Antigua Holidays – Why Go
Antigua is one of the driest islands in the Caribbean and enjoys plenty of ‘liquid sunshine’ as the locals like to call it all year round! January and February are the coolest months and July and August are the hottest with temperatures often in the 90s. Happily, refreshing trade winds will keep you cool, but don’t be fooled and keep sunscreen on at all times. Insect repellent is also recommended. Rain falls mostly between September and November but only in short refreshing bursts.
The great majority of Antigua’s beaches rest inside the calm, protected waters of the islands’ Caribbean side and all are open to the public. On the northwest coast you have lively Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay – these are great for those who want the full-on resort beach experience with shops, bars and restaurants galore as well as all manner of water sports. The beaches on the southwest and south coast are generally less developed and include Ffryes (also known as Fryes) Bay and Darkwood Beach – the latter boasting crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkelling and its own beach bar! On the East Coast is Half Moon Bay, now a National Park and regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Long Bay, on the eastern tip of the island, is also stunning – although on the Atlantic side, waters are not quite as choppy as it is protected by its own reef.
The water sports
Antigua’s crystal clear waters are made for water sports with a nearly unbroken wall of coral reef that divers will love. Snorkelling is recommended along Paradise Reef or head to Cades Reef and Ariadne Shoals, 12 miles off the southwest coast of Antigua, for gorgeous coral canyons, wall drops and sea caves. If you’re new to windsurfing, the sheltered west coast is ideal, more experienced windsurfers, however, will appreciate the challenge of the open east coast. Catamaran and kayak expeditions are a great way to get to grips with the ocean and game fishing is also great fun with marlin, tuna and wahoo all caught locally.
Laid back and easy – that’s the way to go in Antigua! It’s also considered one of the safest places in the world although always use common sense. Rich in cultural heritage, it is one of the few places in the Caribbean that can trace its culture right back through time to its African roots. Indeed, their music, artistic traditions and carnival celebrations are heavily African influenced. Everywhere you go on the island you’ll hear calypso music, steel drums and reggae drifting out plus there’s a 10-day carnival every year to celebrate the island’s emancipation from slavery –held during late July and early August, it’s great fun to attend! As Antigua was mainly under English rule from 1632 to 1981, there are many things British holidaymakers will find familiar – English is the main language and they even drive on the left!
If you’re in St John’s on a Saturday morning make sure you pay a visit to the lively fruit and vegetable market, looking out in particular for the juicy Antiguan Black pineapple – delicious! St John’s is also home to Redcliffe Quay with nearly 3-dozen boutiques set in former warehouses and Heritage Quay, Antigua’s first shopping and entertainment complex with 40 duty-free shops and an arcade for local artists and craftspeople. Elsewhere on the island, English Harbour has an array of shops to delight you and the marina at Jolly Harbour is packed with shops selling everything from daily provisions to stunning works of art. Local spices make great souvenirs as do straw-woven baskets and dolls clad in Creole costume. You could also treat yourself to some colourful hand-painted Antiguan Batik clothing – similar in style to tie-dye, each design is one of a kind.
Antigua Sailing Week
One of the top 5 regattas in the world and the biggest in the Caribbean, visit Antigua during sailing week and take part in an island wide celebration that includes a formal ball and rum parties galore
Romantic Rhythms Music Festival
Dubbed the Caribbean’s first Romance Festival, Romantic Rhythms will feature two mega concerts that will be staged at the Vivian Richards Stadium. Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie & Shaggy are performing.
Life’s a carnival in Antigua, well it certainly is for 10 days of the year when this vibrant celebration of the island’s emancipation from slavery takes place – be prepared, there’s plenty of fun to be had during this lively time!
Antigua gained total independence on November 1st 1981 – when, for the first time in 328 years, the Union Jack was lowered and replaced by Antigua’s own flag. There’s much anticipation in the run-up to this date with celebrations continuing for at least a week after!
Virgin Holidays has been arranging holidays since 1985 and are the largest, most successful transatlantic tour operator, and market leader for travel to the USA and the Caribbean. For a great deals on Antigua Holidays, hotels in Antigua and more, visit www.virginholidays.co.uk
Images by srmurphy