In order to visit Antigua and Barbuda, you have to undertake a little pre-planning in order to have a smooth trip. This article covers all the items should you have on your Antigua Travel Checklist – whether that’s checking passports, visa requirements, proof of onward travel or even simply that you’ve booked accommodation. You’ll want to take note of the electricity requirements here, figure out where and how you can get internet access and even how to get from the airport or cruise terminal to where you need to.
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Travel Essentials for Antigua & Barbuda
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Antigua > discount coupon here
- Book your airport transfer here
- Book the best Antigua tours and guides on Get Your Guide
- Book airport transfers in Antigua here
- Book rental cars on Antigua here.
- Book accommodation in Antigua with Booking
How to Pronounce Antigua
This is of major importance if you’ve studied Spanish and travelled in Latin America. This Antigua is pronounced Antee-GA. Get that straight from the get-go and you’ll be fine.
Check the Entry Requirements and Visa Requirements for Antigua – Barbuda
It’s an absolute necessity to check whether you meet the entry requirements for Antigua and Barbuda prior to planning your travel. If you are a citizen of the United States, Canada of the United Kingdom you do NOT need a visa to enter Antigua and Barbuda. You must, however, travel on a valid passport. You will be allowed to stay for a maximum of six months. The length of your stay will be noted in your passport. Please check the Antigua Entry Requirements with your government before travelling.
Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the end of your intended stay in Antigua and Barbuda.
If you need to extend your stay in Antigua you must apply for – and most likely pay for – an extension at the Antigua and Barbuda Immigration Department.
Antigua immigration may request to see your proof of accommodation prior to granting you entry you can book incredible places to stay on Antigua with booking.com here
Here are some key links for what your entry requirements are for Antigua and Barbuda.
- Canada Entry Requirements for Antigua and Barbuda – no visa needed, a 180-day stay allowed
- USA Entry Requirements for Antigua and Barbuda– no visa needed, 90 days stay allowed
- UK Entry Requirements for Antigua and Barbuda– no visa needed, 180 days stay allowed
- Australia Entry Requirements for Antigua and Barbuda – no visa required. 180 day stay usually granted. Australia Smart Traveller does not usually provide travel advice for Antigua and Barbuda.
- New Zealand Entry Requirements for Antigua and Barbuda – no visa required. 180 day stay usually granted.
Sign Up for Foreign Travel Advice for Antigua – Barbuda
Wherever you are a citizen of, your government will provide advice for foreign travel. In the UK this is the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the FCDO. We always sign up for notifications of each country that we visit. Antigua and Barbuda Travel Advice from your government is essential. And while if something goes wrong when you’re in the country, you’re likely to be the first to know, it’s always a good idea to check what your government policy about a certain country or area is, and when it changes, then you’ll get notified automatically by email.
Foreign Travel Advice about Antigua and Barbuda From Your Government
- UK Government Advice on Travel to Antigua and Barbuda
- US Government Advice on Travel to Antigua and Barbuda
- Australian Government Advice on Travel to Antigua and Barbuda
- New Zealand Government Advice on Travel to Antigua and Barbuda
- Canada Government Advice on Travel to Antigua and Barbuda
There may be certain areas of the country that your government advises that you do not visit and it is important to heed that. If you need consular assistance and you’ve gone against advice it may not be available. Your travel insurance may also be then voided.
Consider Travel and Medical Insurance before traveling to Antigua and Barbuda
Most trips to the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda take place without issue, but for those that have problems, travel insurance may cover you. Medical care is expensive in Antigua. Road conditions aren’t great (you should see the dinged-up state of some of the rental cars there!).
Travel and Medical insurance for Antigua and Barbuda can cover you for many things, including, but not limited to
- Stolen Credit Cards
- Emergency Overseas Medical Assistance
- Repatriation for medical purposes
- Delayed baggage
- Trip Cancellation
For Antigua and Barbuda Proof of Onward Travel is Required
All visitors to Antigua and Barbuda must have an onward ticket or return before they will be permitted entry to the country. You are likely to require confirmation of your accommodation while in the country as well.
If you are arriving on a Cruise Ship you will not usually require an onward ticket, so long as you are entering the country in the morning and leaving the same day.
Most people visit Antigua and Barbuda on a cruise ship or on a specified resort holiday, so have a return flight booked. If that’s not you and you’re uncertain of your next destination (like we were), then you need to provide proof of onward travel to the immigration officers.
