Dive into the tropical world of Antigua and Barbuda with The Octopus! Our exclusive guide reveals the top anchorages in these Caribbean islands, including the famous Mosquito Cove, the tranquil Cocoa Bay, and the lively anchorage of Rickett Harbour!
These anchorages are prime stops for a perfect getaway between December and April, the ideal season for sailing in the Caribbean. Serving as witnesses to the natural beauty and authenticity of Antigua and Barbuda, they provide a complete and authentic experience for passing sailors.
Embark on a unique maritime adventure and immerse yourself in the heart of Antigua and Barbuda top anchorages, carefully selected by The Octopus and the community, to make your Caribbean experience unforgettable!
The best time to visit Antigua and Barbuda top anchorages
Although it’s generally warm all year round in Antigua and Barbuda, the best time to sail is usually between December and April. During this period, the region experiences a dry season with ideal weather conditions. With pleasant temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C, constant trade winds, and calm waters of the Caribbean Sea, it’s the perfect environment for sailors.
Rainfall is scarce, ensuring abundant sunny days and minimizing the risk of tropical storms. Moreover, this period features regattas and nautical events, attracting sailing enthusiasts from around the world. In summary, to make the most of your sea adventures in Antigua and Barbuda, plan your trip during these winter months for optimal weather conditions!
3 Must-Do Activities in Antigua and Barbuda
1- Breathtaking Water Activities
Antigua and Barbuda are renowned for offering some of the best water activities in the Caribbean. Try a kayaking adventure to explore mangroves, secluded coves, and hidden beaches. You can also enjoy the famous Antigua Sailing Week regatta, an annual event attracting sailors from around the world.
2 - Unforgettable Hikes:
For nature and hiking enthusiasts, Antigua and Barbuda offer spectacular trails. For example, the hike to the summit of Mount Obama, the highest point in Antigua, provides a panoramic view of the island. Explore the lush rainforest of Barbuda, where trails lead you to secluded lagoons and nesting areas of endemic birds.
3 - Rich Cultural Heritage:
Antigua and Barbuda have a rich history, and there are many ways to immerse yourself in its fascinating culture. Visit Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Antigua, to learn about the maritime history of the region. Also, participate in local festivals such as the Soca Festival in Antigua or the Barbuda Festival, showcasing music, dance, and local cuisine. Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the traditional dish “fungi and pepperpot” for an authentic Antiguan culinary experience.
Antigua and Barbuda top anchorages
Our first anchorage is Mosquito Cove, near Jolly Harbour, undoubtedly a must-stop in Antigua and Barbuda. With a rating approaching perfection, it offers total protection from north to southeast winds from the east. Shallow sandy and muddy bottoms make anchoring easy, and the proximity to Jolly Harbour facilitates access to amenities and customs services. Be sure to have US$ or EC in cash for clearance. This anchorage is highly sought after and can sometimes be a victim of its success!
Once settled, don’t worry about mosquitoes, despite the name, it offers a peaceful experience in a beautiful setting. Green hills gently frame this inlet, creating a picturesque backdrop for your adventures in this Caribbean paradise. Accessible by dinghy, a few sandy beaches welcome you for a relaxing nap under the tropical shades.
Finally, to complete the experience, Jolly Harbour is full of renowned restaurants (see reviews on Navily) where you can enjoy delicious local dishes.
Cocoa Bay anchorage is a rare gem in Barbuda, offering protection against north to southeast winds from the east. Sandy bottoms provide excellent holding, but it’s essential to note the presence of reefs and some rocks in the anchorage!
The setting is a true postcard paradise; a cape sheltering a long stretch of pure sand bordered by crystal-clear waters housing vibrant reefs. It’s probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, according to sailors on Navily! Unfortunately, they also report that many sections of the beach are now privatized. As François advises on his sailboat Grand Luc, it’s best to get closer to the north point to peacefully enjoy the place.
If you enjoy water sports, you can also indulge in kitesurfing in ideal conditions. Nearby, don’t miss a visit to “Shack-a-Kai” in Barbuda, a bar run by Enoch where you can savor refreshing drinks and delicious lobster (if you order it in advance!).
