weaving coastline features, quite literally, a different beach for
every day of the year (that's right: 365, according to unchallenged
rumor). Historically, the island's dozens of protected coves made
hideouts for privateers and havens for the British navy, whose West
Indies fleet was based on Antigua from 1707 to 1889. Today, however,
they are a favorite haunt of some of the Caribbean's wealthiest,
most worldly tourists. Often compared with Bermuda for its breezy
nonchalance and classy British poise, Antigua relies for a living
on what it does best: wine, dine, pamper, and delight its visitors
(many of whom return year after year). Barbuda, its smaller sibling
to the north, extends that same brand of hospitality at two grand
resorts, in a setting of peaceful isolation.
in at 108 square miles, Antigua is the largest of the Leeward Islands.
Independent from Britain since 1981, it continues to savor British
hobbies and squash, cricket, scones, and croquet. Many of the top
inns are clubby in feel, requiring jacket and even tie at dinner.
Nightlife is tranquil and romantic (though there are a few casinos).
Neither as mountainous nor as humid as neighboring St. Kitts and
Nevis, Antigua has a dependably dry and breezy climate, though the
occasional cloudburst may surprise its perpetual sun buffs. Tanning,
swimming, and sporting, in fact, are the island's touristic elements.
Golf, tennis, parasailing, and all aquasports abound; off the remote,
rugged east coast, where the Atlantic has fashioned a fanciful sculpture
park, windsurfers soar through the currents. Yachtfolk flock here
in late winter for Race Week, an island-wide gala capped off by
Lord Nelson's Ball. Antigua's surrounding reefs are fraught with
magnificent flora and fauna, to entertain divers and snorkelers.
are poor in the mostly abandoned interior, where all that remains
of yesteryear's endless cane fields are windmills creaking in the
gentle winds. Most attractions are coastal: the majestic cathedral
in hilly St. John's (the capital), the restored Nelson's Dockyard
at English Harbour (a must for fans of maritime history), the wonderful
shelling along the west coast, and day trips to Barbuda's bird sanctuary
and beaches. The only complaints - faint, at that - are of periodic
mosquito problems and high price-tags in restaurants and shops.
Otherwise, travelers who want an inexhaustible supply of handsome
snow-white beaches and sun-loving sports - all with a dash of British
pomp - may find themselves, like so many others, terminally hooked