We have more on providing proof of onward travel here when we really don’t know when or how we want to leave a country. You can also use a service like Onward Ticket – a company formed by Digital Nomads to give you a PDF ticket and a valid PNR for your transit through immigration. It’s an excellent idea, has a great price, and a super service > get it here!
Prebook your accommodation in Antigua and Barbuda
If you’re arriving in Antigua on a cruise ship then you don’t need to worry about this. If you’re lucky enough to be staying at an all-inclusive resort then you probably booked your accommodation months and months ago and paid for it too!
If you’re like us and you’re traveling from island to island in the Caribbean and staying in the more local places, then you need to prebook your accommodations. For one, immigration might ask for proof of it and you usually need to complete the details on your immigration and customs forms.
The second reason to prebook your accommodation is because all the GREAT places to stay get booked up! You know what it is like. A hotel or apartment gets a dozen good reviews and all of a sudden there’s no availability. My advice is to find somewhere you want to stay and don’t delay. Even overnight. Book it there and then. It is not going to get any cheaper (we wish!), and there won’t be any more availability.
You’ll also want to ensure that you’re booking WELL AHEAD of time, especially during holidays and Carnival! Here are some key dates to be aware of in Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua and Barbuda Holiday Times
These are the public holidays in Antigua. You can expect all but the most touristy of stores and restaurants to be closed on these days. As St John’s in Antigua is a major cruise ship destination you can also always find things open when there is a cruise ship in town. Read our guide on what to do in St John’s Antigua. For instance, on Christmas Day in 2019, there were FIVE cruise ships in port – and yes things were open!
- January 1 – New Years’ Day
- April 10 – Good Friday
- April 13 – Easter Monday
- May 4 – Labour Day
- Jun1 – Whitsuntide Monday
- November 1 –Independence Day
- November 2 Independence Day Observed
- December 9 – National Heroes Day
- December 25 – Christmas Day
- December 26 Boxing Day
Sundays in Antigua
Most shops will be closed on Sundays – unless you’re at the cruise terminal where they’re likely to be open if there is a ship in port. Many restaurants will also close on Sundays.
Want a guide on things to see, do, eat and drink in Antigua? Here you go!
Currency in Antigua & Barbuda
The Antiguan currency is the East Caribbean Dollar. You can buy Eastern Caribbean Dollars at home, or simply use your credit card in Antigua. You can also use the ATM machines in Antigua. We use and recommend the Wise debit card for obtaining foreign currency abroad. With fee-free ATM withdrawals and simply the best foreign exchange rates we’ve found, the free multi-currency account is superb. Register for an account here for FREE and find out more! – The Wise Debit Card is also now available in Canada
How to get to Antigua
You’ll arrive in Antigua either by air at the VC Bird International Airport, by cruise ship at the cruise terminal in the capital city of St John’s, or by private yacht. Antigua is a small island and relatively easy to get around once you are here, although public transport is somewhat hit-and-miss.
Arriving in Antigua
Most overnight and longer visitors will arrive in Antigua at the V.C Bird international airport. On arrival, there is a taxi dispatch desk and car rental desk. There is no public bus stop at the airport, although there is a stop just outside the airport.
Arriving at the airport
There is one airport in Antigua and it’s small. The VC Bird international airport is small. Free WiFi is available for 15 minutes per device. After 15 minutes, you will need to wait until the next day to connect again or use a different device. Paid options for WiFi are available.
There are 2 ATMs at the airport in Antigua. Both ATMs accept international cards, although the Antigua Commercial Bank ATM requires that you have “mag stripe access” enabled if this is an option on your debit cards.
Onward transport from V C Bird international airport to locations around Antigua is easiest by either pre-arranged transfer, rental car, or taxi.
Transport from Antigua International Airport
You will either need to take a pre-arranged transfer (check your best options here) a taxi or a rental car from the airport in Antigua. Taxis are dispatched from the dispatch desk and are set rates for specific locations around the island. Dickenson Bay, for instance, from the airport is US$16. You can pay in either US dollars or EC dollars. If you pay in US dollars your change will be given in US dollars. Tipping your taxi driver is expected at the rate of 10-15%.
