Among the many islands that make up the Lesser Antilles, Antigua and Barbuda distinguish themselves for their deeply indented coastline, their natural harbours and protective coral reefs, their rolling hills and their relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere. Antigua’s 280 sq km of hills and flatlands is edged with 365 white, sand beaches, one for every day of the year. Barbuda’s 60 km perimeter is an almost continuous beach.
The perfect beaches are complimented by striking vegetation, exotic fruits and a warm and friendly people waiting to welcome you.
This guide offers useful information selected by local residents. It gives a choice of holiday experiences to match your dreams.
The earliest people to live in Antigua were primitive people who probably arrived from South America about 2,000 BC.
In 1492 Columbus sighted the island of Watling in the Bahamas, paying the way for Spanish colonisers. Antigua remained under the rule of the English, becoming an important colonial naval base. This period saw the rise of the slave trade, where shiploads of people were transported over from the African colonies.
The end of World War I marked the beginning of the process whick would lead to independence from Great Britain: in 1967 Antigua and Barbuda became an associate state. In november1981, Vere Bird, the Prime Minister and charismatic leader of the independence movement lead the country to independence.
An unspoiled oasis
Antigua and Barbuda combines lush tropical vegetation (giant bamboo, rubber trees, mahogany, creepers), bright flowers like the orchids and exotic fruits with ancient rainforest and rugged scrumbland. Five centuries of European influence have affected non only the island’s history but also its plant life which is permenently stamped with the passing of its foreign conquerors. One of the many species that can be found inland is the heron, while on the coast look out for terns, pelicans and petrels.
The ocean holds tropical fish of all colours, which can be seen easily with a mask and snorkel.
A beach a day
Antigua’s 365 beaches will have you spoiled for choice: remote and isolated or fun and active with everything in between. Accompanying bays can be calm and reef-sheltered or windswept, with Atlantic swells for exciting water sports. There have to choose! The white sand of Runaway Bay or Galley Bay, the ideal place for surfing fans? The purity of Ffryes Bay or Johnson’s Point, on the southwest tip of the island.
Antigua’s heritage comes alive in local cooking where our mixing pot of cultures and traditions are reflected in the intense and exotic experience of island cuisine.
Antigua pepperpot is a slowly simmered one-pot meal of fresh and pickled meats combined with lots of local vegetables. Fungee is a cornmeal dish similar to polenta.
Deliciously sweet ducuna is a mixture of grated sweet potato, coconut, sugar and spices, wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled in water. Among the fruits of Antigua, the famous blackpineapple and many varieties of mangoes, paw-paw (papaya), passion fruit.
Antigua’m most popular liquor is rum, English Harbour Premium Rum is aged in oaken casks for a minimum of 5 years and is described by rum connoisseurs as an impeccably smooth, light-bodied rum.
Water and land sports
The trade winds make sailing fun for beginners and more experienced sailors. You can play around in a Sunfish in a protected bay or charter a bareboat to explore the coastline.
The best deep-sea fishing is off the south coast although good catches are to be had in the calmed waters to the west and north. Windsurfing is popular and for surfing fans Galley Bay and Turtle Bay offer good sport, especially between November and March.
But you can also enjoy a number of land sports, such as tennis and golf. Riding enthusiasts can take to the saddle through a riding stable or by hiring a horse independently. Novices and children will love the gentle hack through the scenic valley near the stables followed by a swim with their horse at the nearby beach.