If you live in a part of the world with dreary winter weather, you may consider visiting Antigua and Barbuda, a sun-soaked Caribbean paradise. It can be easily reached from Europe and the USA, so you should not hesitate to afford some sunny days to you and your family, quality time for kids on amazing beaches with water sports and plenty of other activities.
PLACES TO VISIT
The resort destination of Dickenson Bay with calm seas and silvery sandy beaches have much to offer to visitors. During the night, the beachfront becomes the scene of a particularly exciting life featuring plenty of restaurants and bars. This is probably the liveliest side of Antigua.
Nelson's Dockyard, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that belongs to the Nelson's Dockyard National Park is a marina fully restored to the original glory. The exquisite beauty of the harbor is spotted with hotels and shops.
Named after Admiral Nelson, Nelson's Dockyard houses the Dockyard Museum in the Admiral's former house.
Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre, also a part of Nelson's Dockyard National Park is a place where some of the most exciting Antigua's events take place - Antigua Sailing Week and the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting.
Falmouth Harbor not far from English Harbor is a natural horseshoe-shaped harbor. Many superyachts rock on soft waves there. Besides the great views, you can dine in many of the restaurants around the harbor.
Although less popular among tourists than Antigua, you shouldn't miss Barbuda's magnificent beaches - Coco Point, a pink coral beach often regarded as the most stunning Caribbean beach, Princess Diana Beach, Pink Sand Beach and many more. The island houses Frigate Bird Sanctuary, shelter to one of the largest magnificent frigate bird colonies in the world.
At Two Foot Bay, about 143 feet above sea level stand the caves that crawl underground for about a mile, with ancient petroglyphs cut by Arawak Indians amidst the stalagmites and stalactites.
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA FOR FAMILIES
Antigua and Barbuda are particularly family-friendly destinations. Powdered Formula and nappies at the supermarkets, baby equipment rental agencies, kid-friendly dishes with high chairs at restaurants make it perfectly suitable even for babies.
One of the best adventures for your children is Fig Tree Drive – a winding road that will take you to the genuine Antigua. You will see tiny villages in pretty colors, tropical fruits including mango, banana, and coconut. You will drive through lush rainforests and see Mount Obama and crystal-clear seawater. Your kids will adore Darkwood Beach, that is great for families.
South of Jolly Harbor, you should visit Valley Church Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the island. The soft sand and clear sea waters is another challenge for your kids.
What can be more attractive for kids than playing with animals? Take them to Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary, where they will enjoy petting the donkeys and learn about how volunteers care for the gentle and intelligent animals.
Visit Long Bay Beach, a paradise for kids and parents alike. While adults can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs, kids can play at the powder-soft sand and in the calm water. They can begin learning snorkeling and explore a set of reefs not far from the beach.
Don't miss the opportunity to reach Shirley Heights. You will have a great view of the luxurious English Harbor below. There are ruins of a colonial-era fort which you can explore together, but what kids will enjoy most is a Sunday evening celebration with steel drum band, tasty barbecue and the sunset over the ocean.
At Antigua and Barbuda, you can easily find a hotel that will provide all your family needs: family suites and family rooms, kids clubs, childcare, organized activities for kids, small pools for children, outdoor playgrounds, sand toys, and different sports. Many hotels in Antigua offer all-inclusive options, a great choice for family vacations.
WHAT TO EAT
In Antigua and Barbuda, you will be offered the choice of food typical for the Caribbean islands: plenty of fish and the local specialties like Fungie (cornmeal similar to Italian Polenta).
You will also have an opportunity to try Pepperpot (vegetable stew with meat), Roti (patties filled with potatoes, chicken or beef), Ducana (steamed sweet potatoes mixed with coconut, sugar, and spices).
For dessert, you can try Tamarind balls (candy made from tamarind), Antigua Black Pineapple, and Johnny Cakes (a kind of doughnut).
You can also sip Ting (a sparkling grapefruit drink), Waddadli (light local lager), or freshly squeezed fruit juice.
• Tap water is often used for ice cubs, but it is still better to drink bottled water. Local water has ingredients different from the ones you are used to and can cause an upset stomach.
• There are two types of the dollar, the Caribbean and the USA dollar, and both use the same symbol $. You should always check which one you are expected to pay.
• Everyone speaks English. It is the official language on Antigua and Barbuda. However, locals might speak Antiguan Creole English that you may have difficulty to understand.
• Plastic bags are no longer available on Antigua and Barbuda, so you can take a few if you think you will need them.
• Renting a car is the best way to see the genuine life on the islands. The resorts are always adapted to what tourist need.
• You drive on the left side in Antigua.
TIME TO VISIT
If you are seeking cheaper accommodation, the time from May to November is the best. It is off-season and hurricanes could indeed hit the island, but they are not usually very strong. If you want to avoid the danger, visit Antigua between December and April and stay safe, but pay more.
You can get to the islands by plane to the VC Bird International Airport or by the sea with Barbuda Express Service.
To get around the islands, you can use buses (public and privately run services) and taxis. Taxis are reliable. You can also rent a car, which is a great way to explore the islands. However, keep in mind that the roads are steep, unpaved, winding, and with potholes, which makes driving rather difficult.
Charming weather, delicious food, and plenty of fruit, warm seawater with magnificent beaches – can any place be better for a family vacation? Get ready for your next adventure, in Antigua and Barbuda.