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Unlocking Accessible Antigua and Barbuda

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The clear waters of Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda, a stunning twin-island nation in the Caribbean, welcomes travelers with its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and rich cultural heritage. Beyond its natural beauty, Antigua and Barbuda strive to provide inclusive and accessible experiences for visitors of all abilities.

Accessible Rooms

I recently traveled to this small island, just 108 square miles, on a business trip and stayed at the Royalton Antigua. Overall, I found this all-inclusive hotel to be fairly accessible with just a few rooms that have been adapted.  Be sure to get your accessible room reservation confirmation in writing. I booked my room a month in advance and was told they did not have an accessible room for me when I checked in.  After showing my printout confirmation and demanding to speak with a manager, an accessible room suddenly became available!

The property is large, stretching from the check-in area all the way to its private beach with a wide, easy to navigate sidewalk.  They have two pools, but no pool lift.  They do have an adapted beach chair to help traverse the sand to go into the warm waters of the Caribbean. There are a handful of restaurants to choose from offering a variety of cuisines from pizza to great steaks.  All are accessible but you must make a reservation or get there early as seating fills up quickly, especially during high season.

The staff is friendly and helpful but if you need a specific request or accommodation, ask for a manager and be persistent.  The airport is accessible but staff could use some training with transfers from wheelchair to aisle chair and aisle chair to plane seat. Accessible taxis/vans, such as Barry Taxi,  are scarce so if you need one, plan accordingly and allow time for traffic – yes traffic. I hope to explore more of Antigua and Barbuda and experience what friends have suggested below:

Beaches

Antigua and Barbuda boast some of the most exquisite beaches in the Caribbean, and efforts have been made to make some of them accessible to individuals with disabilities. A few resorts and public beaches provide accessible pathways, beach ramps, and beach wheelchairs, ensuring that visitors with mobility challenges can navigate the sandy shores and enjoy the sun, sea, and sand. Popular accessible beaches include Jolly Beach and Valley Church Beach.

Historic Sites

Antigua and Barbuda are rich in history, with a range of historic sites that have made efforts to enhance accessibility. Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Antigua, offers some accessible paths, ramps, and signage, allowing visitors with mobility impairments to explore this historic naval dockyard and its captivating architecture. Betty’s Hope, a former sugar plantation, also provides some accessible pathways but you will encounter paths that are dirt or gravel, some stairs and uneven walkways.

Nature Experiences

Antigua and Barbuda’s natural beauty extends beyond its beaches. The island of Antigua is home to a few wheelchair-accessible nature experiences such as Eli’s Original Eco Tour, and partially accessible trails at Galleon Beach. Keep in mind these trails are not completely accessible and you will encounter stairs, gravel, rocks, or other barriers in certain areas. If you want to experience the Wadadli Animal Nature Park, be sure to have assistance as the path is gravel and there are steep inclines.

Adaptive Water Sports

Antigua and Barbuda’s crystal-clear waters offer a few adaptive water sports activities for individuals with disabilities. Sailability Antigua offers adaptive sailing programs, allowing participants of all abilities to experience the thrill of navigating the Caribbean Sea. Adaptive snorkeling and scuba diving experiences are also available through Diveability, providing opportunities to explore the vibrant underwater world with specialized equipment and trained instructors.

Cultural Experiences

Immersing oneself in the cultural heritage of Antigua and Barbuda is an enriching experience that can be accessible to all. The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in St. John’s provides accessible facilities, allowing visitors to learn about the islands’ history and culture. But, many of the streets and sidewalks in St. John’s are not safely accessible and curb cuts and ramps are scarce. The annual Antigua and Barbuda Independence Festival offers inclusive events, including parades, concerts, and cultural performances, providing a vibrant showcase of the islands’ traditions and talents.

Antigua and Barbuda are destinations that celebrate inclusivity, and continue to make progress to ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully enjoy the beauty and culture of these tropical islands. With a few accessible beaches and historic sites to barrier-free nature experiences, adaptive water sports, and inclusive cultural activities, Antigua and Barbuda has something to offer. Plan your trip carefully with a qualified agent, do your homework and ask questions for your specific needs, and you can enjoy Antigua and Barbuda.

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