Antigua, covering about 108 square miles, is the largest of the Leeward Islands and one of the most popular.
Its dependencies are Barbuda and uninhabited Redonda. There is nothing spectacular about its landscape, although the rolling hills and flowering trees are pretty. The coastline, however, curving into coves and graceful harbours with white-sand beaches fringed with palm trees, is among the most attractive in the West Indies.
English Harbour is particularly picturesque, with yachts filling a historic bay that has been a popular staging post for centuries. Nelson’s Dockyard and ruined forts are overlooked by the old battery on Shirley Heights, now better known for the fun Sunday party with reggae and steelpan bands.
Direct, non-stop flights from Europe and North America together with the great beaches, watersports and safe swimming make Antigua ideal for introducing children to the Caribbean. Numerous holiday resorts cater for the all-inclusive family or honeymoon market, but Antigua also has a great choice of smaller, independent places to stay. It is also popular with the yachting crowd, with smart marinas, annual sailing events and good nightlife.
Some 30 miles north of Antigua, Barbuda is a tiny, remote, virtually flat coral island dotted with mangrove-lined lagoons and with some spectacular swathes of near-deserted beaches, and the Frigate Bird Sanctuary that offers close-up encounters with these unusual birds. Barbuda’s charm lies in its easy-going way of life and isolated beauty, and there are some wonderful barefoot luxury places to stay, as well as a couple of cheaper simple guesthouses. It’s also close enough to Antigua to visit for the day.