Visiting Antigua is a great way to kick back and enjoy the Caribbean splendor. This sun-soaked country is a paradise for beach lovers, history buffs, and honeymooners. Antigua has plenty to offer if you’re looking for a holiday destination.
This twin-island nation consisting of Antigua and Barbuda is home to 365 beaches, guaranteeing variety. If you’re a history enthusiast, visit other tourist areas such as Shirley Heights or the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.
These attractions will also provide the best opportunities for sightseeing. But before traveling to this Caribbean nation, you may wonder, “is Antigua safe?”
Don’t worry — we’re travel experts, an in the guide below, we’ll answer your question and provide travel tips and safety concerns to help you enjoy a trouble-free visit to this gorgeous island paradise.
Is Antigua Safe to Visit?
Antigua is a very safe island country for travelers. It has a low crime rate, although tourists may fall victim to petty crimes and assaults.
As a small island, Antigua relies heavily on tourism as the mainstay of its economy. The larger part of this Caribbean nation consists of tourist areas. And like in other countries, tourist areas are a target for pickpockets, purse snatchers, scammers, robbers, and assaulters.
If you’re touring areas such as St John’s in Antigua, always be alert to avoid becoming a victim of petty crime. The US Department of State issued a Level One travel advisory on October 4, 2022, informing travelers to exercise standard precautions.
Additionally, the Government of Canada issued a Level One travel advisory for Antigua and Barbuda. With these advisories, we can conclude that Antigua is safe to travel to, but it’s good to take normal security precautions.
Antigua has a crime rate of around 5 per 100k, which is among the lowest in the world. It isn’t as low as New Zealand which has about 1.5 per 100k, nor as high as El Salvador which is about 40 per 100k (highest in the world).
Unlike Caribbean countries like Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, and Barbados, tourists love Antigua due to its lower crime rate. Incidents of violent crime and murder of tourists are rare.
Also, the country doesn’t have crime hotspots, but some non-tourist areas can expose you to the risk of robbery and sexual assault.
Other safety concerns you need to be aware of before heading to Antigua include health risks, natural disasters, and climate. Antigua is prone to hurricanes that occur in July-November.
The island country exposes travelers to infections caused by insect bites, such as Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika virus. At the moment, the CDC hasn’t issued any travel health notices to Antigua.
Crime in Antigua
Antigua’s crime rate is at the lowest level compared to many Caribbean countries. Most travelers to this island nation never experience incidents of crime.
Most foreign agencies consider crime in Antigua “moderate” but advise their citizens to be cautious. According to a report on human rights practices in the country, the government is strict in upholding the rights and safety of its citizens and foreigners.
There are no unlawful killings, torture, or disappearance of citizens or foreigners in Antigua. The government also protects residents against violence, sexual abuse, and trafficking.
However, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and assaults are still present at a lower rate. Let’s look into common crimes in Antigua and how to avoid them.
Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching
Pickpocketing and purse snatching are petty crimes in Central Park and markets. You’ll also want to be vigilant when visiting crowded places such as Saint John’s and beaches.
Popular beaches, including Dickenson Bay, Carlisle Bay, and Jolly Beach, become overcrowded, especially during the holidays. The high number of tourists in these areas attracts pickpockets and bag snatchers looking for easy targets.
If you’re visiting these areas, avoid carrying large sums of money, travel documents, and valuables. You can carry a backpack but ensure to wear it on your front when walking through crowded places.
Ensure to put your wallet, camera, and other essential valuables in your bag. Wear casual outfits and avoid flashy valuables such as expensive jewelry, watches, and necklaces.
If possible, leave your valuables and travel documents in your hotel safe. When exploring Antigua, you should have copies of travel documents, credit cards, and a driver’s license. They can help you in the case of emergencies such as hurricanes and severe illnesses.
If stolen, your originals will remain intact in your hotel safe. Purse snatchers will also target solo travelers and those visiting isolated areas. If you’re exploring the beauty of this country, always do so as a group.
Fortunately, Antigua is a family-friendly destination for bringing family or friends along. Isolated areas in Antigua can be risky for tourists. Be cautious in informal parking areas, remote beaches, and natural areas.
If possible, explore isolated areas with a reputable guide or as a group. Pickpockets and bag snatchers target tourist cars and taxis. They may target parked vehicles with unlocked doors and open windows.
Always lock the doors, keep windows up, and avoid leaving valuables or money in the car. Choose parking lots with security features such as attendants and gates.
Antigua has had a few incidents of physical assaults targeting tourists. In most cases, sexual assault and harassment are common among locals, but tourists may become victims. As with any city, tourists have been assaulted and robbed in cruise ships, bars, and various isolated places.
Often, criminals target female travelers and may sexually assault or harass them. These criminals may also assault tourists at knifepoint and rob them. To avoid becoming a target to assaulters, always stay alert and know the risky areas to avoid.
You can also ask hotel staff, tour guide, or a reliable local for areas you should avoid. Keep a travel itinerary so you can know where to go each day.
If you’re using taxis, ask your hotel to call one from a reputable company. You don’t want to deal with rogue taxi drivers who may physically assault and rob you. If you’re on a cruise ship or in a bar, avoid suspicious strangers who may want to initiate conversations.
