An Antigua Yacht Charter will make you love this appealing destination. “The island had warm, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbors. And a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. It would make a perfect place to hide a fleet.”
This was the sentiment of the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1784. And so he sailed to Antigua and established Great Britain’s most important Caribbean base. Over 200 years later, the unique characteristics make this a premier Caribbean tourist destination.
Antigua and Barbuda are the two major islands in this sovereign island country. This nation also includes the tiny uninhabited island of Redonda, which is now a nature preserve. This 108-square-mile island is positioned between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the Leeward Islands.
To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe and to the north and west are Nevis, St Kitts, St Barts, and St Martin. At least 97% of the population of this island nation resides in Antigua. St John is the capital and largest port. Mount Obama (1319 ft) is the highest point, formerly Boggy Peak.
Well before Europeans settled in this part of the world, native Amerindians did. Carbon dating established the earliest settlements to be around 3100 BC. Afterward, the Arawak and Carib Indians settled here. The Arawaks called Antigua, Wadadli. It is locally still known by that name. Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the islands in 1493. He may have named it after a Spanish icon, “Santa Maria La Antigua.”
Then, the English settled on Antigua in 1632 and maintained control of the islands. They introduced sugar cane and, together with it, a large population of enslaved people from West Africa. The enslaved people soon vastly outnumbered the European settlers. In 1968, Antigua became an associated state of the British Commonwealth. This island nation gained complete independence on November 1, 1981.
You will enjoy warm and tropical weather in Antigua year-round. Temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Antigua has low humidity, thanks to the cooler trade winds. In general, it is drier and less humid than a lot of Caribbean islands.
Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it indeed the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands. The northeast trade winds are nearly constant. The driest months are January to April, making this time the busiest of the year. May through November show more potential for short bursts of tropical rain. Tropical storms are also possible during that time.
Places to See on your Antigua Yacht Charter
Fort Berkeley – Hike up the rugged path to the fort, of course, with proper footwear. Fort Berkeley guards the entrance to Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour. This short hike to Fort Berkeley is worth the effort. Construction started in 1704. See 20 cannons, a stone quarry, and a powder magazine.
Fort James – The fort, located at the entrance to St. John’s Harbour, was built by the British between 1706 and 1739 to protect against invasions by the French. Many old cannons remain amongst the foundations. The view from here is stunning.
The Antigua and Barbuda Museum – Gives a great introduction to the island’s history. It shows everything from when Antigua was first discovered to the day of independence, such as Amerindian pottery and a life-size model of an Arawak house.
Ruins of Betty Hope – One of the first sugar plantations, dating back to 1651. It has been nicely restored. The visitor center provides a wealth of information on Antiguan history. About 112 sugar mill towers can still be found in the countryside of Antigua. They are, above all, a reminder of the days of slavery.
Nelson’s Dockyard – A national park and 2016 UNESCO World Heritage Site. It housed British naval ships and was ultimately used to serve as a lookout for enemy ships. It also includes a museum, restaurants, shops, cafes, and hotels.
Shirley Heights Lookout – You will find the best panoramic view of Antigua and its most photographed vista. It is a restored military lookout and gun battery. Try to visit at sunset when the harbor is all lit up or early in the morning before the sun comes up.
Things to Do
Beaches – Antigua offers 365 delightful and magnificent beaches, one for every day of the year. Ffryes Beach is the most popular one. Dickenson Bay is the most developed beach with restaurants, water sports facilities, and shallow calm water. Take your Instagram photo here next to the red phone booth. Darkwood Beach is a white-sand beach that offers jetski rentals and beach chairs, a popular beach bar, and a restaurant.
Surfing – Galley Bay Beach has some of the best surfing waves in Antigua.
