Although they stretch no more than 200 square miles in area, Antigua and Barbuda enjoy a reputation as one of the Caribbean’s premier destinations. The islands are best known for hosting Sailing Week, one of the world’s most renowned maritime events, each spring. No matter when you visit, you’ll find yourself surrounded by sugar-soft sands, dramatic coral reefs and a host of adventures to make your time memorable.
Hoist the Sail
Skip across the azure waters in a catamaran or yacht to experience the warm, steady winds that make Antigua and Barbuda a sailor’s paradise. Sunbathe on the deck of the Jabberwocky, a 50-foot Beneteau, as the expert crew guides her to scenic coves where you can swim and snorkel. If you’ve always dreamed of sailing across the sea in a catamaran, book an all-day cruise with Tropical Catamaran Sailing to explore Cades Reef and enjoy a barbecue on a secluded sandy beach. Finish the day nibbling on tropical fruits and sipping on cocktails as you watch the sun sink into the sea.
What Lies Beneath
Explore natural wonders deep in the earth at Barbuda’s limestone caves. Two Foot Bay National Park features caves once inhabited by the island’s earliest residents, the Arawak Indians. Marvel at petroglyphs left thousands of years ago, and look for signs of modern residents as well—the cave is home to bats, iguanas and tropical birds. Hire a local tour guide to help you find Darby cave, a 45-minute walk from Codrington. The undercut sinkhole hosts its own mini rainforest and stalactites up to eight feet in length. Squeeze through nearby Dark Cave’s narrow entrance to discover a water-filled world inhabited by rare blind shrimp.
Under (and Above) the Sea
Strap on a snorkel and fins and dive below the surface at Palaster Reef off Cocoa Point. Scores of colorful fish inhabit this marine preserve where fishing is prohibited. The reef is home to several shallow shipwrecks; you’ll be able to see them if you use your snorkeling gear. For more underwater adventure, snorkel with the stingrays at Stingray City Antigua Snorkel Adventure. An experienced guide will accompany you and teach you how to feed, pet and handle the rays. Back on land, visit with parrots and monkeys and enjoy complimentary rum and fruit punch.
Art, Coffee and Local Eats
Although you’ll find no lack of places to fill up on tasty Caribbean food in Antigua and Barbuda, there’s one you won’t want to miss. Enjoy freshly ground Caribbean coffee at the ArtCafe, residence and gallery of artist Claire Frank. Call ahead to pre-order from the menu, which includes local favorites such as Guinea fowl with beer and lentils, and venison kebabs slathered in Barbuda honey and chili marinade. Commemorate your experience with a souvenir: You can buy Claire’s silk paintings and hand-painted T-shirts at the cafe, as well as postcards, maps and gifts.