Antigua with young kids: 14 reasons to visit Antigua
It’s not hard to tempt someone to Antigua with kids. From our previous trips, I know how family-friendly the Caribbean is and with winter looming, I didn’t take much persuading to swap autumn for sun, sea and sand.
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But while those improbably turquoise seas are as enticing (and turquoise) as the photos, it’s definitely worth dragging yourself away from the beach to discover what else Antigua has to offer, even for those travelling with a toddler or preschooler.
Because while there are more adrenaline thrills and underwater adventures if you don’t have a three-year-old, here are my 14 reasons to visit Antigua with young kids.
There are far more things to do in Antigua with kids than simply discovering the powdery soft sand and unfeasibly clear water, but you can’t miss the beaches entirely.
And with 365 beaches – famously one for every day of the year – you won’t be short of somewhere to relax by the waves.
If you’re visiting Antigua with toddlers, lovely Long Bay has shallow water so clear that you can walk out to reefs and see the fish without needing a snorkel – useful when you’ve got a three-year-old who won’t consider a mask.
One of the best ways to see the island is by cruising around its coast, and there are plenty of family-friendly options for boat trips in Antigua.
We took a half-day trip with SeaEscapes hopping around the coast before a stop at Deep Bay for lunch and a swim.
The glass-bottomed boat is another bonus with little ones who can’t swim, as they can still get a feel for the marine life.
Whether you choose the shallow rocks and reef of Long Bay – perfect for wandering out to with a preschooler who can’t yet swim or snorkel – or the deeper water on our SeaEscapes voyage, there are some incredible fish and corals.
My three-year-old is already fascinated by the undersea world but until she’s more confident in the water, snorkelling is off the table for now, so it was fantastic to give her a view of the fish without going to an aquarium – big tick if you’re visiting Antigua with toddler too.
One of my favourite experiences on Antigua was swimming with stingrays on a shallow sandbank at Stingray City.
Free to come and go, they’re very happy to float over to hoover up squid and there’s a small deck for any small people who want a taste of the experience without getting into the water.
Shirley Heights is the most famous viewpoint, overlooking English Harbour, but the limestone peaks around the island give great views out to the Caribbean, curving sandy bays and the neighbouring islands.
The Devil’s Bridge
The ocean crashes up through this blowhole in the rocks on the east side of the island, wearing away the cliff to create a narrow bridge.
Even at a distance, it’s impressive for kids (and adults!) to watch as it suddenly blasts upwards in an eruption of spray.
Check out the video for a shot of it in action!
Nelson’s Dockyard dates back to the 18th century, and was once home to Nelson himself as well as being a key naval base for the British fleet.
Today there’s a museum among the restaurants and hotels too, and while the combination of cobbles and jetlag sent my daughter off to sleep in her buggy, there’s enough to capture a three-year-old’s interest here as well.
Another remnant of Antigua’s past, the windmills once used on sugar plantations still dot the hills, including Betty’s Hope.
One of the earliest plantations on the island, there’s more information across the site – one of the mill towers has its sails restored, but it’s worth a stop even just to look at the buildings.
Antigua’s picturesque capital
St John’s, on the island’s west coast, is a mix of bright pastel colours and a historic 19th century cathedral, which replaced two previous buildings destroyed in earthquakes.
There was work going on in the grounds when we visited, but you can wander through the old cemetery, as well as past the boutiques and shops of the town.
From the earliest Amerindians to British colonisation, one of the best ways to discover the island’s history is at the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda in St John’s, with some sobering exhibits on slavery too.
A small museum, there’s nothing particularly for young kids but older kids will appreciate more of the impact of the exhibits, and it’s easy to wander around.
Caribbean food and drink
Fish, seafood, creole spices and fruit galore to try mean you’ll find fantastic food whether you’re eating in your resort or stopping to pick something up while you’re exploring.
I always love finding conch fritters (even if Minnie is less tempted!) Plus the rum-packed daiquiris, obviously… and a virgin strawberry version for my daughter.
Exactly what you picture when you think of the Caribbean… blue skies, gentle breezes and sun. Around eight hours of sun per day, in fact, and even in the rainiest months the showers are normally brief.
Plus it’s warm enough to swim in the sea year-round. Enough said… Bliss!
Chilled-out, welcoming and ultra-relaxing. There’s always a warm welcome in the Caribbean but you can turn the warmth up a few notches when you’re travelling as a family.
Kids are never too much trouble here, which helps make it an even more relaxing experience for parents.
The places to stay
I stayed at Verandah Resort & Spa in the east of the island, part of the Elite Island Resorts group – several of the resorts on Antigua are family-friendly but this was great for a visit to Antigua with young kids.
It’s all-inclusive, which makes it perfect for families, including some great watersports to try and two beaches, along with pools (one of which is the biggest on the island) and a kids’ club.
Check out my full review of Verandah resort here
**First published 2015, updated 2020**
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Disclosure: My trip to Antigua and stay at Verandah Resort was courtesy of the Antigua tourist board and Elite Island Resorts. All opinions on the top reasons to visit Antigua with kids remain my own. This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission
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