Boat Rental in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda consists of two main islands forming an independent state in the eastern Caribbean sea. The idyllic white sands and blue seas of the beaches make it the dream holiday destination for both family vacations and romantic couples’ getaways. The capital city, St John’s, lies on Antigua and boasts a deepwater harbour, which is perfect for those looking to embark on a sailing vacation. Although most of the inhabitants live here, there are many other noteworthy places to explore, mostly capes and beaches, including Fitches Creek, Runaway beach and also the Rendezvous bays, which are not far from Falmouth. The main language of both islands is English and the locals’ relaxed attitude adds to the feeling of freedom that runs deep throughout the islands.
The island of Antigua is mostly low lying and full of tropical vegetation, although there are volcanic rocks in the west which reach 1330 feet at Mount Obama. Offshore, you can sail out to the many shoals and reefs that lie just a short distance away from the coast and are home to a variety of different marine animals.
The island of Barbuda lies just 25 miles (40 km) north of Antigua and is even flatter, reaching just 143 feet (43.5) at its highest. It is a coral island and as such, even though the wildlife onshore is sadly lacking thanks to the introduction of the mongoose to the ecosystem in the late 19th century, the marine life is rich and plentiful.
Weather and sailing conditions in Antigua and Barbuda
With a temperature that remains consistently between 77°F (25°C) and 88°F (31°C), the conditions are ideal all year round for a holiday in Antigua and Barbuda. This is coupled with a sea temperature of between 79°F (26°C) between January and April, and 84°F (29°C) in September, meaning that if you’re a sailor who also likes to swim and snorkel, you have a wide range of dates to choose from.
Throughout the year, there are also steady trade winds, although the wind is calmer between May and late June. You should watch out for the hurricane season, which officially stretches from July to November, as although the risk is very small, you may encounter some tropical storms during these months.
Best time to book your Antigua sailing holiday
The best time to book your boat charter in Antigua really depends on personal preference but there are some things to take into account.
The high season for sailing in Antigua runs from December until May, starting just after the hurricane season, in time for the winter months. Given that this is Antigua’s dry season, the weather is ideal for sailing, with east/north-east trade winds of around 20 knots.
The low season for sailing in Antigua and Barbuda runs from June to November and it is during these months that you can generally expect better rates. Although there are typically fewer people booking their Caribbean holidays during this month, it is important to consider that the beginning of this period coincides with the school summer holidays around the world, meaning there is more probability of encountering families with younger children. The temperatures during the low season are high, but given the risk of tropical storms, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast both before and during your trip.
Boat types I can charter in Antigua
At this time, it is possible to rent both sailing boats and catamarans in Antigua and Barbuda.
Is Antigua bareboat charter possible?
Yes! Antigua boat charter is possible both with and without a skipper and in fact, there are many boats that you can only rent without a skipper. If you plan on a bareboat charter, you do need a valid boating license, however.
There are many advantages to Antigua boat rental, both with a skipper and without, depending on the type of holiday you want. If you want the freedom to roam the nearby Caribbean seas as you please, maybe a bareboat charter would suit you best.
If, on the other hand, you want to experience the beauty of the Caribbean without worrying about the technicalities of sailing, you should rent the boat with a skipper and cruise the coast of Antigua and Barbuda without a care in the world. If you go during hurricane season, it could also be a good idea to have an experienced sailor on board who knows the weather in the Caribbean and is more likely to know what to do if things take a dangerous turn.
Travel tips for Antigua and Barbuda
Travelling to Antigua and Barbuda is actually incredibly easy, with many direct flight options from the UK, USA and Canada
with over 15 different airlines. If you fly into these islands, you will arrive at V.C Bird International airport
, which is just a 17 minute drive from the capital, St. John’s
, and even closer to the sea.
If you aren’t lucky enough to live in a country/state from which you can get a direct flight, or you simply want to conserve costs, there are also a number of connecting flight options
, with some of the connections including other Caribbean islands, such as Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Barbados
Flying may be your quickest and easiest option, but it is not your only one. Another way to arrive is by boat. If you are arriving on a larger boat or a ship, there are four main port options:
For smaller, private boats, your options also include:
- St John’s Harbour
- St James Club
- Crabbs Marina
Getting to Barbuda can be a little more tricky than reaching its bigger sister island, but with a private boat charter, it should still be easy enough. It should be noted, however, that all private boats hoping to dock in Barbuda, must be cleared in one of the official main ports in Antigua first.
For people from the USA, UK, and Canada, as well as many other countries, you shouldn’t need a visa to visit Antigua and Barbuda, provided you don’t plan on staying longer than 6 months and can provide upon arrival an onward/return ticket and confirmation of accommodation.
Most popular ports in Antigua and Barbuda
For bigger boats, you can use:
- Jolly Harbour
- English Harbour
- Deepwater Harbour
- Heritage Key
If you’re chartering a smaller boat, the following are good options:
- St John’s Harbour
- St James Club
- Crabbs Marina
- Nelson’s Dockyard Marina
What to do during your Antigua sailing charter
There are many things that you can do to make the most of your private boat charter in Antigua. Before you even head out to sea, you can check out Fort Barrington, a fortress that was built in the 1700s and offers amazing views of both St John’s Harbour and Deep bay. You can also visit Nelson’s Dockyard, which has a fantastic museum, full of historical background on the area.
Once you head out to sea, it only gets better. One of the most interesting places to visit by boat is Prickly Pear Island, an uninhabited islet that you can see from Antigua unless the weather is particularly bad.
Antigua also has many prime snorkelling locations, with one of the richest marine ecosystems in the Lesser Antilles island group. Among these locations are Cades Bay marine park and Stingray City. While snorkelling at Cades Bay marine park, you can see the wreck of the Andes, a ship which sank in 1905. Stingray city, on the other hand, is one of the best places to swim and interact with southern stingrays, as well as a range of other ocean creatures, such as pufferfish, moray eels, barracudas, and nurse sharks.
If you have a competitive side, you may even want to plan your visit to coincide with the Peters and May Round Antigua Race or Antigua Sailing Week, the latter of which will run from April 30th until May 6th in 2022.
How much will boat rental in Antigua cost?
Renting a sailboat
in Antigua costs between $310 and $550 per day
and between $2,171 and $3,847 per week
during low season
. During high season
, sailboat charter in Antigua costs between $599 and $1,393 per day
and between $4,190 and $9,750 per week
For Catamaran charter
, the cost is between $838 and $2,813 per day
and between $5,034 and $19,693 per week
during low season
. During the high season
, catamaran charter in Antigua costs between $1,020 and $3,725 per day
and between $5,034 and $26, 072 per week