Latest News from Antigua and Barbuda

LOCATION/SIZE Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea at 17 degrees 5’ north and longitude 61 degrees 45’. The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua is a 108-square mile limestone and coral island recognized for its numerous coves, bays, 365 white sand beaches and clear turquoise-colored waters. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts and St. Martin/Maarten. The sister island of Barbuda (Bar-byew’ da) lies 27 miles northeast of Antigua with a land area of 62 square miles.
CAPITAL The capital of Antigua is St. John’s with two distinctive waterfront areas and a selection of shops and restaurants.
CLIMATE Sunny and warm all year with soothing trade winds, the average temperature ranges from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the eastern Caribbean islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September.
LANGUAGE English is the spoken language. 
POPULATION A majority of the 80,100 people (2004 Census) residing on Antigua are of African descent, the remainder being of British, Lebanese, Syrian, Chinese and Portuguese origin.
HISTORY Antigua was named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 in homage to Santa Maria de la Antigua, the miracle-working saint of Seville, Spain. In 1632, Antigua was permanently settled as a colony by the British. The arrival of Sir Christopher Codrington began the sugar era for the island with more than 150 cane-processing windmills—each the focal point of a sizeable plantation. By the end of the eighteenth century, Antigua had become an important strategic port as well as a valuable commercial colony. Known as the "gateway to the Caribbean," it was situated in a position that offered control over the major sailing routes to and from the region's rich island colonies. Most of the island's historical sites, from its many ruined fortification, to the impeccably-restored architecture of English Harbourtown, are reminders of colonial efforts to ensure its safety from invasion.

Horatio Nelson arrived in 1784 to develop the British naval facilities at English Harbour and to enforce stringent commercial shipping laws. The first of these two tasks resulted in construction of Nelson's Dockyard, one of Antigua's finest physical assets. Serving under Nelson at the time was the future King William IV, for whom the more pleasant accommodation of Clarence House was built. It was during William's reign, in 1834, that Britain abolished slavery in the empire.

As the sugar industry of the British islands began to dissolve, the island turned towards the development of tourism. In 1967, under the leadership of V.C. Bird, with Barbuda and the tiny island of Redonda as dependencies, Antigua became an associated state of the Commonwealth, and in 1981 it achieved full independent status.

There are direct flights and connections from North America via San Juan, Montserrat and St. Maarten (and several weekly flights from Europe) provided by Air Canada, Air Montserrat, American Airlines, BWIA, Continental Airlines, Delta, LIAT and US Air. Scheduled and charter service is available to many of the neighboring islands. Flying times: New York--4 hrs.; Miami--3 hrs.; Baltimore--4 hrs.; Toronto--4 hrs.; Puerto Rico--1 hr.; London--8 hrs.; Frankfurt--9 1/4 hrs.; Paris--8 hrs. V.C. Bird International Airport, located on the northeast corner of Antigua, is the point of entry for visitors arriving by air. There is a $20 airport departure tax for stay-over visitors.

Cruise ship ports are located in St. John's Harbour and Heritage Quay.
Private boaters can enter at St. John's Harbour, English Harbour or the St. James' Club or Crabbs Marina.

Cruise lines with port-of-call in Antigua include Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruise Line, Cunard Line Limited, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Orient Lines, Princess Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises.

Renting a car is an ideal way for visitors to discover more of Antigua. The cost is about $40 to 50 per day. A valid driver's license and a $20 fee are required to obtain a permit to drive in Antigua. The rental agency will assist in securing this temporary license, which is valid for 90 days. Motorists drive on the left side of the street and should be alert for cows, goats and speed bumps along the roads. 

Taxis are available throughout Antigua. Fares between the airport, harbor, and many hotels and destinations are fixed and can be obtained upon arrival. Most fares are fixed rather than metered and should be decided upon prior to the trip. Taxi drivers are also qualified as tour guides for sightseeing trips. Tour rates can be obtained beforehand through hotels.


All visitors to Antigua and Barbuda must be in possession of an onward or round trip ticket.  Visitors from the United States need a valid passport.


Island accommodations range from comprehensive resort facilities and luxury hotels to smaller more intimate boutique guesthouses and cottages. With 60 hotels and over 3,000 rooms on the island, there is a property to suit every taste and budget.

Exclusive accommodations in Antigua are available at Blue Waters Beach Hotel, Carlisle Bay, Curtain Bluff, Coco Bay Resort, Coconut Beach Club, Galley Bay, Hermitage Bay and Jumby Bay Resort.

Premier accommodations in Antigua are available at Admirals Inn, Amaryllis Hotel Bar & Restaurant, Antigua Village Condo Beach Resort, Coco’s Antigua, City View Hotel, Copper and Lumber Store Hotel, Dian Bay Resort & Spa, Dickenson Bay
Cottages, St. James’s Club, Galleon Beach Club, Hawksbill Beach Resort, Harmony Hall, The Inn at English Harbour, Jolly Beach Resort, Long Bay Hotel, Occidental Grand Pineapple Beach, Rex Halcyon Cove, Rex Blue Heron, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, Sandpiper Reef Resort, Siboney Beach Club, Sunsail Club Colonna and Tradewinds Hotel.

Value accommodations in Antigua are available at Anchorage Inn, Antigua Beachcomber Hotel, Cappuccino Lounge, Catamaran Hotel, Cocos, Coral Sands, Cortsland Hotel, Country Inn Cottages, The Decagon @ Dry Hill, Dove Cove, Ellen Bay Cottages, Falmouth Beach Apartments, Lord Nelson Club, Pelican Isle, Royal Antiguan and Willowby Heights Guest Rooms.


