Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the twin-island country of Antigua and Barbuda was named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 in honour of Spain’s Virgin of La Antigua. Barbuda means bearded in Spanish and the island was named after wild fig trees found in the region which have a beard like appearance. The islands have the lowest rainfall of anywhere in the Caribbean so the sun is almost always shining.
The island of Antigua is home to the capital, St John’s, while Barbuda is a short ferry ride away. Antigua is known for its winding coastline, with hundreds of white sand beaches, as well as rainforests, sugarcane fields, and historic plantations and villages. Barbuda is famous for snorkelling and diving expeditions, pristine pink shell beaches, and the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, inhabited by nearly 5000 frigate birds.
The country is a former British Colony, so there’s a strong British influence – the official language is English and the national sport is cricket. Nelsons’ Dockyard, around 30 minutes from the capital St John’s, was a British naval port in the early 18th century and remains a popular attraction. The old buildings have been developed and now house shops, restaurants, galleries and the Dockyard Museum. Don’t miss Betty’s Hope, a 17th century sugar plantation that employed African slaves. It now has a small museum with old pictures and maps.
PLACES TO STAY
Antigua has many luxury resorts ideal for families and couples, like Verandah Resort & Spa, Nonsuch Bay Resort, Galley Bay Resort & Spa and Cocobay Resort.
Who goes there: Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise, Royal Caribbean, Ponant, Azamara Club Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Silver Sea, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas, Windstar Cruises.
Best for: Families, Couples, Adventurers
Getting around: You can spend a few hours exploring the town on foot or rent a taxi to reach nearby tourist spots.