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Antigua is quite simply a paradise holiday destination. With white sandy beaches stretching for miles and crystal clear blue waters, it isn’t hard to see why. Although it’s known as a holiday spot for the rich and famous, it’s a great location for mere mortals too. The sheer amount of beaches means that visitors are spoilt for choice, with a slice of seclusion only ever a short drive from the bustling city of St John’s.
The roads are generally in good condition, with driving here a relaxed affair. Although road signs are infrequent, the size of the island makes it difficult to get lost.
Driving licences: UK drivers will need to obtain an Antiguan driving licence to drive here. This can be processed by car hire suppliers upon presentation of a valid UK driving licence and costs around US$20.
Which side does Antigua drive on: the left.
Rural areas: 40mph (64kph)
Built-up areas: 20mph (32kph)
Alcohol limits: the same as in the UK, at 0.08 per cent. If a driver is found to be over the limit, they may face a hefty fine or jail time but in general, enforcement is lax.
Driving age: 16 years; normally 25 years to hire a car.
Seatbelts: compulsory for all passengers. There is no law stating children should be in booster seats. However, such equipment can be hired from most car rental firms.
Mobile phones and GPS: using a mobile phone is illegal when driving unless using a hands-free kit, although this law is rarely enforced. GPS is allowed but not needed.
Cost of fuel in Antigua: less than half the price of UK fuel costs.
Car hire and fuel payment: most, but not all, petrol stations accept credit cards. However, all car hire companies take payment via credit card.
Insurance: third-party is included with all rentals; however, drivers should consider additional insurance.
Traffic and parking: traffic is usually light, even in St John’s but parking here can be tricky as there is only one multi-storey car park. Outside of St John’s, parking and traffic are not issues.
As Antigua is an island, the only way to enter is by air or sea. However, taxis are available at the ports and airport, and are usually minibuses as apposed to cars. Although they do not run on a meter, there are set fares. These government set prices vary according to distance travelled. They can be quite expensive, with a typical fare from St John’s to the West Coast Pineapple Beach Resort costing around £30 (for up to four passengers), but taxis are easy to find and hail on the street.
There is no public transport, but there is a fleet of privately owned minibuses. The buses may not be the most reliable way to get around the island, but they are cheap, with fares for most journeys under £1. All of the bus routes start and end in St John’s at the stop on Market Street. Although the island is only small, there are a number of stops, which can make journeys slow. The minibuses are comfortable and tickets are paid for at the end of the journey. Only the main resorts are served by private bus.
Many cruise ships have a stopover in Antigua, often staying for one or two nights. For those visitors not coming via cruise ship, the Barbuda Express runs from St John’s to the smaller neighbouring island of Barbuda in 1 hour, 30 minutes. It has been designed so that it can operate in almost any weather condition and is a comfortable, efficient way to explore Barbuda. The service runs five days a week and is reliable.
VC Bird International Airport, situated five miles from St John’s, is the gateway to Antigua. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways serve the airport year-round from London-Gatwick. Flights to other Eastern Caribbean destinations such as Barbados are also offered along with links to major North American and European cities.
St John’s is often the first stop for visitors. The town is a lively spot, with many bars and restaurants to be enjoyed. Heritage Quay, at the end of the pier, is where visitors will find a vast array of duty-free shops with everything from alcohol and tobacco to jewellery and local products on offer.
Cricket is hugely popular in Antigua, so catching a game is a must. The Recreation Ground in St John’s is a popular cricket spot, but for those not content to simply watch, matches are held on all of the beaches and are open to the public. The Recreation Ground is also home to a huge festival in late July that showcases the party atmosphere of the island.
Antigua has a rich colonial history and Nelson’s Dockyard National Park is the best place to experience this. The Georgian shipyard here has been in use continually since being built in the 1700s.
There are 365 beaches in Antigua to be enjoyed at your leisure, and all boast beautiful white sands. Snorkelling is best done on the eastern coastline, as the best reefs can be found here, while the western coastline is ideal for those seeking to relax.
Antigua is in the Caribbean, meaning the best time to visit weather-wise is December to May. This time of year tends to be less humid, but still boasts temperatures of around 27ºC.
Many hotels and some attractions are not open for business between August and October when temperatures climb and humidity soars.