Diving – Have the crew of your Antigua Yacht Charter arrange for diving equipment. Cades Reef is a favorite of divers. It is located in a protected area and stretches for several miles. Make sure to take your underwater camera along since the colorful marine life is plentiful. If you enjoy wreck diving, Antigua is heaven for you. It has recorded more than 100 shipwrecks around the shores such as “The Andes,” a beautiful old three-masted merchant ship. It has excellent photo opportunities with easy access.
Snorkeling – Cades Reef is wonderful for snorkeling as well as diving. The colorful fish, turtles and coral are a sight to behold. If you want to stay closer to shore, Long Bay should certainly be your destination. You might also try a Scooter Snorkeling tour at Galleon Beach.
More Things to Do
Shopping – The best variety of stores is at Heritage Quay and Redcliff Quay. Support local art, in particular at Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery and Zemi Art Gallery.
Swim with Stingrays – At Stingray City Antigua. Southern rays are the brightest rays in the Caribbean and here you can interact with them, even feed them. The snorkeling here is outstanding.
Kayak – Enjoy kayaking through peaceful mangroves in one of the kayaks from your chartered yacht.
Watch Turtles – Turtle nesting season is June to November. Sea turtles often leave their eggs to nest at Galley Bay Beach. Witness nesting and hatching during a safely organized activity by the Environmental Awareness Group.
Ziplining – See Antigua from a bird’s-eye-view. Zipline through the treetops of its fantastic rainforest. Travel along different ziplines to a treehouse and suspension bridges. Contact Antigua Rainforest Zipline Adventure.
Antigua Sailing Week – This annual event takes place at Nelson’s Dockyard from the end of April to the first week in May. Events include formal races, social events, and a fun “Lay-Day” beach event.
Antigua Carnival – July to August. Carnival here does not mean several days of fun before Lent. Rather, it commemorates the end of slavery in Antigua and Barbuda. It’s ten days of magnificent colorful costumes, parades, and steel drum bands.
Independence Day – Antigua gained independence on November 1, 1981. For the first time in 328 years, the Union Jack was lowered and replaced with the flag of Antigua. Enjoy this week-long celebration with the whole family.
Native Foods and Drinks
Fungee and pepperpot – The national dish of Antigua and Barbuda. Fungee is made with cornmeal in addition to okra. Antiguan pepperpot is a stewed meat dish. Strongly seasoned, including hot peppers. The stew is traditionally made with any available meat or fish but beef, pork, and mutton are most often used.
Ducana – Sweet potato dumplings or pudding that sometimes includes pumpkin. It is placed in a banana leaf and boiled in water.
Conch – The meat of an oversized sea snail, the conch. All parts of the conch meat are edible. It is eaten raw or cooked.
Antigua black pineapple – The signature fruit of Antigua. It is known as the sweetest and rarest pineapple variety.
Saltfish – Salted and dried cod.
Lobster – Freshly caught, then grilled or broiled.
Sugar cake – Confections made with grated coconut and sugar. Food coloring is added.
Wadadli Beer – Rum is not the only alcohol made on the island. Taking the original name of the island, Wadadli is the national beer of Antigua.
The Cove – At The Blue Waters Resort. Soldier’s Bay, St John. French-Caribbean cuisine. Upscale, ideal for a romantic or a special occasion dinner. Oceanfront views, torchlit entrance, and candlelit tables. Watch the sunset and listen to the ocean waves crashing in.
Miracle’s South Coast Restaurant – Jolly Harbour area. A local favorite best known for its curry goat, lobster roti, and jerk chicken. The seafood is outstanding. Served fresh from the fishing boats, prepared to your liking.
Papa Zouk – St John. A large sign reads “Fish ‘n’ Rum.” “Great fish, largest collection of rums and zouk music.” It is the perfect blend of exceptional food, service, and knowledgeable bar staff. Of course, you have to add rum to your meal. After all, Papa Zouk’s collection includes about 250 bottles. Very popular with locals and visitors alike.
