Panoramic landscape of Shirley Heights, Antigua

Itineraries for Your Trip to Antigua

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1 Day in Antigua for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Locals will tell you there’s a sugar-white-sand beach for every day of the year on Antigua. But even if you have only a day to spend in the former British colony, you’ll still be able to soak up some sun while getting a taste of the island’s history and culture. Here’s how to make the most of your 24-hour stay.


Get oriented with a round island tour. Ride around to major landmarks like English Harbour, Nelson’s Dockyard, and Shirley Heights, or get off the beaten path on a 4WD safari. If you can’t wait to get out on the water, consider circumnavigating the island by speedboat. You’ll get glimpses of dozens of beautiful beaches—and many tours stop to snorkel in the Stingray City marine park and see the historic structures of Nelson’s Dockyard from the water. 


It would be unthinkable to leave Antigua without having spent at least a few hours at one of its beaches or secluded coves. For a hassle-free afternoon of snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, or just relaxing on a lounge chair, head to Runaway Beach. Alternatively, rent a stand-up paddleboard and discover the turquoise waters of Dickenson Bay—or explore the coastline on a guided jet-skiing adventure, with stops at hidden coves rarely visited by travelers.


After you’ve worked up an appetite, reward yourself with an authentic Caribbean dinner. Take a walking food tour of St. John’s, the capital of Antigua, for the chance to sample dishes from some of the island’s best eateries. And if you’re on the island on a Sunday, make your way to Shirley Heights for the weekly barbecue party overlooking English Harbour. Locals and visitors get together for live music, rum cocktails, grilled meats, and lots of dancing late into the night.

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