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Antigua and Barbuda Travel Guide: Tips and Requirements for 2023

Welcome to Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a tropical paradise, but that doesn't mean you have to sit on the beach all day. There are plenty of museums, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sunset parties, and rainforest explorations for culture, nature, and history lovers!

This ultimate Antigua and Barbuda travel guide offers visa information and tips to help you plan your trip to this island nation.

Jolly Harbour Landscape

Document checklist for Antigua and Barbuda

  • Visa (if applicable)

  • Valid passport

  • Return or onward ticket

Essential Antigua and Barbuda travel information

  • Currency - The currency of Antigua and Barbuda is the East Caribbean dollar (EC$ or XCD). US$1 is equivalent to approximately EC$ 2.70.

  • Daily budget for 1 person - Allow a daily budget of EC$ 270 (US$100).

  • Languages - English is the official language in Antigua and Barbuda; however, the accent is slightly different on each island. Spanish is spoken by about 10% of the population.

  • Number of travelers per year - Antigua and Barbuda welcomes around 1 million visitors each year.

  • Socket type - Types A and B. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the frequency is 60 Hz.

  • Time zone - Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

  • Top 3 cities - Falmouth Harbour, St. John's, and Stingray City.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Nelson's Dockyard, Devil's Bridge National Park, and Dickenson Bay Beach.

Visa information for Antigua and Barbuda

Good news! Citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and most of Europe do not require a visa to enter Antigua and Barbuda for tourist visits. However, other foreign citizens may still need a visa.

Please check the official government website for more info about the country's visa requirements.

The Antigua and Barbuda Visa policy explained

Antigua and Barbuda offers various visas for those who need one:

  • Visa on arrival: Available to visa holders or permanent resident card holders from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as Schengen Visa holders.

  • e-Visa: For everyone who is not eligible for the visa on arrival or is visa-exempt.

Travelers visiting the country on a cruise ship and who would normally require a visa do not need one, provided they arrive and depart on the same day. The same goes for transit passengers who need proof of an onward journey.

Visa difficulty index for Antigua and Barbuda

Accessibility: 4/5

Most travelers do not need a visa to visit Antigua and Barbuda for a short holiday. However, those who need one must apply via the government website.

Time to get your visa: 3/5

The average processing time for the Antigua and Barbuda e-Visa is 7 business days. In some cases, it can take up to 30 days.

Costs: 3/5

If you have to get a visa to enter the country, it will cost around US$100, excluding processing fees.

Typical costs and budget for Antigua and Barbuda

The costs of traveling to Antigua and Barbuda are generally higher than on other Caribbean islands, but it can still be a budget-friendly destination with a bit of planning. Here's a guide to what to expect.

  • Daily spending - Expect to spend around EC$ 270 (US$100) per person, per day. This includes:

  • Meals - Expect to pay around EC$ 40 (US$15) per meal in a restaurant.

  • Transport - Taxis are readily available and charge around EC$ 8 (US$3) per mile, while car rentals start at around EC$ 135 (US$50) daily.

  • Hotel - You can find a double room in a mid-range hotel in Antigua and Barbuda for around EC$ 270 (US$100) per night.

On average, a trip to Antigua and Barbuda for one week for two people can cost up to EC$ 3,800 (US$1,400).

Please note that costs vary depending on the level of comfort you seek and the activities you choose to do. Exchange rates are subject to change and may differ depending on the day and location of the exchange.

Transport and the best ways to travel around Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is mostly covered by tropical rainforest. This means the country is somewhat difficult to get around, especially if you want to visit the more remote areas. Find out more below.

Getting to Antigua and Barbuda

The easiest and most popular way to get to Antigua and Barbuda is by air. The country has one major airport, the V.C. Bird International Airport (ANU), located on the island of Antigua.

Many airlines fly to Antigua from various destinations in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. Some of the major airlines serving Antigua include:

  • American Airlines

  • Delta

  • JetBlue

  • United

  • British Airways

  • Virgin Atlantic

  • Air Canada

Another way to get to Antigua and Barbuda is by cruise ship. The country is a popular port of call for many cruise ships, and several ships visit Antigua regularly. Some of the major cruise lines visiting Antigua include Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises. You'll typically arrive at St. John's Harbour in Antigua.

If you're sailing around the Caribbean, you can also get to Antigua and Barbuda by private yacht. The country has numerous marinas and anchorages where you can dock your boat, including the Jolly Harbour Marina, the Falmouth Harbour Marina, and the English Harbour.

Arrival and immigration tips for Antigua and Barbuda

Here are some tips to make the immigration process smoother:

  • Antigua Airport is very small, so arriving by air is relatively easy and stress-free.

  • If you do not have a pick-up arranged, there are usually multiple taxi drivers willing to take you anywhere on the island or to the ferry port. A taxi should never cost more than US$25.

  • At the airport, there are ATMs, and you can exchange money.

  • Always check the latest entry and exit requirements, as they may change quickly. If arriving by private yacht, report to the Barbuda or Antigua port authority as soon as you arrive.

