There's a beach for every day of the year on the Caribbean island of Antigua (An-tee-gah), many of them stunning sugar-white strands protected by coral reefs. Although this former British colony is now an independent nation, it still retains many English traditions. The capital, St. John's, is dotted with weathered wooden houses with corrugated iron roofs and louvered verandas. Beaches, resorts, and dramatic scenery attract visitors just north of the capital, while the historic harbors of the southern coast bear vestiges of the country's glory days as a strategic naval port.
Dickenson Bay, in the northwest, is a favorite for its wide strip of powder-soft sand and tranquil turquoise waters, perfect for families with small children. Solitude, schools of rainbow-colored fish and stark white sand greet you at Johnson's Point, near Jolly Harbour. Take a ferry to "the last frontier of the Caribbean," Barbuda, the sister island of Antigua, for undisturbed lounging on pink-and-white sandy beaches.
Things To Do
The white baroque towers of St. John's Cathedral occupy the capital's skyline. The Saturday Morning Market in St. John's brings islanders together to sell luscious fruits, fragrant flowers, and handicrafts. One of the eastern Caribbean's biggest attractions, Nelson Dockyard's National Park, near English Harbour, is perfect for history and cinema buffs alike: Think 18th-century Pirates of the Caribbean. Follow Lookout Trail from English Harbour to Shirley Heights; its summit reveals panoramic views of nearby Montserrat.
Eating & Drinking
For a bit of old-fashioned British charm, complete with an atmospheric dark-wood bar, try the lobster or pumpkin soup at the 17th-century hotel Admiral's Inn, in English Harbour. Splurge at East, in St John's, the most gastronomically sophisticated restaurant on Antigua, with a menu inspired by the best of Asian cuisine. The popular Sticky Wicket in Coolidge serves up good, stick-to-your-ribs West Indian fare (including ribs) while you watch a match next door at the Stanford Cricket Grounds.
Indian Town, one of Antigua's national parks, is home to Devil's Bridge, a natural bridge carved over time by the lashing of breakers; look for the numerous blowholes created by the pounding surf. Birders love the park for its 36 different species. On Barbuda, the Frigate Bird Sanctuary is worth the diversion for bird lovers -- it has one of the Caribbean's largest nesting colonies of frigates, seabirds also known as man-o'-war birds.