Our next stopover is located at Lee Cove, off Great Bird Island. Here, you’ll enjoy fair protection from north to south winds by the east. Additionally, you’ll anchor easily in shallow sandy bottoms with few spots of seagrass you should avoid!
Before you, unfolds a simply unique and breathtaking setting. This impressive wild landscape of the anchorage makes it the perfect place if you love snorkeling or kitesurfing.
Although beach access is allowed, the exploration of the island is regulated to preserve its biodiversity. This area is named Bird Island as it is home to rare birds and other endemic species that you can observe during your excursion into the wild heart of this island.
For example, by taking a trail that will lead you to the heights for a panoramic view of the island. To set foot on land you’ll have to pay a fee. This contribution that allows you to visit the island will help with the maintenance and protection measures of the island.
This anchorage offers ideal protection against winds, from northwest to southeast by the north. The sandy bottoms are oof good holding, resting at a depth of 6 meters, but spaces may be limited due to the popularity of the anchorage. However, if you’re lucky, don’t miss this opportunity, as it’s a must-stop in Antigua & Barbuda. It’s a rare shelter against northeast currents and presents impeccable conditions.
Moreover, the northern coast of the bay is one of the best diving sites in the region, housing a wide variety of fish and turtles in colorful reef offering a captivating underwater spectacle. Finally, this place remains preserved and less-developed, thus preserving its natural charm and tranquility for travelers seeking unspoiled natural beauty.
In this idyllic anchorage, you’ll enjoy almost perfect wind protection: only southwest winds will make the place rolly. You can anchor in 6 meters of sand, but beware of rocks and reefs resting on the seabed. With a southwest wind, incoming swell can make the anchorage a bit chaotic. So, if you can, it’s preferable to anchor west of the bay where holding is good, and the swell is less impactful.
Once settled, your effort will be rewarded. You can, in moderation, take a tour of the rum academy and make your own with a professor. From Galleon Beach, take a trail leading to Shirley Heights, where you can admire a breathtaking panorama. Finally, the waters are rich in abundant aquatic life. During a snorkeling session, you can encounter sea turtles, rays, and various species of colorful fish.
Falmouth Harbour is a large, well-protected anchorage from west to southeast winds by the north. In wide sandy banks, anchor without worries in a few meters of depth. Many Navily users have enjoyed staying here; it’s an excellent spot to shelter from winds, recharge, and enjoy local culture.
Do not miss a visit to Nelson’s Arsenal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and observe remnants of the maritime history of the Caribbean. Not far away is Monk’s Hill, reachable by a short but steep hiking trail. From there, you can admire a stunning view of Falmouth Bay.
This laid back atmosphere is also an opportunity to take time to immerse yourself in local culture by enjoying a calm evening (more or less, it’s your choice) at Falmouth Harbour!
Unfortunately a fire early October devastated the historic Yacht Club of Falmouth Harbour, which will take sometime to rehabilitate. This remains one of the top spots in Antigua and Barbuda, and we send our support to the locals for this devastating events.
This anchorage is a haven of peace offering ideal protection against northwest to east winds by the north. You’ll anchor in seabeds composed of sand and grass (be sure to protect seagrass meadows by avoiding them). The place does not offer amenities, but it’s an opportunity to soak in a unique wild tropical atmosphere.
You can choose to lounge on the beach, lulled by the sound of the waves, or take a walk at sunset, admiring its dancing reflections on the wild water. You also have the opportunity to explore trails starting near the beach. Undertake the Cactus Hill trail that will take you along the coastline to discover beautiful exotic cacti, stunning rocky cliffs, and pristine coves.
In summary, it’s the ideal place to recharge, connect with nature, and enjoy a true sanctuary of contemplation in the heart of the natural beauty of Antigua.
The Octopus hopes you enjoyed its selection of the top anchorages in Antigua and Barbuda. The small archipelago has everything to please you.
Fair Winds Captain,