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Take the Family › Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda family holidays

Shirley Heights.Shirley Heights.© Antigua and Barbuda Tourism
Stingray City.Stingray City.© Stingray City Antigua
Finding a starfish while canoeing in Antigua.Finding a starfish while canoeing in Antigua.© Antigua Paddles
Rainforest zip wire.Rainforest zip wire.© Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour
Fruit shop.Fruit shop.© Antigua and Barbuda Tourism
Flying Time 8.4hrs
Carbon Footprint 7.33 CO2
Timezone GMT -5
Currency East Caribbean Dollar

Today

Overview

The popular Caribbean island of Antigua, famed for its beaches (reputedly boasting one for every day of the year) and for the atmosphere in its beautiful old towns, remains fairly low-key in terms of tourism, meaning you can easily get away from the crowds to enjoy a peaceful and blissfully relaxing family holiday.

If you want to totally get away from it all, Antigua's sister island Barbuda just 15 minutes away by plane feels a world apart. Despite its spectacular beaches and coral reefs, Barbuda has very little tourism, offering a glimpse of how the rest of the Caribbean might once have looked.

Things to do with kids in Antigua and Barbuda

Head for the stunning beaches and safe waters. In the north, Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay, two of the island’s most famous beaches, offer a range of activities, including watersports and waterskiing. On the south-east coast, Half Moon Bay is a great spot for snorkeling and beachcombing, while a little further north at Long Bay, kids can seek out coral reefs in waters so shallow you can walk out to them.

Antigua is big on water-based excursions and activities. At Stingray City, for instance, kids of all ages can touch and feed stingrays and snorkel amongst tropical fish. Divers of all ages and levels of experience are also well catered for. 

Eco-tours are another fantastic way to make the most of Antigua’s natural beauty. Try Antigua Paddles for kayaking, snorkeling and hiking adventures for adults and children aged 7+. Excursions to neighbouring Barbuda visit the island’s important frigate bird colony

For those who like adrenalin-fuelled adventures, the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour offers zipline fun for those over 5 feet (1.52m) tall.

Away from the forest, Antigua has some interesting and beautiful old towns and an abundance of forts to explore. From the early 18th century to the mid 19th century, Antigua served as a major sugar exporter, with its slave population finally emancipated by the British in 1834. Take the kids on an educational tour round some of the crumbling ruins of old sugar estates or to the forts built to protect the trade around English Harbour and Shirley Heights.

Check out the former naval base Nelson’s Dockyard, the only working original Georgian dockyard in the world, with carefully restored workshops dating back 200 years. It’s now home to a marina, dockyard museum and various shops and bars. The Dockyard Historic Tour also takes in Dow’s Hill and Shirley Heights. 

Don’t miss out on Antigua’s capital, St Johns. This charming town with its colourful quayside has some excellent restaurants and a pronounced West Indian character. A lively market and duty-free shopping make it a good place to hunt for a bargain.

Eat

Many hotels on Antigua are all-inclusive and cater well for kids, both adventurous and fussy. Outside resorts, restaurants, small cafés and roadside bars cater for most tastes. Make sure to try a Caribbean stew of salt/fresh fish, chicken or mutton, or the ubiquitous jerk chicken, rice and peas.

Other local specialties include salted codfish served with tomato sauce and other fresh fish dishes (with the fish usually served blackened). Be warned that hot sauces are a mainstay of Antiguan cuisine (Susie’s Hot Sauce is a local favourite). 

Fresh fruit is in abundance – don’t miss the black pineapple (an extra-sweet type), green figs (bananas) and breadfruit.

The bar and restaurant at Shirley Heights is great on Thursdays (best for young families) and Sundays (with famous BBQ parties featuring a live steel band).

When to go to Antigua and Barbuda

Temperatures in Antigua are warm year-round – a family-friendly 25–30°C, dropping a few degrees in winter (Dec–May) and heating up again in June, July and August. June to November (the hurricane season) sees the heaviest rainfall, with occasional tropical storms. 

The peak visitor season is December–February. Try March, April and May for family holidays, when there are fewer visitors (and lower prices) but the weather is still gorgeous. If you come in July or August, don’t miss Antigua’s annual Carnival, one of the best celebrations in the Caribbean. 

How to get to Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua is one of the easiest Caribbean Islands to get to: its VC Bird International Airport is a major international and regional hub serving the north-eastern Caribbean, and also boasting great air links with both the UK and the USA.

Flights from the UK take around 8 hours 40 minutes and Antigua is GMT-5, so expect some jetlag.

Cost

Family holidays on Antigua generally cost from around £800pp on a room-only basis to £1,100pp all-inclusive for a two-week package. Flights can be found for as little as £400, but in general expect to pay from around £600.

By Rhonda Carrier

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