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Land, Sea & Air; Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Great tourist destinations are able to shine from every possible angle. One way to tell if a destination shines from every angle is if you can view it from land, sea and air. Antigua and Barbuda facilitate land, sea and air tours, which provide glimpses into the islands historic significance and natural beauty.

Aerial Tours

When seeking panoramic views of Antigua, flying in the air via helicopter is the best way to go. Due to Antigua’s small size, all aerial tours available on the island are helicopter rides. Antigua is only 13 miles wide, but it consists of multiple coves, inlets and pink-sanded beaches for you to view. The islands’ helicopter tours are typically 20 to 45 minutes long.

Places to See

Two popular aerial tours in Antigua is the Island Tour, which flies passengers around the perimeter of the island, and Montserrat, an active volcano on Antigua. The Montserrat tour is usually longer than the Island Tour since helicopters must fly inland and achieve a higher altitude to see the top of the mountain. The Jolly Harbour Shopping Center is the departure point of most helicopter tours.

Credit: Nouhailler
Credit: Nouhailler

Things to Consider

The usual price range for an Antigua helicopter tour runs between $150 to $325. Also, none of Antigua’s helicopter tours offer free shuttle service, so passengers must provide their own transportation to and from the departure point.

Sea Tours

Explore the crystal blue waters surrounding Antigua and Barbuda by taking an underwater diving or snorkeling tour. Diving and snorkeling tours allow travelers to view exotic marine plants and wildlife you cannot find anywhere else. The majority of islands’ snorkeling spots are at the southern and eastern ends of Antigua.

Snorkeling and Diving

Antigua and Barbuda is a popular destination for snorkeling and diving due to the region’s warm waters – rarely exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit – and the absence of any strong currents. Surrounding the islands are shipwrecks and coral reefs; at some spots, divers may swim down to 180 feet below sea level.

Popular Spots

One of the most popular spots in Antigua is Cade’s Reef, a coral reef which is a 10-minute ride from Beach Dock; Beach Dock is on the southwestern corner of Antigua. Cade’s Reef is suited for beginners and goes approximately 30 feet deep. Eel, barracudas, lobsters and eagle rays are some of the wildlife seen in Cade’s Reef.

Most of the diving spots in and around Barbuda are shipwrecks due to the encircling reefs surrounding the island. A vast portion of the shipwrecks near Barbuda are yet to be explored, so who knows? Maybe you’ll find a long lost chest of gold.

Things to Consider

The diving facilities in Antigua are far more advanced than Barbuda’s diving spots. As a result, most beginner divers go to Antiguan facilities before exploring the spots in Barbuda. Also, Barbuda’s diving tours are usually booked by companies based in Antigua. Travelers should wear sunscreen when snorkeling. This is especially true for their backs, which is frequently exposed to the sun.

Credit: JoshDobson
Credit: JoshDobson

Land Tours

Rainforests, parks and hills abound in Antigua and Barbuda’s for travelers to participate in canopy, ATV, hiking and biking tours. Land tours are more enjoyable for tourists in the winter and early spring, when temperatures are not sweltering.

Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tours

Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tours allow you to glide from tree to tree via a zipline. The canopy tours is a great opportunity for you to see local wildlife and plants in their natural habitat. Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tours is the largest canopy tour company on the island, with 12 zip lines and 2 descent lines of 26 and 45 feet. After going on the zip lines, the company has a cafe available, where guests sip on their drinks while overlooking the rainforest.

Hiking and Biking

The rainforests in Antigua also feature trails for hiking and bicycling activities. For bicycling and hiking tours, two of Antigua’s prime companies are Detour Bike Trails and Footsteps Rainforest Hiking Tours.

Detour Bike Tours

Detour offers tours at various locations throughout Antigua, such as Orange Valley and Table Hill to Monk’s Hill. The John Hughes Trail passes by natural landmarks, including the village of Bendals and Body Pond. Beginner bikers can take advantage of the Ebenezer to Green Castle Trail, which consists of flat land trails. However, this trail does lead bikers to the monumental Megalith Rock formations. Detour also provides bike repairs for passengers who experience problems on the trail.

Footsteps Rainforest Hiking Tours

Starting at Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery, the Footsteps Rainforest Hiking Tours company guides tourists to destinations such as the Antigua rainforest, Wallings Dam and Signal Hill. As the tour’s apex, Signal Hill offers views of Antigua in its entirety. Before starting on the tour, Footsteps provides its guests with a bottle of water before the hike and serves lemonade when the hike is over.

Things to Consider

Make sure to wear tough-soled shoes, such as hiking boots, when you go hiking in Antigua. The acacia plant grows close to many of Antigua’s trails and has the ability to pierce through your shoes.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. - St. Augustine

When To Go

The most pleasant weather in Antigua and Barbuda occurs from November to April. This is known as the high season and when temperatures are most moderate in Antigua and Barbuda. However, one of Antigua’s largest celebrations, Carnival, occurs in July and August.

Climate

The average year-round temperatures in Antigua and Barbuda range between 65 to 80°F (18 to 27°C), but the climate tends to be cooler during the high season.

Getting There & Around

International travelers usually arrive at Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport on commercial flights. Puddle jumpers fly to Barbuda’s Codrington Airport from other Caribbean Islands.

Taxi services and Antigua’s public transportation vehicles are available as a means of ground travel for tourists.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $15-$40
  • Meals: $5-$20
  • Beer: $2.50-$3.50

Do’s

  • Bring exact change with you when paying for tours in Antigua and Barbuda. Many tour guides do not have the capability of charging credit cards.
  • Book your tours in advance since the slots for specific tours are limited, especially during the high season.
  • In between tours, visit the Hawksbill Turtle Reserve to see the endangered Hawksbill turtle.

Don’ts

  • Don’t bring a pet with you before obtaining a permit from the Antigua and Barbuda government.
  • Don’t enter vehicles without the letters ”HA” or “HB” on their license plates. “HA” and “HB” is featured on all the public transportation license plates in Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Revealing clothing, such as swimwear, is only appropriate on the beach. Wearing swimwear anywhere else is culturally offensive to Antigua and Barbuda’s natives.

Fun Facts

  • Aside from local cuisine, many of Antigua and Barbuda’s restaurants serve European dishes, including French and Italian.
  • Donkey racing is a popular pastime in Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Antigua and Barbuda are only a 10 to 25-minute boat ride from each other.

Feature Image Credit: lindz graham

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