Best places to stay in Antigua and Barbuda

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Where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda

I bet you can't wait to land on this beautiful island, lie down on the soft sand sipping rum punch, listening to Caribbean music and discover all the best beaches in Antigua and Barbuda.
But before you get to this long-awaited moment you need to book accommodation, and here comes the question: where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda? How to choose the area and the accommodation?

Let's start from basics: Antigua is only 22km long and 17km wide, so it's easy to get to all the villages, resorts, attractions, beaches and points of interest by car regardless of your starting point. The small size of the island is one of the reasons why I recommend renting a car.

In the following paragraphs I'm going to explain some geography of the island with its points of interest and give you some advice on where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda.

Let's start!

Geography of Antigua and Barbuda and points of interest

As previously mentioned, Antigua and Barbuda is a fairly small island: in less than an hour's drive you can get from North to South. These are the main centres:

  • To the Northeast of the island there's V.C. Bird International Airport, the airport where you will land.

  • Driving to the Northwest Coast, in about 15 minutes, you'll find Dickenson Bay, a quiet bay with shallow and crystal-clear water, beach palms and sugar cane plantations nearby.
    Dickenson Bay is the ideal place to choose if you're looking for a quiet holiday, if you're traveling with children or if like DIY. There are several accommodation options, from apartments to resorts, with some beach bars and restaurants and a large supermarket in about 15-minute drive. Dickenson Bay is the place I have personally chosen to stay both times I've been to Antigua and Barbuda, with and without my baby daughter.

  • Moving a little further south, still on the West Coast, you'll find the capital Saint John's, the main hub of the island. A cosmopolitan city with duty free shops, bars and restaurants. Saint John's is the docking point for cruise ships, and here you can take ferries to Barbuda. Despite being the capital, Saint John's is unfortunately a very poor town, and this is reflected in the vast majority of the buildings. Except for the Heritage Quay area, most of these buildings are in fact relics, some in better and some in worse shape.

  • Keep on driving south, still on the West Coast, and you'll find Jolly Harbor, a charming centre with villas, apartments, hotels and resorts, shops, bars and restaurants, a supermarket and a golf course. Jolly Harbor has a beautiful beach of clear sand, crystal clear water and palm trees that provide shade and breeze all day long. To the north of the beach, protected by a rather narrow bay, you'll find the harbour where yachts moor, together with bars and splendid villas with sea views.

  • On the South Coast of Antigua and Barbuda you'll find two other centres, Falmouth and English Harbor, close to each other and to several historical and cultural centres such as Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley Heights. Falmouth and English Harbor also have shops, bars and restaurants, with live reggae music for evening entertainment and beautiful beaches at your fingertips. (If you're interested in more than just the beach, go read my blog post about the Things to do in Antigua and Barbuda (beach aside!)!

  • The East Coast of Antigua and Barbuda faces the Atlantic Ocean, so the area could be windier than the west side. That said, there are several resorts that are sheltered by the inlets and therefore are not affected by the winds, especially in Saint Philip district.

  • The centre of the island of Antigua and Barbuda is ruled by the rainforest, which can be driven through following the Fig Tree Drive. It is the green heart of the island, with lots of tropical fruit trees and small villages. This is also the place where you'll get the chance of doing some adrenaline-pumping activities such as ziplines, kayaking and canopy tours (I wrote about these activities on my blog post Things to do in Antigua and Barbuda).

Now let's move on to some tips on hotels, apartments or resorts where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda.

Just to clarity, I have not stayed in all the hotels that you will find below (I wish! I've been to Antigua only twice, unfortunately😅). Being a member of a Facebook group of Antigua and Barbuda lovers, I've simply collected information on the most recommended accommodations by travellers over the last 2 years and listed them here, hoping to help you choose.

Where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda: the Atlantic side (East)

As I mentioned earlier, the east coast of Antigua and Barbuda faces the Atlantic Ocean. This side is windier, there are rocky coves, cliffs, the nature is generally harsher. Bear in mind that the sea here may get rougher, unless you choose a resort sheltered by some inlets.

What to see on the East coast: Devil's Bridge natural arch, Betty's Hope sugar cane plantation, and the Fig Tree Drive, a scenic road through the rainforest.

