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For one of the most “Caribbean” of Caribbean getaways, head to St. John’s, Antigua, or the gloriously unspoiled isle of Barbuda. Both islands offer a haven of peace and tranquility often not possible on some of the more populated islands. St. John’s itself is the largest city of Antigua and Barbuda and is dominated by the iconic towers of the baroque St. John’s Cathedral. If arriving by boat, these are your first glimpse of the island. On Antigua, you’ll find 365 splendid beaches, one for each day of the year. Most are on the island’s protected Caribbean side, and all are open to the public. Consider combining Antigua and Barbuda in your vacation plans – a flight is just 20 minutes and a boat crossing three hours.
In St. John’s proper, you’ll find ample activities, from tours of St. John’s Cathedral to a lovely botanical garden, tucked away from the city hustle and bustle. Check out St. John’s Antigua Light, as well as Fort James, which stands at the entrance to the harbor. Friday and Saturday mornings might find you at the farmers’ market choosing from a heady selection of fresh tropical fruit and local crafts.
If staying on serene Barbuda, the first attraction you’ll want to seek is the graceful frigate bird – at times, it may seem that there are more of this resident bird than people on the island, a welcome fact, indeed. For the best viewing, visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. Activities run the gamut from cricket, tennis and day cruises to diving, snorkeling, kayaking and zip lining. Or, just while away the hours on the countless pink- and white-sand beaches.
Families and groups of friends traveling together would do well to choose a vacation rental, guesthouse, villa or beach cottage on Antigua or Barbuda. These accommodations allow for a self-catering getaway, ensuring the ultimate in privacy and the ability to prepare your own meals and realize a significant cost-savings (and leaving more for tours and watersports!). Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes, from expansive six-bedroom homes in exclusive Galley Bay on Antigua to cozy cottages tucked away amidst landscaped gardens and salt lagoons. Most are either right on the beach or just a few minutes’ walk away from one. Choose a home with a BBQ area and equipped kitchen and you can shop for goods at the farmers’ market and local stores, then create your own meal plan and schedule – a smart choice for families with young children. Many of the islands’ rental homes have been recently updated and offer every creature comfort, including washing machines and dryers, entertainment systems, watersports equipment and more.