Antigua & Barbuda

Known as the ‘Land of 365 Beaches,’ Antigua’s old shores whisper tales long passed and await you to write your own story in the sands of time. Antigua, the Spanish word for “old,” is a fitting name for an island with such a long history. Amerindians lived on these lands, once called Wadadii and later Caribs, before experiencing the inevitable contact with European explorers. Christopher Columbus sailed right past it in 1493, so it wasn’t until 1632 that Antigua was colonized by the British.

When the British arrived, Sir Christopher Codrington was granted the island to establish sugar production. His former estate remains, as well as more than 100 sugar windmills, providing a glimpse into the once primary industry on the island built on the backs of approximately 32,000 enslaved Africans. The island’s entire enslaved population was emancipated on August 1, 1834, during the decline of the Caribbean’s sugar industry. Today, Antiguans celebrate their annual Carnival festival for a week starting on this day to commemorate this monumental event in history.

While the cannon-lined forts, Fort James and Fort Barrington, are remnants left behind from the past, letting tourists take a walk through the island’s history, it’s the present-day attractions and natural wonders that propel Antigua into a new era. Bays once sailed by traders and pirates are now lined with cruise ships, yachts, and reef riders speeding over the abundant marine life below the surface. Swim with majestic, yet friendly, sting rays in Sting ray City or hop in a catamaran to sail offshore before plunging into the warm waters to snorkel at Cades Reef. For the best views in Antigua, defy gravity by soaring over the stunning island while paragliding over Dickenson Bay, or let the playful rhythms of steel drums provide the soundtrack to the spectacular views at Shirley Heights Lookout.

While the best time to visit Antigua is December to April, Antigua gives a reason to visit every day of the year. Cool down from the dry season sun in the refreshing waters, experience the island’s tranquility during the shoulder months, or spend the rainy season exploring the myriad of culture-rich, history-filled museums and landmarks around the island.


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