The rental car office is located in the OLD terminal building. (from arrivals turn left out of the building, and walk alongside the road, to the next building. It’s not immediately obvious, but if you can’t figure it out ask anyone.
There is a public bus stop that follows a route into St John’s, Antigua’s capital just outside the airport, but public buses are few and far between. You are unlikely to catch a public bus after 16:00.
Arriving at the Cruise Port in St John’s Antigua
The Cruise Port in Antigua is in the center of the capital city of St. John’s. If you are here for the day, you can walk into St John’s, arrange a taxi or take a rental car as well as take excursions from your cruise ship. If you are renting a car from the Cruise Terminal you will need to contact the rental car company and find where to meet them. Hertz Car Rental in Antigua, for instance, met us in the Java to Go café, on Redcliffe Street in the Nevis Street Pier part of the Cruise Terminal, but you’ll need to contact them beforehand to arrange it. Get a quote for a rental car in Antigua now.
What Currency Does Antigua Use?
The currency in Antigua and Barbuda is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. The Antigua and Barbuda currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar is fixed to the US dollar USD$1 = EC$2.65. You will be able to spend US dollars here too. However, you won’t always get the same exchange rate and you’ll often find if you have EC dollars the price is cheaper.
ATMs in Antigua
You’ll find ATMs in St Johns and at the airport. Most ATMs are marked on both Google Maps and Maps.me. Higher-end restaurants and tour operators will accept credit cards. We found that the Antigua Commercial Bank ATMs did not levy a charge, but that RBC ATMs levied a charge of between US$3.70 and US$5 on a UK Mastercard debit card.
Electricity in Antigua
You may find the electricity a little confusing in Antigua. Part of the island is 110 volts and part is 220 volts. Check with your hotel or apartment what the voltage is before plugging in any appliances. Sockets will usually be 2 or 3 pins. (US or Latin American style).
Some sockets will require a voltage converter if you are traveling from the United States and Canada. Many hotels have both voltages available, however, if you are staying in an apartment then you’ll want to confirm with your host what voltage and sockets their property has. We recommend taking and using the SK Ross converter to protect all your devices.
Drinking Water in Antigua
It is safe to drink tap water in Antigua and Barbuda, however, our host at one apartment advised that they did not drink the water. We always travel with filter water bottles that we use regardless of whether the tap water is safe or not. More times than not, it is the different minerals present in tap water that cause stomach upsets for travelers. Check out our guide to filter water bottles.
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Internet Access in Antigua and Barbuda
We generally found the internet to be good in Antigua. There wasn’t publicly available internet in parks like in say, Salento Colombia, but the internet from our accommodations worked well and was fast enough for Skype conversations. Some café’s and bars also provided free WiFi. We did not use roaming on our cell phones as it was incredibly expensive.
Download and Use a VPN in Antigua and Barbuda
We always travel with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). We fire up our VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks to ensure that no one is snooping on our data when we’re booking things, looking at our bank details, or paying bills.
It also lets you do things that might be blocked geographically. Like watching Netflix or the BBC. We recommend ExpressVPN, which we’ve used in some of the world’s most difficult countries to access the internet.
Transport in Antigua – Getting Around Antigua
There are 4 forms of transport in Antigua. Pre-arranged transfers, taxis, rental cars, and local buses. If you’re traveling on a budget, then we’d recommend that you rent a car – and that’s because getting around Antigua by public bus won’t get you to the places you want to visit, and certainly not in a timely fashion.
Local Buses in Antigua
Local buses in Antigua are essentially minibusses, you’ll be able to spot them by the BUS on their number plates. The bus routes in Antigua are primarily designed for locals. Not tourists in a hurry. The buses run routes that start from the East Bus Station or the West Bus Station in the capital of St John’s. Fares cost around EC$3. They run really infrequently. Really, really infrequently, and most times wait until full.
Antigua Taxis and Pre-arranged Transfers
Antigua Taxi Rates are supposed to be published and available to you. There should be a poster or a sign at the airport and cruise port.
You will be able to find taxis at the airport, at the cruise terminal and if you’re at a restaurant they will be able to call one for you. You’ll also find a taxi stand outside the major resort hotels. Taxis run at pre-set rates for certain routes and locations, but ALWAYS confirm the cost before you get in. If you’re staying further out, then you’ll want to take a card so that you have a way of contacting a driver for future routes.