Getting around Antigua and Barbuda

There are a few ways to get around and explore Antigua and Barbuda, depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some options:

  • Rent a car: There are car rental companies on both islands, and prices vary depending on the type of car you choose and the duration of your rental. A rental car lets you explore the islands at your own pace and visit off-the-beaten-path attractions.

  • Hire a taxi or driver: Taxis and local guides with cars are readily available in both Antigua and Barbuda. They can be a convenient way to get around if you're uncomfortable driving yourself. Taxi fares are regulated by the government and posted at the airport and other tourist areas. However, fares can be relatively high.

  • Take public transportation: Public transportation in Antigua and Barbuda is limited, but in Antigua, some buses run between major towns and cities and are relatively inexpensive. In Barbuda, there are no buses.

  • Ferry: Regular ferry services operate between Antigua and Barbuda. The journey takes approximately 90 minutes each way, and there are several ferry operators to choose from.

Of course, major hotels and tour companies offer day trips to make the most of your vacation without worrying about transportation.

Safety in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is generally considered a safe country to visit, with a low crime rate. Here is some travel advice for your personal comfort:

  • Scams and petty crime: It's important to be cautious when dealing with street vendors or strangers. Make sure to negotiate prices before making any purchases, and be aware of scams, fake merchandise, and pickpocketing.

  • Strong currents: Some beaches in Antigua and Barbuda can have strong currents. So, pay attention to warning signs and only swim in designated areas.

  • Local laws: Do not take or buy illegal drugs, as the rules are strict.

  • Travel insurance: Make sure to get travel insurance in case you need emergency assistance. Hospital costs can be steep!

Weather in Antigua and Barbuda

The best time to visit Antigua and Barbuda is between December and April, the peak tourist season. During this time, the weather is typically dry and sunny, with an average temperature of 29 °C (around 84 °F).

May through November is considered the off-season due to the increased likelihood of rain and the possibility of hurricanes. However, prices for accommodations and activities may be lower during this time, and the islands are less crowded.

If you're interested in experiencing Antigua and Barbuda's carnival celebrations, which include music, dancing, and colorful costumes, the best time to visit is during the last week of July or the first week of August.

Must do and see in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda offers a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are our top five:

  • Nelson's Dockyard National Park is a historic naval dockyard located in Antigua that has been beautifully restored and is now home to shops, restaurants, and museums. Visitors can tour the dockyard and learn about its history or simply enjoy its beautiful surroundings.

  • Barbuda is known for its beautiful beaches including the famous Pink Sand Beach. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, and snorkel in crystal-clear waters.

  • Take a scenic flight or helicopter tour, one of the best ways to see the islands! Several tour companies offer scenic flights or helicopter tours of the islands, providing stunning coastline views.

  • Devil's Bridge is a natural limestone arch located on the eastern coast of Antigua. The area is also home to blowholes and tidal pools, making it a unique and interesting place to visit.

  • Antigua's rainforest is a beautiful and unique ecosystem home to various plants and animals. Visitors can take guided hikes, offering stunning views of the island's interior and the surrounding sea.

Typical Antigua and Barbuda food to try

Antigua and Barbuda offers a variety of delicious dishes influenced by the islands' African, European, and Caribbean heritage. Here are some typical dishes to try:

  • Fungee and Pepperpot: Fungee is a cornmeal-based dish similar to polenta, while pepperpot is a stew made with meat and vegetables. The two are often served together for a hearty and filling meal.

  • Saltfish and Antiguan Fungi: Saltfish is a traditional Caribbean dish made with salted cod, frequently served with Antiguan Fungi, a cornmeal-based side dish similar to dumplings.

  • Conch Fritters: Conch is a popular seafood in Antigua and Barbuda. Conch Fritters are a delicious appetizer made with minced conch, herbs, and spices, deep-fried until crispy.

Vaccine information for Antigua and Barbuda

Always check the CDC website or contact your local general practitioner for up-to-date info about all vaccination requirements, COVID-19 measures, and recommended medication before traveling to Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua vs. Barbuda: Which island should you choose for your trip?

The two Caribbean islands are part of the same country, about 60 km apart. Boats shuttle between them in 90 minutes, but if you can only visit one, which one should you choose?

Antigua and its sister island Barbuda have something to offer visitors. Here are some differences between the two islands that visitors may want to consider when choosing where to go:

  • Size: Antigua is the larger of the two islands and has a wider variety of attractions and activities. Barbuda is smaller and remote, with a more natural and relaxing vibe.

  • Beaches: Antigua has more beaches than Barbuda. Many are easily accessible and offer amenities such as beach bars and restaurants. On the other hand, Barbuda is known for its unspoiled and secluded beaches, with the famous Pink Sand Beach being a must-see.

  • Activities: Antigua offers many activities, including water sports, hiking, and cultural tours. Barbuda is better suited for those seeking a more relaxed and secluded vacation, with activities such as birdwatching and beachcombing.

  • Accessibility: Antigua is served by regular flights from major cities and provides a broader range of accommodations and services. Barbuda is more remote and requires a short flight or boat trip from Antigua. Most cruise ships only stop in Antigua.

Ultimately, both islands offer stunning natural beauty, rich cultural experiences, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making them excellent choices for a Caribbean getaway.

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