Antigua is a gorgeous island in the Caribbean with plenty of sights! There are so many things to do in Antigua that anyone can have a great time! Today I’m going to share what I thought were the best things to do in Antigua.
The Christmas trees are packed back away in the attic and the laundry is finally caught up. The best part of this weekend was I made a huge dent in the 800+ Antigua pictures I took. Yes, I’m the girl that takes a gazillion pictures of everything. Even before my so-called photography hobby took off, I always came home with loads of snapshots.
I’ve divided and edited a small amount of Antigua pictures for Running in a Skirt. I'm assuming no one actually want to see ALL the pictures 🙂 This post is about the best things to do in Antigua, including the land and ocean tour we took of the Island. The second post will be a Fashion Friday post with the clothes I wore for the trip and the third is a review of the hotel we stayed at and restaurants on the island. I’m spreading the posts our over the next few weeks!
Things to do in Antigua
Land Tour in Antigua
The hubs and I can only sit down for so long at a time. As much as we both like “beaching” ourselves, we also really like to get off the resort and explore. A land tour may not be an obvious choice in the Caribbean, but it is a great way to get a feel for the country, sites and people. In Antigua, as well as many Caribbean Islands, the taxi drivers double as tour guides. You can hire a taxi to give you a tour of the island for a set amount of time. Just agree on a price BEFORE you get in the car.
Our land tour in Antigua starts with a drive down the coast line. There are 365 beaches on the Island and the ones we are lucky enough to see are stunning. Valley Church Bay is gorgeous with the white sand, blue water and mountains in the distance. The water at this particular beach is almost as blue as Turks and Caicos. I almost just wanted to ask the driver to drop me off here for the rest of the day, but I’m a sucker for a tour so I get back in the car.
Carlisle Bay is also stunning with it's cliffside view and perfect arch.
The drive along the coast is one beautiful sight after another.
Our driver shares some of the history of Antigua with us including how the entire island used to grow sugarcane. These brick circles dot the landscape and are all that is left of big sugar on Antigua. The brick used to hold windmills that generated power.
Our land tour then takes a turn through the Antiguan rainforest. The land near the middle of the island is more lush. Fruits grow everywhere including bananas and…
… pineapples! Antigua is known for growing a small crop of very small pineapples called black pineapples. They are small and so sweet!
At the mention of fruit, I ask the driver to stop for a sample. A friendly farmer cuts up an entire black pineapple for us to sample.
They are super tasty! Better than the pineapple in Hawaii, which is saying a lot!
Our drive through the rainforest takes us through St. Johns and toward Nelson’s Dockyard. Nelson’s Dockyard is on old but restored English Harbor. The dockyard was originally built in 1725 when the British were trying to secure the island. It was used for washing and maintaining large sailboats.
It is still an active dock with many tall and glamorous sailboats sitting at the waters edge.
Our driver waits for us while we explore the historic sight. You can tell the people of Antigua have a lot of pride in the attraction and work hard to keep it beautiful. After our dockyard tour we start heading up the mountain to see some gorgeous views.
The first stop is the visitors center where we watch a movie on the history of Antigua. The movie wasn’t my favorite, but this view alone is worth the trip.
The second view point we drive allows us to see the Atlantic ocean and the stark contrast to the calm Caribbean waters.
The water crashing against the rocks foams blue. Wow!
At this point there is a storm brewing in the distance, so we speed up our viewing. Look at the rain and the tiny boat below.
The main attraction and best viewpoint is at Shirley Heights. This site hosts a big sunset party every Sunday night.
Our driver snaps a great picture of the hubs and I just before the rain comes crashing down.
What a day! I really enjoyed seeing the countryside of Antigua by land. The viewpoints I saw and the pictures I was able to take made the trip absolutely worth it!
Eco Adventure in Antigua (Touring by Boat)
For our boat trip to Antigua the hubs and I choose to go on the Adventure Antigua Eco Tour. It is all about the water in the Caribbean after all!
The tour boat picks us and a small group up at our resort. Taking a tour with a small group is a must in my world! We quickly drive off and I notice how much more blue/green the water looks from the water.
The boat is fast, fun and gives us a tour of the coastline. We see everything from huge homes and resorts to a windy beach with kite surfing.
Next stop is a tour through the mangroves. This delicate eco system is the ideal place to see all sorts of baby marine life.
As a bonus the water is perfectly crystal clear.
We leave the mangroves and start to explore some of the many barrier islands around Antigua. They are all distinct and beautiful.
This one is one of my favorite is this spots. Look closely in the bushes.
There are hundreds of pelicans that live on this islands. The moms kept flying out to sea and back.
After exploring the island we make our way to Hells Gate. This natural stone arch way is in the middle of the ocean and is so beautiful. On one side of the gate is the rough Atlantic and on the other side is the calm Caribbean.
At this point, we get out of the boat and swim to the shallow water on the Caribbean side of the arch. It is calm and beautiful. Our tour guide points out caves and animals that live on the rocks.
We then CLIMB to the top. Yup.
To the top of Hells Gate.
Now you know how much I wanted to bring my camera with me for that, but there was no way to keep it dry. All I can say is that it was so cool. You will just have to take my word for it.
