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Antigua is a classic Caribbean destination, lined with superb, soft, white, palm fringed beaches and adored by sailors since the days of Horatio Nelson. Nelson's English Harbour is lively with sailors especially in the winter season. The best places to stay on Antigua tend also to be right on the island's best beaches. There are lots clustered along the west and north coasts, near Jolly Harbour or historic English Harbour in the South East.
If you're fascinated by Antigua's history, and especially the island's links with the British navy and Nelson, then you'll want to break from the perfect beaches and myriad of watersports on offer to visit Shirley Heights, an 18th Century fort perched on a hill (definitely go here on a Sunday afternoon/evening - they host a legendary BBQ with steel band and plenty of rum punch!), and Nelson's Dockyard, a beautifully restored Georgian era marina, once home to the British Royal Navy.
For local colour head into the capital, St. John on a Friday or Saturday for the public market.
If you're looking for an Antiguan hideaway try the breezy east coast, which is rockier, through there are still a number of pretty coves.
What not to miss:
- Explore the coral reefs on a snorkelling or scuba diving expidition.
- Visit museum and view the fortifications and working harbour at Nelson's Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Take a zip wire across the rain forest canopy.
- Unwind on the beautiful stretches of white sand beach.
As you can imagine the best places to stay in Antigua get booked up well ahead, so if you're travelling during peak dates, it's best to plan early!
For a special occasion
- Hermitage Bay just outside St. Johns is a lush, beachside resort - think direct beach access, day beds and outdoor rain showers. The excellent food - both European and Caribbean style - complimentary facilities (including snorkelling kit and Caribbean cooking lessons), and top notch luxury make this a perfect romantic hideaway.
- Jumby Bay has its own island, just off the coast. It offers contemporary, yet colourful rooms and suites, many with direct beach access. There's great local cuisine and a chic bar.
- Galley Bay is a relaxed, adults only, all-inclusive resort right on the beach. As well as the beach and a pool, there's also a lagoon, private plunge pools and an excellent spa. Romantic, quiet and idyllic.
- Curtain Bluff is a secluded, luxury all inclusive beach resort with Caribbean and Atlantic facing beaches. Contemporary rooms feature funky furniture, private terraces and big marble bathrooms.
For an island escape
- Nonsuch Bay on Antigua's eastern coast is a small modern beachfront hotel offering all sorts of watersports - including sailing lessons, keel boating, snorkelling and raft building.
- The Inn at English Harbour is another excellent beachfront hotel this time with a colonial feel and an Italian restaurant. And you're a stone's throw from Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley Heights.
- Sugar Ridge is on the western coast, built into the hillside with spectacular views and fragrant gardens. There's a good range of rooms, some of which have their own private plunge pools and terraces, and there are two excellent restaurants.
- The Hawksbill Hotel is a large hotel, but it is spread along four beaches, so it still feels quite private. As well as great facilities and large, comfortable rooms, this resort has an excellent seafood BBQ restaurant and a buzzy bar area.
For romantic getaways
- Keyonna Beach Resort is set on Turners Beach close to the amazing blue waters of Valley Church Bay. Rustic beach cabins are a perfect couples hideaway. No children permitted.
- Blue Waters has a great spot, right on the beach on Antigua's northern tip. It's got generous sized rooms, many with direct beach access or sea-facing balconies, and there's excellent watersports facilities.
- The Verandah Hotel is a family friendly all-inclusive right on the beach, with a tropical vibe, several fantastic Caribbean restaurants, and great watersports facilities.
- Dickenson Bay Cottages are a collection of 14 pleasant, self catering villas just outside St. Johns. Expect fun tropical decor, fragrant gardens and a laid-back atmosphere. Plus there's a beach nearby.
- The Anchorage Inn is north of St. Johns, just a couple of minutes from one of Antigua's nicest beaches. Here you'll find large, colourful, fun and friendly accommodation, with a reasonable price tag.
- If you want an easy resort choice close to English Harbour one of the best places to stay in Antigua is Carlisle Bay. This is a larger resort with direct beach access, a huge spa, tennis courts and a yoga space. There's a wide range of choice when it comes to dining and there are clubs for both younger children and teenagers.
- Admiral's Inn is also perfect if you're looking for a cheaper option. Rooms here start at just £89 per night and it's right in Nelson's Dockyard!
For an apartment or villa
- If you're travelling with family or a group of friends it may be a better option to book a villa or apartment. For a wide range of properties for all tastes and budgets we recommend you visit our online partner Booking.com.
- Fly to VC Bird International in Antigua which has good connections across the USA, Canada and Europe.
