When most people think “Caribbean,” they picture translucent waters of turquoise and azure, miles of soft white sand, and all the rum punches, daiquiris, and pina coladas you can drink. Honeymooners get all this and more on Antigua, 108 square miles’ worth of tropical beauty located just a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami.
Antigua is not the kind of island where couples have to fight for towel space with blitzed college students. For one thing, there are 365 beaches here, which means there are plenty of places to chill for everyone. (And even if you stayed long enough to try every single swath of sand on the island, there are even more stunning strands on Antigua’s nearby sister island, Barbuda.) For another, this isle specializes in laid-back luxury and honeymoon-worthy resorts, attracting travelers who like their tropical vacations to have a refined vibe.
And there’s more to Antigua than just the beach: Check out the yachts, forts and 18th- and 19th-century buildings in Nelson’s Dockyard on English Harbour. Charter a yacht or catamaran and tour the bays, islets, and hidden beaches of Antigua and Barbuda. Hike jungle trails that lead to gorgeous hilltop views. Speaking of which, some of the island's best restaurants are set on beachfronts and the edges of cliffs—affording you spectacular seafood and gorgeous vistas. And every night you’ll go home to one of Antigua’s barefoot-chic resorts, like luxe Carlisle Bay on the southern coast, where honeymooners are treated like celebs.
Here, 10 reasons to plan your post-nuptial getaway on Antigua:
1. It’s easy to get to.
You won’t see hordes of tourists here, but you will find plenty of options for flights. American Airlines and Jet Blue fly direct out of JFK, United Airlines out of Newark, and American Airlines also from Miami. Traveling from the West Coast? Do yourselves a favor and break up your trip by spending a night or two in south Florida before your final leg. The sleek, art-filled Royal Blues Hotel faces the white sands of Deerfield Beach. (Every room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a killer view.) Owned by Hollywood producer Edward Walson, the 12-room boutique getaway is the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in southern Florida—so you know the food at Chanson restaurant is amazing.
2. It’s elegant.
There’s a reason why spring breakers don’t flock to Antigua. Sure, beach bars are plentiful and you’ll spend much of your time either in flip flops or barefoot. But an Antigua honeymoon is more about romance and laid-back luxe resorts than it is about party-friendly all-inclusives. Case in point: Carlisle Bay, an haute 82-suite retreat on the south end of the isle. Every airy abode has a living room done up in whites, greys, blues, or greens, a balcony with a day bed, and views of the Caribbean sea. Bonus: No matter where you stay, you’re just steps from the powdery white sand outside.
3. There are 365 beaches.
Antigua’s biggest claim to fame may be having a swathe of white sand for every day of the year. Among the biggest names: Dickenson Bay, lined with hotels and lapped by a mile-long stretch of bath-tub warm turquoise waters; Pigeon Point Beach, a calm, snorkel-ready cove near Falmouth Harbour; and Hawksbill Bay, a pristine, clothing-optional crescent with views of a rock formation that looks like, well, a hawksbill turtle.
4. You can do nothing at all—without feeling guilty.
Antigua’s endless beaches begs for days on a lounge chaise, rum punch in hand. And thanks to the isle’s chilled-out vibe, you can sun, sip, repeat for a whole week without experiencing major FOMO. (BTW, Carlisle Bay has an excellent library if you forget your Kindle at home.)
5. Or you can do it all.
Antigua is one of the sailing capitals of the Caribbean, and it’s easy to charter a boat to explore the isle’s hidden coves and islets. At Carlisle Bay, you can even take lessons via a three-day Royal Yachting Association Course. And that’s just the beginning of all the water-centric sports offered on this island. Wake boarding, water skiing, snorkeling, and diving are all top notch here.
6. There’s no shortage of flavor on the island.
Good food is in Antigua’s DNA, whether you’re hitting one of the food shacks on the public beaches or a beach barbecue at Carlisle Bay. (The resort-made hot sauce is incredible.) Feel like something different? Ottimo’s wood-burning pizza ovens churn out excellent pies poolside, while pan-Asian restaurant East offers everything from Thai to Balinese. Tip: Don’t leave without trying the pineapple carpaccio at Indigo on the Beach, the resort's main open-air restaurant.
7. You can dine on the beach.
Nothing says “honeymoon” like dinner for two at the edge of the sea. Ask and you can book a private dinner for two at the end of the Carlisle Bay’s jetty or on a private stretch of sand.
8. It’s a stunning place to say "I do"...again.
Feel like your wedding went way too fast? Go for round two on a white-sand beach. Pretty much everywhere you turn in Antigua is a stunning vow-renewal site in the making, and the same goes for the grounds of Carlisle Bay. Among the most popular spots at the resort: the ship’s yacht or on the quiet sweep of beach that fronts the resort.
9. You can indulge at the spa.
This is your honeymoon, so book that couples’ massage. Carlisle Bay’s Blue Spa has a treatment room built for two. If you prefer a more active route to wellness, sign up for one of the classes at the spa’s sal fresco yoga pavilion, tucked in the resort’s tropical gardens.
10. The sunsets are unreal.
Block out at least one evening to climb aboard a boat and watch the sun sink into the sea. Carlisle Bay has a brand-new yacht that comes stocked with canapés and bubbly. Time your adventure for the end of your Antigua honeymoon so the two can spend your last night sailing into the sunset—literally.