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Shirley Heights in Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda

Located in the Caribbean Sea, Antigua and Barbuda is an archipelago, of which Antigua is the largest and most populous. It is home to no fewer than 365 beaches.

Antigua and Barbuda in short

Antigua and Barbuda is a small country in the West Indies, located near Guadeloupe. The country is made up of two main islands and a number of minor ones. In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on these islands on his second voyage to the New World.

The country's official language is English, although most inhabitants speak Creole.

The paradisiacal beaches of Antigua and Barbuda are among the most beautiful in the West Indies. The powdery white sand is accompanied by impressive turquoise waters. This island is made for sailing. Viewed from the sea, it is superb. The boat enters bays and coves of turquoise water and you can swim in heavenly spots. Diving enthusiasts will also marvel at the coral reefs offered by Antigua.

Aerial drone view of Pigeon Point Beach in Antigua.

- © Brookgardener / Shutterstock

On the other hand, walking around the island holds few surprises. The British cut down the original vegetation to plant sugar cane, which is no longer grown and has not been replaced. The only place on the island where there is still some beautiful woodland is Old Road in the south-west. The view from the top of Shirley Heights is not to be missed. The old sugar plantations date back to the 18th century and have been transformed into bars and restaurants.

Nature lovers will find plenty to do on Barbuda, the northern island. Preserved from mass tourism and sparsely populated, it offers breathtaking scenery, thanks in particular to its pink sandy beaches. It is also an excellent bird-watching spot. It is one of the most unspoilt islands in the West Indies.

Antigua and Barbuda: what to eat?

Local dishes include dried fish, goat stew, fish or chicken. These can be enjoyed in the small restaurants of St John's. But the island also boasts a number of talented chefs, who often combine traditional dishes from their own countries with their own gastronomic creations. There are excellent Caribbean, French, Italian and Indian restaurants. The best restaurant on the island, Chez Pascal, is in Galley Bay. It serves tasty local Caribbean-style cuisine. At the market, depending on the season, you can find mangoes, guavas, pineapples, oranges, papayas, breadfruit... And of course all the seafood.

Antigua and Barbuda: what are the cultural particularities?

Sugar cane has shaped the face of Antigua since the early days of Western colonisation. The islands have a strong Western and American influence. There are many off-shore banks. At weekends and during Carnival, steel band (large metal drums) and reggae orchestras perform.

Carnival in the West Indies

- © T photography / Shutterstock

Summer is marked by this carnival, which takes the form of a huge street party. The programme includes everything that makes Caribbean carnivals so charming and cultural: the famous steel bands, dressed up for the occasion, play calypso and soca. There are also street parades celebrating J'ouvert, the first Monday in August, as in many other Caribbean countries. Throughout Carnival, there are concerts, folklore shows and, of course, special dishes cooked especially for the occasion. The island is home to paintings by Antiguan and foreign artists. Antigua and Barbuda's British heritage is still very much alive, and cricket has become the island's national sport.

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Stopover in Antigua and Barbuda, the authentic jewels of the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda

Stopover in Antigua and Barbuda, the authentic jewels of the Caribbean

Located in the Lesser Antilles, Antigua and its little sister Barbuda are jewels still untouched by mass tourism. These two islands, though so close, do not quite come together. But...

How to get there?

Antigua and Barbuda are two islands in the Caribbean Sea. Direct flights are available from many major cities in North America, Europe and the Caribbean. Antigua's VC Bird International Airport is the main gateway for visitors. From here, you can catch a domestic flight or a ferry to Barbuda. It is also possible to board a cruise ship to explore the region and visit several Caribbean islands, including Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua and Barbuda

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Where to stay?

Antigua and Barbuda offers a wide range of accommodation options for travellers of all budgets. Most of the accommodation is in Antigua, which is more developed than Barbuda. Visitors can stay in one of the many luxury hotels, or villas offering breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. There are also guest houses, bed and breakfasts and hostels for travellers looking for cheaper accommodation. Travellers wishing to get closer to nature also have the option of camping in several national parks. Accommodation options are limited in Barbuda, but there are several hotels and resorts with spectacular ocean views. Whatever your choice of accommodation, it is always advisable to book in advance to ensure availability and the best prices, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Practical information

Surface area: 442.0 km2

Population: 77500

Time difference: -6 h winter/-5 h summer

Remember that in Antigua and Barbuda you drive on the left. However, the poor condition of the roads, which are narrow and winding, means that you should be very careful if you want to venture out onto the islands by car. It is advisable to take out comprehensive insurance when hiring a vehicle.

A valid passport is essential for entering Antigua and Barbuda. You must also have your ticket for the return journey in advance. No formalities are required for a stay of less than 42 days. For longer stays, a residence permit is required.

It is advisable to be very careful with mosquitoes, which are vectors of diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya. You should therefore take certain protective measures, including during the day: long clothing, anti-mosquito products for use on the skin and clothing, and electric diffusers. Plan your stay between April and December.

Both islands enjoy a particularly pleasant climate all year round, thanks to low humidity. Most rain falls between August and November, and the hurricane season is between June and November.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

Antigua is best visited with a well-stocked wallet. The island thrives on tourism and offshore banking. Everywhere you go, you'll be tempted by so-called "duty-free" shopping. In fact, prices are often higher than elsewhere. (Especially at the airport duty-free shops).

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