The 10 best beaches in Antigua and Barbuda (with photos!)

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  1. Caribbean
  2. Antigua and Barbuda
  3. The 10 best beaches in Antigua and Barbuda (with photos!)

Antigua is blessed with 365 beaches, one for each day of the year.

We should all know it by now, it's the motto of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourist Board after all 😃
Great, but we sadly don't have 365 days to enjoy all the beaches in Antigua and Barbuda, so how do we handle this dilemma? Where do we start from?

Being just back from my second trip to my favourite island, I'm confident enough to make a list of the 10 best beaches in Antigua and Barbuda, according to me, so that you to make a selection for your next trip.

Ready?

Antigua and Barbuda beaches - general info

Before listing my favourite beaches in Antigua and Barbuda, I'll dish out some general info that apply to all the beaches on the island.

  • Beach access: all the beaches in Antigua and Barbuda are public and have free access. Even if they're known as "the Resort beach" (sometimes on the hotel's website it says "private beach"), non-residents can access too, from secondary entrances or even from the entrance of the Resort itself. If you can't find the secondary entrance, ask nicely to the Security people and they'll give you directions.

  • Parking: all the beaches in Antigua and Barbuda have free parking available. You won't find real parking lots, but you can leave your car on the side of the road and there are often quite large areas, usually behind the beach, where you can park. As there are no supervised car parks, avoid leaving valuables in sight in the car. Antigua is a quiet island but also very poor.

  • Facilities: most of the beaches have sun beds and umbrellas available to hire for 20US$ or 50EC$ for the whole day. As you will see on the description of the individual beaches below, umbrella is an optional accessory since 99% of the beaches are rich with vegetation that offer plenty of shade. About bars and restaurants, most of the beaches have them but there also are some completely wild beaches where there's no sign of a bar for miles. Just check before you go, and bring water and a packed lunch with you if needed.

  • Roads: Antigua and Barbuda is unfortunately a very poor island, and this is reflected in the state of the roads. Some roads (especially the main ones such as Valley Road, which connects the island from north to south, the roads of the Capital and those of the tourist centres) are well maintained, paved and have signs. The secondary roads are often unpaved and full of holes, with animals and people crossing without paying much attention to the cars. My advice for you is to drive carefully, and don't worry too much: with Google Maps you can easily reach all the beaches. Ah, last thing: driving is on the opposite side like in UK, so keep left!

  • Data connection: watch out to your data! Antigua and Barbuda is not in Europe, therefore you'll need to download the offline Maps before your flight if you don't want your credit to be drained in 5 minutes. You'll find WiFi in your hotel/apartment and in most of the restaurants and bars on the island, otherwise enjoy a few days offline, which is always good!

Right, these are the info you need to start exploring the island and its fantastic beaches.
Now let's move on the long-awaited list of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Antigua and Barbuda, mapped below:

Hermitage Bay beach

Let's start with Hermitage Bay beach, my favourite beach ever! A true paradise on Earth, the sea is so crystal-clear that I could see the shells on the sea bottom, even when the water reached my belly button. The sand is soft and white with corals on the shore, and the entrance into the water is flat, which certainly is a big plus for families with young children.

There are no umbrellas or sun beds, but that's not a problem as the beach has plenty of shaded areas, also in the car park. There are no restaurant services, so don't forget to bring water and food!

To the far right of the bay stands the [Hermitage Bay Resort] (https://www.booking.com/hotel/ag/hermitage-bay-all-inclusive.en.html?aid=2016048&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2#nofollow), a luxury all-inclusive, adult-only Resort, consisting of 30 suites surrounded by the green hills overlooking the bay. A dream!

Hermitage Bay beach is located on the west coast of the island, 6.5 km north of Jolly Harbor. You can reach it by driving through Valley Road, the main road that connects the north and south of the island, and then taking a dusty road that leads to the bay. It's very simple, just follow the directions for Hermitage Bay Resort on Google Maps and once you arrive, continue past the entrance of the Resort, where you will find the car park.

