Antigua and Barbuda, as you might guess from the names, are actually two distinctly separate islands. However they operate as one country that is known by the names of the islands themselves. Since they are close to the Caribbean Sea, they use the East Caribbean dollar as their official currency. Here you can find out more about the currency as well as more about the islands themselves.
The East Caribbean dollar is divided into the familiar 100 cents per dollar, as every other dollar currency is around the world. The cent-based coins are found in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins. You will also come across a one dollar coin, along with a two dollar coin. You will notice the absence of a 50 cent coin though.
The banknotes are available in useful denominations too, starting with the $5 note and going up through the $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.
Several different countries use the East Caribbean dollar. It was first brought into circulation in 1965 to replace the British West Indies dollar. Antigua and Barbuda were formerly a part of the British Empire, and today they are still ruled by Queen Elizabeth II as their Monarch.
This is a pretty easy currency to get hold of before you travel. Most good bureaux de change should be able to order it in for you if they don’t already have it. As such, make sure you contact them a short while before going on holiday, in case you have to wait for any order you place to be filled.
The good news is that Antigua and Barbuda is a pretty easy place to go with regard to spending money and getting hold of it. They welcome many tourists each year and as such they make it quite easy to find the cash you need. Firstly you can find many cash machines on the islands, at least around the capital and also in order frequently-visited places. The rule of thumb is to make sure you are well-equipped with any cash you may need if you are going somewhere quieter and off the beaten track.
If you take cash into the country other than the East Caribbean dollar, make sure you take either US dollars or British pounds as these are the easiest to exchange. You will find many places in which you can do this as well. Next, you might also want to take in some traveller’s cheques with you. Here, for ease of use, it is best to get them all denominated in US dollars. Finally you can also make card payments for various purchases. All the major card types will be accepted quite readily across the islands, no matter where you are.
The best way to get the figures you need is to use a good quality currency converter, of which there are many online. The East Caribbean dollar is represented by the letters XCD so you should only need to type these into the search facility for the converter you use to find the appropriate currency.
Of course the rates you get on any converter will not be the same as those offered to you by any bureau de change. They have to make a profit from the service they provide, so be prepared for a slightly different rate that is in their favour rather than yours. However, getting a rough idea of what to expect from a currency converter is a good place to start. It also means you can work out whether your own currency is in a good position against the East Caribbean dollar. You can then check out a variety of bureaux de change to determine which one would give you the best rate.
The official website for the High Commission of the country was under construction at the time of writing, so look out for it to see when it is up and running. In the meantime you can visit the official UK government website to get the latest information on travel advice to this area. The page you need is at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/antigua-and-barbuda.
As is the case with many locations in the world, the majority of people who visit Antigua and Barbuda don’t encounter any problems while they are there. Most of the steps you should take to protect both yourself and your belongings are really little more than common-sense. Take care with your cash and credit cards and try to book into a hotel that provides you with your own personal safe to use if you can. Avoid carrying large sums of money if you don’t need to and make sure you are careful whenever you need to withdraw cash from a cash machine, just as you would at home.
There have been a number of violent crimes reported on the islands, but they are quite rare. Providing you are careful about where you go and when, you should be relatively safe. For example, make sure you don’t wander into quiet areas alone, especially at night. It might be tempting to have the beach to yourself at night under the moonlight, but it might not be the most sensible thing to do.
Antigua and Barbuda are located in the area of the world where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet. The two main islands are Antigua and Barbuda themselves, although there are a number of other islands included within the country as well. Not all of these are inhabited, which is one of the reasons why the two main islands are used for the country’s name.
The capital of Antigua and Barbuda is St John’s. This can be found on Antigua, which is bigger than Barbuda. This is a popular area for tourists to visit and it is a main port too. The buildings here tend to be quite brightly-coloured, using a mix of pastels to provide a welcoming and eye-catching sight. Don’t miss a visit to St John’s Cathedral, which takes pride of place in the city’s skyline. Many people also like to check out the Botanical Garden in the city, which is a lovely place to wander in and provides a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the city at large.
Nelson’s Dockyard can also be found in Antigua. Named after the most famous Nelson in history, Admiral Nelson, it is usually filled with yachts, many of which will make you dream of owning one yourself. You can see the dockyard as part of a visit to the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. This provides you with a chance to visit the Dockyard Museum as well as to see other famous sights including Fort George and Fort Berkeley. You can easily spend a whole day out here, but two or three will be even better rewarded.
Beaches are rife on the islands as well. Half Moon Bay is charmingly-named but it looks even better than the image your mind might try and create. It really does appear in a half-moon shape, protecting it amply from the more vigorous waves further beyond the bay itself. Elsewhere beaches can be found aplenty on Barbuda, and indeed this is one of the main highlights of the second major island the country has to offer. You can find many delightful beaches here, each as good as the last, with ample opportunities to swim, snorkel and even scuba dive if you are so minded. Famous shipwrecks just off the coast of Barbuda make it an even more appealing destination for scuba divers experienced in diving in various locations.
To say Antigua and Barbuda provide you with a real Caribbean treat is to vastly underestimate the joys they have in store for you. They may be relatively small islands compared to some, but they certainly know how to make the most of what they have to offer. With other destinations and attractions including Falmouth Harbour, Mount Obama and Fort Barrington, there is plenty of history, drama, attractions and nature here to keep everyone happy.
Indeed, while you could happily choose this country as a great destination for a superb beach holiday, this is only a small part of what it has to offer. Perhaps you could also explore the history of these islands and the many things you can learn from it. With shipwrecks off the coast, many signs of Admiral Nelson and the friendly locals all awaiting your arrival, wouldn’t you like to plan a trip to Antigua and Barbuda as your next foreign holiday?