Useful information on
Antigua

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V.C. Bird International
(ANU)
81F
27C
29 .1 in
74 c
Carnival/Barbuda/Devil's Bridge

General info

Antigua General Information

The largest of the British Leeward Islands
All the signs pointed towards Antigua. The largest of the British Leeward Islands had warm, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbours, and a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. It would make a perfect place to hide a fleet. And so in 1784 the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson sailed to Antigua and established Great Britain’s most important Caribbean base. Little did he know that over 200 years later the same unique characteristics that attracted the Royal Navy would transform Antigua into one of the Caribbean’s most sought after destinations.

The signs are still there, they just point to different things. The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into English Harbour now fuel one of the world’s foremost maritime events, Sailing Week. The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today’s trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery soft beaches. The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the fascinating little island of Barbuda — once a scavenger’s paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs — is now home to one of the region’s most significant bird sanctuaries.

Antigua is the largest of the British Leeward Islands at about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Its highest point is Boggy Peak (elevation 1,319 feet), located in the southwestern corner of the island. The current population for the nation is approximately 68,000 and its capital is St. John’s.
 
Temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September. Low humidity year-round.

Restaurants

Antigua Restaurants

Although the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is used on these islands, only certain tiny restaurants present their prices in the local currency. When you inquire about a price, make sure you know which type of dollar is being quoted.

Villas Caribe Antigua Restaurant Selections

Admiral’s Inn – Cuisine American, Creole – Open daily from 7:30am – 11pm – In Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Around the Island. Reservations recommended, especially for dinner in high season. Phone: 268-460-1027 – From US$10 to US$20 lunch, US$20 to US$33 for dinner. Closed from September to mid October. Enjoy lobster, seafood, and steaks in this 17th-century hotel, and make sure to try our favorite appetizer, the pumpkin soup. The chefs use quality ingredients to create four or five main courses daily. Though the atmosphere is sometimes more exciting than the cuisine, the service is agreeable. Before dinner, order a drink in the bar and read the names of sailors carved into the wood 100 years ago.

History

Antigua History

Antigua (An-tee-gah) may be an independent nation, but it is still British in many of its traditions. Economically, it has transformed itself from a poverty-stricken island of sugar plantations to a modern-day vacation haven. The landscape of rolling, rustic Antigua is dotted with stone towers that were once sugar mills.

The first people that are known to have lived in Antigua are the SIBONEY or 'stone people' who were here in 1775 B.C.. They had stone and shell tools, and lived on whatever natural resources they could find. Traces of them are found at Jolly Beach, Deep Bay and North Sound.

The ARAWAKS date from the time of Christ, coming to these islands in paddled canoes from South America. They introduced agriculture into Antigua and Barbuda, bringing such crops as pineapples, corn, sweet potatoes, peppers, guava, tobacco and cotton. They mostly lived on the north and east sides of Antigua, where the reefs provided good fishing. Some of the places they lived are at Indian Creek, Marmora Bay, Half Moon Bay, Mill Reef, Green Island, Cloverleaf Bay, Long Bay, Coconut Hall, Galley Bay, Hawksbill and Curtain Bluff. They left Antigua about 1100 A.D., but some remained, who were then raided by the CARIBS, another Indian people based in Dominica. The Caribs named Antigua "Waladli", Barbuda "Wa'omoni" and Redonda"Ocanamanru".

COLUMBUS named this island "Antigua" in 1493, as he sailed past. It is named for the Cathedral in Seville, Spain, "Santa Maria La Antigua". He is said to have prayed in this church before the Voyage. From then on, several explorers came to Antigua, as well as Buccaneers, who exploited the island for its timbers, medicinal and dye plants, and the cattle which they had introduced as a source of meat.

Golf

Antigua Golf

There are two locations where visitors can play Antigua golf on the island. The foremost Antigua golf course is the Cedar Valley Golf Club on Friar's Hill Road just east of St. John's. The 18-hole par 70 championship course was designed by the late Richard Aldridge and is renowned for its panoramic views of the island's coastline. Green fees for this popular Antigua golf destination are US$35 for 18 holes; cart rentals are an additional $30. Clubs are also available to rent. Cedar Valley hosts all of the major Antigua golf tournaments and has given a name to Antigua golf by welcoming the British ProAm and the Eastern Caribbean Golf Championship at other times as well.

Golf architect Karl Litton designed the other Antigua golf course, Jolly Harbour. Jolly Harbour's 18 holes are set in tropical parkland amongst the Shekerly Mountains, making for an enjoyable day of Antigua golf complimented by cool trade winds. Antigua golf fans will be challenged by this par 71, which winds its way around seven lakes. One of the best features about this Antigua golf course has to be its location - within minutes from the island's manicured beaches and boutiques. Players can also retire to Jolly Harbour's chic bar and lounge after their tiring round of Antigua golf. A clubhouse, pro shop, and restaurant are also on site.

