Sun, Sea and Sand…
I mean, who doesn’t love a good beach holiday? Antigua is a beautiful island with so many amazing beaches. Aside from that, there is so much to see, and we wanted to make the most of our two weeks there! I’m sharing some of my favorite things on the island that we did! If you’re planning a trip to Antigua, make sure to add these to your itinerary!
Half Moon Bay and Smiling Harry’s
There are over 300 beaches in Antigua, so I’m sure there are lots that will be on your itinerary! My personal favorite? Half Moon Bay. It’s a bit further afield, which means it’s not too busy. There’s no resort attached like a lot of other beaches (though I think one is being built…). The water is beautifully blue and clear, and it’s the perfect spot to relax in the sun.
If you head that way, make sure you stop for lunch at Smiling Harry’s up the road. You can’t miss it! Harry has since passed away, and the restaurant is run by his daughter now. It’s a tasty, authentic family affair! We ate there twice and both times, we cleaned our plates! Two meals and a few drinks only set us back about $100 XCD (around £30). There is a bar down at Half Moon Bay, but I’d skip it and head straight to Smiling Harry’s!
Alternative beaches for your Antigua Itinerary: Carlisle Bay, Darkwood Beach, Long Bay
Exploring St. John’s
If you’re in the mood for a bit of city life, spend a few hours exploring colorful St. John’s, the capital of the island. It’s vibrant and full of life, so if you need a change of scenery, this is it! We popped down a few times, during our trip!
Be sure to checked out the market, while you’re there. People set up tents and tables on the side of the road, selling fruit, veg and all manner of things. There’s a fish and meat market as well. If you’re able to cook (we were, in our AirBnB), I’d definitely recommend making a stop here.
Swing in the Roti King for a filling and flavorful lunch (we went every time we were in St. John’s), and wander the streets. Traffic can get bad, and the roads aren’t in the best condition, so definitely keep your wits about you. Wander up to the cathedral, and just take it all in!
Wandering Wallings Nature Reserve
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the beach. After a week though, I was excited to change the scenery a little bit. So, Mr. Actually and I headed up to Wallings Nature Reserve! We love having a little wonder through the wilderness, and this was no different. Just swap the English countryside for a little bit of jungle! It really is beautiful and so quiet, too. You do have to pay an entry fee, but a small one, and there are different routes you can take. Self-guided, or with a tour guide, it’s nice to see a different side of Antigua. If you do fancy a little break from the beach, I’d definitely recommend adding Wallings to your itinerary!
See The Sunset At Shirley Heights
When I was researching things to do in Antigua, Shirley Heights was on just about every itinerary I read. Now, I’ll admit I was wary of it, being such a big tourist spot, but we decided to give it a go. On Sundays, there is a BBQ up at Shirley Heights, and it definitely draws a crowd. While it was crowded and busy, the vibe was pretty nice. No one was being an obnoxious tourist, and everyone was just enjoying themselves.
You can visit Shirley Heights any time but I would 100% recommend timing it with a sunset. I promise it will be worth it. Plus there’s a little path you can walk down too that offers a stunning vista and is a little quieter.
Visit the Donkey Sanctuary
Off the beaten track, near Bethesda, sits Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary Humane Society. Not the typical tourist attraction, sure, but something to add to your itinerary just the same.
Donkeys are a big problem in Antigua, dating back to when the sugar trade was thriving. Donkeys were brought to the island to help lighten the load, and when the industry dissipated, the donkey population was left behind. The sanctuary was born out of a need for these animals to have a safe space.
They also help rehome cats and dogs (stray dogs are another huge problem on the island) in addition to taking in injured and abused animals. When you go, you can make a donation, browse their gift shop, and even spend a little time with the donkeys. They’re very shy, docile creatures, and while it broke my heart to see the evidence of their past traumas, I was glad to visit.
Visit Betty’s Hope and Devil’s Bridge
I’ve put these two together, since they are literally 10 minutes apart. You can do one and then the other with ease, so it felt appropriate! Betty’s Hope is a really interesting bit of history. It was a former plantation (one of the first on the island, I believe) and in recent years, has been a hotbed of restoration. Most of the buildings are ruins now, but there is a clear display of the history of the place. It doesn’t shy away from the dark history either, as slavery played a very big role in the development of the island.
From there, we popped over to Devil’s Bridge… something of a natural wonder! The rough waters have slowly eaten away at the rock and formed a bridge standing above the water. It’s at the very end of the island as well, so to stand there on the edge feels… big? Is that the right word? It is a quick visit, but nice to see the views!
Alternative historical sights for your Antigua Itinerary: Nelson’s Dockyard
Our stay in Antigua was nothing short of wonderful. From our BnB off the grid to all the things we got up to when we were on the island, it was a very relaxing holiday. If you’re planning a trip, I’d definitely recommend it; there’s lots to add to your Antigua Itinerary. It’s a rich, vibrant island, and while the beaches are amazing, there is so much amazing culture to be seen. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of it!