Antigua: beach life

Half Moon Bay

Antigua allegedly has 365 beaches, or one for each day of the year… Now, we’re not sure what exactly defines a beach in Antigua… Do they have to be a certain size or does this include the tiniest patch of sand? Does this include the tiny islets off Antigua? Anyway, it doesn’t matter… as we had the car we thought we would explore some of them…

It is helpful that all of Antigua’s beaches allow public access. If you wish you can pop yourself right in front of exclusive 5 star resorts without them having been claimed and sectioned off for use by their guests.

We visited Antigua in early November 2017 which is the ‘shoulder’ season, i.e. coming towards the end of the hurricane season and into the high season between December and May. The high season is when prices are at their highest however apparently November usually has good weather, less crowds and cheaper prices.

Most of the beaches were fairly empty and we were fortunate to have hardly any rain, other than the odd downpour at night, for the 10 days we stayed in Antigua.

Below is a list of all of the beaches we visited during our time exploring Antigua. Antigua is a round island so they are listed in clockwise order starting from English Harbour:

Pigeons Point beach

Pigeon’s Point beach: home to the no. 1 Trip Advisor restaurant Catherine’s Cafe this beach has soft sand with shallow water and gentle lapping waves. There is plenty of parking available although for us this was a short 15 minute walk from our hotel in Nelsons Dockyard. We visited twice, both on Sundays and even though, being the weekend there were quite a local families, the beach didn’t seem crowded. 

Curtain Bluff beach

Curtain Bluff beach: we didn’t stop here but took this photo from a view point at the side of the road. The Curtain Bluff all inclusive resort sits proudly overlooking two beaches, one on each side of the headland. This must be exclusive as according to the rooms cost £716 per night which is probably well above the price range of the average UK budget.

Crabb Hill beach (from OJ’s beach bar)

Crabb Hill Beach (just along from Turners Beach): a gorgeous and photogenic stretch of sea and sand but this beach didn’t quite tempt us to stay. It was empty when we arrived but we couldn’t find anywhere to park so had a drink in OJ’s beach bar (which had a small car park). Apparently, due to its fairly close proximity to the cruise port, Turners beach is a popular stop for cruise excursions.

Darkwood beach

Darkwood beach: as one of the top ranked beaches on the island we parked up next to the beach and went to investigate… The main road behind the beach runs parallel and the beach bar at the end with a bit of rubbish strewn outside kind of put us off… We returned to the car and continued to head north around the coast road.

Ffryes beach

Ffryes beach: wow… This was more like what we were looking for… Ffryes beach was at the end of a bumpy track (follow the signs to Dennis beach bar) so didn’t have the road right behind. We stopped here for a swim and had the entire stretch of beach pretty much to ourselves. We tried to snorkel but saw zero fish, however it was a refreshing dip in the sea. We were entertained by pelicans diving into the sea for fish.

Coco beach

Coco beach: our introduction to Coco beach was via the lovely Sheer Rocks restaurant where we had a delicious lunch. This was a pricey treat but the setting was gorgeous. Sheer Rocks restaurant is accessed via the Cocobay Resort where we were warmly welcomed by the staff and shown through to the restaurant. Cocobay Resort kindly allowed us to use their facilities to get changed and their sun beds which allowed us to have a swim at Coco beach after lunch. 

Deep Bay beach

While we didn’t set foot on Deep Bay beach we had an aerial view as we climbed to have a look at Fort Barrington. I loosely use the word ‘climbed’, it was just a short 10 minute climb to the top!

Dickenson Bay

Dickenson Bay: not far from St John’s, the capital of Antigua and we came to the gorgeous Dickenson Bay. This is home to Sandals Antigua which was temporarily closed when we visited which was a bit weird and a little sad… what would have usually been a busy and bustling resort seemed almost like a ghost town! This meant that the beach was fairly  empty and pleasant to stroll along. (And we had a delicious lunch in Ana’s on the Beach).

Ocean Point beach

Ocean Point beach: we were picked up from this beach to be transported by speedboat to Prickly Pear island. This is a small and pleasant beach with soft sand and shallow water. The Ocean Point resort is a colourful and relaxed hotel who were happy to allow us through to access the beach. There was also lovely sea front bar.

Prickly Pear island

Prickly Pear Island: tiny beach with snorkelling available in waist deep water so great for snorkelling beginners. With a handful of people at a time you get that castaway feeling and is particularly relaxing helped with the free bar and rum punch! Please see our Prickly Pear Island post for more details!

Jabberwocky beach

Jabberwocky beach: long wild stretch of sand along the north coast… Seaweed is strewn around and it’s windy and not kept pristine like those beaches directly in front of exclusive resorts. There is parking available and its great for an exhilarating beach walk. This is popular with kite surfers and is the home of Adventure Caribbean who offer yacht charters.

Long Bay

Long Bay: the beach is lovely with its sheltered shallow turquoise water and soft sand but we felt is somewhat spoiled by the ‘busyness’ and commercialism of the resorts that line it. Probably great for families staying there but not really for us. There is a reef you can walk to and this beach was recommended for beach snorkelling although we didn’t do this during our brief visit. 

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay: perfect… Uncommercial, with a rustic beach bar serving good low cost food… this pink tinged sandy beach has a rocky backdrop and is off the beaten track a little… if we ever return to Antigua, this beach would be our first choice!

Galleon beach snorkelling area (near the rocks)

Galleon beach: a two minute boat ride from our base in English Harbour… much of the beach is stony with lots of broken shells and coral and it doesn’t have the long stretches of powder soft sand that we found elsewhere. However we had a brilliant time snorkelling right at the end of the beach, close to Hercules Pillars.

All in all there are no ‘bad’ beaches in Antigua… we hope this beach post has been helpful for anyone planning a trip there!




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