There is a beautiful island in the Lesser Antilles group of the West Indies – known to its natives as ‘Waladli’. It’s a gorgeous unspoilt spot that stands towards the less busy north-eastern part of the Caribbean.
Of course, you’ll be more familiar with its Spanish name – Antigua. Under this more familiar name it has become globally famous as very desirable tourist destination.
Antigua is not a large island – it has a coastline a little over 50 miles long. It forms part of a country called Antigua and Barbuda which includes several other nearby islands.
But Antigua’s main claim to fame is as one of the Caribbean’s finest holiday islands. It offers a stereotype Caribbean holiday experience: vacations classically full of rum punch, smiling faces and bright colours.
The locals here are famously friendly… and the sea is a stunning blue that often looks unbelievable in photographs.
The island has for a long time been considered a specialist nautical seafaring destination. But it’s great for beach lovers too as it’s just 14 miles by 11 miles – and there are said to be more than 365 beaches.
In the northwest corner of Antigua is the capital, St John’s. This colourful old town is built around a large sheltered deep-water harbour.
And English Harbour on the southeast corner of the island is one of the largest deep-water harbours in the region. English Harbour and its neighbouring village of Falmouth, named after the famous seafaring town in Cornwall, are both also internationally renowned as yachting destinations.
The attraction called Nelson’s Dockyard was used by the famous naval hero and was once the home to some of the Royal Navy’s finest battleships. Today it’s preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
All these names hint at the island’s long history as a valued British colony – although the island was first discovered by Europeans by Christopher Columbus. Visitors soon discover that Antigua has a fascinating history as a naval base, but with colourful lessons to learn about sugar plantations and the tragedy of slavery.
Antigua’s beaches are superb and considered among the best in the Caribbean – thanks to their soft white or pink sand. The best-rated beaches around the coastline are Jolly Beach, Dickenson Bay, Pigeon Point Beach and Half Moon Bay.
Antigua has one of the best designated beaches in the Caribbeans which are all worthwhile to visit on a Catamaran.
There are plenty of other sights to distract visitors too –like zipline experiences amid the rainforest. Or the views from the café alongside.
Others enjoy the panoramic views or having a barbecue at Shirley Heights Lookout looking down onto English Harbour. And visitors often explore the windmills at Betty’s Hope.
It’s fun to check out the exotic fresh produce at the Heritage Market in St John’s. Look out for local specialities like custard apples, green oranges and huge Antigua avocados.
Easily spotted shoals of colourful sea fish make Antigua a favourite among snorkellers and divers too. Up on the surface there are plenty of opportunities for water sports too.
Yacht Chartering options
If you’re thinking about taking a yacht charter Antigua is the perfect place to hop between islands Also if you do charter a yacht not that the smaller neighbouring island of Barbuda is only a 90-minute sail away.
Visitors to Barbuda love exploring the old town of Codrington and exploring inland to spot wild deer and exotic birds. If you prefer a quick sale with speed and have a smaller party, it would be advised to charter a yacht as they can sail faster than Catamarans upwind and are perfect for those who love adrenaline. Each December Antigua hosts an international charter yacht show. It’s a big event, with superyachts collecting here from around the world, this would be a perfect time for you to charter a yacht.
Furthermore, Antigua welcomes visitors at all times of the year of course but there are some highlights to the calendar that might help you plan your trip better.
If you enjoy sailing, take note that the end of April and beginning of May offer the festivities, celebrations and competitions of the island’s annual sailing regatta. Expect to find busy harbours, evening deck parties and plenty of beachside reggae music. When it comes to larger groups for parties wanting to listen to music and enjoy a pop of champaign, catamarans are designed for this due to the space and stability it provides. Since you will be pulling up to shallow waters, catamarans have two hulls meaning less of the boat is under water making it better balanced – perfect for those who suffer from seasickness. Catamarans are usually cheaper per sq. foot of space, suited for those who are on a budget.
It is so easy to create a great holiday just pottering around the coves and bays around the island. For re-assurance, range and service it’s best to use a major charter operator like Borrowaboat. From yachts to catamarans, Borrowaboat has more than 100 vessels of all types available for hire in Antigua. There are boats for every budget and size of party.
More things to experience on a boat
Apart from those dates listed above, the period between December to April is the most popular time for holidays. That’s because this is the coolest and driest time – when it is often cold and wet in countries much further north.
The island’s summer offers even hotter weather. Don’t forget that Antigua is only 14 degrees north of the Equator.
The months from June to October have an increased chance of hurricanes hitting the island – but even then, the vast majority of visitors report that the weather is often perfect.
Note that if you do join a gullet cruise or hire a skippered boat on Antigua, you do not need a license. This also applies if you are renting a small motorboat without a cabin for a day trip around the local islands or beaches.
You will however need a license for a bareboat yacht charter. Qualifications required to get one are the standard certificates like Day Skipper or Yachtmaster from the UK, or a Bareboat Certificate or International Proficiency Certificate from the US.
Whether you’re setting sail in the blue Caribbean or paddling on one of the beaches, Antigua is one of the region’s most reliable holiday destinations.