Things to do in Antigua and Barbuda (beach aside!)

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  3. Things to do in Antigua and Barbuda (beach aside!)

Things to do in Antigua and Barbuda

You have landed in Antigua and Barbuda, one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. You have spent hours and hours on the beach, and had some excellent rum punch lying on a sunbed. Now you want to experience something different, and here comes the question: what to do in Antigua and Barbuda, besides the beach?

With its 365 beaches, one for each day of the year, there surely are plenty of water activities to do in Antigua and Barbuda, from snorkelling to diving, or just taking a boat tour. But Antigua and Barbuda also offers several activities to do on the mainland, starting from nice strolls on the harbour, exploring the rainforest, sunset parties with BBQ and Caribbean music, visiting a UNESCO site and much more.

Follow me, I'll tell you what you can do in Antigua and Barbuda after the beach!

Stroll around English Harbour

English Harbor is located on the southern end of the island. Once an important naval base, today is a thriving nautical centre. Thanks to its deep natural harbour, several protected bays and two of the best tourist marinas in the Caribbean, this area attracts sailors from all over the world.
English Harbor is also known as "the hurricane hole", a place where boats can anchor to shelter from a possible hurricane.

English Harbor hosts several world-class nautical events each year. One of the most famous is the Antigua Sailing Week, a week-long regatta held in the waters off English Harbor between the end of April and the beginning of May.

Together with St. John's and Jolly Harbor, English Harbor is one of the places with the highest number of catering services, from small bars to fine restaurants, offering Caribbean and international cooking. A stroll around English Harbour is one of the things to do when in Antigua and Barbuda, so do consider stopping here for lunch, dinner or just some drinks.

Another tip: make sure you go to the south of the island on a Thursday or a Sunday, later I'll tell you why 😉

Pay a visit to Nelson's Dockyard, UNESCO heritage site

Nelson's Dockyard is a historic harbour and shipyard from the colonial-era, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this small harbour you'll find some nicely restored 18th century warehouses, which now house hotels, restaurants and art galleries.

Dockyard Museum, housed in a building that was once the home of Horatio Nelson from 1784 to 1787, tells the story of the shipyard and the importance Antigua had in protecting ships from hurricanes and monitoring French naval activity over the centuries.

Entrance to the Nelson's Dockyard is 40 EC$ or 14.80 US$ each and includes a visit to Dow's Hill Interpretation Center and admission to Shirley Heights.

For more information, visit

Learn the history of Antigua at Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre

If you are interested in the whole history of Antigua, Dow's Hill Interpretation Center is the place for you.

It's just a five-minute drive from Falmouth Harbor, on top of a hill overlooking English Harbor.

The main objective of this museum is to introduce visitors to each of the island's most significant eras and prove how each era played its part in shaping the island we have today. It starts with the first hunters and then goes through the era of pirates, the British colonial years and the tragic history of slavery.

Dow's Hill Interpretation Center is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

If you are a rum enthusiast, you can match the visit to Dow's Hill with a Rum in the Ruins tour.
Dr Christopher K. Waters, Director of Heritage Resources of the Park, will guide you to discover Nelson's Dockyard National Park and Antigua's past while sipping some fine rum.
The tour takes place every Friday at 5 pm, costs 50 EC$ or 20 US$ per person and includes two drinks. And on top of it, you'll enjoy one of the beautiful sunsets over the English Harbor!

How do you book a Rum in the Ruins tour? Just send an email to:

Visit Clarence House

Overlooking English Harbor, Clarence House is a beautiful example of a traditional British Caribbean architecture residence.

Originally built in 1804, the house served as the main hub for naval operations in the early 19th century. From 1850 onwards, the house became the official country residence of the governors of Antigua and Barbuda and hosted lunches and dinners for visiting dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and Princess Margaret.
Today, the perfectly restored house is a museum showing typical Caribbean handcrafted furnishings.

Clarence House is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tours are held at 9:30 am and 3:00 pm, entrance is 50 EC$ or 20 US$ per person.

Again, just send an email to to book the visit.

For more information, visit

Sunset Party at Shirley Heights

In the section about English Harbour, I suggested you visit it on a Thursday or a Sunday. Here's why.

Sunday in Antigua and Barbuda is the equivalent of Sunset Party at Shirley Heights!

Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout, located on a hill which has become famous for its bi-weekly parties with BBQ, Caribbean music, drinks and beautiful sunsets over English and Falmouth Harbor.

Shirley Heights can be easily reached by car or even on foot, as it is connected via a steep path to English Harbor.

Parties are held every Thursday and Sunday, starting at 4:30 pm. I recommend that you arrive early because these events are really popular, with high chances to get stuck in a queue to get inside, to buy food, even to take a photo.

The parking lot is large and free, admission to Shirley Height costs 25 EC$ or 10 US$ for adults, while children under 12 are free. If you buy the Nelson Dockyard ticket on the same day, entry to Shirley Heights is free.

