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Have you ever traveled to a new destination and wanted to see more than just the resort? If you are visiting the beautiful island of Antigua in the Caribbean, here is how you can see the island by air, land, and sea!
With Antigua having 95 miles of breathtaking coastline, a great way to familiarize yourself with the island is a helicopter tour with CalvinAir. The full island tour takes about half an hour, and at the time of publishing this post, the tour costs $200 per person. There is an option for a half island tour for $120 per person. I feel like the time flew by (literally, haha) on the full island tour, so go for the full tour if possible!
Your pilot will fly you around the island in a comfortable 6 seater helicopter. You will have headsets where you can hear each other and talk to everyone throughout the flight. Our pilot, Mark, was informative and was great about pointing out the highlights to us.
I was speechless at several parts of the flight and other times I kept saying “WOW” repeatedly. It’s truly amazing to see the beauty God created!
Next, get your hiking shoes out (we just wore our everyday tennis shoes and were just fine) for a tour of the island on foot! Adventurous Hikes & Tours offers two walking tours – the Pillars of Hercules tour and Mount Obama tour. The Pillars of Hercules is a MUST see, so go for that tour! At the time of publishing, tours start at $95 per person.
Your tour guides from Adventurous Hikes & Tours will pick you up from your resort in an air conditioned van and drive you to the trailhead. After the bus ride, you’ll spend the next three hours hiking. The hike is mostly an easy one, with a short moderately challenging portion.
We were picked up from Sandals Grande Antigua around 7:30am, which was on the far North side of the island, and the trail started on the Southern end of the island. Our bus ride took about 45 minutes.
For the Pillar of Hercules tour, you will start with a moderately challenging climb on the Lookout Trail up to Shirley Heights. When you get to the top of the trail, you have gorgeous views of English Harbour. After a break, you will slowly make your way down to sea level. The Pillars of Hercules are on the coastline at sea level and are made out of limestone rock. It’s something you have to see in person; the pictures don’t do it justice.
Our tour guides, Rodney and Val, were amazing! Not only were they kind and super knowledgeable about the island (they’re locals!), but they were also funny! We love a guide with a sense of humor. They taught us about the history of Antigua and Barbuda, the current culture, and about the different plants we encountered on our hike.
Rodney and Val checked in on our group of six many times throughout the hike. They carried drinks for us, slowed down when anyone needed a break, and took pictures for everyone.
To finish out your island tour of Antigua, hire a private boat charter through CocoVibes Tours! Captain George will pick you up by boat from your resort (or they can arrange for other pickups if you aren’t staying on the water). Then, the day is customized to you! Options range from a two hour boat charter (starting at $300 per person) up to a full day (starting at $900 per person).
With Captain George being a local, he can show you the best fishing spots, unique places to explore, most beautiful spots to snorkel, hidden beaches, or you can just cruise around the island with the music blaring. With Antigua being home to 365 beaches, you will have plenty of options!
We started the morning with a stop at Prickly Pear Island. We spent some time looking at the beautiful celebrity homes on Jumby Bay Island, which is rumored to be the spot of one of Oprah’s holiday homes. Captain George drove around for a good 15 minutes to find a starfish for me to see! We drank delicious rum punch, and finished our time on Maiden Island.
We went out on the water once more on our vacation on a snorkel tour through our resort. Sandals resorts are all-inclusive resorts which not only includes all food, beverages, and mini bar items, but also activities. Like SCUBA diving, snorkeling is one of the included activities Sandals offers.
Sandals provides afternoon snorkel trips everyday. We visited Paradise Reef, which was just off shore about 10 minutes.
Antigua Travel Information
Antigua is an island located in the Caribbean and boasts 365 beaches! Surrounded by coral reefs and white sandy beaches, the island is a beach-lovers paradise. The island is about 100 square miles, so you can easily see all of the island on your visit. Activities and tours are abundant on the island – from horseback riding on the beach, to food tours, zip lining, swimming with stingrays, and so much more.
How to Get to Antigua
Direct flights to Antigua originate from Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, New York, and Newark. We flew from Dallas to Miami, which was three hours flight time, had a short layover in Miami, and then just under three hours flight to Antigua.
What to Pack
- Insect repellent – in the evening mosquitos may come out, so wear loose fitting long sleeves and/or use insect repellent if you are going outdoors
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Light weight jacket – we visited in April, which can be windy, so a light weight jacket might be needed after the sun sets
- Beach gear – sunnies, hats, swim suits, cover-ups, beach bag, water shoes
- Sundresses, light weight shirts, and shorts
When to Visit Antigua
Antigua enjoys a warm tropical climate year round. We visited in April, one of the best months to visit, with warm temperatures in the 80s, a bit of wind, and little rain. May and June are warm and right before Antigua’s wet season (starting towards the end of June through November), so it’s not that humid in these months. August is the most humid month with the highest rainfall and warmest temperatures. Even if you visit during the wet season, it most likely will only rain for a short time and the sun will still come out.
What not to Pack
- Camouflage clothing items – It is illegal to wear this type of clothing in Antigua. I was stopped at the airport by customs and asked to change out of my camo pants. In Antigua, camo is reserved for the military and you can be fined for wearing it! The customs officer was very kind about the situation, as he said incoming tourists wear camo often. He said if we were going straight to our resort, I could tie a jacket around my waist to cover up some of the camo pants and change at the resort.
- Excessive cash – most places take credit cards, so leave the extra cash at home. Bring enough for tipping your tour guides and hotel staff. The US Dollar is excepted in Antigua, so you won’t need to convert any to the Eastern Caribbean dollar.
Where to Stay
We have stayed at several Sandals all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, which is why we chose to stay at Sandals Grande Antigua. As with all of our stays at Sandals properties, the service was excellent and the food was delicious. There’s a reason we keep going back to Sandals again and again!