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Antigua

Antigua Yacht Charter & Sailing Holiday

Inspiring Itineraries

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Antigua one-week sailing itinerary

Beautiful bays and beaches

A bareboat charter vacation is your chance to explore the sparkling waters and deserted coves of Antigua and Barbuda.

Cruise through the clear Caribbean Sea in the company of turtles, dolphins and frigate birds, discovering the many bays and beaches of Antigua or sailing further afield to the islands of Barbuda, Nevis and St. Kitts. Use our suggested itinerary to make the most of your Antigua bareboat sailing holiday or forge out independently and discover your own adventure.

Highlights

  • Sail with dolphins
  • Irresistible island culture
  • Hiking Antigua’s forested hills
  • Caribbean cruising
  • Snorkelling Freeman Bay
  • Barbuda’s deserted bays and beaches
Where is the best place to sail from Antigua?

Embark on an unforgettable Antigua sailing holiday by chartering your own yacht and exploring this Caribbean gem. Sail from bay to bay, guided by the warm trade winds, offering an ideal experience for groups, couples, and families with seasoned sailors. 

Explore all that Antigua has to offer on the crystal-clear blue waters for a truly memorable adventure. Not sure where to start? We have summarised some of our favourite spots for each holiday type, below.

For Families

There are many family-friendly marinas as coves in Antigua, our favourites include English Harbour and Dickson Bay. 

English Harbour provides a picturesque and calm setting, making it suitable for families with children. The historic Nelson’s Dockyard is located here, offering a unique blend of maritime history and family-friendly activities. The sheltered waters are ideal for smooth sailing, and you can explore nearby bays and beaches easily.

If you’re looking for soft white sand and clear waters, Dickenson Bay is a great destination choice. The bay is relatively protected, providing a safe environment for families with children. There are also opportunities for snorkelling and swimming.

For Couples

An Antigua yacht charter provides the opportunity for a truly romantic sailing experience – watching the sun set over the Caribbean Sea, basking in the heat of the sun whilst clear, temperate ocean waves lap at the shore, restaurants with fresh seafood and rum on tap. 

Two of our favourite spots for romance when sailing Antigua are Jolly Harbour – for beautiful beaches and the perfect sunset view as well as secluded nearby coves and a lively marina. And, Half Moon Bay – which radiates romance, with pristine beauty, powder-like sandy beaches fringed with dense greenery and Cyan ocean waves rolling in. 

For First-Time Sailors

Antigua, like many of our Caribbean locations, is a level 2 sailing experience. This means that you will need to have 10 days or 200 miles as skipper on an equivalent size yacht, the appropriate RYA and ICC certificates. If you want to improve your skills, check out our Sunsail Sailing School. 

If you have no experience sailing, do not fear! We offer training at our Sunsail Sailing school (here you can also improve your sailing skills or increase your hours experience to sail more challenging destinations with confidence). Or, if you want to experience the joy of a sailing vacation, without the stress of sailing the yacht yourself, hire a Sunsail Skipper for the duration of your trip. 

For Large Groups

For a lively, group celebration – such as a hen or stag do, birthday or anniversary – consider sailing to Cades Reef for a day of snorkelling and partying. The reef offers fantastic underwater scenery, and you can join a party boat for the day or enjoy the atmosphere from the deck of your sunsail charter.

Another popular location for groups is Shirley Heights.  Known for its Sunday night parties with live music and breathtaking views, Shirley Heights is a popular destination for celebratory trips. You can sail to English Harbour and then head up to Shirley Heights for a memorable celebration.

What are the best things to do in Antigua?

Relaxing

11-Mile Beach is exactly as named, a thin strip of undisturbed white (and pink!) sand, stretching for miles. Here, you are unlikely to see many other people, even during peak season – the sand bar is off the West coast of Barbuda, and the true ‘Pink Sand Beach’ can be found South of the area and is also a spectacular experience for families, romance, snorkelling and more!

If you want to stay closer to Antigua itself, Green Island offers turquoise waters, many little coves that are perfect for sunning yourself, snorkelling or even exploring the greenery on the island. Green Island is fairly quiet and you will often see clownfish, rays and even turtles beneath the waves. 

Exploring

Discover the natural wonder of Devil’s Bridge on the eastern coast, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. The rugged coastline and limestone arch make for a unique exploration.

Morris Bayoffers excellent snorkelling and is great place to Anchor for a day of exploring – close to the thrilling Antigua RainForest Canopy zipline experience – or drop anchor at Carlisle Bay (a slightly tricker spot to navigate, so mind the corals close to the beach and slightly choppier currents) and visit the Sugar Mill Towers or hike up Cactus Hill.