Car Rental in Antigua & Barbuda
Local buses in Antigua are fun, friendly, and cheap. But they run to their timetable and they go on specific routes which service the local community, not tourists looking to find their favorite beach out of Antigua’s 365 beaches – all of which are free access to the public.
Car rental in Antigua really is the best way to see the island in your own time. Most car rentals start and finish at the airport or the cruise port – but it will only take you 45 minutes to drive between the two locations anyways. There is no one-way drop-off fee. If you are staying further out – then your rental car company will likely come and meet you and take you to their office to sign the paperwork.
To drive a car in Antigua you will need a local driver’s license and you must carry it with you when driving. Obtaining a local driver’s license for your rental is easy, you just need your driving license from your home country and then to pay – US$20 (EC Dollars $60) – and your rental car company will fill in the details and deal with the paperwork for you.
In Antigua, you drive on the LEFT. Roads are in various states of repair and potholes are frequent and deep. NEVER drive through a puddle after rainstorms, you never know how deep it is. If a car is driving towards you on the wrong side of the road it is likely trying to avoid potholes. There are very few sidewalks/pavements, so pedestrians are likely to be walking on the road.
Tipping in Antigua – Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is not a budget place to travel. Most places expect a 10-15% tip. Some restaurants automatically add a 10% service fee, if so, this will be added to your bill. Taxi drivers will also expect 10-15% of the fare.
What Else to Know Before You Arrive in Antigua
Antigua has 365 beaches
There are 365 beaches in Antigua – one for every day of the year. All of these beaches have full public access, so even though the hugely expensive Sandals Resort has its sun loungers set up, you can still access the beach.
Many of Antigua’s beaches are deserted, others have sun loungers and bars on them. Read how to keep your gear safe on a beach. If you plan on spending the day on the beach, swimming, snorkeling, and enjoying the sunshine be sure to keep your valuables safe. We always use a portable travel safe to secure any valuables we take to the beach – wallet, money, car keys, camera, etc – and lock it to a tree if we both want to be in the water at the same time.
What Language Is Spoken in Antigua and Barbuda?
English is spoken as the main language in Antigua and Barbuda.
The main supermarket in Antigua is called Epicurean Foods
The main supermarket on the island is called Epicurean Foods and its located in the Gambles area of the island, northeast of St Johns. This is a big US-style supermarket with a wide variety of primarily American imported foodstuffs. It is expensive as mostly everything is imported. Other local supermarkets like Billy’s Foods, close to Epicurean Foods, is cheaper and has a local deli counter with dishes like Bullfoot Soup and Goat Water. There are a variety of smaller “supermarkets” throughout the island but choices will be much more limited. There’s always a supply of cold beer and Antigua rum available though.
Camouflage clothing is prohibited in Antigua and Barbuda
Camouflage is against the law in Antigua and Barbuda, so leave it at home and don’t even think of trying to sneak it into the country in your bags. It will be confiscated and you may be fined.
The TimeZone in Antigua and Barbuda is GMT minus 4
Antigua and Barbuda are on Atlantic Standard Time – that’s one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time and the same as Eastern Daylight Time. It’s GMT MINUS four hours.
There is a risk of Zika and Chikungunya virus in Antigua and Barbuda
Ensure you take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. We travel with mosquito repellent and also try and cover up at dusk. Dengue Fever is also endemic to the Caribbean. Health care is expensive here, make sure you have adequate coverage.
You may have to pay for medical care first and claim it back from your travel and medical insurance provider later.
There are severe penalties for drug offenses in Antigua and Barbuda
Never carry luggage for anyone else.
Antiguans are friendly
All the Antiguans we met were friendly. Bus drivers honked their horns at us asking us if we wanted a public bus, and people asked if we were ok when we were walking. Tour providers asked us if we wanted to take trips, but no one hassled us in our travels to Antigua. The island is quite lovely and her people are great.
Final Words on our Antigua Travel Checklist
We visited Antigua as independent travelers, staying in apartments, using a taxi to get to our first accommodation, then walking and renting a car to travel around the island. We ate out at the local cafes and restaurants (where the main meal is at lunchtime), and we catered using the minimarkets and “supermarkets”. We plotted a route around the island to check off our must-sees and rented a car in order to see them. We had a great time, stayed in fabulous places and saw some amazing beaches, and sunsets and found a lot of interesting history too!
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