Antigua is the land of 365 beaches – one for every day of the year. While it seems hard to believe that a tiny island can have so many beaches to explore, Antigua is certainly one of the most impressive beach destinations in the Caribbean. From hidden rocky coves with clear water to postcard-worthy stretches of sand, you’ll find it all on the beaches of Antigua.
Whether you’re just in Antigua for the day or are looking forward to visiting as many of the island’s 365 beaches as you possibly can, you’ll fall in love with the Antigua beaches you experience! Looking for the highlights reel? These are the 12 best beaches in Antigua that you can’t miss!
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1. Jolly Beach
On Antigua’s Caribbean coast near the heart of one of the most lively parts of the island, the mile-long Jolly Beach is a popular favorite with every from locals to cruise ship visitors. White sand and clear waters, as well as an array of beach bars and restaurants, make every day at Jolly Beach a lively beach day.
If you’re beach hopping across Antigua, Jolly Beach is one of the best spots for watersports, with vendors offering every type of watersport under the sun along the beachfront. You’ll also have all of the amenities of the many resorts along the beachfront at your disposal, with day passes or meals available at most places.
Jolly Beach is also one of the most popular places to stay in Antigua for its gorgeous beaches and a great array of resorts and accommodations. Choose a beachfront resort along the ocean, or for a bit more seclusion and luxury rent a private accommodation like Villa Papillon.
Perched above the hillside overlooking Jolly Harbor, Villa Papillon offers expansive views over some of the most gorgeous bays and beaches on the island. This six-bedroom villa is a special way to enjoy the island in comfort and luxury, boasting an incredible infinity pool and offering a private chef and hospitality team for the duration of your stay.
2. Pearns Point
One of the most picturesque spots on the island of Antigua, Pearns Point is a dramatic, verdant peninsula just 5 minutes north of Jolly Beach. Boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua, it’s almost hard to believe that so few visitors make it to this stunning gem; those who do discover a number of the best beaches in Antigua.
The main beach at Pearns Point, often referred to as Pearns Point Beach, is a stunning stretch of golden sand that is mostly wild, with no traditional beach amenities other than a parking lot. Few travelers make it out here, which is a shame!
For some travelers, this nearly empty paradise sounds like heaven on earth – and it is! Development is pending on the peninsula with plans for luxury homes and villas in the works, meaning that in just a few years this beach may look quite different.
Pearns Point is surrounded by a number of different beaches, so you can easily make an entire day out of exploring the different spots around the peninsula. However, there is currently only parking available at the main beach, so you’ll need to walk to the others from the main beach.
The most easily accessible beaches are Queen Beach and Critters Cove Beach, immediately adjacent to Pearns Point Beach. Both have absolutely gorgeous golden sand and clear waters. It’s no wonder that developers are eyeing the area; it’s just a wonder why more travelers have yet to visit some of these pristine yet hidden Antigua beaches!
3. Ffryes Beach
Considered among one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Ffryes Beach is one of the must-visit Antigua beaches to add to the top of your itinerary! Located just south of Jolly Harbour, it’s easily accessible from the most popular areas of Antigua but isn’t overtaken by resorts. It a top choice for day trippers looking to experience one of the best beaches in Antigua.
You’ll find everything from beach chair and umbrella rentals to a number of beach bars and restaurants with facilities just along the beachfront. The beach’s ultra-clear, shallow water makes it an Antigua favorite and an ideal choice whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach or just a laid-back, quiet beach day.
Keep in mind that Ffryes Beach can get a bit crowded when cruise ships are in port, though it never seems to be as busy as fan-favorite Jolly Beach. If you’re looking for more of a hidden gem of Antigua beaches, try less-visited spots like Half Moon Bay.
4. Dickenson Bay
At the far north of Antigua, Dickenson Bay is one of the most famous beaches in Antigua for its ultra-fine white sand and tranquil, seaweed-free waters.
Home to the sprawling Sandals Grande Antigua resort as well as a number of boutique hotels, there is no lack of things to see and do at this popular spot. An endless offering of watersports, excursions, and even the island’s famous floating bar, Kon Tiki Bar, await.