Assaulters will look for female tourists in cruise ships or bars and approach them. If that happens, be polite and tell them you’re not interested. If they become violent, call for help or make a loud noise.
Remember, there’s strength in numbers. If you’re going out to a bar, cruise ship, or isolated area, go as a group. Don’t walk alone on the streets at night, as this can attract rude comments, sexual assaults, or robbers.
Avoiding Bad Areas
The low crime rate and smaller size of Antigua mean the country has more safe areas to visit than bad ones. Dickenson Bay is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the best beaches to soak up the sun and enjoy water activities.
For great nightlife with friends, try English Harbor Town. If you’re traveling to Antigua with family, you’ll want to spend quality time with them at Jolly Harbor. History lovers can head to Shirley Heights, Nelson’s Dockyard, and Betty’s Hope.
These attractions are also perfect for sightseeing. Remember to visit Barbuda to enjoy a laid-back experience while exploring the natural surroundings. You’ll also find good hotels around these areas with security and quality services.
Although St. John’s is an excellent place to explore, some areas are considered dangerous. Be extra cautious when visiting Heritage Quay, Redcliffe Quay, and Market Street.
These areas are usually overcrowded and can be hot spots for pickpockets, bag snatchers, scams, and assaulters. You can visit these areas trouble-free as long as you use common sense. Keep your bags closer, and don’t walk along the streets alone or at night.
When driving, stick to the main roads, as some criminals may target tourists on back streets, country roads, and alleyways. When in Barbuda, follow the local media and authorities to learn about the potential risks of natural disasters.
Barbuda is still recovering from Hurricane Irma, which hit this island paradise in 2017. It’s good to be alert, especially from July to November, because you’re never sure when other destructive hurricanes can occur.
Things to Consider
Below are more travel tips to help you stay safe in Antigua:
- When taking a taxi, agree on the total fare. Some taxi drivers scam tourists by overcharging them.
- When confronted by robbers, hand over your belongings without resisting. Most of these muggers carry weapons and can hurt you if you resist. Your safety should come first, then after the incident, head to the nearest police station to report the crime.
- Don’t use buses in Antigua. Public transport in Antigua is unreliable and not recommended for tourists. Rent a car but remember thieves target tourist cars to steal them.
- When going to nightclubs or bars in Antigua, stick to brightly lit areas and don’t go alone. Drink responsibly and look after each other. You’ll also need to stay alert because criminals may spike your drink.
- Use insect repellent to protect yourself, your family, or your friends from insect bites. Doing this can protect you from insect-borne illnesses such as Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika. You’ll also want to wear closed-toe shoes, long pants or skirts, and long-sleeved shirts at night or near stagnant water.
- Avoid drugs in Antigua. The government is strict on drug use and abuse, so avoid using or trafficking drugs. Avoid drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and hallucinogens.
- Don’t carry plastic bags. Antigua banned plastic bags in 2016, and you will not find them on sale. So avoid traveling with plastic bags to put your belongings.
- Avoid touching a Manchineel tree. This tree is poisonous, and touching it can lead to burns and blisters. Its sap can cause blindness. You should not ingest its fruit.
- LGBTQ+ travelers can visit Antigua but should avoid public displays of affection. While there is no legislation against homosexuality, being affectionate in public may attract negative comments or attention from locals.
- If you’re traveling during the hurricane season, memorize or carry important contact numbers. For example, learn how to call your hotel, tour operator, local police, embassy, or airline.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions when visiting Antigua:
Do they Speak English in Antigua?
Due to British colonization, Antiguans and Barbudans adopted English as their official language. However, you’re likely to find a few inhabitants using Spanish.
When you travel from Antigua to Barbuda, you’ll notice that accents are slightly different. You may also experience difficulty following conversations from locals as they speak at a quicker and indecipherable pace.
What currency is used in Antigua?
The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$ or XCD) and the US Dollar are the main currencies used in Antigua. The EC$ is more common here, so carry some USD and get some XCD from the bank to spend in Antigua.
What is the best month to go to Antigua?
If you’re looking to spend much time on the beach in Antigua, travel from December to April. These are high-season months and are the coolest and driest throughout the year. They are also safe from hurricanes and nighttime thunderstorms from mid-June to November.
Can you drink tap water in Antigua?
Avoid drinking tap water in Antigua. If you’re exploring the country, carry bottled water and don’t borrow from locals. Alternatively, drink boiled water. You should also avoid unfiltered ice in bars or hotels.
How many days do you need in Antigua?
Despite its smaller size, Antigua has a lot of attractions you can explore year-round. Three to seven days are enough to explore the best places in the country. You can visit the most popular beaches, wander the streets, explore historic sites, and climb the volcanoes.
So, Is Antigua Safe to Visit?
Antigua is a safe paradise for adventure lovers looking to spend some time in the Caribbean. The country has a low crime rate compared to many other Caribbean countries. You can spend your vacation here without becoming a victim of crime.
It’s advisable to exercise standard precautions in Antigua. Crimes such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, scams, and assault are prevalent in tourist areas.
Be wary of insect bites and natural disasters such as hurricanes. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings to avoid petty criminals. But most of all, have fun! This island is very safe, and as long as you use some common sense, you’ll have a great time. Happy travels!