In these twin isles, the beach is just the beginning...
Begin your exploration in English Harbour, at historic Nelson's Dockyard; the only restored, working, Georgian Naval Dockyard in the Western Hemisphere. The Dockyard museum provides visitors with the history of the area, which was built in 1725, and was once England's most important naval outpost in the Caribbean. Cafes, bakeries and fantastic restaurants provide visiting sailors and guests alike with quality resting points and authentic tastes of the Caribbean.
Every year, the Dockyard comes alive from November – May, when Antigua's yachting season goes into high gear. In April, one of the world's most prestigious sailing regattas, the Antigua Sailing Week, brings together over 1,500 sailors for competitive sailing in Antigua's turquoise waters. The month of April also features the Classic Yacht Regatta – where traditional sailing vessels built of wood and steel make this an event that's more about the craftsmanship of the sail boats than speed. Visit Shirley Heights Lookout on a Sunday evening, and enjoy the view of the yachts in the harbour while listening to melodious steelpan rhythms.
St. John's, Antigua's colourful and bustling city, rises from the harbour front, and is backed by a twin-spired cathedral, the St. John's Cathedral. Here, you can stop in for a moment's respite; this is one of the island's oldest structures, originally built entirely of wood in 1681.
Visit the National Museum and view artifacts like ancient stone pendants and flint knives, displays on cassava, locomotives, and for sports lovers, the cricket bat of Sir Vivian Richards, one of the islands' beloved National Heroes and world renowned cricketing Legend.
The St. John's harbour is also home to the cruise ship dock, and here you will find the Heritage Quay and historic Redcliffe Quay duty-free shopping districts, where many international brand-name shopping outlets can be found. Local, home-grown souvenirs, including pottery, straw handicrafts, local paintings and wood carvings can also be sourced from the Vendors Mall and Heritage Market.
In the countryside, traces of Antigua's rich history can be found with remnants of Antigua's sugar mills nestled amongst the rolling hills, where over 150 sugar-producing plantations once stood. The imposing twin sugar-mills at the Betty's Hope plantation are the only twin towers on the island, which have been restored to working condition. A museum and signage on buildings within the area provide the history of the property founded in the 1650's.
If it's utter peace and quiet you're after, then head to the exclusive island of Barbuda. As Antigua's smaller sister island, Barbuda's charm lies in its remoteness, and is the ultimate hideaway for discerning holiday-makers. The island boasts a 17 mile pink sand beach – voted one of the best beaches in the world, and is home to the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere.
Barbuda is a 15 minute flight on ABM Air or 1 ½ hr boat trip on Barbuda Express Ferry from Antigua. This allows visitors to experience two very unique Caribbean destinations on their holiday.