Despite the beach’s beauty, it has also become one of the most popular (read: overrun) beaches in Antigua. While you’ll find plenty of beach amenities here and all the convenience you could ever ask for, the number of beach vendors and tourists can get a bit overwhelming at times – if you’re looking for seclusion, this isn’t the beach for you.
If you happen to be traveling in the off-season, this gorgeous beach can be a great choice. However, if you’re visiting at the height of the travel season, it might be best to choose another spot if you’re not staying at one of the resorts or hotels here.
5. Half Moon Bay
Green hills, dramatic cliffs, and an expansive national park surround Half Moon Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua. These untouched surroundings make it feel like much more of a natural treasure than a tourist attraction, distinct from some of the most well-known Antigua beaches.
The beach maintains its hidden gem feel despite having decent amenities, which are a big plus as most travelers make a day trip out of a visit given its more remote location. You’ll find beach chairs and umbrella rentals as well as a small restaurant that sells great food and drinks, plus bathrooms.
Despite the bay’s protected shape, parts of the water can get quite wavy at times while other sections of the beach can be almost glassy. If you visit on a calm day, make sure to bring along or rent snorkeling equipment, are there are some beautiful sections of reef close to the shore.
Don’t write off Half Moon Bay despite its remote spot on the island’s southeast coast; this is one of the best beaches in Antigua!
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6. Hawksbill Beach
Located just about 20 minutes north of Antigua’s port, Hawksbill Beach is a small but beautiful beachfront, laid back and pristine. Slightly off the beaten path and perfect for those looking to get a bit further away from the crowds, it’s a great option for a day trip to one of the best beaches in Antigua or for a change of scenery.
The name Hawksbill Beach is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the area is actually home to four beaches: Eden Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Sea Grape Beach, and Honeymoon Cove. Hawksbill’s Eden Beach is famously a clothing-optional beach, the only one of its kind in Antigua. Anyone is welcome to visit, even if you’re more comfortable coming clothed, but be aware before you wander onto this assuming beachfront.
While a large resort occupies part of the shoreline of these pretty beaches, they’re also popular with those who aren’t staying at the resort. Come by car and use the public beach entrance or by boat for even easier access to these pretty shores. You won’t find any beach amenities here unless you spring for a day pass at the hotel, but you’ll love what you find.
7. Carlisle Beach
If you’re looking for a serene and idyllic place to spend a day at the beach, it doesn’t get much better than Carlisle Beach. Set deep within a protected bay, this powdery-fine white sand beach has glassy water and gorgeous views, making it well worth the extra effort to reach its more isolated location on the island’s southern coast.
Home to Carlisle Bay, one of Antigua’s top resorts, you won’t find much here in the way of amenities or services apart from those connected to the resort, though if you’re looking to spend a few tranquil hours on the sand, you may not need them.
Even with the resort facing the beach, it often feels almost empty, giving even day trippers a feeling of having stumbled upon a hidden gem. Shady sections with palms and seagrapes make for great spots to throw down a towel in the sand and enjoy the gorgeous views.
If you’re headed to Carlisle Beach for the day, consider stopping off at a few neighboring beaches just around the bend. The beach at Curtain Bluff is anchored by the luxury resort of the same name, while Morris Bay is a local favorite with some out-of-this-world Caribbean eateries (try Gina’s Cook Shop!) that are sure to provide some of the best meals you’ll try on the island.
8. Galley Beach
With fine white sand and a picturesque palm fringe, Galley Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua, though not as frequently visited as you might expect!
While the beach is anchored by the Galley Beach Resort & Spa, it is – like all Antigua beaches – a public access beach, meaning you’ll find day trippers and beach hoppers enjoying the sun and sand as well. However, it tends to remain quiet and has a secluded feel, making it a great choice if you’re looking to escape the crowds.
Keep in mind that Galley Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Antigua for surfing, so expect some waves! While these waves aren’t large enough, usually, to prevent swimming, make sure to avoid the rocky areas on the sides of the beach and take more precaution than usual if you’re traveling with children or aren’t a strong swimmer.
Nearby Deep Bay Beach is another popular favorite and incredibly attractive with a number of sailboats that frequently anchor offshore due to the glassy water. In addition to an attractive beachfront, the bay is home to the shipwreck of the Andes, which sunk at the beginning of the 20th century.
