Antiguans boast that they have a different beach
for every day of the year. That may be an exaggeration, but the beaches here are certainly spectacular: Most are protected
by coral reefs, and the sand is often sugar white.
Antigua, Barbuda, and Redonda form the independent nation of Antigua
and Barbuda, within the Commonwealth of Nations. Redonda is an uninhabited rocky islet of less than a square mile, located
32km (20 miles) southwest of Antigua. Barbuda, which lies 42km (26 miles) to the north of Antigua, is covered at the end of
Antigua (An-tee-gah) may be an independent nation, but it
is still British in many of its traditions. Economically, it has transformed itself from a poverty-stricken island of sugar
plantations to a modern-day vacation haven. The landscape of rolling, rustic Antigua is dotted with stone towers that were
once sugar mills.
The inland scenery isn't as dramatic as what you'll find on St.
Kitts, but, oh, those beaches! If you want high rises and glittering gambling and nightlife, head elsewhere, perhaps to Puerto
Rico. Antigua does have some casinos, but they're hardly a reason to visit, and most of its hotels are intimate one- or two-story
inns rather than glitzy, sprawling resorts. In general, the dining and shopping of Antigua are comparable to those of St.
Kitts but don't hold up to those of St. Maarten or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Most locals will treat you with respect if you show them respect,
but Antigua is hardly the friendliest of islands in the Caribbean-too much unemployment, too great a gap between rich and
Most hotels, restaurants, beach bars, and watersports facilities
lie north of the capital of St. John's, in the northwest. St. John's is a large, neatly laid-out town 10km (6 1/4 miles)
from the airport and less than a mile from Deep Water Harbour Terminal. This port city is the focal point of commerce and
industry and the seat of government and shopping. Protected within a narrow bay, St. John's is charming, with cobblestone
sidewalks and weather-beaten wooden houses with corrugated iron roofs and louvered Caribbean verandas. Trade winds keep the
wide streets cool. Since all the major resorts are on good beaches, most visitors tend to stay put, going into St. John's
for a day's shopping jaunt or to English Harbour for some history.
Before volcanic ash covered much of Antigua's neighbor, Montserrat,
that little island was a destination in its own right. It was once a haven for many American expatriates, mostly retired couples,
and at one time was the Caribbean island of choice for music stars like Paul McCartney, who came here to write and record
Montserrat is slowly bouncing back, hoping to recapture the tourism
it once enjoyed. Until the volcanic dust settles, however, it is most often visited as a day trip from Antigua, mainly by
curiosity or adventure seeker.