Beach-Hopping in Antigua

Travel writer Diane Bolt describes her sun-soaked beach days watching snorkellers, swimming in turquoise waters and sipping seaside cocktails.
 

English Harbour, photo by Graham Prentice/Alamy

Diane Bolt

I’m just a few days into my visit to Antigua, the second largest of the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands, and so far I’ve taken in one of its best views from lofty Shirley Heights, a restored military lookout and gun battery; I’ve stood my ground at Devil’s Bridge, a natural arch carved by the sea, as huge, frothy waves crashed up against the rocks before me; and I’ve kayaked among the lush mangrove inlets of the North Sound Marine Park with Antigua Nature Tours.

Now, I’m ready to spend a day sizing up one of the island’s biggest draws—its sandy beaches.

Though it’s just 22 kilometres long and 17 km wide, Antigua boasts 365 idyllic beaches, promising “one for each day of the year.”

First up is Pigeon Point Beach, a pretty cove on the south side of the island, just a five-minute taxi ride from historic English Harbour. It’s quiet, but I’m told it can get busy with locals on the weekends. As my toes sink into the powder-soft, sun-baked sand, I look out over the ocean where a handful of snorkellers peer down in the crystal-clear water, captivated by the subsurface show. I settle in for a chilled-out morning under the shade of a palm tree and welcome the soothing sound of the mellow surf and a gentle, warm breeze.

 

“Antigua boasts 365 beaches, promising one for each day of the year.”

 

Later, I head to the luxurious Inn at English Harbour, set within Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, for an alfresco lunch at its Reef Restaurant before retreating to crescent-shaped Galleon Beach mere steps away. All the island’s beaches are open to the public, so I while away a few hours here, soaking up the rays and diving off the dock into the refreshing turquoise waters of Freeman’s Bay.

Energized, I make my way to Jabberwock Beach, on the northern edge of the island, where the sheltered waters of Judge’s Bay offer ideal conditions to try out a little windsurfing.

I end my day at lively Dickenson Bay with a bite and a beachside cocktail at Ana’s on the Beach Restaurant & Art Gallery, and enjoy some barefoot dancing in the sand as the sun dips down below the horizon.


Local tip: Visit Deep Bay Beach [near the 18th-century Fort Barrington]. It’s a long stretch of sand, so it’s great for beachcombing. The water is calm and you won’t find a better place to watch the sunset.” —Cleveland Athanaze, sea captain with Tropical Adventures


Getting there: WestJet flies to Antigua once a week from Toronto.

Read more: Caribbean Vacation Planner

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