ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
WHY WE LOVE IT
- This beautiful and historic pair of islands can claim 365 beaches between them, and quite a number are stunning. They also boast wonderful resorts and a nice variety of offerings to suit most tastes. (By the way, it's an-TEE-ga and barb-YEW-da.)
- The boating's bodacious, especially in English Harbour and during Antigua Sailing Week, one of the world's top regattas.
- At the shore: coral reefs, 200 shipwrecks and Barbuda's gorgeous pink-and-white beaches.
- On land: Antigua's historic Georgian landmark, Nelson's Dockyard; the island's main town, St. John's, with its fine museum, market and cathedral; and the dramatic Devil's Bridge rock formation. Barbuda's impressive Frigate Bird Sanctuary.
- The locals may be on the cool side, but the weather couldn't be sunnier. In fact, northeast trade winds make Antigua the sunniest, driest island in the eastern Caribbean.
WHEN TO GO
November through March is the high season. Look for bargains in May, June and even July—it rains less here than on most of the islands.
WHAT TO PACK
Bathing suits, polarized sunglasses, sunblock, camera, U.S. passport, U.S. dollars in small denominations (accepted along with East Caribbean dollars), binoculars (if you’re a birder), loose and/or drawstring pants (after all that fab food). For evenings, "smart casual" clothing; a small number of the fancier restaurants request that men wear jackets at dinner.
WHAT TO BUY
Antiguan folk pottery; CDs of local steel-pan bands (Harmonites, Gemonites, Supa Stars, Hell's Gate); paintings from Harmony Hall and a handful of other quality galleries; Susie's Hot Sauce; Cavalier or English Harbour aged rum.
In the U.S., contact the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism branch in New York City (305 East 47th St., Suite 6-A; 888-268-4227) or in Miami (25 SE 2nd Ave., Suite 300; 305-381-6762). In Canada, it’s in Toronto (60 St. Clair Ave. East, Suite 601; 416-961-3085). On the Web, go to antigua-barbuda.org.
You'll need to go for an interview at the Ministry of Legal Affairs (Government Complex, St. John’s; 268-462-0017). The fee for a marriage license is US$150; the fee for a marriage officer is US$100; and the registration fee is US$40. Bring your passports (and your divorce papers if you’ve been previously married). An official marriage certificate costs US$10. More than a dozen resorts specialize in weddings (including, of the ones we list below, Carlisle Bay, Curtain Bluff, Jumby Bay and the Verandah).