A Caribbean island with all the tropical allure of its enticing neighbors, but a real British edge to the culture (particularly in the obsession with cricket, which is all but a religion in the eyes of the natives), Antigua is the perfect spot to enjoy the quieter charms of the Caribbean. This particular island is more beachside luxury than rum-fuelled antics, with local seafood and an abundance of tropical fruit to keep visitors in full on paradiso mood.
The original Antigua settlement was Falmouth, which you can look over from the peak of Monk’s Hill, one of several dozen forts once built to guard the British colonizers from the French in the early 19th century. It’s a sleepy harbor town that still has a bit of a European feel, despite the palm trees and white sand beaches. Antigua’s other main settlement is the larger capital of Saint John’s, the home of cricket and by far the island’s most lively spot, with plenty in the way of nightlife and even the odd casino for those who like to make their holiday pay for itself, or lose everything and spend the last night in a hammock hanging from a palm tree.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Caribbean Island without spending excessive amounts of time enjoying the clear blue waters, and while many arrive on a fleet of luxurious cruise ships, the still wealthier might prefer to charter their own floating home. You’ll have to take a boat to get to the best snorkeling and scuba destinations, too, but they’re well worth the hassle, with abundant gardens of underwater flora and fauna just waiting for you to float by with the latest underwater camera.
Sleepy but effortlessly cool, and home to all the Caribbean stereotypes and plenty of quirky souvenirs and sights besides, Antigua might favor the budget free, but you can get by here on relatively little, making the island an attractive spot for backpackers, too. If you’re here when the cricket’s in town, though, the quiet idealism goes out of the window, and the party starts…