5 Best Things to Do in Antigua with a Family
Antigua is a stunning Caribbean island with long stretches of white sands and year-round sunshine. It’s a favourite with honeymooners and those seeking luxury beach resorts, but it shouldn’t be overlooked as a great choice for a family holiday. Firstly, it’s easy to get to when compared to some other exotic destinations. If you’re flying from London, there are plenty of direct flights that will whisk you to your Caribbean paradise in a little over eight hours. And while Antigua is certainly not a cheap option, there are some fantastic family holiday deals if you do your research and choose when to visit with care. A number of resorts offer all-inclusive family holidays. This is a great choice if you’re keen to keep an eye on your budget and seek out affordable luxury. But just what is there to do on the island besides hit the beach? Where can you take the kids if they need a break from the sun and tire of swimming in the sea? Check out our top five things to see and do in Antigua with your family and get planning your dream holiday today!
- Soak up Some History at Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour
Antigua is a former British colony, which is evident throughout the island — especially so at Nelson’s Dockyard. The dockyard was predominantly built in the 18th century by the British navy and is eponymously named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who lived here between 1784 and 1787.
Today, it still functions as a working dockyard that sees hundreds of yachts and ships visit each year. During Antigua’s world-renowned sailing week in May, the harbour becomes a focal point for activities and the atmosphere buzzes with excitement. It’s also located in one of the largest National Parks in Antigua and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This combination of history, nature and plentiful activities makes Nelson’s Dockyard an ideal day out for the family. Take a stroll through the parks and watch the boats go by in the harbour, then visit the Admiral’s House Museum for an interesting insight into the naval and social history of the island. At the end of the day, head to Shirley Heights, part of the World UNESCO Site, to enjoy a family barbecue with breathtaking views.
Nelsons’ Dockyard and English Harbour are just a short bus or taxi ride from the capital, St. Johns. It’s certainly a family day out not to be missed.
- Have a Day Out at Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary
Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary in Saint Paul Parish is a popular choice for holidaymakers travelling with children. It’s open Monday to Saturday and most public holidays. It’s also free, although donations are encouraged and help towards the continued upkeep of the animals. The kids will love getting close to the donkeys, which are very friendly and love a cuddle — it’s the perfect holiday photo opportunity!
If you’re impressed by the work the sanctuary does and fall in love with the donkeys, there is also a donkey adoption programme. Funds raised through this scheme go towards feeding and housing the animals.
The sanctuary not only provides a fun family day out (many guests return time and again), but it also gives you the opportunity to leave knowing you’ve supported a worthwhile cause.
- Go for a Swim at Stingray City
This is top of the list for many families visiting Antigua. Book a family tour and get whisked to an offshore island in a speedboat where you’ll feed, touch and snorkel with friendly Southern Stingrays. Expert guides will ensure your safety and teach you about these beautiful creatures as you swim with them. There’s the option to buy a professional photograph of you and your children holding stingrays as a souvenir to take home.
There is a range of tour operators that offer experiences combining a trip to Stingray City with other activities, such as kayaking, snorkelling, hiking and even 4×4 land rover safari expeditions. Ask at your hotel for advice on where to book. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, it’s worth checking if any activities or discounts are included in your package.
- Experience the Thrill of a Rainforest Zip Line Tour
Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour offers an exciting day out for the whole family. Age shouldn’t be an issue, with visitors as young as four and as old as 99 known to take part! Enjoy 13 zip lines, plus aerial walkways, tree houses and suspension bridges to navigate. The setting — a lush wildlife-filled rainforest — is stunning. Speed through the canopy or take your time and soak up the atmosphere.
Tours are led by expert guides and all visitors receive a safety talk prior to setting off. You can also combine your zip line experience with a visit to Stingray Park, kayaking or bouncing along the beach in a jeep! This is a great choice if you need a little activity after days relaxing on the beach. It’s a good idea to book in advance during peak season, as tours fill up quickly.
- Give Watersports a Go and Enjoy the Water Park at Darkwood Beach
Antigua is one of the most popular choices for luxury beach holidays and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to beach days. However, Darkwood Beach is a firm favourite with families. The water is generally warm and calm, giving you peace of mind if you’re concerned about young swimmers staying safe. There’s also a dizzying array of watersports to try your hand at. Water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing — you’ll run out of days in Antigua before you run out of options. If you fancy trying one of the more adventurous options, leave the children to be entertained at your resort’s kids’ club (many all-inclusive packages provide this service) and experience the thrill of adrenaline-filled watersports!
Feeling peckish after all that activity? Head to Darkwood Beach Bar & Restaurant for lunch or a light snack, or ice-cream for the kids and a cocktail for mum and dad. Once you’ve recharged, why not take on the challenge of a giant inflatable obstacle course at Swash Water Park? It’s great fun for all ages!
What Are You Waiting For?
Antigua is a fantastic destination for a family holiday. There’s plenty to do for all ages and it’s a great choice at any time of the year. All-inclusive family holidays allow you to keep your budget in check and minimise hassle. We all know how exhausting it is planning a holiday that will keep the whole family happy. Instead, let your tour operator do the hard work so you can relax and enjoy quality family time from the moment you step off the plane. Do your research into last-minute offers and family-friendly inclusive hotels and you might be surprised at what great value an Antigua holiday provides. Take a look at the family holiday deals available, seek out some travel advice (find a tour operator with ATOL protection) and book your Antigua holiday this year!