Dickenson Bay beach

Second place for Dickenson Bay beach, the bay that I've chosen twice as my base to explore the island because let's face it, even if I hadn't been able to drive around, I would have been happy anyway!
Dickenson Bay dazzled me instantly because it has everything you need, from scenery to amenities:

  • the beach: long, with white sand and shallow water. It's perfect for children because it's surrounded by some jetties that break any waves, so the sea is calm and blue.
  • services: two bars/restaurants, several kiosks where you can buy beers and the Kon Tiki bar (a bar anchored on a floating wooden platform offshore - highly recommended!), you can hire umbrellas and sunbed and there's a lovely Liberty-style pier perfect for sunset photos.
  • nature: plenty of palm trees and shade.

Dickenson Bay is a great place to stay because, in addition to its restaurants and pubs, there also is a supermarket for your grocery shopping just 3 minutes drive down the road. There are 3 beach clubs and an all-inclusive Resort directly on the beach:

Dickenson Bay is located on the northwest coast of Antigua, just 15 minutes drive from the airport: it's the easiest place to reach if you land late and don't want to drive in the dark (it happened to me both times).

Valley Church Bay

Valley Church Bay is another marine paradise that I sadly discovered too late, only the day before our return flight.

It's as gorgeous as Heritage Bay: crystal clear water, soft white sand, on a long and shallow beach. Completely wild. The only flaw, according to me, is that Valley Church Bay completely lacks vegetations and services: you are under the merciless sun, there are no trees or umbrellas and around midday is quite difficult to stay. So, my advice is: don't miss this beach, but go early morning or, if you have it, bring an umbrella or a camping tent to avoid the heath.

Valley Church Bay is located on the west coast of Antigua, approximately 2km south of Jolly Harbor.
If you want to go to Valley Church early morning and then move when it's too hot, you can consider the nearby beaches: Hermitage Bay, Jolly beach, Coco beach, Ffryes beach and Darkwood beach.

Deep Bay beach

Deep Bay is a beautiful crescent-shaped bay, ideal to escape from a windy day as it's nestled in a promontory that breaks the winds, so the sea is always quite calm.

The beach is not very large, with clear sand, blue sea and again, plenty of shaded areas thanks to its vegetation. There are bars and umbrellas available to hire, as well as water sports opportunities.

The Maldivian-style chalets lying on the water at the southern end of the beach will surely catch your eye: these are property of the Royalton Antigua, a beautiful all-inclusive Resort hidden at the back of the beach.

On top of the cliff, north of Deep Bay, lies Fort Barrington, one of Antigua's historic 16th-century fortresses built to protect the island from the enemies attacks. Access to this site is free, but the path is slippery. If you wish to climb it up, don't forget to bring proper shoes.

Deep Bay is located on the west coast of Antigua, about 7km south of the capital Saint John's.
The road to get to Fort Barrington is unpaved and full of holes, but you can park your car at the foot of the fortress and reach the beach via a short, well-marked, flat path.

Jolly beach

Antigua and Barbuda has 3 main hubs: on the north of the island there's Dickenson Bay, next to the capital Saint John's; on the centre there's Jolly Harbour; on the south there's English Harbour.

Jolly beach is the beautiful beach of Jolly Harbor: it boasts with clear and shallow water, white sand on a long beach, and plenty of shade under the trees' large canopies. Nearby there is a supermarket, a marina, several bars, shops, and restaurants: you can easily spend a whole day in this area but if you get bored, just reach the nearby Valley Church Bay, Coco beach, and Ffryes beach.

At Jolly Harbour, there is plenty of choice in terms of accommodation, from Resorts such as Sugar Ridge to villas such as Antigua chiama Italia.

As I have already mentioned, Jolly beach is located in the centre of the island, on the west coast. Getting there is easy, just take Valley Road and follow the signs for Jolly Harbor.

Pigeon Point beach

To the southern end of the island, near English Harbor, you'll find Pigeon Point beach.
Not a large one, yet very pleasant: lots of trees, white sand, and crystal clear water, although it has a deeper bottom than the other beaches. It's located near the English Harbour marina, surrounded by hills and with a yacht view.
Very popular with locals on weekends, there is a restaurant/bar on the beach and a playground for children.

English Harbour is another great area to consider for accommodation because of the proximity to bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. This area is rich in hotels, resorts and villas.

