In Antigua and Barbuda, life’s a beach. Its wavy coasts cradle clear, shimmering waters where the sheltered inlets once provided refuge for buccaneers and sea farers. The twin-island country lies between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean and was named by Christopher Columbus in 1493, honoring the Virgin of La Antigua in the Seville Cathedral. Antigua and Barbuda are generally low-lying islands, with shorelines full of beaches, lagoons and natural harbours surrounded by reefs. As a former British colony, there is a strong British influence in the islands’ culture.
Discover Antigua’s English Harbour on the south-eastern coast, famed for the shelter it provided during violent storms and the site of the restored British colonial naval station, Nelson’s Dockyard. Named after Captain Horatio Nelson and in operation since 1745, it is Antigua’s top tourist attraction and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. Today, English Harbour and the neighbouring village of Falmouth are internationally famous as a yachting and sailing destination and provisioning base. During Antigua Sailing Week, an annual event which takes place at the end of April and celebrating the 50th anniversary in 2017, the world-class regatta attracts many sailors and visitors. Charter a boat and skipper for the week or day and watch the races up close! In English Harbour, you’ll also find the lively capital of St John’s and historic forts dating back to the island’s colonial past.
Antigua is also alive with Caribbean flair, with its brightly coloured villages, friendly locals and relaxed pace of life. Half Moon Bay in the eastern part of the island is a haven for water sports and Caribbean vibes. Bodysurfers head to the north end where the waters are choppier while snorkelers flock to the calm waters in the south. Half Moon Bay boasts two beach bars famed for their grilled-fish lunches and rum cocktails. Scrambling over the bluff at the far end takes you to another beach with views of uninhabited Smith Island.
Off Barbuda’s northwest coast, Codrington Lagoon National Park protects a large inlet that supports one of the world’s largest colonies of frigate birds. Over 2500 of these black-feathered seabirds roost amongst the mangroves. At the birds’ nesting sites, the sight of their bright red throat pouches, inflating as they squawk, is truly captivating. Pelicans, terns, gulls, the tropical mockingbird, and the endangered West Indian whistling tree duck also inhabit the lagoon. The lagoon can only be accessed by sea taxi from the Codrington jetty, and it’s recommended to make transit arrangements at least a day in advance. While on Barbuda, also visit Princess Diana Beach on the island’s south-west. Formerly named Coco Point Beach, it was a favourite vacation spot of Princess Diana’s and was renamed in 2011 to mark her 50th birthday.
Destination M members can relax at their residence on the east side of Antigua overlooking the Atlantic, nestled next to the Nonsuch Bay resort. Advantages of the eastern coast include a nice breeze which keeps the temperature ideal even on the hottest days, and perfect conditions for sailing and kite-surfing. With the Caribbean side just 45 minutes away, guests can enjoy the best of both coasts.