The 12 Best Antigua Beaches

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Surrounded by pristine coral reefs, the nation of Antigua and Barbuda sits in the Lesser Antilles group of islands and is a must visit for anyone who loves to be on the beach. Why? Well, despite its diminutive size, Antigua literally has a different beach for every single day of the year. So, whatever kind of beach you're looking for - an activity-driven one, golden sands, white sands, party beach, beach BBQs, even the rare pink sand beaches - you'll find it on this hidden gem of a Caribbean island.

From the ever popular beach resort spot of Jolly Harbour to the historic Nelson's Dockyards and shop-lined English Harbour to the party central lookout of Shirley Heights, there is plenty to see and do. Stretch out and relax on a lounger, grab a snorkel and explore the expansive coral reefs and shipwrecks, hire a kayak and paddle around the coves – whatever you fancy, and there will always be another beach for tomorrow.

Beyond Antigua's beautiful beaches, you can head for the hills and journey into the island's tropical interior. Witness beautiful wildlife, or take to the skies on the island's rainforest zipline canopy tour.

Whether you're an outdoorsy thrill seeker or a beachside cocktail sipper, we've put together a selection of the finest beaches in Antigua that you're going to love.

  • 1. Ffryes Beach

    Ffryes Beach
    © Michael Utech / iStock

    Considering the relatively small size of the island of Antigua (footprint is 108.5 mi² about the size of a small city), it boasts a remarkable 365 beaches, yes - one for each day of the year, and they are all public spaces. What more could a beach lover ask for?! Ffryes Beach is one of the more popular, with Sundays and holidays busy times for family picnics and local musicians… read more »

  • 2. Darkwood Beach

    Darkwood Beach
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Kitesurfing

    Darkwood Beach sits just to the south of Jolly Harbour and its resort village. Situated on Half Hyde Bay, it forms part of the sandbar carrying Valley Road and separating the waters of the Caribbean Sea from those of a large lagoon.

    Approximately 300 metres in length, the white sand at Darkwood Beach is widest at its southernmost end, tapering to a point halfway along the sandbar. Loose rocks speckle the… read more »

  • 3. Deep Bay Beach

    Deep Bay Beach
    Andrew Moore
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling

    Lining the western side of a thin spit of land leading towards the ruins of historic Fort Barrington and its surrounding national park, Deep Bay Beach sits on Antigua's west coast. Around 20 minutes by road from St John's cruise ship terminal, it's also common to arrive by catamaran and anchoring off this relatively narrow strip of curving white sand backed by native forest.

    Head into the turquoise blue shallows and… read more »

  • 4. Fort James Beach

    Fort James Beach
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    A short distance west of St John's Fort James Beach boasts a run of one kilometre of soft white sand. Situated on a relatively straight part of the Antiguan west coast, it faces directly out into the Caribbean Sea.

    Locals often gather for a game of beach volleyball or cricket, while many foreign visitors arrive directly from the cruise ships mooring a St John's cruise terminal. A broad expanse of gently… read more »

  • 5. Valley Church Beach

    Valley Church Beach
    Roberto Faccenda

    One of the most immediately alluring of Antigua's west coast beaches, Valley Church Beach stretches out along the pale blue waters of Lignum Vitae Bay. Its powdery white sands slope gently into the warm waters, while being backed by tropical foliage ringing with the sound of bird song.

    Somewhere to relax and soak up the sun rather than snorkel or undertake water sports, Valley Church Beach is served by a single… read more »

  • 6. Curtain Bluff

    Curtain Bluff
    © Richard Todd
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Easily accessed from Old Road, the south coast's Curtain Bluff is watched over by the private terraces and balconies of a refined five star stay. Approximately 14 miles from V C Bird International Airport, tall palms dominate the scene, with the occasional small boat the only sound you'll hear beside the crashing of the waves – its alternative name isn't Surf Beach for nothing.

    read more »
  • 7. Galleon Beach

    Galleon Beach
    © Elleithyia
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling

    Arching around Freeman's Bay on Antigua's folding southern coast, Galleon Beach is relatively well protected from rough seas by the Pillars of Hercules rock formation and the peninsula of land that stretches out between English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard National Park. It is named after the ships that used to moor here – evident by the huge rusting anchor that lies in the shallows in the middle of the beach.

    Accessible… read more »

  • 8. Eden Beach

    Eden Beach
    Roger Green

    If you're looking for Eden, you've found it! Eden Beach is a wide expanse of gently sloping sand which runs for roughly a kilometre. Situated on the island's west coast, it's around 20 minutes from St John's, and is reached by passing through the Hawksbill Resort, but remains relatively secluded.

    This is important because Eden Beach is Antigua's only clothing optional beach. It rarely becomes that crowded, with more modest beachgoers… read more »

  • 9. Dickenson Bay

    Dickenson Bay
    Paul Kowalow
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    Northwest Antigua's Dickenson Bay combines the white sands of its beach with a mile-long coral reef offshore to create the perfect Caribbean escape. No wonder there are so many hotels and resorts flanking it, alongside concessions for renting out water sports gear, arranging tours on glass-bottomed boats, and hiring out sun loungers and umbrellas.

    Being perhaps the most developed beach anywhere on the island means that it sees a constant flow… read more »

  • 10. Jolly Beach

    Jolly Beach
    Tim Sandell
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    Dominated by the resort of the same name, Jolly Beach is made up of a mile of stunning white sand lining crystal clear shallows, making it the perfect spot for a swim. On Antigua's west coast, the beach is large enough to absorb all its visitors without ever feeling anything but spacious.

    When it comes to amenities, few beaches in the area are as well served as Jolly Beach. Not only… read more »

  • 11. Jabberwock Beach

    Jabberwock Beach
    Great for:
    • Kitesurfing

    Just a quick drive from V C Bird International Airport, the northwest coast's Jabberwock Beach sits with Judge's Bay to its seaward side and a lagoon occupying much of its landward side. Almost disappearing with the highest tides, leaving just enough space to lie down without the Caribbean sun being blocked by native foliage, Jabberwock Beach has a length of around a mile.

    Its pale sand acts as a hub for… read more »

  • 12. Pigeon Point Beach

    Pigeon Point Beach
    Ian D. Keating
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    Approximately five minutes by road from English Harbour, Pigeon Point Beach has calm shallow waters that make it ideal for splashing about with the kids. Snorkelling is another option, although the sandy bottom means you shouldn't expect huge numbers of fish.

    The sands of Pigeon Point Beach are fine and golden. At low tide, the beach has attractive dimensions, which are diminished slightly with the high tide. The surrounding foliage provides… read more »