Antigua and Barbuda

Scuba diving in

Antigua and Barbuda

Like two sides of the same coin, Antigua and Barbuda provide markedly different perspectives of a Caribbean getaway – with lively luxury, peaceful relaxation, and inviting scuba diving.


  • Two distinct destinations offering very different vibes
  • Opt for exciting experiences or peaceful seclusion
  • Visit the UNESCO Heritage site at Nelson’s Dockyard
  • Enjoy relaxed scuba diving on shallow, sheltered reefs

Antigua and Barbuda are two contrasting Caribbean destinations that remain unquestionably distinct yet still perfectly complement one another. Visitors can enjoy the lively luxury of Antigua while exploring the island’s culture and history, or discover the wild, crowd-free tranquillity of Barbuda. Boasting a rich maritime history and an irresistible air of exclusivity, these islands have long been a haven for boating enthusiasts and affluent aficionados of the finer things. But now, Antigua and Barbuda are increasingly accessible to travellers of all kinds, including those in search of relaxed Caribbean scuba diving, and more.

Diving in Antigua and Barbuda

  • Sharks
    Year round
  • Stingrays
    Year round
  • Turtles
    Year round
  • Schooling reef fish
    Schooling reef fish
    Year round
  • Wrecks
    Year round

With plenty of shallow, sheltered sites, Antigua and Barbuda are the ultimate easy diving destination. Divers descending below the water can expect warm waters, and a variety of Caribbean marine life, including parrotfish, batfish, and barracuda, as well as turtles, stingrays and eagle rays. Reef sharks and nurse sharks can even be spotted at some sites.

Diving in Antigua

Antigua is home to more identified dive sites than Barbuda, which are scattered all around the island. In the north, divers can explore a steam powered freighter from the 1800s, known as the Jettias Wreck, while the Andes Wreck is a three-masted merchant ship that rests in Deep Bay, close to St John’s.

However, Antigua’s southern coast is considered to offer the best underwater experiences. Cades Reef is one of the island’s most popular offshore dive destinations, with clear waters and plenty of corals. This barrier reef extends for several kilometres and has sites suitable to all levels, including Monk’s Head and Bluff Cut. The Chimney is a more advanced site, allowing divers to follow a ledged slope down to around 25-metres and peer into a chimney-like cave. Likewise, Snapper’s Ledge is a favourite among experienced divers, featuring terraced walls which rise from the seabed like an amphitheatre. Yellow tail and mahogany snapper can often be seen in schools here, while reef sharks and nurse sharks hide amongst the shadows. 

Pillars of Hercules is another renowned dive site in Antigua and lies a little further west, near the entrance to English Harbour. Named after a series of naturally-carved pillars which appear to hold up the nearby cliff, this site offers a tapestry of multi-hued soft corals which contrast with the shadowy silhouettes of passing black durgons. A small swim-through is also beautifully decorated with feather stars and Christmas tree worms.

Diving in Barbuda

There are no proper dive centres on the island of Barbuda, but tanks are available to hire or fill from the fisheries building and other local outlets. Located on the island’s south coast, Palmetto Point has colonies of staghorn and brain corals with the odd stingray or eagle ray passing by. Another popular dive is Plasterer Point, which lies on a barrier reef off the island’s eastern coast.

Diving Environment


Reef, wreck


Beginner to Intermediate

Diving Season



5 - 30m


15 - 30m


25 - 29°C

Top tips

  • Between August and February, thousands of frigate birds descend on Codrington Lagoon and Man of War Island to breed.
  • Cars drive on the left side of the road in Antigua and Barbuda.

About Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are located within the Leeward Islands on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, north of Guadeloupe and east of St Kitts. Together with the uninhabited island of Redonda, Antigua and Barbuda form a three-island state that should be high on the bucket-list of any avid traveller. 

