In Antigua there are 365 beautiful beaches, some of them reachable only with a four-wheel drive vehicle or by boat, but many more accessible and visible from the road. This way you will be able to change scenario every day of your vacation and be constantly stunned by the wonderful views the island of Antigua has to offer you. Offshore, coral reefs offer underwater forests of fish and other sea creatures for divers, while winds blow constantly off the east coast for the sailing lovers. The western bays provide year-around bathing in clear, calm waters.
Barbuda, Antigua's sister island, is a flat coral island with an area of approximately 68 square miles. It is situated 30 miles due north of Antigua and can be reached in 20 minutes by plane or 2 hours by ferry. Barbuda has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, all deserted, with white sand that often appears pink in some areas due to broken minute seashells within the sand. Barbuda is an island of beaches: the most beautiful rans from Palmetto point to Cedar Tree Point, a 30 km of white sand beach. A must visit is the Barbuda's Frigate Bird Sanctuary located in the north-west lagoon area inside the mangrove bushes, it is the largest nesting colony in the Caribbean and it is only accessible by boat.
WHAT TO SEE IN ANTIGUA
Nelson's Dockyard– English Harbour – Constructed in 1725, it was the headquarter of the British Leeward islands fleet during the late eighteenth until mid-nineteenth centuries.
Shirley Heights– English Harbour – Fortified in the late eighteenth century, it was used as a military lookout and cannons are still in place. It offers breathtaking views over English Harbour, and on Sunday afternoons you can dance to the rhythms of steel band and live reggae music while enjoying freshly BBQ lobster.
Betty's Hope – Located in the limestone district of Pares Village on the east of Antigua, this is one of the earliest sugar plantations, dating to 1651.
Devil's Bridge – Situated at the north-eastern point of Antigua, it is a natural arch carved by the sea from soft and hard limestone ledges of the Antigua formation.
Museum of Antigua and Barbuda – St. John's – Situated in the old Courthouse of 1749, it tells the story of Antigua and Barbuda from its geological birth through the present day, interpreting the history and heritage of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
Public Market – St. John's – The market is easily identified by the imposing sculpture of V.C. Bird, the Founder of the Nation. The market provides an extensive and attractive covered outlet for the abundance of Caribbean fruit and vegetables.
Heritage Quay & Redcliffe Quay - St. John's - Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay extends along a wide deck where the cruise ship pier, they offer a wide variety of duty-free shops from designer clothing and jewellery, to local art and craft. Redcliffe Quay once formed the heart of Antigua's sugar trade with 17th century Europe.
Fort James – Built around 1703, when St. John's became larger than Falmouth and Parham, the northern entrance of St. John's Harbour was fortified
Fig Tree Drive – Fig is the Antiguan name for bananas. This is the best drive in Antigua: the street is filled with lots of tropical trees such as guava, mangoes, coconuts. On this road you can also see the Antigua pineapple farm.
Antigua's Neighbouring Islands – Antigua's neighbouring islands are seen during many of the day-trip cruise boats. These beautiful islands are: Bird Island, a secluded island located north-east of Antigua about 20 acres, Guiana Island has a marvellous white sandy beach, Green Island, just off the east coast of Antigua, offers pristine white sandy beaches. Prickly Pear just off the Hodges Bay area, Rabbit Island is home to breeding colonies of pelicans, Hell's Gate Island has a coral/limestone bridge formed by the elements over many years, Redonda and Long Island.
Weather: Antigua and Barbuda is warm all year round; visitors are able to bask in sunny weather whenever they like. Antigua is a year-round destination as temperatures do not vary that much throughout the year, generally between 24 and 30 degrees in the daytime. In the night temperatures are between 20 degrees in winter and 27 degrees in summer. The trade winds, a constant easterly sea breeze, are on tap to relieve the heat. The rainy season involves afternoon showers, that come and go fast. The hurricane season extends from July to November. The last hurricane that hit Antigua was in 1999.
Currency: Antigua & Barbuda use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$ or XCD). The EC Dollar rate is fixed to the US dollar at an average of US$1 to EC$2.6882. It is advisable to verify exchange rates prior to your trip. US dollars, major credit cards and travelers' cheques are also accepted everywhere on the islands.
Money, Exchange, Banks: Although the local currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollars, the US Dollar is accepted everywhere. The rate is fixed to US$1=EC$2.6882. Major credit cards, such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in many places. US Dollars and Pound Sterling travelers'cheques are readily accepted, Euro travelers cheques are not widely accepted. There are banks located in St. John's, Woods Shopping Mall, VC Bird International Airport, Nelson's Dockyard, Jolly Harbour Marina and they are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm.
Driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Antigua & Barbuda.
Language: The official language of Antigua & Barbuda is English, although locals speak a dialect that can be very difficult to understand. Some locals may also find your English very difficult to understand.
Cell Phones: Many tri-band phones work in Antigua – check before coming if your cell operator has an agreement with any of the providers in Antigua – Cable and Wireless, A.P.U.A., P.C.S. or Digicel. If you plan to make a lot of local calls or spend a significant amount of time in Antigua it may be worth getting a pay-as-you-go deal here. As long as your phone is unlocked (EC$50 to unlock locally) you will be able to get a SIM card and local telephone number. You can then buy phone cards locally to top up your phone.
Emergency numbers: To contact the Police Department, Fire Department or Ambulance Service, dial 911 or 999.
Entry requirements: To enter in Antigua and Barbuda all that is required is: a valid passport, a return ticket, a confirmation of accommodation and sufficient funds for the duration of the stay. Nationals of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries (except Bangladesh, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka), Other EU Coutries (except nationals of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Latvia and the Slovak Republic), USA, Canada, Australia & Japan do not require visas for stays of up to 3 months. If you will need a visa check out the latest information on this link including requirements and payments at the ufficial Antigua Immigation website.
