Back in 2015, I visited 100 beaches in the Dominican Republic in a single year. That was the thought that crossed my mind when I realized I’d seen nine beaches in Antigua in just six days, plus at least four in Barbuda.
That’s a lot of beaches in a really short time. But then Antigua does promise 365 of them, one to enjoy every day of the year. If you’re wondering what happens on leap years, our island safari tour guide Bernadette says they just go to the same beach twice (I had to throw that in there; you’ve got to love those tour guide jokes).
Numbers aside, I noticed a wide beach variety in Antigua and Barbuda, with sizes and sands to suit all tastes whether long shorelines, crescent-shaped beauties or intimate offshore beaches. With a boat, you could sail your way to surrounding islets near Antigua’s coast and bask on secluded beaches, like the ones on Great Bird Island, located inside a marine reserve.
When to visit
Summer is a great time to visit Antigua and Barbuda — don’t listen to the weather naysayers — because rates are slashed on accommodations, the tourist crowds are fewer and there’s a more local vibe (hint: it’s carnival season). Bonus: Those constant trade winds that make Antigua famous for its sailing translate into cool breezes when the rest of the Caribbean is crazy humid.
Take a look at the latest Antigua and Barbuda Insider newsletter from Antigua and Barbuda Tourism, highlighting all the specials and events this summer (you might also find my first Antigua video featured in it).
The beaches: From the Atlantic to the Caribbean
From the northern Atlantic side at my hotel, The Verandah Resort & Spa, to the Caribbean on the south, here are a few Antigua and Barbuda beaches I enjoyed over the course of a week.
On The Atlantic Side
Rasta Beach, The Verandah Resort & Spa
There were two intimately-sized white sand beaches at our hotel, The Verandah Resort & Spa, and Rasta Beach was my favorite.
Aside from the bar’s island playlist, directly across the beach is a spectacular sea view that makes you want to go out and explore on paddle board, or just float in a tube all day (be sure to later on the sunscreen).
Long Bay Beach
This white sand beach — facing the Pineapple Beach Club on the west end, another Elite Island resort and adjacent to The Verandah — boasts a long, smooth stretch where there’s enough space to find your own cozy corner. On site are water sports activities and local arts and crafts souvenir shacks.
We made it here in time for a buffet dinner on the beach — the local dishes were excellent — and caught a fiery sunset that had everyone snapping away on their cameras and phones.
On The Caribbean Side
When we glimpsed Porters Beach from the roadside, I knew right away that we’d reached Antigua’s Caribbean side.
Luckily, it was more than a glimpse: we had a delightful long lunch at one of a handful of restaurants along this golden stretch.
Did I mention the sunsets are incredible here?
Pigeon Point Beach, Falmouth Harbour
A group of colleagues and I were itching to spend a typical local Sunday fun-day. We ended up on the perfect spot at Catherine’s Cafe – who can resist passion fruit mimosas and fresh baked pastries for dessert – directly facing one of Antigua’s top 10 beaches.
Pigeon Point Beach is a favorite of locals and visitors, and it’s not hard to see why. The vibe is laid back, the water is Caribbean-turquoise and shallow, ideal for families. The scenery also attracts sailors, who park themselves in the bay and hop to shore for lunch.
Deep Bay Beach
We had a few minutes to appreciate our toes sinking in the soft sands of Deep Bay Beach, just a 10-minute drive west from St. John’s.
The photographer in me was dying to climb up the 18th century-built Fort Barrington — sitting at the top of the bluff. I could imagine the view from up there, overlooking the sand, the Caribbean sea and St. John’s.
But in flip flops and little time to spare, I settled for twirling of happiness at the beauty around me.
Another stunner, albeit spotted from a distance while hiking Wallings Nature Reserve: Rendezvous Bay. Look at that sparking white strip, lined with palm trees!
I hear it’s difficult to reach by road unless you have a four-wheel truck. But you could also reach Rendezvous Beach by hiking the 2.5-hour trail from Wallings; that must be a real adventure (you can bet I’ll try it on my next visit).
Princess Diana Beach
I hate to use cliché language, but I’m willing to take the heat for it this time: Barbuda, Antigua’s sister island, is one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets.
It’s been just under two years since Hurricane Irma, but Barbuda’s natural attractions have miraculously revived, including a number of 10-plus mile-long white sand beaches that turn pink in the summertime (pink shells cover the shoreline).
I saw at least four beaches — the one where Princess Di loved to vacation with her kids is surreal — on my day trip from Antigua, an easy ferry hop away on the Barbuda Express.
Barbudans are happy to see visitors trickle in again, and your travel dollars will go a long way as the village continues to get back to normal. I’ll share more on my magical Barbuda experience soon.
The beach is just the beginning
As they say in Antigua and Barbuda, “The beach is just the beginning.” Stay tuned for my upcoming articles on going beyond sand and sunsets in Antigua and Barbuda.
My trip to Antigua was sponsored by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Elite Island Resorts in collaboration with Traverse Events. My day trip to Barbuda was at my own expense. As always, all posts and opinions are my own.