Airport

Antigua Airport

The major airline that flies to Antigua's V. C. Bird Airport is American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300 in the U.S.; www.aa.com), which offers four daily nonstop flights to Antigua from its hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A flight takes about 1 1/2 hours, and each departs late enough in the day to allow easy transfers.

Documents for Arrival
A valid U.S. Passport is necessary to pass through customs at  Antigua Airports.

Airport Transfers
Several transportation options are available in Antigua for travel to your villa.
The concierge service that Villas Caribe offers is happy to arrange your desired method for you.

Should you choose not to rent a car, there are several other airport transfer options available:

Private Taxi Cabs
Shuttle Vans
Private Limousines

We at Villas Caribe are also happy to arrange your airport transfer for you.

Antigua Departure Tax
Taxes & Service Charges -- Visitors must pay a departure tax of US$20 and an 8.5% government tax on lodging bills. Most might charge  additional  service charge of between 10% and 15%. There is also a US$10 "new airport facility" charge added to your airfare ticket at purchase.

Communications

Antigua Communications

Telephone calls can be made from villas or the office of Cable & Wireless, on Long Street, in St. John's (tel. 268/462-0840). You can also send faxes and telegrams from Cable & Wireless. To call Antigua from the United States, dial 1268, and then the number. To call the United States from Antigua, dial 1, the area code, and then the number. You might want to purchase a phone card, which you can use to connect with an American long-distance company. You can access AT&T Direct from some pay phones by dialing tel. 800/872-2881. You can reach MCI at tel. 800/888-8000 and Sprint at tel. 800/366-4643.

Villa Telephones:
The Villas in Antigua all come with their own telephones.
This number will be given to you prior to your trip.
Long distance calls using any major credit card will usually be possible from these house telephones.
 
Cell Phones:
If your home carrier has a roaming agreement with the local Antigua telephone company and your cellular number is active in Antigua, you can enjoy cellular service.

Electricity:
Most of the island's electricity is 220-volt AC (60 cycles), which means that U.S. appliances require transformers. The Hodges Bay area, are supplied with 110-volt AC (60 cycles).

Nightlife

Antigua Nightlife

Antigua has some of the best steel bands in the Caribbean. Most nightlife revolves around the hotels. If you want to roam Antigua at night looking for that hot local club, arrange to have a taxi pick you up, so you're not stranded in the wilds somewhere.

The best gambling place on island is Grand Princess Casino, Jolly Harbour, spread across three floors, which offers a lot more than gambling. You can dine in the first-class Bellagio Restaurant, patronize an Internet cafe, dance at a disco, enjoy flashy Las Vegas entertainment in a lounge, or even work out at the rooftop fitness center. The most glamorous place to go is the St. James's Club at Mamora Bay ,which has the island's most flamboyant gambling palace. Other action is found at King's Casino on Heritage Quay, the only casino in St. John's proper. Entrance is free and no ID is required. You must be 18 to play.

Car rental

Antigua Car Rental & Transportation

Driving in Antigua can be tricky, for a number of reasons. Visitors with Antigua car rentals must accommodate themselves to driving on the left, some poorly maintained and pockmarked roads, and thoroughfares that aren't clearly signposted. For minimal touring - just getting from A to Z - Antigua car rentals aren't absolutely necessary, especially with Antigua's well-operated taxi system. Antigua car rentals are an asset, however, if you're planning on seeing the island's sites or going out on a regular basis. The flexibility and value offered by Antigua car rentals can't be matched by taxis.

Antigua car rentals average US$40-$50 per day, depending on the season and model of car. The driver must pay an additional $20 for a temporary Antigua permit, a necessity - along with your license from home - to book Antigua car rentals. These can be purchased at any agency and are valid for three months. Both international and local agencies offer Antigua car rentals. Avis, Hertz, and Budget have their Antigua car rentals stationed at the airport, while Dollar operates a kiosk out of St. John's. These larger companies generally include airport pick-up and other additional services along with your Antigua car rental's reservation. Before booking your Antigua car rentals with a smaller local company, it is advisable to check with Villas Caribe concierge, as reliability can sometimes be an issue here. Discover some of Antigua & Barbuda's fascinating places of interest with an Antigua car rental, taxi or helicopter sightseeing tour.

Driving
Driving is on the left.

