Antigua and Barbuda are beautiful Caribbean islands with stunning beaches and lush landscapes. While there really is no truly terrible time to visit, there are a few periods that are less ideal than others due to weather, costs, and crowds. Here is an overview of the worst times to visit Antigua and Barbuda and why you may want to avoid these periods if possible.
June to November – Hurricane Season
The worst time to visit Antigua and Barbuda is during the hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30. During this period, there is an increased risk of tropical storms and hurricanes which can bring high winds, heavy rain, storm surges, flooding, and damage across the islands.
Major hurricanes have impacted Antigua and Barbuda in the past during hurricane season such as Hurricane Irma in 2017 which caused widespread destruction. Planning a vacation during this volatile weather period means you risk having your trip disrupted or ruined by storms. Flights may be cancelled, attractions closed, and hotels damaged.
If you have no choice but to visit during hurricane season, try to avoid the peak months of August through October when the most powerful storms tend to form. Keep a close eye on weather forecasts and have contingency plans in case a storm approaches the islands during your stay. Consider getting travel insurance to protect your vacation investment.
December to April – High Season
The busy high season in Antigua and Barbuda runs from approximately December to April. This is when the islands have their most ideal weather, making it popular for travelers from North America and Europe looking to escape the cold winter.
As a result, prices on accommodations, flights, cruises, and activities are often inflated during the high season months. Hotels frequently require lengthier minimum stays. Reservations need to be made well in advance for the peak weeks around the holidays and school breaks.
The islands become very crowded, especially at the most popular beaches and attractions. You’ll encounter long lines, traffic congestion, and difficulty getting restaurant tables or tour tickets on short notice.
Avoid high season if you don’t like packed beaches and crowds or are traveling on a budget. While the weather is superb during these months, the busyness and higher prices can be deterrents.
April and May – Shoulder Season
April and May are considered the shoulder season in Antigua and Barbuda with a mix of high season crowds yet increased risk of rain.
As the high season winds down in April, flight and hotel prices decrease but the islands still see plenty of tourists. Easter often falls in April which draws large numbers of visitors as well. Temperatures remain pleasantly warm and humidity hasn’t spiked too high yet.
However, rainfall increases in April as the wet season approaches. Sudden downpours and storms become more frequent. May continues this wet weather pattern with rain likely on an average of 14-16 days that month.
Cruise Ship Visits
One consideration when selecting your ideal time to visit Antigua and Barbuda is carefully checking cruise ship schedules. On certain days, multiple large cruise liners dock at St. John’s Harbor and English Harbour, inundating the nearby beaches, shops, and restaurants with thousands of passengers.
This can make popular spots like Dickenson Bay and Nelson’s Dockyard extremely crowded and overwhelming on heavy cruise ship days. If large crowds and congestion will diminish your enjoyment, research cruise schedules to avoid visiting on peak cruise days.November through March generally sees the most and largest cruise ships coming through.
Antigua and Barbuda host popular annual events that draw big crowds and spike hotel rates, especially in and around the capital city St. John’s. It’s best to avoid visiting during major events if you don’t want to deal with congested accommodations, crowded events, and limited availability for activities or dining reservations.
Some of the largest events to avoid include:
- Antigua Sailing Week – end of April/early May – major regatta attracting sailors worldwide
- Antigua Carnival – end of July to beginning of August – 10 days of parades, steel pan, calypso music, and parties
- Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament – end of September – big game fishing tournament
- Antigua Charter Yacht Show – early December – yacht show with racing and parties
The worst times to visit Antigua and Barbuda are during the hurricane season and the busy high season when prices are inflated. April and May can be rainy yet still crowded. Whenever multiple cruise ships are in port, popular spots become very congested. Major annual events also increase hotel rates and crowds.
However, there is truly no terrible time to visit Antigua and Barbuda. Even during the wet season and shoulder seasons, there will still usually be plenty of sunny days mixed in. By avoiding peak cruise ship days and major events, you can have a great experience year-round. Just be flexible with your dates and lodging to find deals.