The Ultimate Antigua – Barbuda Travel Checklist [Before You Go…]


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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.

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.

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 accommodation easily using booking.com here.

Here are some key links for what your entry requirements are for Antigua and Barbuda.

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 and Commonwealth Office, the FCO.  We always sign up for notifications of each country that we visit.  And while if something goes wrong when you’re in the country, you’re likely to be the first to know, its always a good idea to check what your government policy about a certain country or area 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.

Travel Advice Antigua and Barbuda

Obtain Travel and Medical Insurance before travelling to Antigua and Barbuda

Most trips to the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda take place without issue, but for those that have problems, you need travel insurance.  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

Check out our guide to Caribbean Travel Insurance here. 

We use World Nomads – not least because they cover us for Cruises, Skiing, Water Sports, Diving and also the ability to take out a policy when we don’t start from our home country! > Get an insurance quote NOW.

World Nomads enable you to buy, extend and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 150 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

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, 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 travelling 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 (you 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.



Booking.com

You’ll also want to ensure that you’re booking WELL AHEAD of times 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 recently 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

Antigua Carnival Dates 2020

Antigua Carnival is held in July the dates for 2020 are the 23rd July to 25th July 2020.  You’ll want to book your accommodation well ahead of time if you plan on visiting Antigua during Carnival.

Sundays in Antigua

Most shops will be closed on Sundays – unless you’re in 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!

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 desks.   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 on Antigua and it’s small.  The VC Bird international airport is small.  Free WiFi is available for 15 minutes per device.  After your 15 minutes, you will need to wait until the next day to connect again or use a different device.  Paid for options for WiFi are available.

There are 2 ATM’s at the airport in Antigua.  Both ATM’s accept international cards, although the Antigua Commerical Bank ATM requires that you have “mag stripe access” enabled if this is an option on your debit cards.

ATMS at VC Bird Airport Antigua

Onward transport from V C Bird international airport to locations around Antigua is easiest by either pre-arranged transfer, rental card 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 location 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 no 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 1600.

Arriving at the Cruise Port in St John’s Antigua

The Cruise Port in Antigua is in the centre 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 taking 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, meets in the Java to Go café, in Redcliffe Street in the Nevis Street Pier part of the Cruise Terminal, but you’ll need to contact them beforehand to arrange. Get a quote for a rental car in Antigua now.

The Currency in Antigua and Barbuda

The currency in Antigua and Barbuda is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.  The Eastern Caribbean Dollar is fixed to the US dollar USD$1w = 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.

Antigua currency

ATM’s in Antigua

You’ll find ATM’s in St Johns and at the airport.  Most ATM’s are marked on both Google Maps and Maps.me .  Higher-end restaurants and tour operators will accept credit cards.  We found that the Antigua Commerical Bank ATMs did not levy a charge, but that RBC ATM’s levied a charged 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 travelling from the United States and Canda.  Many hotels have both voltages available, however, if you are using Airbnb (click here for US$30 voucher for your next booking) then you’ll want to confirm with your host what voltage and what 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 the 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 travellers.  Check out our guide to filter water bottles and see why we selected the Drinksafe Systems Travel Tap as our filter water bottle of choice – or buy the version of it in your territory here.

 

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 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, watch Netflix or the BBC.   We recommend ExpressVPN, which we’ve used in some of the world’s most difficult countries to access the internet – check it out here. This link will give you up to 49% off RRP or 3 months for free!

Transport in Antigua

There are 4 forms of transport in Antigua.  Pre-arranged transfers, taxis, rental cars and local buses. If you’re travelling on a budget, then we’d recommend that you rent a car – and that’s because getting around 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 minibuses, you’ll be able to spot them by the BUS on their number plates.  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.

Local Bus Antigua and Barbuda

Taxis and Pre-arranged Transfers

You will be able to find taxi’s 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 favourite beach out of Antigua’s 365 beaches – all of which are free access to the public.

Antigua Beaches

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.


If you are renting a car in Antigua, then we recommend either taking out the full CDW and SLI insurance or purchasing an annual policy to cover this.  Many of the rental cars are in a shocking state and have not led an easy life, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered for any damages.

To drive a car in Antigua you will need a local drivers licence and you must carry it with you when driving. Obtaining a local drivers license for your rental is easy, you just need 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 in 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 allegedly 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 are deserted, others have sun loungers and bars on them. Read how to keep your gear safe on sa beach. If you plan on spending the day on the beach, swimming, snorkelling and enjoying the sunshine be sure yo keep your valuables safe.  We always use a Pacsafe 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. Check out Pacsafe options here.

The Language Spoken in Antigua and Barbuda

English is spoken as the main language in Antigua and Barbuda.

The main supermarket on Antigua is called Epicurean Foods

The main supermarket on the island is called Epicurean Foods and its located in the Gambles are of the island, north eat 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 cover – get a quote from WorldNomads now.  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 offences 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, 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.

Visiting Antigua as Independent Travellers

We visited Antigua as independent travellers, 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 cafe’s and restaurants (where the main meal is at lunchtime), 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, sunsets and found a lot of interesting history too!

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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