Backpack and Snorkel Guide for One Day in Antigua - Antigua Purple Guide

Antigua is a Caribbean island, which is known for its turquoise waters and 365 beaches. This Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guide for Antigua (Antigua Purple Guide)provides the highlights of Antigua that you can see during a cruise.
The information on this page and much more (google maps locations, more reviews, website links, etc.) is available in our Cruising the Caribbean Guide.
The language is English and the US dollar is widely accepted.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT ANTIGUA

Antigua means “ancient” in Spanish and the natives call it Waladli or Wadadli.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit Antigua in 1493. He called the island Antigua in honor of "Santa Maria de la Antigua", an icon in Seville’s Cathedral.
Antigua was home of some of the most gruesome mistreatment and murders of slaves in the 1700s. All existing slaves were emancipated in 1834.
Today, Antigua's economy is primarily reliant on tourism, and the island is typically promoted as a high-end and luxury Caribbean destination.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN ANTIGUA

Many cruise ship passengers come to Antigua and then immediately hit one of the 365 beaches. While this is perfectly OK, we recommend to take a little time to explore St. John’s before or after visiting one of Antigua’s beautiful beaches.

Antigua is known for its 365 beaches. Here is or personal list of the five best beaches in Antigua:

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN ANTIGUA

Many cruise ship passengers come to Antigua and then immediately hit one of the 365 beaches. While this is perfectly OK, we recommend to take a little time to explore St. John’s before or after visiting one of Antigua’s beautiful beaches.

Antigua is known for its 365 beaches. Here is our personal list of the five best beaches in Antigua:

  1. Half Moon Bay

  2. Ffryes Beach

  3. Carlisle Bay Beach

  4. Darkwood beach

  5. Dickenson Bay

WALKING TOUR OF ST. JOHN’S IN ANTIGUA

Begin your tour of St. John’s at St. John’s Cathedral, which dates back to 1847. The church is closed for renovation since 2016 and thus you can only see it from the outside and take a walk through the cemetery around the church.

St. John’s Cathedral in Antigua in the Caribbean

Now head west on Long Street. You will come to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. This small museum is dedicated to the history of Antigua and Barbuda from its geologic creation through the indigenous periods and plantations and into the modern era. Plan at least 30min to see the exhibits. Admission was US$3 per person and the opening hours are Mon-Fri: 8:30am-4:30pm, Sat: 10am-2pm and closed on Sundays at the time of writing.

Then continue on to Vendor’s Square near the post office and Heritage Quay for some souvenir shopping.
If you want even more shopping opportunities, continue South to Redcliffe Quay.

Most importantly: Enjoy the authentic Caribbean feel while you walk through the streets away from all the hustle and bustle and the vendors near the cruise dock.

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HALF MOON BAY BEACH IN ANTIGUA

Half Moon Bay Beach is a gorgeous and relatively remote crescent shaped beach that has been called Antigua’s most Instagrammable beach. Rightfully so, the sand is white, the water is colored in multiple turquoise shades and there are very few buildings here. Its remoteness ensures that it never gets very busy, so you will always be able to find a spot for yourself.
Just keep in mind, that sometimes seaweed washes up on the beach and high waves may this bay more suitable for surfing than for swimming.

Half Moon Bay Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Half Moon Bay Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean

FFRYES BEACH IN ANTIGUA

Ffryes Beach is one of the best beaches in Antigua. With its soft white sand and incredibly turquoise waters, it is a good destination for families and it also sees quite a few cruise ship crowds, but typically not as many as Dickenson Bay beach.
There is said to be some snorkeling, but the water was hazy when we got there.

Ffryes Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Ffryes Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean

CARLISLE BAY BEACH IN ANTIGUA

Located in a protective bay, Carlisle Bay Beach is a tropical paradise. Lined with palm trees, this soft white sand beach with calm turquoise waters is good for swimming. There is even some snorkeling at the rocks to the north.
Carlisle Bay Beach is off the beaten path never seems to get crowded.

Carlisle Bay Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Carlisle Bay Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean

DARKWOOD BEACH IN ANTIGUA

Darkwood Beach is similar to neighboring Ffryes Beach to the north. It is usually not very busy and chances are that you will find a good spot for yourself and your family. From the beach you will see forested hills, beautiful white sand and the ocean in its myriads of turquoise shades and only a few houses. There is a restaurant on the beach and an inflated water slide with a kids play area in the water. The water is supposed to be crystal clear and snorkeling good. Unfortunately, it was not the best weather and the water was hazy, which impacted snorkeling. I was able to do some snorkeling and see some colorful fish by the rocks to the south.

Darkwood Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Darkwood Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Darkwood Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Darkwood Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean

DICKENSON BAY BEACH IN ANTIGUA

Dickenson Bay is the most popular beach in Antigua due to its proximity to the cruise port and, because it is real beautiful. When a cruise ship is in town, it gets real busy early in the morning. Swimming is good and there are many bars, restaurants, hotels and watersport businesses that cater to tourists.

Dickenson Bay Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean
Dickenson Bay Beach in Antigua in the Caribbean

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN MORE WHITE SAND BEACHES AND TURQUOISE WATER DESTINATIONS?

Check out our reviews of other Caribbean islands and Rudy's Cruise Guide.

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Backpack and Snorkel Guide for One Day in Antigua - Antigua Purple Guide
Backpack and Snorkel Guide for One Day in Antigua - Antigua Purple Guide