Antigua And Barbuda

Antigua

Antigua And Barbuda Tourist Guide & Info

Introduction

The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are most inviting, with a warm climate tempered by a lovely breeze. Its coastline, once considered safe harbours for the settlers, now offers numerous secluded beaches of white and pink sand for your pleasure and relaxation. Active travellers will surely be pleased with such a large array of sports, whether in the ocean or in the many verdant national reserves. The nearly unbroken coral reefs invite snorkellers and scuba divers. 

Antigua is the larger of the two islands. Its many historical sites and museums will fill you days with new discoveries. The little island of Barbuda is now home to one of the most significant bird sanctuaries. Divers will enjoy the several ships wrecked litter the ocean floor. Delicious meals, an exciting nightlife and great shopping opportunities are sure to complete an unforgettable holiday.

 

Essential Facts

  • Capital :
    St John's
  • Currency :
    Eastern Caribbean dollar
  • Driver's License :
    International license recommended. Must be 25 years old and have a credit card. A visitor's permit of US $20 must be purchased. Antiguans drive on the LEFT.
  • Electricity :
    110 V, 60Hz. Some hotels have 220 V.
  • Entry Requirements :
    A passport, valid 6 months beyond intended stay, and an ongoing or return ticket are required. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information.
  • GMT Time :
    -4hr. Daylight savings time is not applied
  • Government :
    Constitutional monarchy and a member of the Commonwealth.
  • Land size :
    441 km2, including Barbuda
  • Language :
    English, local dialects
  • National Airlines :
    none
  • Population :
    85,632 approx, including Barbuda
  • Religion :
    75% Anglican, 11% Protestant, 10% Roman Catholic, 3% Rastafarianism, 1% other
  • Required Vaccines :
    none
  • Tourist Season :
    December through April
  • Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada :
    Consult the "Country Travel Advice and Advisories" of Antigua and barbuda

 

Origin & Culture

Cuisine
The islands offer authentic West Indian cuisine with an emphasis on slow cooking and careful seasoning. A perfect example is the national dish of Pepperpot & Fungee. This rich stew of salt beef, pork, pumpkin, vegetables and spices was first conceived by the Amerindians as a means of preserving food. Fungee is a paste-like ball of cornmeal and okra. 

Other traditional meals include doucanah (sweet potatoes, coconut, raisins and spices), pumpkin soup, raycan (smoked herring), crusted Baked Snapper with Ginger, salt fish balls, garlic conch, antrobers (eggplants), bread pudding, Barbudan peas and rice, Johnny Cakes and Green Figs (unripe plantain). Desserts include delicious coconut pie and Antigua Black pineapple pie

Your thirst can be easily quenched with a homemade soursop drink or a ginger beer. A refreshing pale lager is the Antiguan Wadadli beer. Cocktaisl made with Antiguan rum are superb, like the local rum punch.

 

Culture

Antiguans are great artists and handicraftsmen. Fine examples of pottery have been created here for centuries already. Many art galleries display wonderful artworks, like paintings and sculptures. Famous artists include Michael 'Scrim' Strzalkowski, who has been crafting the finest sculpture from whale's tooth ivory, and Linda Webber. 

The rhythms of the islands are best represented by calypso, soca, steeldrum, zouk and reggae. The Rio Band play music typical of Antigua's past. The fife band usually consists of a fife (a small flute made of bamboo), a grudge or grater, a boom pipe (as bass), a ukulele and a traditional guitar.

 

Geography
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are located in the Eastern Caribbean in the Leeward Islands grouping. Barbuda is separated from Antigua by a 52 km stretch of Atlantic Ocean. Coral reefs surround both islands, protecting it from rough waves. 

Relatively flat lands combined with gentle rolling hills make up the majority of the Antiguan landscape. The highest point on Antigua is Boggy Peak, extending 402 m above sea level. Antigua's rugged shoreline has created about 365 white sanded beaches and cove. Barbuda's beaches are known for pinkish sand beaches. The so-called Highlands of Barbuda reach only 64 m in height.

