In May I visited the Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda and stayed at Verandah Resort. It was my first time in the Caribbean and my first time staying at an all-inclusive resort.
The trip was combined with a travel conference so obviously I jumped at the chance of visiting Antigua and Barbuda for a week, although I’ll be honest and say that an all-inclusive Caribbean holiday had never been that high on my radar because I love to travel around, explore places properly and well, wander.
I feel like the Caribbean has a reputation, especially in the UK, of being the type of place you visit for 7, 10, 14 days, you sit by the pool or on the resort beach all day and don’t do much else. This is why I had always thought that a Caribbean holiday at an all-inclusive resort like in Antigua wasn’t for me (although the older I get, the more I appreciate why you would want to step away from busy life for a holiday just by the pool!).
It was my mum who reminded me of why I had always thought that, when I got home from my week in Antigua and Barbuda she said ‘you often here that you’re not allowed out of the resort because it’s not safe’, this is why I had never wanted to go, I wasn’t sure if you could actually leave resorts whilst on many Caribbean islands!
Thankfully, my week in Antigua and Barbuda proved me that this is not the case. There are plenty of activities, attractions, excursions and things to do outside of the resorts and hotels in Antigua and it’s very possible to hire a car and drive around the island by yourself!
Below I have detailed some of the best things to do in Antigua. Some of them are activities you need to hire a car for and others can be arranged via your resort which is very helpful and easy!
Shirley Heights Sunday Sunset Party
Shirley Heights Lookout is a must visit on a trip to Antigua, it’s an 18th century British guard post that is now home to a restaurant and lookout with an incredible view over the harbour below.
Although its popular to visit during the day and for dinner, one of its most popular events, and one of the most popular events on the island is the Shirley Heights Sunday Sunset Party which has been taking place for the last 31 years!
Each Sunday a few hundred people make their way to Shirley Heights lookout to drink rum punch, eat BBQ food, and have a dance to the local steel band music, followed by reggae and calypso, all whilst watching the sun go down into the mountains in front.
Kayaking & Snorkelling Trip
The crystal clear blue waters of the Caribbean have to be explored and this is a fun excursion in Antigua. Although you may be able to kayak and snorkel from your resort beach, going out on an organised trip is a great idea to help you see more of the island.
Antigua Nature Tours offer a trip kayaking amongst the lush mangrove, before heading to one of the best reefs in Antigua for snorkelling and finishing with a hike to the top of Great Bird Island for incredible views. I heard that there is also plenty of fruit and rum punch on board the boat too!
Explore the Beaches
Antigua and Barbuda has 365 beaches, one for each day of the year they say. To really explore these you will need to hire a car but they drive on the same side of the road as the UK and Verandah Resort has a car hire company on site, and I imagine most of the resorts do to make the process really easy.
All of the beaches in Antigua are public beaches so even if they have a resort attached to them you are allowed to visit!
Carlisle Bay is a great beach to visit in Antigua, as you can see from Sean’s photo below, it looks gorgeous!
If you want to be prepared and hire a car before arriving, have a look at car hire prices here!
Take a Cooking Class
Some of our group visited Nicole’s Table for a Caribbean Cooking class and it looked and sounded so much fun, not to mention very tasty! This is a really fun and unique thing to do in Antigua.
Nicole’s Table is located in Nicole’s house which looks west towards St John’s harbour and gives a great insight into a local’s home. They offer a few different classes but the class that my group did and I can imagine is very popular is the Cooking with Rum class where you not only cook with rum but learn about it and get to taste lots of it too!
The classes are very easy to book on her website!
A really fun activity to do in Antigua and one of the best rated things to do in Antigua is going out on a reef rider which gives you the chance to drive your own 10 foot 2-seater inflatable speed boat!
Not only that but you can jump off and snorkel in the crystal clear water looking out for stingrays, lobster, parrot-fish and so much more!
The middle of Antigua is rainforest so it makes sense that you can fly through the forest on a zip line!
I found this activity really fun and it was something a bit different and unique to do in Antigua! There’s the option to go zip lining, complete an obstacle course and take the ‘Leap of faith’ and ‘Power Fan Free Fall’ which are 26 ft & 45 ft vertical drops!