Who's suitable for: Those who plan to stay a long time in the resort, those who like rugged nature or those who want to windsurf / kitesurf. Also suitable for couples, as there are several adult-only resorts.

Best beaches nearby: Long Bay beach, Half Moon Bay

Suggested accommodations on the atlantic side of Antigua and Barbuda:

  • Verandah Resort and Spa - is an all-inclusive resort with Spa, swimming pools, gym, tennis court, and mini golf. Suitable for families, some water activities are included in the price.
    Average score: 6.7

  • Pineapple Beach Club - is an adult-only, all-inclusive resort with swimming pools, Spa, gym, restaurant and bar with evening entertainment, plus a private area on the beach and water activities included.
    Average score: 7.7

  • Hammock Cove Antigua - is a stunning adult-only, all-inclusive resort located in the heart of Devil's Bridge National Park. Each villa has its own private pool overlooking the sea, in addition to the private beach. There is no shortage of restaurants, bars, spa, fitness centre, and water activities included in the price. Hammock Cove is one of the most exclusive and expensive resorts on the island, click on the link and check out the photos to figure out why!
    Average score: 9.2

  • Escape at Nonsuch Bay - is an adult-only, all-inclusive resort with restaurant, pool, bar and garden. All suites have private pools, and the private beach is at 2-minute walking distance.
    Average score: 8.9

  • Residences at Nonsuch bay - is a residence nestled in a tropical hill overlooking Nonsuch bay. Being a residence, you won't have meals included but you can walk to the nearby restaurants and bars or prepare meals in your cottage.
    Average score: 6.9

Where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda: the Caribbean side (West and North-West)

The Caribbean coast is very different from the Atlantic coast, marked by long beaches of fine and clear sand with palm trees and crystal-clear water, sheltered bays, beautiful sunsets. This is the coast overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the one with the best beaches in Antigua and Barbuda according to me.

What to see on the West coast: the capital St John's, Jolly Harbour, and Dickenson Bay.

Who's suitable for: those who want to explore several beaches, those who prefer calm seas, families and those who wish to stay near the airport.

Best beaches nearby: Dickenson Bay beach, Deep Bay beach, Galley Bay beach, Hermitage Bay beach, Jolly beach, Valley Church, Coco beach, Ffryes beach, Darkwood beach

Suggested accommodations on the Caribbean side of Antigua and Barbuda:

  • Blue Waters resort - is a family friendly resort with swimming pools, restaurants and bars. All rooms and suites have a balcony or patio with sea view, the beach is quite small and narrow but with fine and clear sand and the classic blue Caribbean Sea. It's only a 15-minute drive from the airport, so perfect for those who land late and don't want to drive in the dark.
    Average score: 9.1

  • Sandals Grande - is a couples-only, all-inclusive resort located in Dickenson Bay. Sandals has a wide choice of rooms, suites and cottages, some with private pools, others with direct access to the beach, all surrounded by greenery. With restaurant and bar for evening entertainment, gym, tennis court and table tennis, swimming pool, wellness centre and a reserved area on the beach.
    Average score: 7.9

  • Antigua village - is a family friendly resort on Dickenson Bay, composed of mini apartments with kitchens and private balconies or patios. Antigua Village, along with Siboney and Buccaneer Beach Club, are the most affordable residences in the area.
    Average score: 8.4

  • Buccaneer Beach Club - is a family friendly residence located on the beautiful Dickenson Bay, approximately 20 minutes' drive from the airport. Each apartment has its own kitchen and private balcony or patio, with a shared pool and direct exit to the beach. Sunbeds and umbrellas are included in the price, there are several restaurants and beach bars nearby (I've been here!).
    Average score: 9.1

  • Siboney Beach Club - is a family-friendly residence on Dickenson Bay. The apartments are modern and have a kitchen and a private balcony or patio. There is a swimming pool available for residence guests and a beach bar / restaurant, the Salt Plage. Sunbeds and umbrellas are included in the price.
    Average score: 8.1

  • Royalton Antigua - is an all-inclusive resort located on the beautiful Deep Bay. It includes a Spa and Casino, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and fitness centre. Deep Bay has a beautiful beach nestled in a bay sheltered from the winds. If your budget allowed it, I would suggest you stay in one of the overwater bungalows (yes, the ones in my photo above!)😍
    Average score: 7.1

