Scuba Diving Antigua and Barbuda
The tropical Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda are almost completely surrounded by well-preserved coral reefs and shipwrecks making for excellent diving and snorkeling!
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands. The capital and largest port and city is St. John’s, on Antigua.
The country is nicknamed “Land of 365 Beaches” due to the many beaches surrounding the islands. Its governance, language, and culture have all been strongly influenced by the British Empire, of which the country was formerly a part.
Antigua and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadaloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.
Antigua is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Barbuda, a flat coral island with an area of only 68 square miles, lies approximately 30 miles due north. Its capital is St. John’s on Antigua.
Antigua is most famous for its many luxury resorts.
SCUBA DIVING ANTIGUA and BARBUDA
Both Antigua and Barbuda are almost completely surrounded by well-preserved coral reefs, walls, and shipwrecks. The southern and eastern coasts of Antigua and virtually the entire coast of Barbuda are surrounded by shelfs, providing excellent conditions for spectacular shallow diving and snorkeling.
Antigua’s dive facilities are far superior to those available on smaller Barbuda, and so most of the sites that have been established as dive destinations are Antiguan. However, Barbuda’s encircling reefs contain an enormous number of wrecks, most of which are yet to be explored.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Cades Reef – one of Antigua’s best-known offshore sites, and is now partly contained in a designated underwater park.
The Andes – a three-masted merchant ship that sank in 1905 and now rests in less than thirty feet of water in Deep Bay.
Pillars of Hercules – one of Antigua’s best dive sites. Fabulous coral and plenty of small marine life.
DIVING SEASON: Year around
VISIBILITY: Underwater visibility ranges from 50 to 140 feet
WATER TEMPERATURE: the water temperature averages about 80 F (25 C). Winter is around 75F (24C) while summer is around 81F (27C).
WEATHER: May and September thru November are the wettest months. December thru April are the driest. September through November are when there are the highest incidents of hurricanes.
SKILL LEVELS: Diving conditions are gentle. All skill levels will find places where they are comfortable diving.
WHAT TO EXPECT TO SEE: turtles, lobster, southern sting ray, nurse sharks, black tip sharks, barracuda, moray eels and a variety of schooling reef fish.
CLIMATE: Tropical climate with the weather being warm and mostly dry all year round. The winter months are December through to March and still have an average pleasant daily temperature of 27°C or 81°F. Rain shower from mid September – November. Hurricane season is June to September.
LANGUAGE: English is the official language, but many of the locals speak Antiguan Creole. The Barbudan accent is slightly different from the Antiguan.
ELECTRICITY: Part of the island is 110 volts, the remainder is 220 volts. Most hotels have both voltages available.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar which is fixed to the US dollar. Recent exchange rate was US$1.00 = EC$2.65. US currency, travelers checks and major credit cards are welcome everywhere.
GRATUITIES: 10-15% depending on the service. Some restaurants & hotels will automatically add a 10% gratuity. If in doubt, just ask. Give porters and bellhops 50 cents per bag, taxi drivers 10-15% of the fare. A room tax of 8.5% and service charge of 10% (in lieu of tipping)
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: When in Antigua and Barbuda, use the seven digits alone. When calling to Antigua and Barbuda from anywhere in the United States or Canada simply dial 1(268) + seven digit phone number. SIM cards are available for purchase. Roaming charges from your home country may be quite high. It is wise to check with your cell phone carrier to determine charges prior to departing for your trip. Internet is readily available throughout the country.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. Canadian and U.K. nationals require a valid passport, and a round-trip or onward ticket. U.S., UK and EU countries do not require a visa. Citizens of other nations should check with the consulate of Antigua and Barbuda to determine if a visa is required.
CUSTOMS: The duty free allowance is as follows: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, 1 litre wine or spirits, 170ml (6ozs) perfume. Weapons of war and unprescribed drugs are prohibited.
DEPARTURE TAX: Antigua & Barbuda has a US$28.00 (EC$70.00) airport departure tax which is usually included in the airfare.
GETTING THERE: VC Bird International Airport (ANU) is about 5 miles from St John’s center. Airlines that serve Antigua from North America include: Air Canada, American/American Eagle, Delta and US Airways.
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