The 12 course zip line isn’t too long but it takes a few hours to go around and is something a bit different if you do get bored with the beaches and the sea!
Only Antigua Rainforest Canopy offer this activity on the island and you can find out more here!
Hiking in Antigua
I went out hiking with the Wadadli Trail Blazers Hiking Group. They go out every Sunday morning meeting at 6:00am just after the sun has risen and hike a local route for a few hours. We hiked in and around the Shirley Heights area ended up at the Shirley Heights viewpoint which was amazing.
The guys were really friendly and very encouraging, especially up the steep hills. This was a great way to start my trip in Antigua and because of the time difference after flying in from London the day before, it didn’t even seem like an early start because I was awake anyway!
If you want to go out hiking on your own have a look at Jessie’s post about a great hike in Antigua which she says is the most scenic hike she has ever experienced!
Boat Trip / Chase The Race
Antigua is very famous for its annual Sailing Week held in May each year and a popular activity for tourists is to Chase The Race! We went out on the last day of the race on a catamaran where we spent a few hours sailing a long side the boats and soaring through the waves to keep up with them.
Come lunch time we harboured in a quiet bay where we got to have a swim in the beautiful water and then enjoy a nice lunch, all before taking to the sea again to find the race.
If you are visiting Antigua during sailing week I would definitely recommend joining a chase the race boat trip, however if you are visiting on one of the other 51 weeks of the year then a boat trip like Wadadli Cat’s would be great. They offer the same trip sailing around the island on a catamaran with the chance to snorkel too!
See St John’s
St John’s is the capital of Antigua. Unfortunately I didn’t get to visit but some of the group I was with did and they really enjoyed seeing the city. St John’s is best explored on foot as there are plenty of pedestrian areas. Within the historic and commercial part of the city there are lots of shops, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, Markets and Churches.
Another big draw to St John’s is the gorgeous coloured buildings. They make great instagram photos and I think visiting St John’s will give a great insight into local life in Antigua. Read more about St John’s here.
Visit Devil’s Bridge
Devil’s Bridge is a natural arch carved by the sea in the limestone located on the North Eastern point of Antigua. I could walk from it from Verandah Resort but both times I went I saw a few cars parked up so it’s definitely possible to drive there and Devil’s Bridge is a popular stop on an Antigua road trip.
It’s pretty sad because the reason it’s called the Devil’s Bridge is because when slavery was big on Antigua a lot of people used to commit suicide off of the bridge as firstly the water is very rough, and secondly there is no land between that point and Africa so the slaves hoped their bodies would be taken back to Africa..
Visit Another Resort
If you want to mix your days up a bit but you don’t want to do too much, why not visit another resort!
Pineapple Beach Club is another Elite Island Resort just across the road from Verandah Resort and because they are sister resorts it means you can use all the facilities of each of the resorts, except stay the night!
I really like this concept as it’s always nice to check out another hotel, especially if you were debating between two!
Enjoy the Activities in your Resort
It’s not all about getting away from your resort to have fun though! Verandah Resort had so many activities on site- a mini golf course, a huge swimming pool (in fact the largest on the island) and volley ball.
There are activities on all day as well from Yoga classes to Aqua aerobics. Plus the beach offers paddle boards, kayaks and boats for guests to take out!
What I also loved about Verandah Resort is that it has 2 beaches on site which made it easy to mix up the view each day so it didn’t get boring.. not that blue ocean like that could get boring!
I would just really urge you to plan some resort activities in as otherwise the days pass quickly and before you know it its the end of the week and you didn’t play mini golf which is what happened to me!
I hope you find this helpful and it has convinced you there are so many things to do in Antigua and Barbuda!
It’s a beautiful destinations and with direct flights from the UK it’s really easy to get to too!
It does help to have a car whilst in Antigua, have a look at car hire prices here so you can be prepared!
I saved all of my Instagram Stories from when I was in Antigua and Barbuda in my highlights on my Instagram Profile. If you want to see my trip quickly, have a look at my Instagram – @thewanderingquinn!
** Has this helped you out?? Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn**
Here’s my Vlog from Antigua!
This trip was in collaboration with Traverse Events & Visit Antigua and Barbuda but all thoughts, opinions and ramblings are my own. This post also contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.