Tips For Visiting Antigua In Winter
Written by Jaillan Yehia
When the clocks go back and winter draws in, my mind turns to dreams of escape – preferably to a paradise island.
Like many Brits, the Caribbean is what I imagine when I think of palm-fringed beaches and the last time I took a winter break to a Caribbean island I chose Antigua.
Here are a few facts you need to know when visiting the picture postcard Caribbean island of Antigua in winter.
Thinking of visiting Antigua in winter? Read on for a few tips…
About Antigua & Barbuda
That infamous seafarer Christopher Columbus discovered Antigua in 1493 – and he named it after a statue in Seville Cathedral.
But much like the rest of the Caribbean, Antigua was colonised by the British in the late 1600’s. This is why it continues to be a popular destination for British holidaymakers, bringing in vastly greater number of Brits than any other European nationality – only Americans visit Antigua in greater numbers.
During British rule Antigua was most famous for sugar which was put on ships and sent back to to Blighty from English Harbour – the island still has little sweet spots dotted around, in the form of the old sugar mills.
Back in 1981 Antigua joined the Commonwealth and gained independence and just like the other well-known British Caribbean duo of Trinidad & Tobago, it did so with its own little sister island in the shape of Barbuda.
Barbuda itself doesn’t have an international airport but is a 20 minute local flight, or a few nautical miles, away. It makes a great day excursion from Antigua and if you book a charter from a reputable broker you could get there on your very own yacht.
If you do go to Barbuda by air instead of sea, you’ll be heading to the only airport in the world with the destination code BBQ – which is probably just what you want to do when you get to an island that tiny.
Why Come to Antigua In Winter
The first thing you’ll want to know is whether Antigua & Barbuda are the perfect place to you to visit for your taste of West Indies winter sun.
The landscape in Antigua isn’t as lush as other Caribbean islands like St Lucia or Guadeloupe which are better known for their greenery, but the colonial history here is unique, fascinating and humbling by turns, and the number of beaches is of course unparalleled: its known as the land of 365 beaches, so it is well-suited to those who love lazing on a sun lounger.
Antigua in winter is always rated high for honeymooners or those in search of romance. The island draws in plenty of discerning couples in the winter months who want to escape together to a place which has a beach for every day of the year – including the days when back home they’d be wearing bobble hats rather than bathers.
But Antigua doesn’t have much of a party scene so it probably isn’t the place of you’re young, single and looking for a social scene on your winter holiday.
This island is more about outdoor activities, especially those on the water like swimming, fishing, private day sailing charters, kayaking, and even meeting stingrays – which makes it a good spot for families and groups as well as the honeymooning crowd.
What To Do In Antigua In Winter
Quite a few of Antigua’s festivals like carnival are concentrated in the summer months, but most of the things you’d want to try on the island are open all year round so visiting Antigua in winter won’t hamper your options. Here are a few ideas:
Try Your Hand At Fishing
Fishing is available all year round on some level – although conditions are generally breezier and seas can be choppy in the winter months but there are numerous deep sea fishing charter operators based in and around Jolly Harbour in the west or Falmouth and English Harbour in the south east.
You could also rent your own boat and then decide on the day how much time you want to spend fishing vs sunbathing or simply relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Meet A stingray
In Antigua you can head to a unique attraction (and a popular one) called Stingray City where you can swim with stingrays, and as there’s nowhere to hide from the sun it’s probably best done in winter.
Snorkel At Cades Bay Marine Reserve
There’s good snorkeling right off the quiet beach and there are also some quaint places to stay near this beautiful marine reserve and reef system.
rent a car
Grab your own wheels for a day or two to explore the island – Antigua runs on island time and is a very friendly and relaxed place so just go at your own pace. There’s nothing more exciting than exploring an island on your own, and Antigua is large enough to have plenty of hidden corners.
check out the local Wadadli beer and the Cavalier Rum
The rum punch here is seriously packing, and it wouldn’t be a holiday without trying the locally brewed beer Wadadli, which is named after the original native name for the island.
Visit Nelson’s Dockyard
Along with little known Admiralty Bay in a on an off the beaten track island called Bequia in the Grenadines, as well as the port of Carlyle in Barbados this Antiguan port was one of only 3 dry docks available in the entire Caribbean in colonial times, so it is teaming with important history.
So, what’s the weather like in Antigua in Winter?
Sunshine and low humidity make it a pleasant place to travel pretty much year-round, but let’s be honest most of us wouldn’t consider going to the Caribbean in summer, when we can travel short haul for similar high temperatures.
Average temperatures on the island always remain consistently warm – it’s usually a pretty perfect 27 degrees, peaking around the 30 degree mark, but temperatures can drop as low as 23 between December and February, the main winter months, so if you’re really keen on sweltering, you might want to come at a different time.
High season is naturally concentrated around the European and American Christmas (as well as Easter) holidays, so if you’re looking for value but still want to visit in winter, avoided these times and look at January for lower prices.
The wettest months to visit are September to November but Antigua has an average of less than 1000 mm of rain a year anyway.
The good news is that a winter visit means your chance of a hurricane is practically zero as hurricane season tends to be August and September.
But do watch out for the sun – it can be incredibly strong – I remember being burned to a crisp despite having plenty of lotion on.
Because of the cooling Tradewinds all year round, you often don’t feel how hot you are are – this is especially true of a visit to a beach in Antigua in winter, so take care.
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