the island with a beach for every day of the year and a whole lot
more besides! It's geographically varied; culturally interesting; genuinely friendly and delightfully unpretentious.
It also boasts some world-class hotels that should definitely merit a place near the top of your Caribbean islands
holiday wish list.
The island itself is part coral, part
limestone and part volcanic, so exploration yields anything from
'mini' rainforests to scenic mountain ranges, not to mention the world-class beaches and crystal clear waters
for which it is most famous. The tiny islands that lie off its northern coastline are popular destinations for
sailing and snorkelling excursions, whilst its sister island of Barbuda not only boasts a Frigate Bird
Sanctuary (with about 5,000 frigate birds at the last count), but also some of the finest beaches anywhere
in the Caribbean.
The island doesn't have a 'fashionable hub' and generally avoids the over-development that tends to curse other
well-known Caribbean holiday destinations. Its holiday resorts and restaurants are scattered all around its highly-indented coastline,
whilst its nightlife tends to vary between Dickenson Bay in the north and English Harbour in the south. And if that
means car hire is a must (at least for a few days of your stay), it also means you leave the island with a good sense
of its people, culture and scenery.
Click Antigua holidays restaurants for a list of our
recommended places to eat.
Indeed, the locals welcome international visitors with a warmth that reflects common interests like sailing and
cricket (up until 1981 the island was an English colony and it remains part of the British Commonwealth) and despite
the number of wealthy ex-pats and industrial magnates that now call the island home, the island remains unashamedly
laid-back and down-to-earth. Dressing down tends to be the preference here, other than in the luxury resorts, of
course. And you needn't worry unduly about safety - whilst you'll always get the odd incident and common sense
should always be used, the island is generally one of the safest places anywhere in the world.
Of course, the island does have plenty of things to see and
do - but not so much that you feel guilty if you prefer lying on one of its 365 beaches most of the time!
The definite 'must-see', however, is the English Harbour National Park area, which includes Nelson's Dockyard and
Shirley Heights. Not only are these beauty spots great monuments to the island's maritime past, but they are also
lively focuses of activity. Yachtsmen from all over the globe make Nelsons Dockyard their base between November
and May, the informal bars and restaurants always busy during these high-season months and literally bursting at
the seams during the 'Sailing Week' regatta at the end of April. And if you want somewhere to spend Sunday afternoons,
the party up at Shirley Heights should be top of your list; the calypso bands, reggae music, wonderful views and
breathtaking sunsets all combining to create an unmissable Antigua holiday experience.
You should also try and take to the sea at least once during your stay. Catamaran companies like Wadadli Cats
offer exhilarating circumnavigation and snorkelling trips,
whilst kayak expeditions into the island's sheltered bays are operated on the scenic eastern coast.
Safari companies with well-informed guides will introduce you to the hidden ruins and quaint villages of the
island's picturesque interior, but if you prefer to drive yourself around, make sure your itinerary includes
the rainforest trail known as Fig Tree Drive, Betty's Hope fully-restored 17th century sugar mill and the natural
blow-holes and spouting surf at Devil's Bridge.
You can even swim with the stingrays in Stingray City, with day trips to nearby Barbuda also on offer.
Somewhere else that is also well worth a few hours away from your resort is St. John's, the island's capital.
Focus your time here on the harbour-front developments of Redcliffe Quay and Heritage Quay, where you'll not
only be able to take advantage of the duty-free shopping, but informal bars and restaurants like Café Napoleon,
Pizzas in Paradise and C&C Wine Bar.
But, of course, the very best thing to do on your Antigua holidays is simply breath deeply, take in its scenic tropical beauty