7 unmissable beaches across Antigua & Barbuda
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The famous boast of the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is that it has 365 beaches, one for every day of the year.
I have yet to meet a local who can verify this fact because everyone has their own favourites; the beaches they return to time and again at weekends and public holidays, beaches so lovely they have little motivation to seek out another, let alone 364 others.
Antigua* is the largest of the two islands and is characterised by lush green hills and palm-fringed bays, while the low-lying reef island of Barbuda, some 42 km to the north and a short 15-min plane ride or 90-minute ferry ride away, is its smaller sister. Here's our pick of the best beaches across the islands.
Getting there: why not base yourself at a luxurious, all-inclusive resort? Don't miss the latest deals on breaks to Sandals Grande Antigua* today.
Pigeon Point Beach, Antigua
- Best for: picnicking
This corker of a beach recently featured in an episode of BBC's The Apprentice, where contestants bemoaned how quiet it was as they were trying to sell tickets to a tour.
Of course, this peace is just what helps to make it a quintessential Caribbean beach, and one that's loved by locals at the weekend, too.
Location-wise, it overlooks the goings-on in Falmouth Harbour and sits about a five-minute drive from the 18th-century nautical complex of Nelson's Dockyard, one of Antigua's must-see sights.
Lay your towel in the shade of one of the sea grape or palm trees that line the shore and swim or snorkel in the calm sea with views of bobbing yachts in the bay.
There are picnic tables with thatched parasols so you won't get sand in your sarnies and a little playground will keep any children entertained while you tuck into lunch.
Dickenson Bay Beach, Antigua
- Best for: bars and restaurants
To the northwest of the island in the parish of St John, Dickenson Bay Beach is easily accessible and one of the most lively in Antigua.
The shore is lined with bars and restaurants and it's also where you'll find the luxe Sandals Grande Antigua* resort - ask a taxi driver to head there if you want to arrive at the best stretch of beach.
For lunch with your toes in the sand, head to Ana's on the Beach, a pink-painted restaurant that also houses a gallery and rents out cabanas.
The international menu includes a fine seafood risotto and Mexican tacos and they'll mix you an Aperol Spritz if you want to take a break from the mojitos.
Darkwood Beach, Antigua
- Best for: water parks
This popular beach is close to the road with a backdrop of tropical hills and is one of the longest stretches of sand on the island.
The Swash Water Park is an inflatable obstacle course in the sea with slippery slides and floats that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
You can hire a parasol and lounger for a few dollars to provide welcome shade from the midday sun. On a clear day, you can see the neighbouring island of Montserrat on the horizon. If you get hungry, the Darkwood Beach Bar & Restaurant is known for its delicious conch fritters.
Rendezvous Bay, Antigua
- Best for: privacy
You can't drive to Rendezvous Bay, which is probably the main reason that this stunning stretch of white sand is so often empty of tourists or locals.
Instead, you have to take a 30 or 40-minute trek to the beach through green scrubland, parking your car at the road near Spring Hill Riding Stables.
Alternatively, you can take a guided walk from Wallings Nature Reserve. You'll have earned yourself a dip in the still Caribbean Sea when you finally get your toes in the sand.
Green Island Beach, Antigua
- Best for: snorkelling
This small island off the east coast of Antigua is a favourite for snorkel trips. You can only get to Green Island Beach by boat.
If you're not in the market to charter your own yacht, then Tropical Adventures Antigua runs a day-long catamaran trip that you can get from the harbour in St John's or pick up from the beach at Dickenson Bay.
This beach is the lunch stop from where you can take a 45-minute snorkel trip along the reef that runs close to the sand, with the hope of spotting the occasional turtle among the colourful tropical fish.
Half Moon Bay, Antigua
- Best for: water sports
This perfect arc of pink-tinged white sand on the Atlantic coast on Antigua's east side often makes lists of the "best beaches in the Caribbean". The pale colour of the sand contrasts with the vibrant blue sea, making most photos you take here screensaver-worthy.
A reef just offshore shelters the bay from the full force of the Atlantic, although it's still a popular spot for windsurfing, kitesurfing and bodysurfing in the south and for snorkelling in the calmer waters to the north. Take a walk around the headland for fantastic views across to Smith Island.
Pink Sand Beach, Barbuda
- Best for: photographs
For stunning rose-tinted beach pictures, head to Barbuda for a day trip, where you'll find the often-deserted Pink Sand Beach with sand the colour of Provençal rosé wine and sea the colour of bubble gum ice cream.
The beach has few provisions and you'll need to bring your own snorkel to explore the reef just off its shores.
It is perhaps better to go as part of a guided day trip that will include lunch and a snorkel and a visit to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary on the northwest of the island, which is among the best places in the world to see these birds with a colony of more than 5,000.
There are several rival operators to choose from at St John's Harbour or see if your resort offers an excursion.
Weather in Antigua and Barbuda
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The above guide shows the weather in St John's. Find out more about conditions across the island nation in our complete guide to the weather in Antigua and Barbuda.
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