Antigua and Barbuda is a twin island country lying between the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean
There are plenty of hotels and resorts suitable for parents traveling with babies and toddlers and you will also be able to find plenty of family friendly activities. There are rain forests, historical sites, stunning beaches and the buzzing Saturday market in St Johns, the capital, is not to be missed. Another great option is to catch a barbecue at Shirley Heights with its magnificent views across the neighbouring islands.
When to go
Temperatures in Antigua are warm year-round and are generally between 25–30°C, dropping a few degrees in winter (Dec–May) and heating up again in June, July and August. June to November (the hurricane season) sees the heaviest rainfall, with occasional tropical storms.
The peak visitor season is between December and February. Try March, April and May for family holidays, when there are fewer visitors (and lower prices) but the weather is still gorgeous.
Antigua’s annual Carnival occurs in July and August so don’t miss this if you do decide to travel at this time.
Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport is a major international and regional hub serving the north-eastern Caribbean. There are air links with both the UK and the USA. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Thompson Airways all fly direct from London Gatwick and flights from the UK take around 8 hours 40 minutes and Antigua is 5 hours behind GMT, so expect some jetlag.
Antigua Barbuda Montserrat Air (www.antigua-flights.com) operates daily scheduled flights between Antigua and Barbuda.A helicopter ride and tour is also available from Antigua to Barbuda (www.caribbeanhelicopters.com).
Most buses run from St. Johns and tend to serve local rather than tourist routes.
Taxis are reliable and plentiful. You will also be able to find taxis with car seats although these are not required by law. For a list of taxi companies in Antigua click here.
Baby & Toddler Essentials
Supermarkets in Antigua are few and far between and you probably will not be able to find the brands your child is used to in Europe and the USA etc. In Dickenson bay there is quite a large First Choice Supermarket, which sells many brands of nappies, including Pampers and Huggies. You can also find baby wipes here. These are a little more expensive than the UK but they are available if you need them. Swim nappies are not widely available.
Gerber, which is made by Nestle, is available in First Choice and in some other smaller supermarkets. This is also available in the USA.
There are a number of powdered milk brands available including some lactose or soy free ones.
Always use bottled water for preparing bottles and for keeping little ones hydrated. The tap water is chlorinated and generally safe to drink but the difference in how it is treated may cause stomach upsets.
You can buy pasteurized milk in supermarkets which is safe to drink.
Many hotels on Antigua offer all-inclusive options, which can make for easy family holidays. Outside the resorts there is an excellent range of restaurants, small cafés and roadside bars to cater for most tastes.
Try a Caribbean stew of fish, chicken or mutton, or jerk chicken, rice and peas. Other local specialties include salted codfish served with tomato sauce and other fresh fish dishes (with the fish usually served blackened). Many of the sauces are very hot so be sure to ask when ordering for little ones.
You will be able to find fresh fruit everywhere and don’t miss the black pineapple (an extra-sweet type), green figs (bananas) and breadfruit.
The bar and restaurant at Shirley Heights is great for families on Thursdays and Sundays (with famous BBQ parties featuring a live steel band).
You will be able to find high chairs in the hotels and resorts and in many of the restaurants. There are also baby equipment rental agencies on the island that deliver. Smaller cafes and restaurants may not offer high chairs so bring a fold away high chair which you can pop in your bag if you will be doing a lot of exploring outside of your resort.
Health & Wellbeing
Health insurance is strongly recommended as medical treatment is expensive. There are several GPs on the island as well as one hospital and one private clinic. Recompression chambers are on nearby Saba and St Thomas (travel by air ambulance). Please note that the private health clinic, Adelin does not accept medical travel insurance in payment for treatment, and will require a deposit of US$4,000 by credit card before treatment can be given.
Food and drink
Mains water is normally chlorinated and, whilst relatively safe, may cause mild abdominal upsets so it is best to use bottled water for young children and when preparing bottles. Bottled water is available and is advised for the first few weeks of the stay. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption so there is no need to be overly cautious. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat.
Malaria is not present but dengue fever may occur. Normal precautions against mosquito bites should be taken and visitors should drink plenty of water to mitigate any risk of heat stroke due to high temperatures. See Insect Protection and Sun Protection for more information.
Be sure to speak to your GP about health risks before booking a trip to Antigua with a baby or toddler. Vaccinations for Hep A and tetanus are recommended.