Famous for its pink and white sand beaches, Antigua retains a British tradition of civility to match its gentle climate and warm waters

Good news flash! Antigua was untouched by the recent hurricane and this November, Sunwing inaugurated direct flights from Montreal to Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport – a four hour hop to one of the most beautiful, pristine and welcoming islands in the heart of the Caribbean.


Panoramic view from the Interpretation Centre

If you’ve visited popular destinations like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and resorts in Mexico, 2018 may be the perfect time to visit this is jewel in the Caribbean crown.

Steeped in maritime lore and famous for its 365 pink and white sand beaches, Antigua’s history began in 1632. The Island was held by the British until 1981 and remains part of The Commonwealth. Antigua retains the flavour of other former British islands like Bermuda and Barbados. And yes, they drive on the “wrong” side of the road! (A temporary license costs $20US and is valid for three months.)

“The beach is just the beginning” is the island slogan.  Nothing is very far as Antigua is only 22 km long and 17 km wide. Most resorts are within 30 minutes of the airport.

The National Parks authority operates a lovely Interpretation Centre which previously was one of many forts located on the island. The 360 degree viewing is spectacular, and one can easily spy the neighbouring islands of Nevis, Montserrat and Barbuda. The highest peak on the island is 1090 feet, and was renamed “Ode To Obama” hill.  A wonderful hiking trail will take you to the summit of Mount Obama. There are also 17 zip lines in the rainforest hills.


All the land and sea tours I took were under the Tropical Adventures operator – and I highly recommend their tours and guides. Take an island history tour in the comfort of an air conditioned van, or be adventurous and hop aboard the Pink Panther Safari jeep with its all-female crew. Sail around the island to sightsee and admire the homes of famous folk. Join a gang for reef snorkeling and a lobster BBQ lunch aboard the Mystic Catamaran. Swim with stingrays or visit the donkey sanctuary. (Donkeys still roam wild on the island.)

Witness a game of warri with the Islanders, and if your schedule permits, visit the modern new venue for cricket competitions. On the nautical side of sporting events, several world class sailing events take place in Antigua. Golfers will be happy to know that there are two 18-hole golf courses.


The Dock Yard Museum is one of several interesting Dock Yard attractions

Nelson’s Dockyard, between Falmouth and English Harbour, is the only working Georgian naval dockyard in the world. With help from Canada’s own CIDA, the site was completely reconstructed and reopened in 1961. It was originally Britain’s main naval base in the Eastern Caribbean, and operated as an important hurricane haven.

The harbor is currently used by private sailing yachts, and is famous for its chartered yacht show every December.  Buildings like The Admiral’s House (once home to Lord Nelson), the Copper and Lumber store and The Officers’ Quarters have been converted to museums, art galleries, boutique hotels, restaurants, pubs, and lovely shops. The old stone kitchen is fully operational and bakers are busy at work – try the pineapple turnovers! Nelson’s Dockyard and is a UNESCO Heritage site and I recommend that you plan a visit.

Shirley Heights, another restored military fort and look-out, is close by the Dockyard. Shirley Heights is known for its panoramic views of English Harbour and its charming restaurant & pub.  Every Sunday a steel band plays till sunset, offering a BBQ that is popular with both locals and tourists.


View of English Harbour from Shirley Heights

Where to Stay

Sunwing offers excellent packages at several all-inclusive resorts on Antigua; including the Starfish Jolly Beach Resort, Pineapple Beach Club, The Verandah Resort and Spa, The St. James Club and Villas and the Sugar Ridge Resort (breakfast only).


The pier at St. James Club

St. James Club: I stayed at the St James Club; once a private “members only” property. Situated on a 100 acre peninsula, the resort boasts two magnificent white sand beaches – breezy CoCo Beach for fun and frolic on the Atlantic side; and Mamora Bay Beach on the calm turquoise waters of Mamora Bay. Complimentary kayaks, paddle boats, peddle boats, wind surfers, and Hobie Cat sail boats are in plentiful supply. Deep sea fishing, reef snorkeling, and ocean dives can be arranged, leaving direct from the Hotel’s pier.

There are four tennis courts, four pools, an 18-hole miniature golf course; a brand new fitness center with a yoga deck; and on the hillside, the Tranquility Bay & Soul Spa offers guests an open-air treatment pavilion overlooking Mamora Bay. Spectacular!

There are four restaurants, two lounges, and every week the Chef offers an Island Cooking class at the Docksider for aspiring cooks.


The Veranda is an ideal family resort with twin suites in cottages overlooking the bay

The Verandah Resort & Spa is a picturesque all-inclusive eco-friendly resort with cottage suites and fabulous gardens. There are 180 charming cottage suites in groups of two, featuring delightful Caribbean architecture and décor.

The Verandah Resort and Spa has two, three-quarter mile long sand beaches overlooking the calm Galley Bay Lagoon. Well known as a family friendly resort, The Verandah offers similar waterfront sports and activities as the St James Club; three restaurants, four pools, two tennis courts, a games pavilion, miniature golf and secluded hiking and bicycling trails.


The Pineapple Beach Club is an adults-only hideaway

The Pineapple Beach Club: Named after Antigua’s famed black Pineapple – the sweetest pineapple in the world – The Pineapple Beach Club is a laidback, adults only resort located on Long Beach; with similar amenities as The St James Club, and The Verandah. It is very close to Devils Sea Bridge, a natural wonder, and to Betty’s Hope, the first and largest sugar plantation on the island. Tobacco, indigo, sugar, ginger and silk cotton trees were once products of the plantations.


The St. James Club is on a peninsula, with beaches on the
Atlantic and Mamora Bay

The St James Club, The Verandah and The Pineapple Beach Club are all Elite Island Resorts – well-known for luxury and exceptional service throughout the Caribbean. Mr Barrett, owner of these three properties, has a home on the hills above The St James Club, and can often be seen driving a golf cart, cigar in mouth, for a 6:30am check up that all is perfect.

Jolly Beach Resort & Spa: Here in The Montrealer, Sunwing is advertising it’s very own Jolly Beach Resort & Spa. Located on the Caribbean side of the island, Jolly Beach is set on a mile-long sandy beach, considered to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and fabulous for water sports and shelling.

Jolly Beach is Antigua’s largest and best value all-inclusive. All 464 rooms face the clear, turquoise waters.  Set on a 40 acre lush garden property, the resort boasts 5 restaurants, two pools; complimentary water sports craft, four tennis courts, and two basketball courts.

Afternoon tea is served daily at all these lovely resorts.

Antigua’s slogan “The beach is just the beginning” is a reflection of the island’s many sightseeing and sporting opportunities. It’s easy to see why so many successful business people and entertainers have chosen Antigua to rest and re-invigorate themselves. Whether travelling as a couple or family, you’ll find vacation happiness on this beautiful jewel in the Caribbean.

Travel Planner

Sunwing Vacations:

St. James Club

The Verandah

Pineapple Beach Club

Jolly Beach Resort & Spa

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism