Airport: The airport originally was operated by the United States Air Force. It closed in 1949 as Coolidge Air Force Base and upon the closure it became a civil airport. It was known as Coolidge International Airport until 1985, when it was named in honor of Sir Vere Cornwall Bird (1910–1999), the first prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
In December 2005, the Antigua and Barbuda Millennium Airport Corporation announced it would invite tenders to construct the first phase of a new passenger terminal designed to serve the airport for 30 years.
Currency: Antigua’s currency is the East Caribbean Dollar, though the US Dollar is also widely accepted. The exchange rate is fixed to the US dollar at US $1 = EC $2.68.
Climate: In general, the wettest period is between September and November. The islands generally experience low humidity and recurrent droughts. Hurricanes strike on an average of once a year. Temperatures average 27 °C (80.6 °F), with a range from 23 °C (73.4 °F) in the winter to 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer and autumn; the coolest period is between December and February. Its low humidity makes it one of the most temperate climates in the world.
Water Temperature: There is little or no current in most places, and the water temperature averages about 80 F (25 C).
Language: English is the official language, but many of the locals speak Antiguan Creole.
Dive Landscape: Both Antigua and Barbuda are almost completely surrounded by well-preserved coral reefs, walls, and shipwrecks. The southern and eastern coasts of Antigua and virtually the entire coast of Barbuda are surrounded by shelfs, providing excellent conditions for spectacular shallow diving and snorkeling. There is little or no current in most places, and the water temperature averages about 80 F (25 C). Underwater visibility ranges from 50 to 140 feet, and tropical marine plants and animals are diverse and plentiful. Snorkeling is possible at many of both islands’ most beautiful beaches; one of Antigua’s best-known offshore sites, Cades Reef, is now partly contained in a designated underwater park. Another popular destination is the wreck of the Andes, a three-masted merchant ship that sank in 1905 and now rests in less than thirty feet of water in (ironically enough) Deep Bay. Antigua’s dive facilities are far superior to those available on smaller Barbuda, and so most of the sites that have been established as dive destinations are Antiguan. The southern and eastern coasts are considered to offer the most consistent diving; for more advanced divers, the ledge of Sunken Rock on the south coast is a popular site. Dive depths generally range from 25 to 80 feet and can reach 180 feet; distances from shore to site are in some cases no more than five minutes and at most 40 minutes away.
Barbuda’s encircling reefs contain an enormous number of wrecks, most of which are yet to be explored; in fact, the Codrington fortunes on Barbuda were intimately linked to their acquisition of rights to the wreckage in the 17th-century. To dive off Barbuda, it is best to make arrangements with a dive shop on Antigua to have the necessary equipment taken over by air or boat.
Signature Dive Sites: The South Coast is where the Antigua and Barbuda Bank drops off abruptly and thus offers some excellent deep sites as well as beautiful shallower dives.
SNAPPER HOLE is a wall starting at 45 feet and dropping away to a white sand bottom at 80feet. Here we find schools of grunts and Southern Stingrays in ideal photographic conditions along with Morays and Lobster on a ledge at 60 feet.
BARRACUDA REEF is a deeper wall dive starting at 60 feet and descending to 120 feet. This is a beautiful dive with many coves and ledges providing a home for a large variety of reef fish and of course, Barracuda.
STINGRAY ALLEY is a valley in the seabed starting at 45 feet and descending to 75 feet, with a sandy floor and coral sides. The bottom conceals many Southern Stingrays, often allowing close approach.
PILLARS OF HERCULES is so called due to the unique rock formations above the site. Just a 3 minute boat ride from the shop, this site offers one of the greatest examples of diversity of reef life in the Caribbean. With depths ranging from 20 to 45 feet this makes a lovely second or ‘refresher’ dive. Truly a gem.
NANTON POINT is characterized by boulders scattered at the foot of a cliff. These boulders form the foundation for a remarkable variety of encrusting corals and sponges with the associated reef fish. Depths are from 30 to 45 feet making this an excellent shallow dive.
CARPENTERS ROCK is a series of underwater ridges and valleys with depths from 45 to 80 feet. A wide variety of soft corals are found here along with some of the larger reef fish and frequent sightings of Queen Angel fish.
SUNKEN ROCK is a rock pinnacle just awash which offers a trail through a split in the rock itself down to 120 feet. The vertical walls of the rock are encrusted with magnificent gorgonians and brilliant sponges.
CAPE SHIRLEY is where Antigua diving reaches its climax. Huge boulders at the foot of the Cape form a trail of valleys, drop offs and caves for the experienced diver to explore, with depths ranging from 60 to 110 feet.