- The best time to visit is the winter season, between mid-December and mid-April when the weather has cooled off a little and its dry.
- If you plan to hire a car, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Antigua
Nonsuch Bay 42 rooms from £326Antigua
Contemporary beachfront hotel. Bedrooms have large French windows, wooden floors and ipod docks. All come with fully equipped kitchens and spacious living areas. Outdoor pool, private beach and spa. Great fresh international cuisine. Plethora of watersports available. Ideal for families.Families - Daytime kids club and creche is included for hotel guests. Babysitting can be arranged.Active Holiday - Specialises in sailing activities with dinghy and keelboats plus races and coursesSights nearby - Harmony Hall restaurant and art gallery (open seasonally) and Half Moon Bay beach.Sailing - Hotel has extensive fleet of sail boats and offers lessons from beginners to proRecommended by - Fodors
Blue Waters 67 rooms from £309Antigua
Splendid beachfront hotel. Enormous rooms feature Italian tiles, big beds and most with direct beach access or sea-facing balconies. Outdoor pool, tennis courts, spa and private beach area. Fresh, healthy cuisine in the choice of restaurants. A perfect stay for families.Families - Suites have plenty of space for the whole family, and cottages with kitchens are perfect for preparing pre-beach picnicsGreat walks - 1.5km route through the groundsSailing - Can be booked nearby.SpaRecommended by - Fodors
Sugar Ridge 60 rooms from £261Antigua
Stunning hillside hotel. The spacious rooms feature four-posters, private terraces and large bathrooms. Outdoor pool and some rooms with private plunge pools. Spa, gym and tropical gardens. Excellent local cuisine in the two restaurants. Secluded, intimate and lush.Hideaway - Super private ambience, with private terraces with day beds and plunge pools surrounded by tropical flowersRomantic Break - Four poster beds, breathtaking views, couples spa treatments and trips to local rum makersSights nearby - Nelson Dockyard and Shirley HeightsSailing - Set sail from Jolly Harbour marinaRecommended by - Kiwi Collection
Verandah Hotel 200 rooms from £453Antigua
Family friendly all inclusive hotel on the beach. Rooms have vaulted ceilings, bamboo furniture and big balconies. Outdoor pools, spa, tennis courts and vast gardens. Fantastic Caribbean cuisine in the choice of restaurants. Ideal for families and watersport adventurers.Active Holiday - Plethora of watersports available, as well as interesting boat trips with local marine expertsFamilies - Superb kids club, children's pool, tennis and family size suites with mini kitchensGreat walks - Hiking trails in the 30 acre groundsSights nearby - Devil’s BridgeRecommended by - Fodors
Hawksbill Hotel 111 rooms from £166Antigua
Charming hotel with four secluded private beaches. Large rooms have vaulted ceilings, hand painted tiles and big balconies. Outdoor pool, spa, tennis courts and gardens. Excellent seafood bbq cuisine, buzzy bar area. A great all inclusive choice for couples.Romantic Break - Four secluded beaches to choose from, snorkelling and sailing trips, quiet villas and large balconiesOn the beach - Four beaches including Antigua's only "clothing optional" beachSailing - Complimentary sailing excursionsViews - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Fodors
Galley Bay 98 rooms from £722Antigua
Relaxed adults-only, all inclusive hotel on the beach. The rooms have antiques, colourful artworks and wooden verandas. Outdoor pool, lagoon, private beach area, spa, tennis court and gym. Choice of sublime cuisine. Romantic, quiet and idyllic.Romantic Break - Enjoy the lagoon, private plunge pools, excellent spa and sounds of the surf from your elegant roomGreat walks - Three-quarter mile long beachfrontRestrictions on children - No children pleaseSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Fodors
Anchorage Inn 40 rooms from £88St Johns, Antigua
Relaxed family-run hotel just two minutes drive from some of Antigua's best beaches. Large rooms have colourful fabrics and balconies. Outdoor pool and spa treatments available. Breakfast is served in the sunny gardens. Casual, friendly, pretty and perfect for those on a budget.Families - Family-run hotel, and family friendly ambience with low key restaurants, and close to island's best beachesLocal markets - St John's is five minutes drive awaySwimming Pool - Outdoor poolSailing - Can be booked nearby.
