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10 things you have to do in Antigua and one you don’t

We are spoiled for life now. Beaches will never be the same again after experiencing what Antigua has to offer.

It is hot all the year round; you just need to mind the rainy season, and expect showers or even storms from June to November. The rains do get worse September onwards, so its best to stick to the summer months if you can.

Travelling to Antigua is exciting, but what to do when you get there? We've got LOTS of ideas of what to get up to both with an without kids, so why not see for yourself what fun you can have on this beautiful island.

The very best time to visit is during Carnival, which is at the end of July and early August, but you will still have a ball if you don’t make it then. Tropical Sky offer some great packages (including Virgin Atlantic Flights), and an all inclusive resort, such as the Verandah Resort and Spa, is a good place to base yourself.

It isn’t all about the beach though, there is much more to the island than beautiful, unspoilt and wonderful peaceful stretches of sand. If you can afford to, we would recommend either taking advantage of daily rental for cars ($60 in our resort per day), or hiring a car for the week. There is enough to do around the island for you to want to be able to get out and explore beyond the few beaches on or near your resort.

Who wouldn’t want to go to a place where you can get sunsets like this from your balcony?

Sunsets on Antigua are simply stunning - and there really is so much to do there too for the family. A tropical destination, with some great family activities.

But what CAN you do on Antigua then?

Experiencing Cades Reef snorkelling

There are some that have commented that this reef is dying, but we saw no evidence that this was causing a problem for the quality of snorkelling there. The reef must be reached by boat from Cades Bay, and you will probably need a tour to gain access to it, but its worth every single penny. Stunning, and worth more than one trip if you can. Watch out for Mount Obama too when you visit, you can see this from the bay. Locals call it Buggy Peak. South Coast Horizons do a tour here.

Cades Bay is where you leave from for snorkelling at Cades Reef, and its a beautiful spot in its own right.

Screaming in the Antigua Rainforest

You obviously think of Antigua as being somewhere to visit the beach, but the island also has a rainforest off Fig Tree Drive, one of the main roads on the island. You can do a walk and a zip line tour within the trees. Do check it out, if just for the experience of zipline-ing through a rainforest. How many people can say they’ve done that? The Antigua Rainforest Company are the providers, and run tours regularly at 9am, 10am and 11am. The Screamer’ zipline is a staggering 325ft across and 300ft high – wonder where it gets its name…

Petting at Bethesda Donkey Sanctuary

Donkeys used to be a major problem on the island, as people used them for labour, but then let them lose. In particular, they caused road traffic accidents for those living on the island. Bethesda was created to give these animals a place to go, and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. It is free to enter, so why not give the Donkeys a petting?

Learning about slavery at Betty’s Hope

Bettys Hope is a former sugar plantation with a museum telling the history of sugar and slavery on the Island. Its well worth a visit, particularly to show children about some of the uglier parts to our history.

Antigua used to be a major producer for Sugar, and has a fascinating history as a result. Betty’s Hope has a old sugar plantation and museum, which is a most to see when you come. We would all do well to remember the slave trade, so we continue to combat it worldwide today.

Scaring yourself with D-Boat water park fun

Whether you are after a party, or a big kid, this boat is a great place to have some fun in a unique place while you are on the island. A water park on a refurbished oil tanker – what’s not to like! ;-)

The D Boat antigua offers a great place to have fun for the kids, and adults too, and its a wonderfully unusual location. A refurbished oil tanker!

Watching the power of the sea at Devil’s Bridge

On the East of the island, this is a stunning natural rock formation which has an interesting history. Be careful you don’t get too close to the edge though…. Despite its name, this is a wonderful place to sit and watch the natural power of the sea. It even captivates the young, as well as the young at heart.

Devils Bridge is a natural rock formation on the coast with an interesting back story - a great place for the kids to watch the waves too.

Exploring English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard

English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard are gems. A restored, and still working Georgian dockyard is a stunning place to see Antigua at its best. Beautiful blue sea, hard-working men and women, and stunning boats moored in the harbour. Take a little extra time, and walk around to the forts on the headline for an unspoilt view and a special treat.

Nelsons Dockyard is a beautiful, unspoilt space in Antigua. Stop and feel the Antiguan vibe here for a day and you won't regret it.

Mixing with the rich and famous on Montserrat, and some of the other outlying islands

Montserrat is a Volcanic island, and exclusive, with beautiful beaches that even Princess Diana found enticing. It is worth a visit on a tour if you can manage to stretch your budget, perhaps also taking in Barbuda and some of the other surrounding islands, including Bird Island, and Green Island. The later are popular for snorkelling.

Partying at Shirley Heights Lookout

If you are looking for a real taste of the Caribbean, then this is a must for you. Shirley Heights is an old military lookout and gun battery that has been restored and turned into a place to see the island and have fun. It offers wonderful views of Falmouth and English Harbour. Most importantly though, on Sunday nights, there is a barbecue and a steel band (4-7pm), or reggae playing (7-10pm). It’s a wonderful place to watch the sunset and soak up the Caribbean atmosphere.

A beautiful view, as the sun goes down over Shirley Heights in Antigua.

Shuffling at Stingray City

If you only have the money for one tour, this is it. A once in a life time experience of handling, and seeing, so many beautiful Stingrays in their natural habitat. The kids, and the adults were captivated. Spend time away from the crowds and you will be rewarded. Tropical Adventures provide a tour here. Oh, and you have to shuffle, otherwise you’ll walk on the Stingrays.

Stingray City in Antigua is just THE most wonderful place - swim with the Stingrays and see them in their natural habitat. A once in a lifetime for the kids.

And the one thing that you DON’T want to do on the island?

Make sure you don’t collect the gigantic Conch shells from the local beach and then put them in your hand luggage. They WILL get confiscated at customs because they are sharp and could easily be used as a weapon. It really is amazing how easy it is to turn a conch shell into a makeshift knuckleduster.

Trust me and my family.

Let me know if you go to Antigua, and what you think of it, and if you tried any of these places. We’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

We were given a press discount for travelling to Antigua with Tropical Sky and Virgin Atlantic; all opinions are our own.

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Sunday 18th of September 2016

It sadly took me a little while to cotton on that you weren't talking about antigua in Guatemala! Both great places by the looks! Glad there is so much for kids to get out and do because we are big kids at heart!

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