Bargaining

Prices are generally fixed, although you might be able to negotiate a small discount at markets and from souvenir vendors, especially those patrolling the beaches.

Dangers & Annoyances

Most visits to Antigua, and especially Barbuda, are trouble-free.

  • Theft is a possibility, so lock your valuables at your hotel, and don't carry too much cash or flaunt expensive jewelry.
  • Through rare, violent crimes such as murder, sexual assault and robbery do occur, so take the usual precautions. Women especially should avoid putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations, such as hiking or going to deserted beaches alone.
  • If you're driving, be extra careful at night due to unlit roads, poor or complete lack of signage, and potholed narrow roads.

Natural Dangers & Annoyances

  • Antigua and Barbuda present a risk of transmission of the Zika virus. Mosquitoes and sand flies (mostly on Barbuda) are especially prevalent at sunrise and after sunset. Make certain you have a good insect repellent with at least 25% DEET.
  • Stinging jellyfish do make an appearance at times in Barbuda's Codrington Lagoon and along Antigua’s west coast. Jellyfish Squish, sold locally in big supermarkets, quickly takes out the sting.
  • Harmless looking but poisonous manchineel trees grow along some beaches. Do not eat the fruit or even touch the bark.
  • The hurricane season runs from June to November.

Electricity

220V, 60 cycles. Some places provide 110V, 60 cycles, some provide both. American two-pin sockets dominate, UK sockets are rare.

Embassies & Consulates

Consular affairs for US citizens are handled by the US Consular Agent in St John's. The UK and Germany are represented by honorary consulates on Antigua.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Dial 911 or 999 for all emergencies.

Entry & Exit Formalities

Customs Regulations

Aside from personal effects, visitors aged 18 and older are permitted to import 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars plus 1 quart of liquor and 6oz of perfume without paying duty. Note that the importation and wearing of camouflage clothing is prohibited.

Passports

All visitors need a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. On arrival, you’ll be given an immigration and customs form to complete. Keep the stub handed back to you until you leave the country.

Visas

Not required for US, EU or Commonwealth visitors arriving as tourists for stays under 90 days.

Etiquette

  • Greetings Greet people when entering a shop or business – if not expect slow service or being ignored.
  • Enquiries Rushing into a request is considered rude. Better start out with a little chitchat.
  • Swimwear Don't wear beach attire when walking around town. Topless tanning is generally frowned upon on public beaches, although some resorts may permit it.
  • Photography Don't take photographs of people without asking their permission first.

LGBT Travellers

There is no real gay scene on Antigua and Barbuda but no overt discrimination either. However, homosexuality is on the books as illegal and is theoretically punishable with jail time, although enforcement is practically nonexistent. Just be discreet and avoid public displays of affection, especially outside the international resorts, and you're unlikely to run into any problems.

Internet Access

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and even many businesses provide free wi-fi for their customers, although you may need to ask for a password.

Media

  • Newspapers Key daily newspapers are the Caribbean Times and the Daily Observer. Big hotels sell international magazines and newspapers.
  • Radio Popular local stations include NiceFM (104.3FM) and Observer Radio (91.1FM). The BBC is on 89.1FM.

Money

ATMs are scarce but credit cards are widely accepted.

ATMs

ATMs can be found at the airport, in downtown St John's, in English Harbour and in major supermarkets like Epicurean. All dispense EC dollars.

Cash

Unless rates are posted in US dollars, as is the norm with accommodations, it usually works out better to use EC dollars. If you pay in US dollars you will likely get change in EC dollars.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1EC$1.93
CanadaC$1EC$1.98
Euro Zone€1EC$2.81
Japan¥100EC$2.30
New ZealandNZ$1EC$1.86
UKUK£1EC$3.29
USUS$1EC$2.68

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

Hotels US$0.50 to US$1 per bag is standard; gratuity for cleaning staff is at your discretion.

Restaurants If the service charge is not automatically added to the bill, tip 10% to 15%; if it is, it's up to you to leave a little extra tip.

Taxis Tip 10% to 15% of the fare.

Opening Hours

Local businesses, including most restaurants and bars, are closed on Sundays. Note that the following hours are basic guidelines only. In practice, hours are quite erratic and may vary depending on the day, the season or even the mood of the proprietor.

