Useful information about holidays in Antigua
Here’s some general information about holidaying in Antigua which we hope you find useful. If you have any specific questions please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01373 814214 and ask away. For anything that’s not immediately at our fingertips, we’ll do a bit of research and give you a call back once we’ve found the answer.
Business opening hours
As a general guide you can expect the following:
- Banks: 8am – 2pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am – 4pm on Friday. Bank of Antigua is also open Saturday 8am – 12noon.
- Shops: generally 8am – 5pm Monday to Saturday.
- Supermarkets: 8am – 7pm Monday – Saturday and all day Sunday too.
- Shops at Redcliffe Quay and Heritage Quay in St John’s will be open whenever there is a cruise ship in port.
Casual, light comfortable clothing is appropriate during the day as well as in the evening and the emphasis is on very casual clothing at all times.
Beachwear should not be worn in the streets or stores. You should also be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing. Nude bathing is illegal.
Credit cards and currency
Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, car rental companies, and shops. The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) is the local currency in Antigua and is tied in value to the US dollar. It may be possible to order EC$ from your local bank or foreign exchange bureau before leaving the UK, but US dollars (US$) are widely accepted and can be used in many establishments, usually with change being given in EC$, however please note that smaller establishments, especially in country areas, may only accept EC$.
Should you wish to exchange currency it is advisable to do this at a bank, as the most favourable exchange rates may not be obtained elsewhere. You will normally need to provide your passport when doing this. Most banks have 24-hour ATM machines.
We suggest you take US$ and exchange them for local currency. Travelling with a credit card is also recommended.
We can arrange car or 4×4 hire for you when you book your holiday, or our agents will be pleased to arrange car or 4×4 hire for you locally. They will arrange all the necessary permits and licences as well as insurance and your vehicle will normally be delivered to and collected from your accommodation. There is a good network of paved roads but, like most Caribbean islands, the signposting system leaves much to be desired. Please note that driving is on the LEFT. You will need to take your UK driving licence with you!
Antigua runs on 230 volts/frequency 60 Hz. You will need a universal adapter plug for all electrical appliances as plugs and sockets are US flat 2-pin style.
You should also check the label on the appliance in case you also require a voltage converter. Some appliances never need a converter. If the label states ‘INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz’ the appliance can be used in all countries in the world. This is common for chargers of tablets/laptops, photo cameras, mobile phones, toothbrushes, etc.
All hotels will offer necessary assistance and direct you to the nearest doctor, clinic or specialist. Pharmacies are very well stocked with all usual medications but we advise you to take sufficient supplies of any medication that you normally take.
The main government hospital can cope with many types of treatment but serious cases may mean emergency evacuation. Medical treatment in Antigua and Barbuda can be expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 or 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Before choosing to be treated at a private facility, you should check their policies on pre-payment. Private clinics may not accept medical travel insurance as payment for treatment.
Mosquitoes and other pests
While Antigua has very few creepy crawlies and the like, tropical places do produce tropical insects, and mosquitoes can be a nuisance. We suggest you take precautions by using repellent creams and sprays both day and night.
The water is of excellent quality and is fine for drinking from the tap. Locally bottled water is also available.
Safety and security
Antigua is a very friendly and relatively safe place, but it makes sense to take reasonable precautions against crime wherever you travel. Be particularly careful on isolated beaches and do not leave bags or valuables unattended on beaches or in your hire car if using. Crime of any sort against tourists is very rare, but we still advise visitors to use taxis after dark whenever possible. Restaurants will always offer help with calling taxis to and from their premises.
We also advise all our clients travelling anywhere in the world to consult the Foreign Office website for detailed up-to-date travel advice. Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for information and feel free to talk to our staff for clarification of any information the web page contains.
Most UK mobile phones will work in Antigua however it is advisable to check with your service provider before travelling to confirm roaming facilities and texting options. The bigger hotels will have in-room phones for local calls. The best option for calling long distance however is to switch off data roaming on your mobile phone prior to landing in St Kitts and Nevis and connect to wi-fi services wherever possible. Calls and messages to the UK can then be made using apps such as WhatsApp or Messenger.
Tax and tipping
There is 15% VAT on meals at hotels and restaurants. Tipping is customary for good service (10% tip is appreciated) but check if the service charge has already been included on restaurant bills.
There are a number of different churches from all major denominations on Antigua and visitors are welcome at services.
Lock up as you would at home. Most hotels have safety deposit boxes and we advise against taking valuables to the beach or leaving possessions on view in your hire car. The police emergency number is 911 in Antigua.