There are no bus schedules in Antigua. They come when they come; sometimes two at a time, sometimes with gaping gaps between services. Rather, it says something about this sleepy island nation in the West Indies who love cricket.
Perhaps because of the passage of time, the past is everywhere – in the crumbling sugar mills dotting the rocky landscape and in the clever and carefully maintained colonial-era architecture. Likewise, it is a rapidly developing and forward-looking destination, with a growing abundance of tourist-friendly activities, suitably plush beach resorts and a vibrant restaurant scene.
Having avoided the worst ravages of Covid-19, it has consistently ranked as one of the safest international destinations for travelers – an almost permanent item on the UK’s old green list. We then take a look at why this is the perfect time to discover or rediscover this charming pocket-sized paradise.
Spotlight on history
The discovery this summer of what is believed to be the wreck of a monumental 18th-century French merchant ship (in English Harbor, south of the island) has rekindled interest in the story vibrant Antigua.
Former sugar colony and regional center of trade, the island has long housed icons of the past: visited by Christopher Columbus and Lord Nelson’s station, hence the shipyard classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This shipyard, with its finely restored buildings, is today one of the main attractions of the island, from which a network of hiking trails extends to the surrounding national park. At an elevation of 490 feet, the nearby Shirley Heights is a repaired military lookout that offers incredibly awe-inspiring panoramic views down to the vast harbor where tall ships once congregated and, on a clear day, across the descending cyan waters to to the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe.
Crisp, old and new stations
Antigua isn’t as rich in stays as some of its Caribbean siblings, but arguably more responsive and less compact development is working in its favor, with properties that span the gamut from the high mid-market to the ultra. -extravagance.
The likes of Curtain Bluff and Hermitage Bay are among the most luxurious – two beachfront resorts with plenty of quintessential white draperies, rattan, and menacing palm trees – while atop the pile of extravagance sits Jumby Bay . A private 300-acre island retreat (with its own catamaran to transport guests from the mainland), that’s where Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, and Lionel Messi left their marks in the sand.
For something lavish but perhaps a little more accessible, Tamarind Hills is one of Antigua’s newer stays. On the west coast facing the sunset, it features beautiful contemporary interiors, awe-inspiring views from its hillside perch, and direct access to one of the island’s most picturesque beaches.
Antigua could be described more as an “out” destination than a “disguised” destination, and while the particularly rarefied beach resorts indulge in fine, starchy cuisine, the hospitality in general is of a variety. discreet and friendly.
Places like the chic Catherine’s Café, on Pigeon Beach, and Sheer Rocks, next to the ever-popular Cocobay Resort, lead the pack in style. Both are owned by the Englishman Alex Grimley, who has instead cornered the market for easy elegance – Catherine’s specializes in high quality French dishes for the bespoke linen panama set; while Sheer Rocks leans slightly younger, a spectacular all-day destination popular with couples, located on the edge of a cliff and serving accomplished small plates and the best cocktails on the island.
For a more classic setting, as you are, OJ’s Beach Bar, Jackie O’s Beach House and Beachlimerz offer superb seafood and Antiguan national dishes, each featuring a beachfront location and their own take on the archetypal rum punch.
There is plenty to do
While a vacation in the Caribbean may be, for many, an opportunity to do very little – save space on a quiet beach or linger by a pool – for those who wish to mix up the weather. downtime and active time, Antigua is a prize.
You can hone your sailing skills or learn the basics with lessons at the National Sailing Academy, spotting large turtles and sometimes dolphins in the waters of Falmouth Harbor while tacking; or let someone else pilot the ship on an “extreme” high octane island tour and over the waves, with Adventure Antigua.
To enjoy the nautical spirit with your feet on dry land, visit during the island’s famous Sailing Week (usually late April and May), as over 100 yachts weave their way through English Harbor and the surrounding seas . It is one of the most prestigious regattas in the world, attracting participants from all over the world, alongside thousands of spectators.
Getting there is child’s play
As a hub for the entire Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda is one of the region’s most accessible nations, offering several direct flights from the UK, including the new British Airways route from London Gatwick (with connections to most regional airports), as well as options from London Heathrow with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Given the time difference (GMT-4), it is then possible to take off from a gloomy Britain in the morning and, in the afternoon, to have your ankles sunk in a warm sea, a rum punch to the hand and the faint sound of calypso blowing the wind.
It’s Covid secure
As, like most destinations, Covid restrictions rise and fall, the Antigua government has taken a proactive approach throughout the pandemic – credited with keeping the number of cases low and the island a safe proposition. and responsible for foreign visitors.
As such, proof of a negative PCR test prior to departure is mandatory for all arrivals while locally masks must be worn in public and a curfew remains in place that requires tourists to stay in their own. stations between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
So while the latter can put an end to any nighttime getaways on the streets of the capital, Saint John’s, or in independent bars and restaurants, it is actually a negligible constraint when eating out and eating out. drink within stations are not affected.
For more information see visitantiguabarbuda.com