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McConks international bitesize paddle board guides: Antigua, Caribbean, West Indies.


Antigua, Caribbean, West Indies.

Spot type:

Exposed open water tropical spot situated in the north Atlantic.


The Caribbean climate is tempered by the ever present Trade Winds with Antigua being no different. Situated along the northern tip of the island is Hodges Bay. Here the waters can feature small chop to big ocean rolling swell, depending on how hard the Trades are blowing. Breaking surf is rare due to the island’s large continent shelf blocking all but the biggest pulses. As you’d expect the water’s bath warm and the air is hot. With often 100% humidity (especially in summer) Antigua isn’t cold by any stretch! For SUP it’s all about downwind cruising runs. and if you get bored of SUP then you can always windsurf, kitesurf or wing.


Antigua’s Tropical climate features many things to be aware of. There are bugs and creatures on land to watch out for, such as pesky mosquitos. Coral and shaper rocks are dotted along the shorelines of Antigua and can be found in the water – some of it live. And there’s an abundance of marine life, although ‘men in grey coats’ aren’t that frequently spotted. They are there though. You’ll also need to watch out for boat traffic –  especially at popular spots. Hodges Bay isn’t that busy itself but further round to Jabberwock Beach you get lots of kitesurfers. Whilst heading the opposite direction towards Dickenson Bay will see you facing jet skiers and water skiers.

Rescues, should your paddling go awry, in the quieter areas of Antigua won’t be forthcoming.


Access to the beach in this part of the island is generally ok. You may have to squeeze down a narrow alley in places but it’s mostly open. Unless there’s a hotel blocking the route. In this instance, you’ll be allowed to portage through if you’re polite and friendly. Security at entrances is common.

Further afield – particularly to the wilder east coast – is hard going. And you’ll need a 4X4 vehicle often. This can be worth it, however, for some secluded SUP.


Antigua is typically Caribbean with plenty of amenities available. All the hotels on the island have plenty to eat and drink. If you want a more authentic experience you’ll find side of the road roti and BBQ sellers, rum shacks and plenty of shops/malls in the capital St. Johns.


Antigua is one of the smaller and perhaps more chilled out Caribbean islands in the West Indian archipelago. The northern part is where you’ll find an abundance of watersports activities, including SUP, often run out of shoreline hotels. Jabberwock Beach, just a stone’s throw from the main airport, is a haven for kitesurfers and wing foilers. If the Trade Winds are light there’s also plenty of paddle boarding here.

For the adventuring SUPer, or downwind fan, Antigua can’t be beaten. NE Trades blow to the SW and will push you and your board along rapidly. As you round the coast heading towards Dickenson Bay the breeze goes more offshore – so be aware. With rolling swell and wind, however, Antigua is a cracking SUP holiday place for some drift surfing.

Further south you’ll find English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard. This is yachty central but does offer paddlers a more sheltered location for SUP. You’ll just need to watch out for all the boating traffic which gets particularly busy in winter and during sailing events.

Across on the wilder, eastern side of the island there’s plenty to discover for SUP. This is where you tend to find waves when swells do pulse in. But being quieter, and off the beaten track, means you’ll be on your own.

Whilst paddle boarding is awesome in Antigua there’s plenty to be said for visiting to immerse yourself in Caribbean culture. The Antiguans (and Caribbean people in general) love a party. And, of course, there’s the music.

Antigua is also out of the main hurricane belt. So whilst tropical storms can occur the island isn’t generally swiped by big storms. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility but isn’t as risky as other Caribbean islands.

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