Home to 365 beaches—and all of them are public by law—Antigua has plenty of sandy spots to explore. You’ll find that just about every beach has a resort spreading along its edges, but don’t let that scare you off. You may not have access to the resort’s chairs or facilities, but the sand, sea and sun are all free for all.
Note that if you want to escape the resort scene entirely, Antigua packs choices for that also.
Umbrellas are free to use, but you’ll pay a fee for chairs at this west side beach known for flat water and latte-colored sand. On site, a bar and restaurant—also named Turner’s Beach—offer a full bar, pub food and restrooms.
When entering the water, do note that there is a big dip down a couple yards from the shoreline. For that reason, Turner’s may not be the best pick for children and not-so-confident swimmers—but for everyone else, it’s heaven.
Easily the beach on Antigua with the most facilities, Darkwood offers a bar and restaurant with reasonably priced fresh fish and lobster, plus umbrellas and chairs and a small inflatable waterpark just 10 yards from shore.
The downsides: Darkwood can be popular, aka crowded, especially on cruise ship days. However, it’s easy to see why. Darkwood delivers the white-sand, turquoise-water experience that everyone pictures when they hear the word ‘Caribbean.’
Little Ffryes Beach
One cove north from the better-known Ffryes Beach, this is one of the best picks for, well, the little fries. A shallow, gradual entry makes this a favorite with the kids. You won’t find it on Google maps, but you will find it if you search for Cocobay Resort. Yes, the resort claims a stretch of the beach, but you can keep walking until you find a patch free of development.
This east side beach is on the maps handed to tourists at the airport, but that doesn’t mean it ever gets crowded—outside of yacht season, that is. Galleon Beach is a good choice to spread out, snorkel and even walk the full length of the beach to check out the Pillars of Hercules, a series of impressive rock columns carved by years of waves and weather.
Do note that if you travel in the summertime, the beach is especially peaceful—so much so that you’ll likely have the place to yourself.
Lots of palm trees give Carlisle Beach an exotic feel. We like this spot for its wide swath of golden sand and for its gradual entry, making it a great choice for small kids. The Carlisle Resort spreads out along the cove, but the northernmost and southernmost bits are free of chairs, umbrellas or anything else belonging to the resort.
One bonus is that if you come in the afternoon, you can grab a nibble at Indigo restaurant—and perhaps also a cocktail that includes some freshly squeezed watermelon juice—and then stay for sunset at this west-facing spot. Note that the resort does ask that non-guests call ahead to make a reservation if it’s during season.
Pigeon Point may feel like two beaches—one that’s hopping during winter’s sailing season and chilled out the rest of the year. When it’s crowded, you’ll find this south shore spot jutting into Falmouth Harbour buzzing with sailboats helmed by pros and those just learning.
On shore, beach restaurants and pop-up bars provide steady supply of barbecue and cold beer. The rest of the year, when the yachts move on, this is a much calm spot. Bonus: It’s also long enough to take a decent stroll.
Reachable only by boat, this white-sand beach is the stuff of playing castaway. The water is clear, calm, and ideal for swimming, snorkeling or floating while sipping on rum punch. This is certainly one of Antigua’s quieter beaches, so you won’t have crowds—but you also won’t have facilities or any food beyond whatever you or your tour operator bring along.
Rendezvous Bay Beach
Thanks to the hike in, Rendezvous Beach is among the most secluded on Antigua. From Wallings Dam, it’s a 30-minute walk in. If you’re not feeling confident in your jungle-navigation skills, you can always hire a guide to be on the safe side. Once there, you may even meet the wild pigs—which, unlike those of the famous Bahamas beach, have not been fed and aren’t nearly as photo ready, but fun to see just the same.
Unlike many Antigua beaches, Ffryes isn’t hemmed in by any resorts—just a road lined with sea grape and palm trees. We love that by any standard, this beach is massive. Moreover, the beach is all white sand, free of rocks, which makes for lovely walking and playing—just not so great for snorkeling.
As a bonus: On a clear day, you can see the neighboring island of Montserrat.
Found on the northwest side of the island, this line-up of restaurants and resorts makes for a happening spot to meet fellow travelers and strike up conversation. For its white sand and impossibly clear water, Dickenson Beach is a top contender for best beach on Antigua. Do note that Instagrammers won’t want to miss the red phone booth just steps from the water’s edge—making for the best on-island playful photo op.