinctive columns through years of corrosion, is home to great schools of reef fish, sea turtles and other impressive marine life.

The Pillars of Hercules, Antigua

The Bottom Line…

…is there is something for everyone in Antigua.

Need a bit more inspiration to book your next dream vacation?

Check out our latest video, featuring Causion, Antigua’s Reggae Ambassador, to see all that there is to do in Antigua. Sing along if you know the words!

Antigua Me Come From, Causion

See you soon!