A visit to Shirley Heights, during one of its world-famous parties, is absolutely one of the top things to do in Antigua and Barbuda!

For updated info visit the Shirley Heights lookout website.

Visit the Rastafari hub

If you want to learn more about the culture of Antigua and Barbuda, a visit to the Rastafari hub goes straight to the top of your to-do list.

On a small-group guided tour, you will walk through the historic ruins of the former Willis Freeman Plantation, now known as Ras Freeman, Antigua's hub for Rastafari.

The hub helps make Antigua a food-secure nation and consists of over 25 acres of land planted with local fruit. You'll visit some greenhouses and fields where sacramental cannabis is grown and learn about the role of Rastafari in Antigua's medicinal cannabis industry.

On these grounds, there is plenty of historical artefacts, such as the old slave house, the sugar cane mill and production equipment prior to 1834.

Near the ruins is the Nyabinghi Tabernacle, the place of worship of the Rastafari movement in Antigua. You will have the chance to play the Nyabinghi drum, find out why the Nyabinghi fire is always lit, and learn the history of Rastafari culture and life.

The tour costs £35 each and lasts one hour.
Ras Freeman is located in the town of Freeman, just north of Falmouth Harbor, near Fig Tree Drive.

What to wear during the tour: Nyabinghi rules require men and women to dress modestly. Women must wear skirts or dresses below the knees and a head covering that fully covers the hair. Tour participants who don't have the appropriate clothing can buy them before entering Ras Freeman.

Here you can buy tickets for the Rastafari Tour.

Drive through the rainforest along the Fig Tree Drive

Let's now change the subject, and plunge into nature!

If the idea of ​​driving through the heart of the rainforest thrills you, I have good news: Antigua is not only sea and beaches, it also has a green heart which hosts hundreds of tropical fruit trees and the possibility to do adrenaline-pumping activities.

The Fig tree drive is a scenic drive just 8km long. It starts in the small village of Swetes, passes through the rainforest and ends at Carlisle Bay beach.
Along the Fig tree drive, you will drive through a lush rainforest full of mangoes, pineapples and banana trees (fig is the Antiguan word for "banana"). On the side of the road, you will find several stalls selling local tropical fruit, fruit juices and homemade jams.

The road is full of holes and sometimes muddy, with a narrow carriageway and several ups and downs. You don't need a 4X4 but drive carefully! If you don't feel safe driving but don't want to give up the experience, remember that taxis take you almost everywhere in Antigua.

About halfway there is the Antigua Vintage Tea House, an open-air tea room where you can enjoy a classic English Afternoon tea: pastries, sandwiches and tea served in decorated china cups.
I discovered it too late but if you are on the Fig tree drive, it is worth stopping by as it has excellent reviews.

For more info, consult the website.

Zipline, kayak, canopy tours

Adrenaline junkies will find the Fig Tree Drive cut out for them: in fact, here you can do activities such as zipline, kayak, and canopy tours.

On the Fig tree drive, just past John Hughes village, you will find The Antigua Rainforest Company: they have been operating for more than 10 years and offer both single and combined activities (such as zipline + kayaking).

For information on prices, times and availability, visit

Walk along Jolly Harbour

Jolly Harbor is a lively marina with bars and restaurants, mostly populated by tourists who stay in the docked yachts and in the surrounding resorts.
In addition to bars and restaurants, in the area there is a golf club, a sports centre where you can play tennis and squash and a mini market.

Jolly beach is definitely one of the best beaches in Antigua and Barbuda, so it won't be difficult for you to add a stroll around the harbour after spending a few hours in those crystal-clear waters!

Duty free shopping in Heritage Quay

Saint John's, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, is unfortunately a very poor town and its buildings reflect this misery. Most of these are in fact relics, some in better and some in worse shape.

One of the rare areas of St. John's that looks well is Heritage Quay, the dock for cruise ships and home to a small duty-free shopping complex. The buildings in Heritage Quay are modern and are washed of the typical bright colours of the Caribbean architecture.

Note: all the shops in Heritage Quay are shut on Sundays. When a cruise ship is docked instead, the area is crowded with tourists.

Visit the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

Another thing to do in St. John's is visit the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, a two-storey building that houses exhibits relating to the history and culture of Antigua and Barbuda, including the geological formation of the islands, Amerindian people who inhabited the island before European settlement and recent Antiguan cultural practices. On the first floor, there is a large collection of historical objects, including pottery and metal objects, texts, maps and photos.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
For more info, visit

Get a drink offshore at Kon Tiki Bar

Antigua has no shortage of places where you can have a beer or a cocktail: they really are everywhere and of all sorts, from the roadside kiosk to the beach bars to the more sophisticated ones.

