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Overview

The nation of Antigua and Barbuda (and the uninhabited island of Redonda) is another of those Caribbean communities that produced great wealth when sugar was king but must now find its independent way in a faster-paced, more competitive global marketplace. Luckily, Nature blessed Antigua with a deeply indented coastline laced with white-sand beaches and safe moorings that lend themselves to resorts and marinas. The double anchorage at English Harbour, and especially the restored 18th-century British base now known as Nelson's Dockyard, has long been one of the world's major centers for yachting (its Race Week attracts boats from all over the world), and the island's hotels attract as many guests from Europe and South America as from the United States. The capital, St. John's, is a typical Antillean port city, its cobbled streets bustling and congested, with Antiguans going about their daily business seemingly oblivious to the cruise ship passengers traipsing ashore from the Deep Water Harbour terminal.

Now the Antiguans are rediscovering their heritage and creating new ways for natives and visitors to enjoy the island's natural attractions, with half-day and full-day tours of nature preserves, the rain forest, remote beaches, coral reefs, and offshore islands. Barbuda beckons with its own natural wonders, including the world's largest colony of frigate birds and pink-sand beaches that are breathtaking in their glistening beauty and length—up to 10 miles without a break in some cases, which is not bad for an island only 5 miles wide and 15 long.

WHEN TO GO


Like all Caribbean islands, Antigua has the best weather (and highest rates) from December to May. Even though the humidity and mosquitoes during the rest of the year could drive you insane, it's developed a bustling off-season business. If you're on a budget, April is the best time to get lower rates without sacrificing sunny weather. Several annual events put hotel rooms at a premium: Late April or May brings in yachters from around the world for Sailing Week regattas (www.sailingweek.com), and in August it's Carnival, a ten-day island-wide celebration (www.antiguacarnival.com).

HOW TO GET THERE


AIRPORT

Antigua's V.C. Bird International Airport is about ten miles east of the capital, St. John's (268-462-0358). Taxi fares between the airport and resort areas are fixed by the government, and cabbies must carry a rate card. Fares range from about $15 (for a St. John's destination) to about $30 (English Harbour).

For those en route to Barbuda, Carib Aviation, an affiliate of national airline LIAT, offers 20-minute flights from Antigua to Barbuda's Codrington Airport for about $75 per person, round-trip (268-481-2401; www.carib-aviation.com). Alternatively, the Barbuda Express's high-speed ferries make the 90-minute trip daily (except Tuesdays) for $60 per person, round-trip (268-560-7989; www.antiguaferries.com).

GETTING AROUND


Driving a car on Antigua is not for the navigationally challenged; many roads are in bad condition, signage is poor, and driving is on the left. However, the high cost of taxis may make it worth the hassle. If you opt for renting a car, be sure to buy insurance and an Antiguan license, which costs about $20 (though many car-rental firms will issue one for free).

If money's no object, Antigua's taxi drivers stand ready to be your chauffeur (and often guide) during your stay.

Since Barbuda has no public transport or established taxi system, visitors usually navigate the unpaved roads in a small four-wheel-drive vehicle (available at the airport). You will likely be renting from a local, and the price is sometimes negotiable.

TOURIST INFO


Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Office
Government Complex
Queen Elizabeth Highway
St. John's
Antigua
Antigua + Barbuda
Tel: 888 268 4227 (U.S. office)
Tel: 268 462 0480
deptourism@antigua.gov.ag

NEED TO KNOW


Language: English
Capital City: St. John's
Population: 69,000
Area: 170 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 1
Electricity: 220/110V, 60 Hz
Currency: As of Dec 30, 2008:
1 East Caribbean Dollars = $0.37 US Calculate Other Amounts
Entry Requirements:

Antigua does not require visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for up to a six-month stay.



NATIONAL HOLIDAYS


January: 1, New Year's Day
May: 2, Labor Day
August: First Monday and Tuesday, Carnival
November: 1, Independence Day
December: 25, Christmas Day; 26, Boxing Day
Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter; day after Easter, Easter Monday

Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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