After our swim, climb and caving experience our boat takes us to Bird’s Island, which is a National Park.
We get out of the boat and enjoy a simple and yummy lunch in the sand.
After lunch we are off for more adventure! The island has a short hike that takes you to see more amazing views.
Antigua’s beauty sucks me in with it’s mountains and blue water. The lush landscape is breathtaking.
On the other side of the viewpoint you can see how rough the Atlantic is again.
After the hike our tour guide takes us to a nearby reef where we snorkel around an island! I’ve been snorkeling dozens of times, but never followed a reef on such a long path. It was a lot of fun. Antigua’s reef was worn in many places, but I still saw two stingrays and a squid. Both of which are things I have never seen snorkeling before. I always hope to find a turtle… but it was not my day for that.
In the end it didn’t matter though, this Eco Tour was by FAR the best boat tour I have been on. It was literally a day full of adventure, which is exactly up my alley!
Other Things to do in Antigua- Sailing and Sunsets
The other highlight of the trip for us was learning how to sail a Hobie Cat. They had included lessons and a motorized rescue boat to come and get you if you screwed up, so we figured it was the perfect time to learn. Sailing these was the most fun I have had in a long time!
I'm going to include more information on Sailing at Sandals and a fun video in my next Antigua post.
And my final recommendation for Antigua is to make an event out of watching the sunset. Grab a glass of Champagne or a Mai Tai, sit on the beach and take in the glory of this beautiful earth! I know I’ve told you guys of my love for sunsets before, but I think there is nothing like a sunset over water. It steals my heart every time.
Finally, our only planed tours were the land tour and eco tour but I was impressed at how many different things there were to do in Antigua. If you are curious for other options on what to do in Antigua, here are some others!
Antigua Canopy Tour (Zip lining)
Circumnavigation Tour (Tour around entire island) <--- I was a little afraid of getting boat sick on the Atlantic side of the island…
I can not give a personal recommendation on all these because our trip was too short, but they all look like fun.
For more great ideas check out the Best Antigua blog.
Best Things to Do in Antigua
Antigua was such a lovely island and the hubs and I had such a nice time on the trip. The combination of the land and eco tour was an absolute winner for us. I love a good adventure!
Don't forget to check out my complete review of Sandals Antigua!
Are you on team sunset with me?
What is your favorite vacation?
Julie H says
Just happened upon your "Running in a Skirt" blog while looking at reviews for Sandals Antigua! I love it! Hubby & I have been trying to decide on a vacation destination for December 2016. You have such a joyful personality. I took it as a sign that Antigua is the place to go after seeing your name, Julie (great name btw), & seeing the review posting date as my birthday January 19. Photography is also a hobby of mine.
Hi Julie! Great name too! I'm so glad you found my blog and hope you'll stop by again! And yes, Antigua was fabulous.
Jess@Flying Feet says
My husband and I honeymooned in Antigua!! LOVED every minute. We also did the sting ray city thing and boat your. Loads of fun. Glad I came across your blog. I'm in western NC and was totally excited to see you have a running kinda blog. Way cool!!
Hi Jess! Yes, Antigua was so cool! It looks like we have been at some of the same races! Thanks for stopping by today!
where did you stay while you were there? Was it an all-inclusive?
Yes, we stayed at an all-inclusive. I'll have a post on the hotel/food on Monday. 🙂
Danyelle Musselman says
What an amazing vacation! It's such a wonderful thing to get some great sun and warm weather this time of year
I know! I am already trying to figure out how to do it again next year.
Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie says
I have been seriously dreaming about a beach vacation lately and these photos just make me want to go even more! Can the water there get any more perfect?
It was so pretty and blue!
Heather @Fit n Cookies says
Absolutely beautiful! It makes me miss our cruise so much. I just love how colorful everything is and, not to mention, warm it looks!
It was perfectly 76-80 day and night. Sigh... Want to go back?
Sarah @ Sweet Miles says
Ummm sign me up for this trip next time! Hello gorgeous water! I love sunsets and sunrises, and think they're just so refreshing every time!
Me too! I want to go back!!!
Blane Sherer says
Wow! Thank you Julie. I feel like you included us on your Antigua tour. Sure, sunsets are awesome !
Thanks so much!
Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections says
That white tank top you have is so cute! Where is it from? Seeing you in a tank top and shorts makes me seriously pine for summer!
I know! I just put away all of the summer clothes and I miss them already.
It is from Victoria Secret from several years ago. It is great for vaca!
Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner says
Wow gorgeous! We just planned a little carribean getaway ourselves for next month. WE won't be going to Antigua but lots of the other Islands. Can't wait!
Oh fun! Island hopping! I want to try that sometimes soon.
Susie @ SuzLyfe says
Things to do in Antigua. Figure out ways to stay in Antigua.
I'm going with you next time!
Haha! We would have sooo muccchhh funnn!
Ooooh, I want to GO! Your recap reminds me so much of the way we used to vacation in the Caymans! There's even a Stingray City there, a boat charter for a day of adventure and snorkeling--complete with gigantic sea turtles. I love the Caribbean. And I'm definitely on team sunset.
I've been to Grand Cayman on a cruise and it was so pretty! The Caribbean is such a nice trip, especially this time of year!