Antigua’s rich history and spectacular topography provide a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities.  Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort commissioned by the British in 1755, is perhaps the most renowned landmark.  Other attractions include a historic overview of six periods of Antiguan history through a multimedia presentation at the Dow Interpretation Center.  Visitors may also enjoy a panoramic view of the Caribbean’s longest continuously operational port from Shirley Heights. Further evidence of the island’s historical roots is St. John’s Cathedral, visible from around the capital; it is regarded as one of Antigua’s national monuments. Betty’s Hope, which was built in 1674, is the site of one of the first full-scale sugar plantations on Antigua, and offers a chance to step back into time by visiting the restored mills.

Antigua is also recognized for its picturesque landscape and natural preserves. Explore the lush vegetation of the rainforest with an expedition down Fig Tree Drive.  Another unique attraction is Devil’s Bridge, located at the eastern tip of the island in Indian Town National Park, where Atlantic breakers have carved out a natural limestone arch.


There are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for every day of the year. The numerous reefs and coves combined with crystal-clear turquoise waters afford beachgoers the luxury of privacy and beauty.  The great majority of beaches rest inside the calm, protected waters of the island's Caribbean side. All are open to the public, and so the challenge posed to a visitor is simply how to decide on the beach that suits one's taste. Popular spots along the west coast of the island include Morris Bay, Galley Bay, Ffryes Bay, Darkwood Beach, Dickinson Bay and Turners Beach. The shoreline along the east side of the island includes Half Moon Bay, voted the number one beach by the Travel Channel, and Long Bay which offers great snorkeling opportunities.

DINING  Antigua expresses its culinary soul by giving voice to a variety of cuisine including native dishes, French, Italian, Creole, Caribbean, International and more.  Local seafood specialties include spiny lobster, fish, clams and conch.  Diners can select from more than 90 bars and restaurants.

Two charming shopping areas of Antigua are located in downtown St. John’s close to the waterfront at Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay.  As a duty-free zone, Antigua offers a selection of local arts and crafts, straw goods, pottery and jewelry as well as china, crystals, watches, perfumes, cameras and tobacco.  Most shops are open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.  On Friday and Saturday mornings the farmers market on the southern edge of the city has folk crafts, colorful tropical fruits, and a buzzing crowd that make for a lively morning.


A variety of land and sea activities await the adventure-seeker.  Water sports abound from sailing, boat cruising, water skiing, deep sea and reef fishing to scuba diving and snorkeling among the thriving coral reefs surrounding the island.

For land lovers, two 18-hole golf courses and professional tennis and squash courts are accessible and open to the public.  In addition, the island offers other popular recreational activities such as horseback riding, helicopter tours, hiking and eco-tours.  The Island also harbors a fierce devotion to the sport of Cricket, with the season running from January to July.


A relaxed nightlife includes entertainment by steel bands, calypsonians, jazz groups, limbo dancing and moonlit cruises at most major hotels.  For those seeking a more energetic nightlife, several nightclubs operate on the island, while three major casinos offer gaming.


As destination weddings become even more popular, many of the hotels on island offer special packages and wedding planners to help accommodate every desire. There is no waiting period or residency requirement to secure a marriage license, just begin by visiting the Ministry of Justice with a valid passport, complete the application and pay a $40 registration fee, $150 application fee and the Marriage Officer's fee of $50.

Once a date and time for the ceremony has been determined, the ceremony may be performed in the presence of a registrar or marriage officer and two witnesses.  All applicants must be over 18 years of age and if previously married, the original divorce decree or, in the case of a widow or widower, the original marriage and death certificates will need to be presented.


Although U.S. dollars are widely accepted on the island, the unit of currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$).  The exchange rate is approximately US$1 equals EC$2.70. Traveler’s checks and major credit cards are accepted and ATM’s are available around the island.


An 8.5 percent government tax is added to all hotel rates.  Most hotels and restaurants also add a 10 percent service charge in lieu of tipping.


Similar to that in the U.S.; 10-15 percent depending on the service. Some restaurants and hotels will automatically add a 10 percent gratuity. If in doubt, just ask. Porters and bellboys should receive 50 cents per bag and taxi drivers expect 10-15 percent of the fare.


Antigua is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round.  During the fall and winter, noon in New York equals 1 p.m. on the island.  During daylight saving time in the U.S., the hour is the same on the Eastern Seaboard as it is on the island.


Most hotels are wired as in the U.S. with 110 volts, 60 cycles; however, some run on 220 volts requiring the use of a converter.


Direct dialing to the U.S., Canada and most of the world is available on the island. To call Antigua, direct from the U.S., dial one plus the area code (268), then the seven-digit number. Internet access is also available at some hotels and cafes in St. John’s.

ATTIRE Informal, but conservative. Beach attire is not appropriate for town, shops or restaurants. Some hotels and restaurants stipulate jacket and tie for men and dresses for women in the evening.

An import permit must be obtained from the Chief Veterinary Officer before the importation of all animals. In order to obtain this permit, the intended animal must first be micro-chipped and its blood tested for Rabies Titer at an approved laboratory. The result of such tests must then be forwarded to: The Acting Chief Veterinary Officer at PO Box 1282, St. John’s, Antigua.


There are several general practitioners and specialists on the island, a hospital and a private clinic. No vaccinations are required unless the visitor is arriving from an endemic area. Recompression chambers are available by air ambulance at nearby Saba and in St. Thomas. Pharmaceutical services are widely available.


Marie Kephart                                    
(407) 838-1827                                  

Heather Keroes
(407) 838-1704


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