 

History

Columbus identified the island in 1493 and named it Santa Maria de la Antigua. The next century and a half was marked by battles over ownership between the French, Spanish and English. The British finally took rule in 1625. Slaves from Africa were brought to work the sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations, the backbones of the island's economy at the time. Life remained unchanged until slavery was abolished in 1834. 

Little is known of Barbuda's history but it was annexed to Antigua in the year 1860. Antigua was the first British Associated self-governing State in 1967. Full independence from Britain was gained on November 1, 1981.

 

Nature

The west coast counts a number of mangroves. Some areas have lush vegetations and several varieties offruits, flowers, and vegetables are grown on farmlands. The Antigua Black Pineapple was introduced by the Arawaks and mainly used for making twine cloth and for healing purposes. Today you will find it in many desserts. Banana, mango, and coconut groves are common sights in the countryside as well. Forests of red cedar, white cedar, mahogany, whitewood, and acacia have been planted. Barbuda is heavily wooded as well.

 

Sports

Tennis is big in Antigua and most hotels have great courts for day and night playing. Horseback ridding, biking or hiking are always a delight. You will find two wonderful golf courses on the island: the Jolly Harbour Golf Club and the Cedar Valley Golf Course. 

The game of Cricket is taken very seriously. Matches can be found almost anywhere on the island, at almost any time. The Antigua Recreation Grounds is the test cricket venue.

 

Other Useful Info

Banks & Money
In Antigua, the legal tender is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Although prices are listed with the national currency, US dollars are readily accepted. Canadian currency can be exchanged at any bank and change offices. ATMs, dispensing EC$, are available at the island's banks and at the airport. 

Travelers checks and major credit cards, American Express being the prefered, are welcome everywhere.

 

Climate

For monthly average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.

 

Communication
Telephone services have been modernized as have cellular roaming service and GSM capabilities. The country code for Antigua is 268. To place a local call, dial the local seven-digit number. 

Internet dial-up access and fax services can be found in hotels or Internet cafes. Cable TV is available in most hotels. There are two daily newspapers,The Daily Observer and The Antigua Sun, and one weekly newspaper called The Scoop.

 

Health
Although the water is generally safe to drink, it is advisable to drink bottled water. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat. The most common illness is the traveler's diarrhea (turista) and sunstroke. 

There are no required vaccines to enter the country, unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected destination. The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever. Mosquitos, sand flies and fire ants can be bothersome.

 

Official Holidays
March/April – Good Friday, Easter Monday
May – Labour Day
May/June – Whit Monday
July/August – Carnival
November 1 – Independence Day
December 25 – Christmas Day
December 26 – Boxing day

 

Safety
Antigua & Barbuda are relatively crime free, however as a tourist you are more likely to be a target of petty crime. Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels, do not leave valuables unattended in public and carry your wallet and camera discreetly. Also make sure to lock your hotel room and rental car.

 

Shopping

Local handicraft includes local pottery, straw work, batik, hand printed fabrics, art work and shell curios. And of course lets not forget a nice bottle of Antiguan rum.

 

Taxes & Tips
Hotels and restaurants add an 8.5% government tax to the bill. Usually a 10% service fee is also added in lieu of tipping but extra changed is often left for good service. If it is not added then a 10 to 15% tip is appreciated. The same tipping amount is given to taxi drivers and bellhops receive 1$ per bag. 

The departure tax of around 50EC$, per person, is payable at the airport when leaving the island.

 

Transportation

Antiguans drive on the LEFT side. Car rentals are available, as are mopeds and bicycles rentals. To rent a car you will have to purchase a temporary permit ($20). Taxis are not metered, so you should agree on a rate before starting the journey. The is no official public transportation system but a sporadic and unreliable local service is available.

 

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