The wreck is accessible even for snorkelers by swimming from the beach, though divers get an even better opportunity to explore.
9. Pigeon Point Beach
Just a short drive from English Harbor, Pigeon Point Beach is a convenient and beautiful option that both visitors and locals have come to love. Sheltered waters and a few great nearby beach bars and cafes make it a favorite, though it never seems to feel overrun as some of the island’s longer western beaches can get.
There is some decent snorkeling along the beachfront not too far from shore, making Pigeon Point Beach a great, laid-back place for beginners to get in some snorkeling. The shallow, wave-free waters are also perfect for families, and a decent-sized playground just off the beach makes it another popular spot for a family beach day.
For an unforgettable day in Antigua, head to Pigeon Point Beach for a long, lazy day on the sand and enjoy lunch at Catherine’s Cafe before heading to Shirley Heights to take in the sunset. The expansive views over English Harbor are stunning at any time of day, but the sunset is particularly enchanting.
Shirley Heights is especially festive at sunset here on Sundays, when locals and visitors alike turn the historic spot into a full-blown party. It’s an unmissable thing to do in Antigua!
10. Hermitage Beach
Hermitage Beach is almost too stunning to believe it’s real. With its shallow, perfectly-clear waters and pristine, soft sand, it seems almost straight out of a Caribbean dream. Sailboats anchored offshore and a mountainous green backdrop are stunning final touches on a gorgeous Antigua beach you’ll need to see for yourself to believe could possibly be real.
While Hermitage Beach is anchored by Hermitage Bay, one of the most beautiful luxury resorts in Antigua, it remains a public-access beach so don’t be deterred by the relatively bumpy and private-looking road to reach the beachfront.
You won’t find much here by way of beach amenities apart from the resort, so come prepared with a picnic lunch and towels. There is a decent reef on the western side of the beach near the cliffs if you come with snorkeling gear, though just paddling around the calm waters is enough of a treat.
11. Valley Church Beach
Wedged between popular Jolly Beach and Ffryes Beach, Valley Church Beach is a small and sometimes overlooked beach that offers just as much natural beauty as its more famous neighbors. Fringed with palms and with impossibly clear water lapping at its shores, this is one of the more beautiful Antigua beaches you’ll find, especially on the island’s popular west side.
The beach’s ends are anchored by some of the island’s most popular resorts – Cocos Hotel and Cocobay Resort – but it maintains its peaceful and laid-back feel if you walk just a few minutes down the sand towards the middle of the beach. A few beach bars and restaurants provide some delicious local food options at much more affordable prices than at either resort.
The beach is also home to Wild Lotus Glamping, a popular tented accommodation that lets you spend the night directly on one of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua. During the day they’re right in the middle of the action on the beach, but as the sun starts to set you’ll feel perfectly private, with just six luxe tents spread across the sand. It’s one of the most unique and memorable places to stay in Antigua!
Read More: 15 Best Resorts in Antigua
12. Fort James Beach
Despite being the closest beach to Antigua’s capital of St. John’s, Fort James Beach is a surprisingly beautiful and untouched white sand beach. Locals frequent the beach and tend to bring the party with them. However, it often remains mostly undisturbed, even at the northern and southern ends of the beach where you’ll find more beach amenities.
An easy drive from the center of the capital, the beach has a grassy park and a large parking lot, as well as beach facilities. Towards the southern end of the beach, you’ll also find beach chairs and umbrella rentals as well as a few beach bars.
Pair a trip to Fort James Beach with a stop at Runaway Beach, just north of the bluff and a mere two minutes away by car. This is another one of the most popular beaches in Antigua, and with its pristine sand, it’s no wonder why. The southern end of Runaway Beach even has a wild feel, despite its easy proximity to town.
Best Beaches in Antigua
Even just one day at port is enough to see why Antigua beaches are considered among some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the Caribbean. Choose from untouched spots like Half Moon Bay or the bustling white-sand Jolly Beach that seems to stretch on endlessly; whatever type of beach day you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Antigua.
While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the beaches in Barbuda! While the smaller island of Antigua and Barbuda is much less frequently visited than Antigua, it has plenty to see and do – including its gorgeous light pink sand beach, one of the few pink sand beaches in the Caribbean.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.