Eating and Drinking

Antigua, like many Caribbean Islands, has a culture intertwined with food and dining, expect locally produced rum and fresh produce at most eateries and markets. Our top 5 spots are listed below:

  • Indigo On The Beach: The best spot for dinner with a sunset view over Carlisle Bay (which you can also anchor in, for convenience). 
  • St. John’s Market, where you can immerse yourself in local flavours and sample fresh produce, spices, and traditional Antiguan dishes.
  • Café Bambula, which is located in English Harbour, this cosy café offers a mix of Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine, along with a laid-back atmosphere.
  • Trappas at English Harbour – for authentic Caribbean Cuisine with a lively atmosphere and child-friendly menu options.
  • For Fine Dining and a dramatic view, we recommend Sheer Rocks at Cocobay Resort. Though pricier than many other eateries nearby, Sheer Rocks offers sensational food with expertly crafted cocktails and a jaw-dropping view. 

Underwater Adventures

Diving and snorkelling is rife in Antigua and with the abundance of marine life, incredible visibility and gorgeous corals – it’s no surprise! Encounters with reef sharks, moray eels, schooling fish and both sting and eagle spotted rays are frequent.

Explore the vibrant marine life at the Antigua Barrier Reef, a haven for divers and snorkelers. Companies like DiveCarib offer excursions to various dive sites. Other snorkel and dive locations include Cades Reef – which has multiple areas of interest, such as The Chimney – where the reef begins to taper and a coral ridge forms a cave which many eels and nurse sharks like to hang out-  Coral Gardens, which is more friendly to novice divers and has a variety of bright and beautiful corals and schooling fish to see. 

History and Culture

Antigua, like a lot of the Caribbean, is steeped in culture and heritage, there are many educational tours available across the island but, if you wish to explore on your own or visit locations as/when you dock nearby, these are the ones we recommend seeing: 

  • Nelson’s Dockyard, which stands as a testament to British naval ingenuity in the Caribbean during the 18th century, serving as a key strategic base for Admiral Nelson’s fleet and playing a pivotal role in colonial trade routes.
  • Shirley Heights, overlooking English Harbour. Shirley Heights served as a military complex and offers breathtaking panoramic views, bearing witness to the island’s maritime history. 
  • Fort Barrington perched atop Goat Hill, played a crucial role in protecting the island from potential invasions, showcasing Antigua’s strategic defensive measures. 
  • Fort Berkeley, which was strategically positioned on the entrance to English Harbour, was a vital defensive structure safeguarding the island’s southern coast. 
  • Monks Hill, which is also placed upon a hill which acted as a vantage point for monitoring the coastline and defending against potential threats.
  • Redonda: an uninhabited island near Antigua, carries historical significance as a strategic outpost and was contested among European powers in the colonial era.
  • The Martello Tower, an iconic military structure on Antigua’s coast, reflects the island’s defensive architecture during the 19th century.

The Andes Wreck. A shipwreck off the coast, serves as a tangible relic of maritime history, offering insights into trade and navigation challenges faced by seafarers.

When is the best time to visit Antigua?

The best time to visit Antigua is during the dry season, typically from December to April, as the weather is generally clear, and the sea conditions are more predictable. 

Our Antigua Base in Nelson’s Dockyard, is closed 1st June – 1st Nov.

What are the sailing conditions in Antigua like?

Antigua offers favourable sailing conditions with steady trade winds, averaging between 10 and 13 knots year-round. The sheltered waters of harbours like English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour offer calm sailing, while the open sea provides thrilling experiences. The warm climate and clear blue skies make Antigua a prime destination for sailing enthusiasts.

How much does it cost to charter a yacht from Antigua?

A 7-day bareboat charter for 2 people in Antigua ranges from £2,000 to £6,600 during peak times. These prices are for yacht charter only, flights, food and excursions are not included.

As with any yacht charter, there are many variables and additions that change the price of your holiday. At Sunsail, we know that there’s not just one way to enjoy a holiday. 

Sunsail offers a bespoke holiday experience, so other costs that may cause fluctuations in the cost of your holiday, include:

  • The dates of your holiday
  • How long you set sail around Antigua
  • Your yacht charter type (bareboat, skippered)
  • Your itinerary
  • Extras added on

To work out the cost of your dream holiday in Antigua, decide on each of these factors and build a quote today.

How much are the moorings fees in Antigua?

When planning a sailing holiday in Antigua, we suggest a minimum of 7 nights to fully immerse yourself in all that Antigua has to offer.

Whilst we provide pre-planned itineraries spanning 5 to 14 nights, you have the opportunity to customise itineraries or create extended bespoke holidays of over 14 nights by consulting with Sunsail holiday planners for personalised details.

If planning a skippered yacht charter to Antigua, your Captain will be able to advise you on the best spots depending on your preferences. 

From the Sailing Blog

What Guests are Saying

Antigua

The boat was excellent and in great condition. The cruising grounds were spectacular.

Colm Mac Fhionnlaoich Zea

We loved being supported by the lead boat crew and meeting the other flotilla parties.

Sharon Chinnappa Lefkas

Great sail area, well prepared boat and friendly, helpful staff

Christopher Mack Phuket

Your customer service is exemplary, everyone was more than professional

Steve Hoddy Dubrovnik

Beautiful area to explore and boat had everything we needed

Sarah Yandell Corfu

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