When it comes to paradise islands, there are few that fit the bill quite so perfectly: Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) is an idyllic blend of palm-fringed, powdery white beaches stretching into azure seas.
The island, almost completely encircled by a rich coral reef has 365 sweeping white sand beaches and coves so it is a proud local boast that there is literally one for every day of the year. If my recent trip to Antigua is anything to go by, you’ll want to stay for a year to explore and enjoy!
You may go for the beaches, but you’ll find that Antigua has much to offer beyond its stunning shoreline. In 1784 the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson sailed to Antigua and established this jewel-like island as Great Britain's most important Caribbean base. Those close links to British history make the island a great place to explore, with historical forts, sugar mills, museums and harbours all providing a fascinating insight into a time when Nelson and his sailing ships were frequent visitors.
For my stay I was based at the wonderful 5*Inn at English Harbour Hotel, full of old fashioned charm and set (as you would expect and hope!) on a tranquil sandy cove. The hotel commands one of the most picturesque locations in Antigua, and has its own water taxi to nearby Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour where history really comes alive for travellers. Nelson’s Dockyard is a beautifully preserved historic site, the only Georgian Naval Facility mill in use anywhere in the world. You'll find many cafes and restaurants as well as a museum displaying memorabilia and artifacts from the time when the Admiral made this his base. It’s one of the must-see attractions of Antigua.
So, too, is an outing to Shirley Heights with its dramatic views over Monserrat and Guadeloupe. You’ll find the island’s biggest barbeque here: make time to chill out and swing in a hammock between courses while the music of a steel band completes the Caribbean ambience.
For those who think that a surfeit of idleness on a Caribbean island holiday might (eventually!) become boring, Antigua has the answer. Sailing remains one of the most popular activities here and no visit to Antigua is complete without taking to the water. You can explore on a catamaran, enjoy snorkelling, try your skills at water-skiing and lots, lots more! Enjoy bird-watching … afternoon tea served on the beach … relish a torch lit gourmet dinner with the sound of the ocean as your backdrop… zip line in the jungle … get creative with painting or photography … or indulge yourself in the 300 acre private island of Jumby Bay.
Antigua has plenty to offer whether you’re traveling as an intrepid singleton, a couple, family or group of friends. If you’d like to hear more, get in touch and I’ll be happy to share my enthusiasm for this little piece of paradise.