There’s a long held belief that Antigua and Barbuda’s big island (Antigua) has enough beaches to visit a different one every day of the year – that’s right, 365 days of beaches. When planning our trip, I doubted this statistic. Only 12 miles wide, it seemed impossible that there could be so many beaches on the island. Well, seeing is believing. While we certainly didn’t visit all 365 beaches during our five day vacation in paradise, we did walk on 10 different beaches and saw dozens more from afar.
Antigua has several bays, coves, and inlets which protect most of the beaches from harsh atlantic surf. That’s not to say that Antigua lacks dramatic coast line. To the contrary, for every beach there was an equal stretch of rocky coast. Spots like Devil’s Bridge and the Pillars of Hercules prove as much. But the real star in Antigua are the beaches with crystal clear water and fine white/pink sands. Each beach is unique and offers different benefits. Here are a few of our favorites.
Best Overall Beach: Darkwood Beach
This was hands down our favorite beach on the island. At first, we only stopped because it was directly off the road (a negative in my book), but we stayed for the deep, soft sand, gentle waves, and quiet stretch of beach. It was a picturesque beach perfect for lounging all day in the sun. There’s one restaurant on the beach, but we never tried it out. Even though it’s right off the road, the beach was surprisingly quiet and had only a few visitors every time we were there. Not within walking distance of any hotels, this is the perfect place to get away.
Best Snorkeling: Pigeon Point Beach
Protected by the harbor, Pigeon Beach was the best water we were in for snorkeling because the water is still and clear with sea grass just 20 feet from the sandy shore. Home to several different kinds of colorful fish, we even spotted a stingray and a few flatfish hiding in the sand. The beach itself is small with several trees for shade. Most of the visitors were locals with a few tourists from neighboring hotels. There’s a highly talked about restaurant on the beach – Catherine’s Café Plage. We didn’t have a chance to eat there, but the online reviews are fabulous.
Best Beach Off the Beaten Path: Deep Bay Beach
We discovered this beach by accident as we made our way to nearby Fort Barrington. There was only one person there when we arrived, making the place seem tranquil. Signs nearby warn visitors to respect sea turtle nests, so if you’re lucky you might be able to spot a baby turtle making its way to the water. Nearby Fort Barrington – a short hike away – offers spectacular views. Getting here is a challenge – you have to take a one lane dirt/rocky road to a parking lot then walk through the jungle for about a quarter of a mile. Once you reach the beach though, you quickly realize it was totally worth it.
Best Activities Beach: Long Bay Beach
Near Devil’s Bridge – a very cool rocky coast with a naturally formed bridge – Long Bay Beach has it all – restaurants, shops, and water activities like tubes, water skis, and so much more. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas for a day on the beach. We ate at Mama’s Pasta, a cool little restaurant up several dozen steps from the beach. Several hotels and resorts are nearby, making this a popular beach. That doesn’t mean you can’t find your own little piece of solitude. The water is shallow with very few rocks and shells.
Honorable Mention: Turner’s Beach
A few resorts back right up to the beach and tour groups from cruises come here, but Turner’s Beach is a very long stretch of white sand beach perfect for a day of relaxing. There are a few restaurants right on the water as well as a place where beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented. We spotted a few people on jet skis, so a few water activities are available. Jacqui O’s is nearby and worth the walk for great food.
Honorable Mention: Morris Bay Beach
A portion of this beach is restricted to the Curtain Bluff Resort, but the long stretch of sand is home to several large shells and coral pieces. It was fun to explore the shore and find large shells. There are no services on this beach and an abandoned building at the end of the bay gives this beach an abandoned feeling. A few locals hung back on the grassy dunes around the beach, but we were the only ones in the water.
Honorable Mention: Beach at Devil’s Bridge
A very small beach near Devil’s Bridge, there was no one in sight and a lot of rocks around, but t’s worth a quick dip in the water. The rocky shores nearby gave this water great color and the sand on the beach was so soft. I wouldn’t spend all day here, but sitting on the sand and taking in the beautiful view sounds like a good way to spend 30 minutes of the day.