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Are There Really 365 Beaches in Antigua?

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(photos by John Bassett)

In mid-March, Ali Pulver and John Bassett spent four days on the beautiful Eastern Caribbean island of Antigua. Once an important military base for Great Britain, this little piece of paradise is now better known as a popular stop on the sailing circuit and for having an abundance of idyllic beaches — one for every day of the year. With the help of the New York Times article “36 Hours in Antigua“, Ali and John set out to explore all the island has to offer. Here, Ali shares her thoughts on where to stay, the best way to get around the island and whether there really are 365 beaches.


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A Hotel With History: We stayed at the Copper and Lumber Store Hotel (pictured right), which seemed to offer the most charm for the buck. It’s in Nelson’s Dockyard, in one of the original buildings built in the late 1700’s. We really loved the hotel but it was very quiet — we felt like we were the only ones staying there. That might have been because of the economy or because things don’t really pick up until Sailing Week in April.

Antigua has a lot of all-inclusive beachfront hotels, the type of places that we generally try to shy away from. If you want to spend lots of time at the beach, then that may be the way to go. Also, that would probably be cost effective because taxis, food, etc., are all really expensive and quickly add up.

Favorite Meals: The Inn at English Harbuor is a very plush hotel whose room rates are a bit beyond our means but we could afford to eat a a couple of really nice meals there. I’d say breakfast was my favorite — we ate right on the water, and the inn picked us up by boat from our hotel for free. After the meal we got to sit on their beach and enjoy the sun a little. We also had some nice lunches at Bumpkins, a casual restaurant right on Pigeon Point Beach. There is nothing like a good Wadadli (the local beer) after a day at the beach.

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Most Memorable Activity: That would probably be the Sunday night reggae/steel drum party up on Shirley Heights (pictured left), which we learned about from the NYT article. Everyone on the island seems to gather there for it.

Beachcombing and Beach Counting: Antigua is purported to be the island of 365 beaches but we seem to have different definitions of “beach” because I really didn’t see that many. One of the problems is that although all of the beaches are public, a lot (particularly on northwest coast) have big hotels on them. Legally, you’re free to enjoy those beaches too, but you feel weird trying to access them.

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Also it was a haul to get to the beaches from our hotel, except for Pigeon beach (pictured right), which luckily turned out to be quite nice and have good snorkeling. Half Moon Bay, which we had read about in the NYT, is a wonderful beach that’s was definitely worth the long ride. It offers white sand as well as some exciting exploring over rocky turf to a connecting beach (with a hotel on it), which is just beautiful. Be sure to get a burger and beer at the little beach shack restaurant on your way out or in.

Taxi vs. Rental Car: Taxis are expensive. Basically, I thought everything on the island would be walkable — beaches, restaurants, etc. — and that is just not the case. I was a little disappointed at how inaccessible everything seemed to be — the island is much bigger than you think. So, we’d end up taking a $30 taxi ride wherever we needed to go and it got really expensive. You should really rent a car from the get go, which we finally did for the last couple of days. (Although that certainly wasn’t cheap either.)

One Last Thing: It’s pronounced Antig-a, not Antig-wah.

6 Responses to Are There Really 365 Beaches in Antigua?

  1. Brian from nodebtworldtravel.com May 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    Funny you just posted this story I just got back from there yesterday! My parents are from there and it was my first time visiting.
    The 365 beaches is something I didn’t have time to investigate for myself but everyone there says it. I would not doubt it.

  2. Ken Shipley May 14, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    sounds like you had good fun on the island, you definitely covered the basics but there is a lot more yet to be discovered hopefully you will return again and get to visit the beaches you missed out on. next time you want to plan an excursion to the isle shout me @searchantigua on twitter.

  3. Icy May 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    First of all just by looking at a picture of Antigua you could see all of the peninsula’s. If there is a lot of peninsula’s then there has to be a lot of beaches. Did you really expect to see 300+ beaches in a few days? And why in the world would we lie about it? That’s what I would like to know. We don’t need to lie about the number of beaches we have, we could have just boasted about have some of the best. Not to mention that some of the beaches are located on some of the surrounding uninhabited islands that are part of Antigua. So you need to re-think the way the see things. We know what “beach” is. We have enough of them to know that. I hope someone don’t see this and think that my native island is lying about something like that. Because this really upsets me.
    I am glad that you enjoyed your time. We love our visitors and I’m sure that you noticed that.
    Much Love,

  4. omarasi September 26, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    I agree with Ken above, My parents are native antiguans, and the reputation for the beaches are correct. Too bad you felt weird accessing beaches with hotels on them. That is definitely a state side mentality, because locals know that all beaches are open to be used by all. And yes we are surrounded by beaches on a daily, so I think we would be better qualified to know what a beach is.

  5. Roger February 26, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    Back in the 1950’s, when tourism was just getting it’s start in ANU, the pitch was “52” a beach for every week of the year. Somewhere down the line, someone came up with the 365 pitch, bigger is better? There are tons of beaches.

  6. AVA June 24, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Hi, Very beautiful pics. Thanks for info on Antigua.This site contains loads of nice places and their description.I am going for a cruise vacation. I visit Antigua too. I am searching for which place to visit there and here found useful suggestions and places to visit during my cruise shore excursion. This is my first cruise excursion. I am eagerly waiting for my vacation cruise excursions. I hope this cruise trip will be nice.
    Thank you

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