Weddings

Antigua Weddings

If you'd like to get married in paradise, with the wind blowing softly and the warm sunshine lighting your event, why not plan an Antigua wedding? Antigua island weddings are naturally romantic, with its hills and many beaches offering a setting each more perfect than the next. Your Antigua wedding can as simple or as spectacular as you choose, barefoot on the beach or decked out on the grounds of a plantation estate. Couples looking for an even more exotic milieu can hold their Antigua wedding amidst the ruins of an old fort or within tropical gardens. The possibilities for Antigua island weddings are endless, and nearly stress-free due to the ease of proceedings here.

There are just a few requirements to take care of before you can hold an Antigua wedding. A registration fee of US$40 must be paid at the courthouse in the government buildings. The Ministry of Justice also charges a $150 application fee to obtain your Antigua wedding license. A $50 fee is payable to the Marriage Officer, with whom the Antigua wedding bride and groom must arrange a date and time for their ceremony. Prior to the big event, both parties in Antigua island weddings must present themselves to the Ministry of Justice in St. John's with valid passports in hand, as well as divorce or death decrees where applicable. Antigua island weddings can be held in a church of the denomination of your choice, but authority must be granted by the proper religious authorities. Antigua weddings will be valid and binding in your home country.

Shopping

Antigua Shopping

Most of Antigua's shops are clustered on St. Mary's Street or High Street in St. John's. Some stores are open Monday to Saturday from 8:30am to noon and 1 to 4pm, but this varies greatly from place to place -- Antiguan shopkeepers are an independent lot. Many of them close at noon on Thursday.Duty-free items include English woolens and linens. You can also purchase Antiguan goods: local pottery, straw work, rum, floppy foldable hats, shell curios, and hand-printed fabrics.

Shopping in Antigua includes a little bit of everything. Although it is not a mecca of boutiques like some other Caribbean islands, travelers staying at Antigua villas will find enough quirky shops to occupy a day off the beach. The main shopping thoroughfares on Antigua are St. Mary's and High Street in St. John's. Here, guests of Antigua villas can stock up on just about anything, including duty free goods, fresh produce, and souvenirs. In this area you'll find Sunseekers, the Caribbean's biggest duty-free swimwear shop (great for styling next to your Anguilla villa's pool), and Colombian Emeralds, the world's largest retailer of the sparkling green gemstones. Spruce up your Antigua villa's closet with colorful batik wraps, scarves, and other casual duds at Caribelle Batik.

The best place for a one-stop shop in Antigua is the farmer's market, open Friday and Saturday mornings on the south side of the city. Many visitors see this lively bazaar as reason enough to journey into St. John's from the peace of their Antigua villas. Guests can fill the fridges at their Antigua villas with tropical fruits and vegetables and buy handicrafts made by local artisans. Heritage Quay in St. John's, a complex of duty-free boutiques, artist's market, and small restaurants, is another favorite amongst vacationers to Antigua villas.

Sights

Antigua Fishing & Boating

The popularity of Antigua diving and Antigua fishing, two activities that bring many visitors to this pretty Leeward Island, are a product of its more than ideal conditions. The waters surrounding Antigua, particularly in the south and east, are swathed in natural shelves. These coral reefs, which once protected the island from invading ships, now invite scuba and snorkeling buffs to explore the bounty that Antigua diving has to offer. Bright exotic fish are plentiful here, making their homes within the delicate coral formations. Antigua diving excursions benefit not only from these plentiful options, but from calm, warm currents (averaging 80 degrees) and visibility of up to 140 feet as well. The authority on Antigua diving is Dive Antigua, located at the Rex Halcyon Cove in Dickenson Bay. Visitors who want to experience some Antigua diving can arrange a two-tank or five-tank tour, and even get open-water certified through this company.

Big-game catches in the outer reaches of Antigua's shore attract anglers for exciting Antigua fishing adventures. Tuna, wahoo, and marlin are abundant and easy to find, especially with a seasoned Antigua fishing pro as your guide. Antigua fishing excursions are available through private charters like the Nimrod and the Obsession.

Antigua is developing its ecotourist opportunities, and several memorable offshore experiences involve more than just snorkeling. The archipelago of islets coupled with a full mangrove swamp off the northeast coast is unique in the Caribbean. "Paddles" Kayak Eco Adventure (Seaton's Village, Antigua. PHONE: 268/463-1944 or 268/560-3782, www.antiguapaddles.com) takes you on a 3½-hour tour of serene mangroves and inlets with informative narrative about the fragile ecosystem of the swamp and reefs and the rich diversity of flora and fauna.The tour ends with a hike to sunken caves and snorkeling in the North Sound Marine Park. Experienced guides double as kayaking and snorkeling instructors, making this an excellent opportunity for novices.
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