  • Hermitage Bay - is my secret dream 😍 An all-inclusive resort surrounded by lush tropical greenery and overlooking one of the most beautiful bays on the island, the homonymous Hermitage Bay. It includes a restaurant by the beach, a spa with massage services, a gym, and a swimming pool. You can choose between several suites and cottages, the ones on the hill all have a private swimming pool on the balcony. Hermitage Bay is as expensive as popular: you must book months ahead, although the prices are not quite affordable!
    Average score: 9.1

  • Cocobay Resort - it is one of the adults-only, all-inclusive most recommended resorts. It overlooks two beaches, Coco beach and Valley Church which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua (crystal-clear water, white sand on an incredibly quiet beach). Each cottage has a private balcony with a hammock with a sea or garden view, there also are two swimming pools, Spa, a bar/restaurant, and direct access to the beach. Some suites also have private pools on the balcony. One of the two restaurants of the resort, in particular, is very popular: it's called Sheer Rocks and it's really scenic!
    Average score: 8.6

  • Antigua chiama Italia villas - these are villas managed by a private host. The accommodations include two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. They are therefore perfect if you are traveling with friends or if you have a family of 4 or 5. The villas offer a swimming pool and tennis court, a view over Jolly Harbor, and are approximately 2 minutes walk from the beach.
    Average score: 8.5

Galley Bay Resort and Spa - is an all-inclusive resort with beautiful cottages on the beach, all with a private balcony facing the sea, some with a private swimming pool. The resort also has a swimming pool, fitness centre, Spa, and bar/restaurant.
Galley Bay beach is the resort's private beach (but here's a secret: non-residents can access the beach too, there is a semi-hidden but absolutely "legal" entrance 😁 Just ask the security!)

Fun fact: if you choose Galley Bay for your trip to Antigua and Barbuda you'll be Giorgio Armani's neighbour! The designer owns in fact two villas perched on the northern rocks of Galley Bay 😉
Average score: 9.1

Where to stay in Antigua and Barbuda: the South

If you are planning to make cultural tours, but you still want to be near restaurants and nightlife, the south coast of Antigua and Barbuda is the ideal place to choose for your stay.
The southern part of the island, especially English Harbor, has been an important naval base over the centuries and today we can visit several buildings from the colonial era that have been turned into museums and art galleries.
Another place that draws visitors to the south of the island is Shirley Heights, a restored military lookout located on a hill which has become famous for its bi-weekly parties featuring BBQ, Caribbean music, drinks and beautiful sunsets views over English and Falmouth Harbor.

What to see on the South coast: Shirley Heights, English Harbour, Nelson Dockyard, Pillars of Hercules, Dow's Hill Interpretation Center, Clarence House

Who's suitable for: those interested in the history of Antigua and Barbuda, sailors and yacht people, those who want to be close to restaurants and activities

Best beaches nearby: Pigeon Point beach

Suggested accommodations on the South side of Antigua and Barbuda:

  • St James's Club & Villas - is an all-inclusive, family friendly resort. You can enjoy the best of both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean thanks to its location: the resort is in fact nestled in a peninsula that protects Mamora Bay from the Atlantic currents on one side, and it's exposed to the winds on the other side. It has 4 restaurants, 4 swimming pools including one for children, a gym, 6 tennis courts and a Spa with hairdresser. Some water sports such as windsurfing, sailing and kayaking are included in the price.
    Average score: 8.1

  • Carlisle Bay - is a family-friendly residence overlooking the homonymous bay. Swimming pool, fitness centre with a personal trainer, Spa. Each room has its own balcony or terrace with sea or tropical garden view, breakfast and afternoon tea are included. There are also 3 bars/restaurants, a tennis court, and a kids' club.
    Average score: 8.7

  • Curtain Bluff - is a family-friendly, all-inclusive resort, by the beach in Carlisle Bay and also close to Morris Bay. The rooms are for up to 3 people, all with a balcony with sea view. The resort has a snack bar and three different restaurants, two of which serve breakfast and dinner, and the third serves a lunch buffet. There also are a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a fitness center.
    Average score: 8.8
firma di Flavia Iarlori
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