Nicknamed “the Land of 365 beaches,” this nation offers a fresh stretch of pristine white sand for every day of the year. Popular reasons to come to Antigua and Barbuda include weddings, honeymoons and the kind of relaxing vacation you can only experience in the Caribbean.
Antigua is the larger island, and means “ancient.” Barbuda, or “bearded,” lies a few miles to the north. The population is mostly of West African descent, though there is a large minority whose ancestors made the easy decision to leave behind the often-drab UK for the warmth and sun of the islands. From the 17th C. until 1981, Antigua and Barbuda was ruled by Great Britain and is now a sovereign nation and member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Consequently, English is the primary language, though most of the population also speaks an English Creole dialect.
Life’s a Beach in Antigua and Barbuda
Its miles of world-class shoreline combined with near-perfect weather beckons more than half a million tourists to these Caribbean islands each year. Most spend their days on the beach strolling, sunbathing or flying kites or adventuring offshore to dive, sail, fish or make waves.
Because tourism is the most important industry, the people you’ll meet are friendly and seem to genuinely enjoy showing their guests a wonderful, relaxed time.
Here’s what’s on the menu for music, sports and dining in Antigua and Barbuda:
- Music in Antigua and Barbuda: Calypso and soca are the favorite music genres here, and live bands can be enjoyed any night of the week at venues in large towns such as Codrington on Barbuda and Saint John’s on Antigua.
- Sports in Antigua and Barbuda: With its British history, island favorites are cricket and football (soccer), and both sports are played with tremendous skill by professional and amateur teams. Matches provide excitement for locals and visitors. Boat racing, motorized and sailing, delivers spectating thrills too.
- Cuisine in Antigua and Barbuda: A delicious blend of West African and British-influenced dishes is served to the delight of locals and visitors. The bounty of the sea is featured, but meat and vegetarian dishes are plentiful too. The islanders love sweet potatoes, and you might be offered dishes such as Dukuna, a dumpling filled with grated sweet potatoes and flavored with spices.
Things to Do in Antigua and Barbuda
Like many, you might find that sinking your toes in the sand, face to the sun, listening to the azure waves caress the shore is enough to melt the stress away. Favorite stretches include Valley Church Beach, Half Moon Bay, Darkwood Beach and Dickenson Bay. Life on the beach is spectacular from sunrise to sunset and beyond.
When you want more active fun, you’ll find a full slate from which to choose.
- Ride the Gentle Waves or Make Your Own: Touring around the islands on a chartered yacht, catamaran or fishing boat are popular ways to spend part or all of a day. If you want more adrenaline, rent a personal watercraft or speedboat, and hit the throttle.
- Roam the Pristine Deep: Antigua and Barbuda is a top destination for snorkeling and scuba diving fans. A rich variety of sea life inhabits the coral reefs and sandy terrain offshore. Many echo the sentiment of this satisfied diver: “What an afternoon! I can’t wait to do it all over again.”
- Rove the Inland Hills: Hiking to the islands’ heights or getting there by car or bike delivers breathtaking panoramas and moments of quiet bliss punctuated by bird-call serenades. Guides are available as you venture into this lush, tropical ecosystem, or you can go it alone.
- Retail It on a Rainy Day: The weather usually cooperates, but when it rains or you want a break from the beach, a rich variety of shops is found. They range from gourmet boutiques to beachwear stores to jewelers selling unique creations to charming galleries displaying local and international arts and crafts.
- Return to Yesteryear: Attractions on Antigua and Barbuda include several historical museums, homes and other buildings such as the Admiral’s House Museum and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda where an interesting though imperfect past can be explored.
- Revel in Carnival: Carnival in Antigua and Barbuda is celebrated in August to commemorate the end of slavery in the British West Indies. If you go, the colorful pageants and festive shows will surely delight as they did the reveler from Ohio who said, “The infectious joy of the islanders had everyone celebrating to the max!”
- Round Out your Stay with Eclectic Fun: Wildlife parks, comfortable lounges serving local rum, British-style pubs and casinos are among the other interesting places to visit in Antigua and Barbuda. There are two nice golf courses near Saint John’s though you won’t mistake either for Torrey Pines. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway for two, having fun with the family or partying with a group of friends, these gorgeous Caribbean islands will not disappoint.
Who Should Consider Visiting Antigua and Barbuda?
The beach and sea, as you’d expect, dominate the tourist scene here. If you want to spend your days outdoors and your evenings relaxing in comfortable surroundings with a drink in hand, a warm and sunny welcome awaits you in Antigua and Barbuda.
Government of Antigua and Barbuda: http://www.ab.gov.ag/
Tourism Authority: http://www.visitantiguabarbuda.com/