Banks 8am–2pm Monday to Thursday, to 4pm Friday

Bars noon–11pm or midnight

Businesses 8am–5pm Monday to Friday, to 2pm Saturday

Restaurants breakfast 7:30–10am, lunch noon–2:30pm, dinner 6–9:30pm

Shops 9am–5pm Monday to Saturday, later and on Sunday for touristy places and supermarkets

Post

When mailing a letter to the islands, follow the addressee’s name with the town and ‘Antigua, West Indies’ or ‘Barbuda, West Indies.’

Post Office English Harbour

Post Office St John's

Public Holidays

New Year's Day January 1

Good Friday/Easter Monday March/April

Labour Day First Monday in May

Pentecost/Whit Monday 40 days after Easter

Carnival Late July to first Tuesday in August

Independence Day November 1

VC Bird Day December 9

Christmas/Boxing Day December 25/26

Smoking

  • Smoking Officially permitted everywhere except in government buildings. However, most hotels and restaurants prohibit guests from smoking indoors. Some have designated outdoor areas for smokers.

Taxes & Refunds

Antigua and Barbuda levies a 15% sales tax (called ABST) on most goods and services. Basic foods, medicine, education and other services are exempt.

At hotels, the rate is 12.5%. It's not always factored into quoted prices at restaurant and hotels, so ask and/or read the small print.

Visitors are not eligible to reclaim VAT upon leaving Antigua and Barbuda.

Telephone

  • The country code for Antigua and Barbuda is 268.
  • To place a call to Antigua and Barbuda, dial your country’s international access code + 268 + local number.
  • To call abroad, dial 011 + country code + area code + local number.
  • If making a call within or between Antigua and Barbuda, you only need to dial the seven-digit local number if dialing from a landline.
  • For directory assistance, dial 411.
  • In hotels, local calls are often free but international ones are charged at exorbitant rates.

Mobile Phones

Mobile networks and carriers use the GSM 850/900 frequencies. Ubiquitous wi-fi makes it easy to use VoIP providers like Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime.

Time

Clocks in Antigua and Barbuda are set to Eastern Caribbean Time (Atlantic Time), which is four hours behind GMT. The islands do not observe daylight savings time, but as other countries do, the following times are indicative only:

Auckland

Noon in Antigua & Barbuda

5am +1

Frankfurt

Noon in Antigua & Barbuda

5pm

London

Noon in Antigua & Barbuda

4pm

Los Angeles

Noon in Antigua & Barbuda

8am

New York

Noon in Antigua & Barbuda

11am

Sydney

Noon in Antigua & Barbuda

3am +1

Toilets

Toilets are Western-style sit-down affairs. Public toilets are rare but usually free. There are some well-maintained ones by the Heritage Quay cruise-ship terminal in St John's.

Tourist Information

For advance planning, check www.antigua-barbuda.org, www.visitantiguabarbuda.com or www.barbudaful.net.

Antigua Tourist Office Maintains an information kiosk at Heritage Quay on cruise-ship days.

Barbuda Tourist Office

Travel with Children

The Antigua and Barbuda tourism industry generally caters more to grown-up visitors, with some resorts even being restricted to 'adults only'. If traveling with children, check if your resort has a children's pool, organized activities or day-care/babysitting services.

West-coast beaches tend to be calmer. Water-sports activity is best on Dickenson Bay.

A great place to visit with animal-loving tots is Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary. Older children will enjoy the Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours.

Accessible Travel

Generally speaking, Antigua and Barbuda are not very progressive when it comes to meeting the needs of the disabled. The big resorts usually have rooms that can accommodate the mobility-impaired; some provide beach wheelchairs.

In most villages, sidewalks are in poor condition or nonexistent. In St John's, many of the shops and toilets adjacent to the cruise-ship terminal (ie at Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay) are accessible.

Neither buses nor taxis are equipped to transport wheelchair-bound travelers. The nonprofit Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities is working toward improving the situation.

Accessible Travel Online Resources

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel Guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Volunteering

Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary Operated by the Antigua Humane Society, this outfit needs volunteer help to take care of stray donkeys.

Environmental Awareness Group of Antigua & Barbuda (www.eagantigua.org) Needs help with a wide variety of programs, from turtle protection to bird censuses and fern conservation.

Volunteer Global (www.volunteerglobal.com) Platform with occasional volunteer opportunities in Antigua and Barbuda.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The imperial system is used.

Work

Getting a work permit in Antigua and Barbuda is difficult because employers are required by law to fill the position with a local first. Only if no suitable candidate can be found, can they apply for a work permit for a foreigner. For information and advice contact the Antiguan Immigration Department.