Car hire in Antigua
Hiring a car in Antigua
Antigua (pronounced ‘an-tee-ga’) is one of the Leeward Islands in the West Indies region of the Caribbean.
Many people head here intending to do little more than soak up some serious rays, but there is plenty to do to break up your time in Antigua, from a few rounds of golf to getting pally with a stingray (more on that later).
At just 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, Antigua is one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean, so you won’t be racking up thousands of miles in your hire car.
However, with 365 beaches to choose from, ranging from the bustling Dickenson Bay to the deserted Half Moon Bay, it is possible to go an entire year without sunbathing on the same beach twice.
What you need to know
Your hire car will prove invaluable in reaching some of Antigua’s more notable beaches - such as Jabberwock Beach - that aren’t served by public transport. It’s worth adding that the buses can be whimsical and unreliable too.
That means booking your hire car through Holiday Autos will weed out any potential inconveniences. You’ll have access to the best prices and vehicles from a number of suppliers, as well as the peace of mind knowing that there’s a vehicle waiting for you upon arrival.
Because there are no fees for cancelling or modifying your booking, there’s no need to worry if your plans change either. There’s even a support line, open 24/7, should any problems arise whilst driving in Antigua.
That’s why more than five million people have turned to Holiday Autos to arrange their car hire in over 170 countries worldwide.
Where to pick up your car
Antigua’s V.C Bird International Airport (ANU) is situated in the north-west of the island, roughly six miles out from the centre of capital St. Johns.
With just a handful of car hire providers operating out of the airport with a limited fleet, it’s advised that you use our booking tool before flying out.
Familiar names like Avis and Budget can be found inside the terminal, so just keep an eye out for their desks.
“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Where to go
With so many beaches to choose from, how do you know where to start? Valley Church Beach - 7.4 miles out of St John’s centre - is definitely worth a look.
Here, you’ll be greeted by white sands and calm waters, but as the top-rated beach on TripAdvisor in 2016, it is well-known and can get busier than other beaches. You’ll find it on the west coast, south of Jolly Harbour, just off Valley Road.
Other beaches worth driving to include Pigeon Point Beach on the south coast, Darkwood Beach in the south east, and the often deserted Half Moon Bay in the east just off Sir Sydney Walling Hwy.
For a taste of Caribbean street food, head to one of the many food vendors, where you can get a curried filling (beef, chicken, shrimp, conch, vegetables), mixed with spiced potatoes and wrapped in a floured chapatti. That’s what the locals call a ‘roti’.
Driving in Antigua
Some key points to be aware of before you hit Antiguan roads.
There are no speed limit signs - in fact there are very few traffic signs at all - but 40mph is considered the island-wide speed limit, dropping to 20mph in urban areas.
Speed limits aren’t particularly well-enforced, so you’ll have to be going at some speed or unlucky if you’re pulled over for driving too fast.
Drink-drive laws don’t exist here either so do be wary, although as they drive on the left-hand side of the road it can be easier to manage any difficulties.
Because there are no motorways in Antigua, you’ll occasionally come across some off-road sections. Even in an all-wheel-drive SUV it might not be the best idea to tackle such unpredictable terrain, so sticking to the main roads could save you a lot of hassle.
With just 108 sq m of land available, Antigua simply doesn’t have the roads for lengthy road trips. You can get from one side of the island to the other in under an hour.
Towards the bottom of the island though is Nelson’s Dockyard. Here, a number of fully restored buildings from the 18th and 19th century house shops, hotels and marina businesses. Follow one of the hiking trails and you’re sure to come across one of the historic forts dotted around the dockyard which provide a platform to enjoy the park’s natural beauty. This area is around 12 miles from the centre of St Johns and it will take roughly 40 minutes to drive there, with most of that time spent on All Saints Road.
Head out to the east of the island to visit Betty’s Hope - a sugar plantation from 1650 that was instrumental in the island’s rapid development of large-scale sugar production. These days, it operates as an open air museum with a visitor centre but there are some magnificent views to be relished too.
Top attractions in Antigua
Nobody would blame you for baking on a beach the entire time, but if you want to change things up a bit, these attractions are sure to make your trip more memorable.
How do you like the idea of swimming with stingrays? Well, at Stingray City, you can. Just nine miles from the airport on the north-east of the island, Stingray City claims to have the friendliest Southern Rays in the Caribbean.
There, you will get chance to feed and stroke what is often referred to as ‘the puppy dog of the sea’, due to its constant hunger for attention and a cheeky snack.
A must-do for any romantics, this restored military lookout promises the most spectacular views in Antigua - especially during sunset and sunrise when the English Harbour is illuminated.
Although it’s only accessible on foot, those that complete the 490-ft ascension can refresh themselves at the restaurant and bar at its peak. A barbecue soundtracked by live Caribbean music is held up there every Sunday from 4pm until 10pm too.
Whether you want to try your hand at a sailor’s life or simply want to sit back and relax, you’ll be spoilt for choice here in regards to boat trips. Most of them set out from St Johns, but you’ll find a few originating from Jolly Harbour further down the west coast of the island too.
Regardless of what you want to get up to out on the water - from casual snorkelling to getting married - there’s a boat trip to suit. Tropical Catamaran - based out of St Johns - is a decent starting point.