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Antigua, formerly a British colony, is the larger of the two main islands that make up the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The island is a breath taking getaway with hundreds of pristine beaches, known for its lively culture, friendly inhabitants, corrugated coastline and colonial ruins. Soak up the sun on tranquil beaches with pink sand and aquamarine ocean waters, or explore the many coves, rainforests and groves that the island has to offer.

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Charming towns and villages

Featuring colourful buildings, an attractive harbour, a bustling daily market and several boutique-style shopping malls, St. John's is the capital of Antigua and Barbuda. It’s also home to the Antigua Rum Distillery, responsible for producing Antigua’s world-famous rum.

The island’s main village, English Harbour, is in the far south of Antigua. Named for its natural deep-water harbour, the town has a rich colonial history. Its famous Georgian-era marina, Nelson's Dockyard, has been restored to its former glory and includes the interesting Dockyard Museum, as well as several 18th Century buildings.

Antigua’s glorious beaches

With 365 beaches to choose from, tourists are spoilt for choice. Pigeon Point Beach, just outside of English Harbour, is a great location for snorkelling, as is nearby Galleon Beach. Half Moon Bay is one of the loveliest beaches on the island. Although a bit of a hike to get to, this secluded paradise is worth the extra effort. From Falmouth you can hike through the rainforest to Rendezvous Bay, another tranquil and remote spot.

Saint Lucia’s picture-perfect beaches are among the best in the Caribbean, and the island’s waters are home to a diverse range of colourful marine life. Saint Lucia also boasts picturesque and naturally protected harbours, which for centuries have served as a refuge for sailboats and today are dotted with yachts.

Sunset over Antigua

Outdoor adventures

Antigua is a dream location for adventurous travellers, with an array of watersports, hiking and horseback trails, and other thrills on offer. Snorkelling is popular on the island and there’s an abundance of shelves, caves, sunken wrecks and reefs to explore. Other activities include kayaking through the mangrove swamps, swimming with stingrays and zip-lining through the rainforest.

For the ultimate sightseeing experience, take a helicopter tour of the island, or hire a yacht and sail the coast (always a great way to experience the Caribbean).

Coconuts, mangoes, bananas, papayas, pineapples and other exotic fruits grow bountifully on Saint Lucia. The island's fresh produce is combined with pork, chicken or fresh seafood – especially tuna, mahi-mahi and snapper – and spices to create a range of tantalising Creole dishes.

Mouth-watering Antiguan food

Antiguan cuisine includes fungie (pronounced "foon-jee"), a cornmeal dish that is similar to polenta, and "pepperpot", which is a cornmeal dumpling filled with vegetables, okra and cured meat. Popular during carnival time is souse, a spicy soup made from pigs’ trotters, knuckles and tails, and flavoured with onions.

Last but not least, try the Antigua Black Pineapple, considered the world's sweetest pineapple, and look out for both local favourite Suzie's Original Hot Sauce and genuine Antiguan rum.

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When to visit Antigua

The best time to visit Antigua is between December and May, as it can be uncomfortably humid at other times of the year. However, if you're visiting in the summer, be sure not to miss the summer festival. This annual carnival runs from the end of July to early August, and is a great way to experience the local culture, music and cuisine.

Other travel pages about the destination: Antigua holidays

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Antigua highlights not to miss

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    Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay, both on the north western coast, for spectacular sunsets.

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    Cades Reef, a designated park with fantastic underwater scenery that’s highly rated for snorkelling.

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    Fig Tree Drive, a famous road that runs through Fig Tree Hill, taking you past fig, banana, mango and coconut groves, as well as sugar mills, small churches, volcanic hills and exquisite rainforests.

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    The limestone rock formations and natural caves at Devil's Bridge.

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    The Saturday morning market in St John's, which is the perfect place to pick up crafts, souvenirs, spices and fresh produce (such as okra, coconuts and pineapples).