For such a small island, Antigua has a surprising amount of various sports which help to enrich its sporting heritage. Like much of the Caribbean, the national sport is cricket, however sailing, football and athletics are also very popular.
Because of its constant trade winds, Antigua has world-class sailing conditions, of calm waters and tropical breezes. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the island holds one of the world’s top sailing events – The Antigua Sailing Week. Taking place at the end of April, it attracts locals and visitors from all over the world. The regatta began back in 1967 and on average 150-200 yachts take part each year, along with 1500 participants. There are five main races held, the highlight being the English Harbour race, in which up to 500 people gather to watch. If you want to try sailing for yourself while you’re on the island, then check out the many sailing schools and rental places.
Cricket is the national sport of Antigua and several world-famous cricketers have come from here, including Sir Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Anderson Roberts, and Richard Richardson. Vivian Richards once scored the fastest Test Century, while Brian Lara twice broke International Cricket test scores for an innings. He was also the first to score seven centuries in eight first-class innings. In 2007 the Cricket World Cup was held in the West Indies and Antigua hosted eight matches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. If you’re lucky you may be able to catch a game while you’re here, but if not, then a match with the locals on the beach will always suffice.
Water sports are today very much a part of Antigua, and a trip to the island to stay in a luxury Caribbean resort wouldn’t be complete without a spot of diving and snorkelling. The clear turquoise waters around Antigua are home to many colourful coral reef gardens, marine life and even shipwrecks. Among the animals you may see in this stunning underwater world are stingrays, sea turtles and tropical fish. Visibility is good and the water remains fairly warm throughout the year. One of the best places for snorkelling and diving is the Cades Reef.
Like many countries, football is very popular sport in Antigua, both with people playing and watching. A professional football team was only formed in 2011, however Antigua and Barbuda entered the World Cup qualification in 1947 and from 1986 onwards with their national team. Antigua Barracuda FC is the country’s only professional team which plays in the USL Pro, a lower professional league in the USA. Unfortunately the team narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
Other sports which visitors to the island can take part in include tennis, hiking, windsurfing and golf. Fishing is also very popular and a number of fishing contests take place here throughout the year. Fishing enthusiasts can expect to catch species such as marlin, tuna, mahi mahi, wahoo and barracuda.
When people think of Antigua, they generally envision crystal clear waters and white sands. Which is true! But there is so much more that this little island has to offer. Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you have to be lazy. Try out some of the national sports while you’re here. Not only will you stay in shape, but you’ll be able to mingle with the local people as well.
Have you ever been to Antigua? Did you laze on the beach or participate in any sports? Share with us below!