Antigua with young kids: 14 reasons to visit Antigua
It’s not hard to tempt someone to Antigua. 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.
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.
The beaches – there’s a lot more to Antigua than powdery soft sand and unfeasibly clear water, but with 365 beaches, you won’t be short of somewhere to relax by the waves.
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.
The sea – one of the best ways to see the island is by cruising around its coast, and there are plenty of family-friendly options. 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.
The snorkelling – whether you choose the shallow rocks and reef of Long Bay (perfect for wandering to with a preschooler) or the deeper water on our SeaEscapes voyage, there are some incredible fish and corals.
The stingrays – one of my favourite experiences, 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.
The views – 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 crashed 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 to watch.
Check out the video for a shot of it in action!
The history – 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, 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 too.
The landmarks – 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, so it’s worth a stop even just to look at the buildings.
The 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’s work going on in the grounds, but you can wander through the old cemetery, as well as past the boutiques and shops of the town.
The culture – 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 – although older kids will appreciate more of the impact of the exhibits – but it’s easy to wander around.
The food and drink – fish, seafood, creole spices and fruit galore to try. Plus the rum-packed daiquiris, obviously… and a virgin strawberry version for my daughter.
The weather – 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…
The atmosphere – 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.
The places to stay – I checked into Verandah Resort & Spa in the east of the island, one of the Elite Island Resorts. All-inclusive means it’s perfect for families with some great watersports and two beaches, as well as pools and a kids’ club.
Check out my full review here.
REASONS TO VISIT ANTIGUA WITH YOUNG KIDS: PIN FOR LATER
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.
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