Dickenson Bay Cottages 14 rooms from £76St Johns, Antigua
Pleasant self-catering villas near the St Johns. The rooms are spacious and filled with tropical prints, bamboo furniture and living areas. Outdoor pool, fragrant gardens and spa treatments available. Family friendly and laid back.Families - Villas with small kitchens are ideal family size, plenty of activities for allSailing - Boat available to explore other neighbouring islands, including our sister island of Barbuda, Montserrat, Bird IslandLocal markets - St John's market is nearbySights nearby - Just outside St John'sRecommended by - Fodors
Keyonna Beach Resort 20 rooms from £289Antigua
Set on Turners Beach close to the amazing blue waters of Valley Church Bay. Rustic beach cabins are a perfect couples hideaway. With no children permitted - the entire property lends itself to just that! There is a spa, all inclusive dining, outdoor pool (some cottages have their own). Charming.Romantic Break - Designed for getting away from it all - namely the kids!Honeymoons - Couples only resort popular amongst honeymoonersRestrictions on children - Children are not permitted at this hotelSwimming Pool - Outdoor pool
Jumby Bay from £806St Johns, Antigua
Sensational island resort. Rooms & villas are contemporary yet full of character with colourful prints, muslin draped four-posters and dark wood furniture. Outdoor pools, direct beach access, gym, tennis courts & spa. Superb fresh Antiguan cuisine; chic bar. Gorgeous, luxurious and family friendly.Families - Wide variety of activities for children, as well kid's club for snorkelling, learning about turtles and children's spaTotal relaxation - An island resort, meaning miles of beaches for your enjoyment, watersports, excellent spa and tennisAll inclusiveSights nearby - Monserrat volcano tourRecommended by - Fodors
Carlisle Bay 82 rooms from £487St Mary's, Antigua
Sublime beach resort close to English harbour. Rooms and suites feature silk furnishings, contemporary colours, hammocks and large bathrooms. Outdoor pool, direct beach access, spa, yoga space and tennis courts. Superb fresh cuisine in choice of restaurants; chilled bar areas. Effortless indulgence.Families - Clubs for both younger children and teenagers, cinema room, fishing trips and bicycle tours of the islandHoneymoons - Immersive spa, private boat charters, fine dining and indulgent interiors - what more could you wantDiving - A top spot for diving with manta rays and sea turtles - you can even get ceritifiedFishing - Deep sea fishing for marlin, king fish, wahoo and barracudaRecommended by - Fodors, Tablet, Kiwi Collection
Hermitage Bay 25 rooms from £797St Johns, Antigua
Splendid all inclusive beachside resort in lush gardens. Large rooms feature darkwood floors, shuttered windows, outdoor rain showers and day beds. Outdoor pool, private beach area, spa and gym. Excellent Caribbean and European cuisine, laid-back bars. Ideal for foodies or a classic beach holiday.Foodies - Caribbean cookery lessons and farm tour to see where the fresh produce is sourced on the islandTotal relaxation - Infinity pool, 16 acres of lush gardens, white beaches and sailing tripsCooking classes - Outdoor cookery lessons with Caribbean chef included in the priceSights nearby - Visit English Harbour and Nelson's DockyardRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Curtain Bluff 72 rooms from £606Antigua
Secluded, luxury all inclusive beach resort with Caribbean and Atlantic facing beaches. Contemporary rooms feature funky furniture, private terraces and big marble bathrooms. Outstanding facilities for tennis and watersports. Fantastic Italian and Caribbean cuisine. Peaceful, stunning and chic.Hideaway - Relatively secluded location, access to quiet white beaches and waterfront spaFishing - Deep sea fishing excursions (included in the room rate)Sailing - Cruises aboard the Sentio, a 50-foot sailing ketchCooking classes - Caribbean-cooking and wine-appreciation classesRecommended by - Fodors
The Inn at English Harbour 28 rooms from £379English Harbour
Excellent beachfront hotel. Charming rooms feature mahogany four poster beds, ipod docks and colonial style furniture. Tennis courts, heated outdoor pool, spa and gym. Superb Italian dishes at the restaurant, chic bar area. Elegant, exclusive and spacious.Romantic Break - Private terrace to take in the view of boats into the harbour, old fashioned style service and romantic ambienceSights nearby - A stone's throw from Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley HeightsRestrictions on children - Children over ten welcomeViews - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Frommers, Fodors, Mr & Mrs Smith, Small Luxury Hotels, Kiwi Collection
Admiral's Inn 19 rooms from £111Antigua
Characterful hotel by the harbour. The elegant rooms feature exposed beams, four-poster beds and wooden floors. Sun drenched terrace with large parasols overlooking Nelson's Dockyard, and charming restaurant serving local seafood. A wonderful spot to soak up the island's history & great for sailors.Sights nearby - Right inside Nelson's Dockyard. Close to Shirley Heights & St Paul's Anglican Church, the island's oldestViews - Most rooms have great views of Nelson's Dockyard and the baySailing - Several sailing events held annuallyDiving - Soul Immersion Diving CentreRecommended by - Fodors