Time zone: Antigua is on Atlantic Standard Time, one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone in the USA when it observes Daylight Savings (Antigua does not).
Duty Free Allowances: The duty free allowance is: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, 1 liter of wine or spirit, 170ml perfume. Duty free Shopping is available in stores in St. John's in the Heritage Quay Shopping centre and Redcliffe Quay. In order to be eligible to buy duty free goods the purchaser must show a valid confirmed airline ticket and picture ID.
Locally Made Souvenirs: Locally-made souvenirs to take home include: Antigua rums, produced by Antigua Distillery are the English Harbour Light Rum and English Harbour Five years old Rum. Susie's Hot Sauce in a variety of flavours which the products are shipped all over the world. The Original Hot Sauce is still the most popular and it has also won awards in the United States. Little books by Antiguan designer Gilly Gobinet, long known for her colourful prints and cards. Some of the series are 'Caribbean Cocktails', 'Caribbean Cookery', 'The top 20 places in Antigua'.
Shopping Hours: Normal shopping hours are Monday - Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
Payment: Most stores accept both EC$ and US$ and major credit cards are generally accepted in Redcliffe and Heritage Quay shopping areas.
Supermarkets: There are large supermarkets near to Woods Mall and Jolly Harbour. The fruit and vegetable market opens daily except Sundays.
Post Offices: There are 4 post offices on island: at the airport, on High Street in St. John's, Wood Shopping Mall and inside the Nelson's Dockyard. Courier services such as DHL and Federal Express are available.
Antigua Tourist Information:
Antigua and Barbuda
Department of Tourism
Corner of Nevis Street & Friendly Alley
P.O. Box 363
St John's, Antigua W.I.
There is a British Government Representative in Antigua and consulates or embassies for Venezuela, China, Italy, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Germany and others:
British Consular Agent - 764-4653 (Old Parham Road)
Embassies of the People's Republic of China - 462-1125 (Marble Hill)
Consulate of Colombia - 560-4622
Consulate of Denmark - 480-3070
Consulate of France - 460-6428 (Rowan Henry St.)
Consulate of Germany - 462-3174 (Hodges Bay)
Consulate of Italy - 460-1543 (English Harbour)
Honorary Consul of Jamaica - 462-6439
Consulate of Norway - 462-0858 (Frances Trading)
Consulate of Netherlands - 481-1851 (Gomez Insurance)
Swiss, Consular Agency - 462-8975 (Woods Centre)
U.S. Consular Agent - 462-8975 (Woods Centre)
Venezuelan Embassy - 462-1574 (Jasmine Court, Friars Hill Road)
Customs: It is very customary to greet the people you meet. Failure to greet people on entering an office or shop may result in very slow service. Antiguans are very religious and they have a conservative attitude toward dressing. It is not appropriate to walk in the city in bathing suits. Topless sunbathing is not acceptable. The only nudist beach on the island is at the Hawksbill Resort, close to Galley Bay, the 4th beach away from the hotel.
Adelin Clinic (Private) - Fort Road, St. John's - 462-0866 / 7
Emergency medical services call 999, 911 or 562-2433
Mount St. John's Hospital - St. John's Antigua Tel: (268) 484-2700.
Pharmacies: They are concentrated in the city of St. John's and most open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Ceco Pharmacy, located on High Street, is open 7 days a week from 8:15am to midnight. Other pharmacies are at Woods shopping centre and Jolly Harbour.
Vaccinations: No vaccinations are required unless the visitor is arriving from an endemic area. Click to the World Health Organization website for more information .
Accommodation Prices: Accommodations charge higher rates on high season, from the end of November to the end of April. Christmas, Sailing Week and Carnival have even higher rates.
Coming to Antigua: A list of airlines flying to Antigua contacts:
American Airline - 462-0950 - www.aa.com
Air Canada - 462-1147 - www.aircanada.ca
British Airways - 462-0876 - www.britishairways.com
Virgin Atlantic - 560-2079/562-4148 - www.virgin-atlantic.com
US Airways - 800-622-1015
Continental - 462-5355 - www.continental.com
GETTING MARRIED IN ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Antigua and Barbuda are considered the perfect places for romance to flourish, whether for a destination wedding, renewal of vows or honeymoon. More couples each year are making Antigua their preferred, top wedding and honeymoon destination.
Imagine the romance to getting married barefoot on the beach!
To help you organize all aspect of your wedding you can hire a professional wedding designer agency that will take care of everything you may need. Below is a list of professional wedding planning companies which offer customized services to create a tailored proposal according to your preferences.
Procedures to be married in Antigua and Barbuda
The ceremony is held by the registrar between 6am and 8pm. Two witnesses must be present. You can be married in the court house or elsewhere for a small additional cost. It is also possible to have a traditional church service although this will take a little longer as you will need authorization from the local ecclesiastical authorities who might require you to attend a short prenuptial course. Weddings on the island are legally valid and all documents produced must the originals in the correct name.
Documents needed to obtain a marriage license
Proof of status: Single: a declaration signed in Antigua / Divorces: Original divorce decree / Widowed: original marriage and death certificates
Application form completed at the Ministry of Justice
Fees: Registration fee $40 (paid at the court house located on the corner of High and Temple Streets) / Application fee $150 / Marriage officer's fee $50
Legal Requirements: Both parties must be over 15. If under age 18, written authorization from parents or guardians is required. All the documents presented must be original or certified original by the issuing departments and offices, in the legal name and provide affidavits in cases where the bride or groom is known by another name.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs is pen Monday to Thursday from 8.30am to 4.30 pm and on Fridays from 8am to 3pm.