Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda really supply only one thing, and they supply it well: vast, idyllic beaches. One of the most visited spots in the Caribbean - mainly due to its inclusion in nearly every Caribbean cruise package or simply because a flight to Antigua island is one of the most convenient ways to get south of Florida – the sprawling beaches retain a sense of mystery and wonder, especially on the smaller island of Barbuda.

If you are looking for fine dining, try Anguilla or Trinidad. If you are looking for culture, Cuba or Curacao is for you. But if you want to concentrate on sunbathing, swimming and staying active, Antigua island is for you. Much larger than its sister island, the general culture of Antigua seems resigned to the fact that it doesn't have one strong selling point – so it tries to do even the most pedestrian things better. The casinos are flashier, the streets are cleaner. The island offers scenic hiking and enthusiastic kayaking, but you can find the same on nearly anywhere in the Caribbean. And whether you can safely say that the diving is better here than anywhere else is anyone's guess. The same fish seem to swim beneath the aquamarine waters. The same helpful people dot the popular Antigua beaches, ready to help you into your scuba gear or with your snorkel rental.

But many of the beaches on Antigua and Barbuda are virtually deserted, despite their popularity as a vacation spot. Part of it is due to the vast quantity of beaches on Antigua island, where the tourist board has officially named it home to 365 beaches. You can hardly discern where one ends and one begins, but that is no matter – it sounds good on the brochure. And looks good in real life – it would take years to explore every islet of Antigua island. Darkwood Beach might be the most scenic, offering spacious views of the nearby island of Montserrat and the large (not to mention highly active) volcano that lives there.

Barbuda is even more underdeveloped. Merely 62 square miles in area, the island is home to three posh resorts and little else. Here you can find wild boar right outside your door, goats are everywhere, and humans are easily outnumbered by the island"s turtle population. For those who want immaculately beautiful beaches, Antigua and Barbuda are the place to go. For those who want true seclusion, however, Barbuda is the real find.

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