With its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and tropical weather, the Caribbean isn't often considered an adventure destination. After all, most people who visit the region are more interested in catching some sun on the beach while sipping a cold drink than they are in climbing a mountain or paddling a raging river. But as I learned on a recent trip to Antigua and Barbuda, adventure is everywhere if you look hard enough.
With that in mind, here are 7 adventurous things you can do on these islands, while still enjoying the luxurious you'd expect from a Caribbean escape.
Snorkeling and Diving
As with most places in the Caribbean, Antigua is a great place to go snorkeling and scuba diving. With access to both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, there are a number of great coral reefs where visitors can spot thousands of different sea creatures. The Cades Reef is especially popular, as it stretches for several miles in length, and reaches an approachable depth, even for beginner divers. And if you're into wreck-diving there are more than 127 documented sunken ships near Antigua, with the three-masted merchant ship Andes being one of the most popular.
Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Sea kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are two other very popular water sports in Antigua. Paddling through the protected mangrove trees provides a great opportunity to not only spot wildlife, but explore the unique ecosystem that surrounds the islands. The mangroves help keep the coral reefs healthy and vibrant, and provide a measure of protection from storms as well. While out on the water, you can spot sea turtles, starfish, and a wide variety of other sea life.
Swimming with Stingrays
For a truly memorable experience, try swimming with the stingrays that call Antigua home. These playful, social creatures seem drawn to humans, gliding through the water without a hint of shyness. You'll be able to pet the animals as they pass by, or even feed them if you'd like. There is nothing quite so exhilarating as watching these gentle giants drifting alongside you as you swim along. This is definitely a must do while visiting Antigua.
Climb Mt. Obama
Back in 2009, Antigua renamed Boggy Peak—its highest point—to Mt. Obama in honor of the U.S. President. The 1319-foot peak can be hiked from both the north and south side, and while it isn't a technical climb in any way, it can be a bit strenuous. The views from the top make it worth it however, as much of the island, and the surrounding ocean can be seen for miles in all directions.
Go Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is another popular excursion on Antigua, particularly since it gives visitors a chance to ride along the beach, and even into the clear waters of the Caribbean itself. Depending on your ride, you may even pass into some of the green pastures that are found throughout the island or up into the lush hills too. It is a serene, peaceful way to tour the island, and experience places that are far from the more heavily traveled touristy areas.
Deep Sea Fishing
As you might expect, deep sea fishing is a popular adventure for visitors coming to Antigua and Barbuda. Chartering a boat for a half- or full-day excursion out into the Caribbean is an easy affair, giving anglers a chance to reel in barracuda, mahi mahi, king fish, tuna, and a wide variety of other species. These fish won't be landed without a fight however, so be prepared for some of the most exciting and demanding fishing found anywhere on the planet. Fishing is excellent year round as well, so no matter when you go, this is a great experience.
Zip Lining and Rainforest Canopy Tour
Want to explore an entirely different side of the island? Why not visit Antigua Rainforest Company to go on zip lining/canopy tour. The site offers 12 zip lines, a challenge course with nine climbing elements, and three arial walkway bridges that take you high into the trees of the tropical rainforest. With multiple tours to choose from, you can spend as little or as much time as you'd like exploring Antigua's forests in all of their natural glory.
Bonus: Enjoy a Stay a the Sandals Luxury Resort
After you've finished your island adventures, why not treat yourself to a bit of luxury as well? Sandals Grande Antigua is an all-inclusive resort that offers spacious and comfortable rooms, great food and drinks, and plenty of on-site activities. The resort even allows guests to book snorkeling excursions, check-out kayaks and SUP boards, and a number of other pieces of equipment. The hotel makes a great base camp for exploring the rest of the island, then returning home later to be spoiled rotten by the wonderful staff and Sandals amenities.