Appreciated by sailors since the days of Admiral Nelson, Antigua has become a mecca for boating enthusiasts and sun-worshippers, hosting regattas and boasting a different world-class beach for every day of the year. But don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all Antigua has to offer, as this island also promises plenty of iconic Caribbean experiences. Visitors can expect to stumble across rum and music-fuelled festivities, colourful communities, and a captivating combination of African heritage and British colonial history. 

Situated around 40-kilometres further north, Barbuda offers a markedly more relaxing experience. Home to just one small village, life on this island is taken at a slower pace and pleasures found through simpler pursuits. Barbuda encourages visitors to create their own entertainment, be it meeting the local people, meandering through nature, or relaxing on one of numerous empty pink-sand beaches which stretch as far as the eye can see. Largely untouched by tourist development, the island still has plenty of seemingly impenetrable bush where wildlife thrives. In fact, Barbuda’s Codrington Lagoon plays host to the largest frigate bird colony in the western hemisphere. 

Getting there

Getting to Antigua and Barbuda is easy, with direct flights operating from London, Montreal, and Toronto, as well as New York, Atlanta, Miami, plus numerous Caribbean islands. International flights touch down in V.C. Bird International Airport, located on the northern end of Antigua. For those arriving by water, cruise ships dock at two main quays – Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay – which are located next to one another, just five-minutes from downtown St John’s.

The most popular way to reach Barbuda From Antigua is by high-speed ferry, taking around 90-minutes each way. Chartered flights can also be organised, touching down in Barbuda’s Codrington Airport.

Taxis are one of the best ways to get around both Antigua and Barbuda, and fares are generally fixed. Visitors can also easily rent a vehicle if they prefer to explore on their own. 

Where to stay

Once reserved for the rich and famous, Antigua and Barbuda boast some of the most luxurious all-inclusive hotels imaginable. But, a range of other accommodation is now available, allowing visitors of all kinds to enjoy this stunning destination.

Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay, in the northwest of Antigua, are renowned for the beauty of their beaches whilst also offering modest crowds. St John’s, the island’s spirited capital, is not only convenient, it also delivers an abundance of Caribbean colour and culture, making it popular among first-time visitors. Jolly Harbour, and St Mary in general, is one of the best locations for families.

Situated in the island’s southwest, this area offers classic resort-style accommodation and activities for all ages – including water sports, shopping, fine dining, and an 18-hole championship golf course. Located next door to each other, Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour have many cultural attractions and historic landmarks to explore, and are energised by evening entertainment at the waterfront bars. Antigua’s eastern coast is wilder than the rest of the island, though several resorts can be found in sheltered bays. The Atlantic winds also make it well-suited to watersports.

Far fewer accommodation options exist on the island of Barbuda, but the promise of crowd-free getaways is exactly why people visit. A selection of guesthouses operate within the village of Codrington, while a handful of hotels and cabana-style accommodation can be found along the coast.


The tropical Caribbean climate means that Antigua and Barbuda’s scuba diving can be enjoyed year round. But, there are some small fluctuations in the weather that are worth bearing in mind.

As with many tropical destinations, the two main seasons are dictated by the amount of rain. In Antigua and Barbuda, the dry season runs from December to May, with average temperatures of around 26°C on land and in the water. The wet season runs from June to November, bringing a higher chance of downpours, particularly towards the end of this period. Temperatures also peak during the wet season, averaging around 28°C on land and in the water.

Keep in mind that hurricanes are possible between June and November, with the highest chances towards the end of the season. Hurricanes rarely interfere with the diving in this region, though strong winds can occasionally cause choppy conditions and reduced visibility. 


Antigua boasts a rich colonial history, centred around English Harbour and the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. This 18th century dockyard accommodated Admiral Nelson and is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can also explore the ruins of numerous forts dotted around the island, as well as sugar factories, plantations, and religious buildings. Conservation around Barbuda focuses on wildlife, particularly birds. The island’s Frigate Bird Sanctuary welcomes an estimated population of 100,000 individuals, making it the largest frigate bird colony in the western hemisphere. 

Antigua and Barbuda dive resorts