Last fall, we escaped to Antigua for a pre-winter dose of sun 'n' fun. With 108 square miles and a population of 60,000, Antigua is the most developed and oft-visited of the British Leeward Islands. St. John, its capital and home to about 25% of the island's population, is a bustling city with some—but not a great deal of—charm. It is, however, a favorite port for cruise ships; three mega-cruise ships were docked at Heritage Quay the day we passed through town. Yachtsmen enjoy the island's many protected harbors—especially the haven of English Harbor and quaint, historic Nelson's Dockyard, both on the southern side of the island.
Antigua is popular among Brits and other Europeans, who are only too happy to trade their drab winter for the warm trade winds, predictable sunshine (Antigua gets only about 30 inches of rain a year), and 365 beaches that fringe the island—one for every day of the year, the natives say. Chartered 747s and Airbuses at V. C. Bird International Airport disgorge pale faces destined to turn into lobsters at the many all-inclusives that dot Antigua's pretty shores.
The fact that this is one of the busier and more developed islands of the Caribbean would not, at first, recommend it as a hideaway. But if you know where to look, Antigua does harbor its share of idyllic and sybaritic escapes.
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