Coco beach

Coco beach is named after the Resort that stands at its feet.
Quite beautiful, with enough vegetation but no services nor loungers or umbrellas (probably because it's "the Cocobay Resort beach", and the residents have everything they need inside the Resort?).
After a short walk on the beach, we left because there was no dry sand in the shade. Don't let my experience dishearten you tho, probably due to the time of day and the unfavourable position of the sun.

You might even consider staying at Cocobay Resort, an adults-only, all-inclusive Resort highly rated among the Antigua traveller groups. In that case, you shouldn't worry about shade or services, as the resort will provide you with everything you need.

Coco beach is located on the west coast of Antigua, it borders with Valley Church Bay to the north and Ffryes beach to the south.

Ffryes beach

As I said, Coco beach borders another beach to the south, Ffryes beach.

Ffryes is much longer than Coco, with clear sand and turquoise waters. There's some grass between the sand and the parking lot, with lots of shade under the trees.
Ffryes beach is very popular with locals especially on Sundays and during their holidays. There are a couple of dining facilities, such as the Ffryes Beach bar north of the beach, and sun beds and umbrellas for hire. Here in particular you can see the pelicans diving into the sea!

Interesting bit: many of the photos taken at Ffryes beach show some logs lying on the shore. It seems that these are tamarind trunks torn away by hurricane Luis in 1995 from the adjacent hill, taken to the beach and still here after 27 years.

Ffryes beach is also located on the west coast of Antigua, reached by going south along Valley Road, just 3 km from Jolly Harbour.

Darkwood beach

Darkwood beach is my husband's favourite beach!
There are no hotels, residences or resorts within walking distance, that's why the beach is never crowded. The beach is long and quite large, with white sand and turquoise waters. It lacks vegetation though, there is just a bunch of trees at the southern end of the beach next to a colourful cabin where a lady sells local clothes and crafts.

The entrance to the beach is through the Darkwood beach bar and restaurant, which I suggest you try because their sandwiches are delicious (try the crab one!). The tables are set on the sand, there are e ve li serve su dei tavolini adagiati proprio sulla sabbia. There are bathrooms available, you can hire sunbeds and umbrellas and, here's where it gets interesting, inflatable water games for all ages.

Galley Bay beach

The last beach that I recommend is Galley Bay beach, the "private" beach of the homonymous resort Galley Bay Resort & Spa.

The beach is also accessible by non-residents, but you'll get several hard stares from Security who constantly keeps an eye on the situation.

The sand is yellow, the sea is blue, and there is no natural shade. People say that turtles spawn here anytime between February and July. I haven't seen any though 😕

Galley Bay beach is sparsely populated and exclusive, it has no services except for the residents but here's a secret: there is a shower at the foot of one of the stairs leading to the resort, quite hidden ... I used and no one complained 😉

I left it in the last place of my list because, although beautiful from a landscape point of view, I felt it was a bit snobbish.

Guess who likes Galley Bay so much instead? Giorgio Armani! In fact, far north of the beach there are two of his villas perched on the rocks, facing the Caribbean Sea. Take a look at the second photo!

Galley Bay beach is located on the west coast of Antigua, just under 10km south of the capital Saint John's.
Unlike the other beaches, Galley Bay is almost completely fenced but there is an "unofficial" entry, it has to be found but do believe me, it is there! It's a gate located on the far right of the beach, not very easy to spot but if you ask nicely, the Security guys will explain where to go.

My list of the 10 best beaches in Antigua ends here, for now!
There are lots that I haven't visited yet, so this blog post will most probably be updated on my next trip 😍

You may have noticed that all the beaches I have mentioned are on the West coast of the island. This is not because there are no beautiful beaches on the East side, but because the Eastern one is the windiest coast, with its pros and cons: the sea is often rough and brings algae on the shore, but on the other hand you can do kitesurfing and take scenic photos to the waves breaking on the rocks (one spot above all, the Devil's Bridge National Park).
Also to the East, there are some smaller islands that can be reached by boat tour (if the idea of snorkelling and boat tour thrills you, go have a look at my blog post Things to do in Antigua and Barbuda (beach aside!).

Keep on reading more blog posts on Antigua and Barbuda here:

If you have any questions or doubts, or if you know other beaches to recommend for my next trip to Antigua and Barbuda, feel free to drop me an email at: flavia.iarlori@outlook.com.

See you soon!

firma di Flavia Iarlori
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