Our favourite one is the Kon Tiki bar: a wooden raft moored off Dickenson Bay, large enough to accommodate a couple of tables, a BBQ grill and a bar covered with an umbrella.
Every afternoon the Kon Tiki bar owner carries a mini fridge full of beers and spirits on the raft and just waits for the landscape to add some magic: the crystal-clear waters, the palm trees and the white sand on the shore, the music and above all the sunset, make Kon Tiki very popular every day. The atmosphere is cheerful, with people from all over the world always in for a chat and a toast.

Getting to the Kon Tiki bar is very easy: it's on Dickenson Bay, on the left-hand side of the Buccaneer Beach Club. Just wave your arms and wait ashore for the boat to pick you up. They'll also take you back to shore once finished. And it's free!
You can also swim there, in this case make sure you have a waterproof bag to carry some cash and your smartphone.

Having a few drinks at sunset at the Kon Tiki Bar is one of these experiences you'll never forget and unmissable things to do in Antigua and Barbuda, so please please please don't miss this opportunity!

Take an excursion to Devil's Bridge

Devil's Bridge is a natural arch formed by the erosive action of the ocean on coral reefs over thousands of years.

The Devil's Bridge history is not one of the happiest. It is said to be one of the places where African slaves would go to commit suicide in the final attempt to escape the horrors of slavery. The arch was named "Devil's Bridge" because people at the time believed that the devil lived there, and it was known that anyone who fell off the bridge would never get out alive.

Today, the waves of the Atlantic Ocean continue to crash against these limestone rocks and create a beautiful natural show by spraying water through geysers and blowholes.

Devil's Bridge is located on the east coast of Antigua, in the Saint Philip district.

Admission is free and there is a car park just a few steps from the coast.

Boat tours and snorkelling

Yeah I know, this trip isn't exactly cheap. But if you have time and budget, believe me, a snorkelling and a boat tour of the surrounding islands is one of the top things to do in Antigua and Barbuda!

There is plenty of opportunities when it comes to snorkelling and boat tours, the best rated are:

  1. Snorkel and Lobster Lunch Cruise to Bird and Maiden Island: this is a 6 hours cruise that will take you snorkelling on a coral reef and then to the secluded Bird and Maiden islands. A freshly prepared lobster lunch + alcoholic drinks are included in the price, as well as a short walk with a guide to the top of Bird island for scenic views.

Here you can book your snorkelling and lobster lunch cruise to Bird and Maiden islands.

  1. Turtle Beach Power Snorkeling Adventure: this is a 2 hours snorkelling tour on a sea scooter. The guide will take you to the best places for marine life viewing, in the waters at Freeman's Bay and then to the Pillars of Hercules. You'll see turtles, rays, crabs, and shipwrecks. Snorkelling equipment, drinking water, and pick up and drop off are included in the price.

Please note: you can choose between the tour with hotel pick up and the tour without pick up, which is slightly cheaper.

Book here your Turtle Beach Power Snorkeling Adventure.

Book here your Turtle Beach Power Snorkeling Adventure - without pickup.

  1. Adventure Antigua - Eli's Original Eco Tour: this is a 6 hours educational boat tour. You'll learn about Antigua's ecosystems, swim and snorkel, watch birds, visit the turtle conservation project, and learn about the mangrove system. Lunch, snacks, drinks and snorkelling equipment are included in the price.

Check here the prices and availability for the Adventure Antigua - Eli's Original Eco Tour

Day-pass for a Luxury Resort

Let's say that you're on a budget, so you booked a small apartment away from the beach. But you keep dreaming of an all-inclusive, luxury Resort. What if I told you that in Antigua and Barbuda you can buy a day pass for one of these Resorts?

Some of the Resorts, when they're not fully booked, sell last-minute day passes. Depending on the hotel policies and availability, with this pass you can: dine at the restaurant, use the pool, have a sunbed and umbrella on the beach, go all you can drink, use the gym, do some water sports and feel just like you are one of the guests (without a room).

Some of the Resorts that offer day passes are:

Sounds tempting? Just email your chosen Resort to check the availability!

Watch a cricket game

The game of cricket in Antigua and Barbuda is like football for the Italians: a religion, more than just a sport. Although it was imported by the British, cricket soon won the hearts of the Antiguans who consider it one of their main passions.

Cricket is played often and everywhere, even on the beach, but official matches tend to occur on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The cricket season lasts from January to July, with regional and international matches taking place during most seasons.

Antigua has 3 cricket pitches, one right outside the airport.

If this sport intrigues you, whether you are a fan or not, watching a cricket match in Antigua might be a good idea to spend a different day and witness the excitement, energy and fun involving Antiguans during the match season.

Picture: West Indies VS England at Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium

That's all for now, I hope I gave you enough ideas about what you can do in Antigua and Barbuda after the beach!

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

If you have any questions or doubts, or if you know other things to do that you recommend for my next trip to Antigua and Barbuda, feel free to drop me an email at:

See you soon!

firma di Flavia Iarlori
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