Island Fusion – Dockyard Drive. Caribbean and seafood. Tranquil atmosphere by the harbor. Delicious food made with love. Amazing views and ambiance, very friendly staff. A restaurant the whole family will enjoy.
Shirley Heights Lookout Restaurant and Bar – Not just a popular lookout point. Besides breathtaking views and magnificent sunsets you can be part of the best BBQ party on Antigua. In between dancing you can enjoy freshly grilled jerk chicken and plenty of rum punch. Every Sunday starting around 4 pm. BBQ is offered on Thursdays as well.
Jacqui O’s Beachhouse – Jolly Harbour. Local cuisine, Caribbean, seafood, international. Located right on the beach. Highly rated restaurant in Antigua. Fantastic service, and fabulous food are served in an attractive beach garden. Watch the sunset. Reservations advised.
Marinas and Anchorages Antigua Yacht Charter
Antigua Slipway Boatyard and Marina – English Harbour. This centrally located and deep draught marina and boatyard has recently been re-conditioned. It has been providing yacht service since 1966.
Antigua Yacht Club and Marina – Falmouth Harbour. This 125-slip full-service marina caters to the superyacht market. It can accommodate yachts up to 25 ft draft.
Falmouth Harbour Marina – This marina was specifically built for superyachts. 30 berths. Large high docks can accommodate vessels up to 300 ft in length and a maximum 20 ft draft.
Nelson’s Dockyard Marina – Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also provides one of Antigua’s fines superyacht facilities. Accommodating both sail and motor yachts up to 180 ft in length, using a new bow mooring system. In addition, it offers one of the safest and most delightful natural anchorages in the Caribbean.
Jolly Harbour Marina – West coast. It welcomes yachts up to 200 ft. Customs and immigration clearance is on site. A full-service marina, with 155 concrete marina berths. A 24-hour security patrol and CCTV provide a safe environment.
Catamaran Marina – North side of Falmouth Harbour. 60 slips can shelter yachts up to 200 ft in length. An extended dock can also fit six large yachts, over 100 ft.
Nonsuch Bay – A picture-perfect anchorage with palm-shaded beaches. It offers a selection of beautiful anchorages, including Rickett Harbor and Brown’s Bay. A windward reef offers protection from the sea.
Carlisle Bay – Located on the southwest of Antigua. Lined by palm trees and offering clear and calm water, certainly an ideal place to anchor overnight.
Dickenson Bay – A popular anchorage. Approach from Weatherill’s Point and head ashore to enjoy both day and nighttime activities.
Deep Bay – Just west of St John’s Harbour. It offers one of the most secure anchorages on the west coast. Deep Bay however is a shallow harbor providing eight feet of water almost to the beach. Look out for the shipwreck, a three-masted steel merchant barque named “Andes.”
Five Islands Bay – A lovely secluded anchorage on the Caribbean side of Antigua.
Galleon Beach – A popular anchorage on the southernmost tip of Antigua in English Harbour. Tuck in behind the reef if there is space.
Parham Harbour – North coast. A well-protected anchorage. Initially the main port for Antigua in the late 1600s, We advise entering or leaving here only at daylight.
Picart’s Bay – West coast of Antigua. You will find this beautiful anchorage a few miles south of Jolly Harbour. The sea here is a stunningly beautiful turquoise blue. Drop the anchor and swim ashore.
Antigua Yacht Charter | Yacht Types
CKIM can arrange crewed sailboats, catamarans, or motor yachts for your Antigua Yacht Charter vacation. During the winter season, Antigua is one of the primary bases for Super Yachts and Mega Yachts, both motor and sail. However, it is a half-day sail to re-position a catamaran from St Martin to Antigua, should one not be available in Antigua.
If you enjoy sailing, a luxury yacht charter starting in Antigua and ending in St Martin is an excellent option. You will enjoy open water cruising with possible visits to Barbuda, St Kitts, Nevis, St Eustatia, St Barths, and Anguilla, with time permitting.