Antigua and Barbuda - The Heart of the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda are two unlike sisters in the heart of the Caribbean. While Antigua is vibrant with activity at day and night, the coral island of Barbuda is mostly untouched. The deserted sandy beaches and the wonderful Caribbean Sea create the perfect holiday atmosphere on the two islands.
Geography - Between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda constitute a twin-island nation in the Caribbean and are about 650 kilometres south-east of Puerto Rico. With an area of 280 km², Antigua is the larger island. Barbuda is smaller and the rocky island of Redonda is uninhabited. Barbuda has a population of about 1,400 people. Most people live on the main island of Antigua, which is divided into the following six parishes: Saint George, Saint John, Saint Mary, Saint Paul, Saint Peter and Saint Philip. The parishes' names show that the island nation is Christian. The climate is tropical. August is the warmest month with 27 °C, while January is the coldest with 24 °C on average. In comparison to other Caribbean islands, the rainfall rate on Antigua and Barbuda is relatively low.
Nature - The Caribbean twin islands
As the nation consists of two main islands, it is often referred to as the "Caribbean sister islands". Although it is not apparent any more, Antigua was originally a volcanic island. Due to the deposition of corals in the course of centuries, it rather looks like a limestone island. Barbuda, on the other hand, is a pure reef island, which is largely untouched. The twin islands are surrounded by vast reefs to the present day. Many white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and natural bays make the island country an appealing destination. Antigua's heartland is flat and fertile. Tropical palms, bright hibiscus and exotic fruit such as papayas, guavas and mangos grow here. The south-west is crossed by a slightly curved range of hills. The highest peak is the volcanic crater of Boggy Peak, which is 402 metres high. Is was recently renamed "Mount Obama" recently.
Natural sights - "The beach is just the beginning"
No doubt, most travellers come to Antigua and Barbuda to enjoy the powdery white sandy beaches and the bright blue sea. But the country in the Caribbean has much more to offer than that. That is why the islands' motto is "The beach is just the beginning". On Barbuda, holidaymakers can go on walks through wonderful tropical forests or visit the Frigat Bird Sanctuary. In addition, you can explore pink sandy beaches and exciting caves here. The twin island is about 40 kilometres away and can be reached by plane or ferry. When visiting Antigua, travellers can climb Mount Obama (formerly known as "Boggy Peak"). Once you have reached its top, you have a great view of the island nation and if you have good visibility, you can even see the neighbouring islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe. Another exciting experience is a tour along the Fig Tree Drives. Of course, you can also explore the islands by boat. An impressive sight is offered by the Pillars of Hercules near the English Harbour.
Culture - From the stone people to the British colony
The first people already settled on the islands 10,000 BC. The tribe of the Ciboney, also called the "stone people", made themselves comfortable but they were driven off by the Arawak later on. The Arawak did not rule the islands for long either because they were displaced by the next wave of settlement when the Caribs and the South Americans discovered the islands. At the end of the 15th century, Columbus arrived on Antigua and the age of colonialisation had begun. The Spanish, French, British and the pirates fought for the rule of the islands and the United Kingdom won. It built colonies and settlements and grew sugar cane. Admiral Horatio Nelson, who is known on the islands to the present day, drove off the last pirates. The long struggle for independence only ended in 1981, when Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state.
Cultural sights - Nelson's Dockyard and Betty's Hope
The capital of Saint John's accommodates the greatest cathedral in the Caribbean near a statue of John the Baptist. The islands are mostly Christianised. About 90 percent of the population are of African origin, the remaining ten percent come from Europe. Popular sights in Saint John's are the National Museum, the open-air stage, Fort James and the harbour as well as the natural harbour of the English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard. Luxury yachts from all over the world land here and wait while their owners embark on exciting island adventures. When you are on Barbuda, you can visit the Martello Tower, which offers a great view of the whole island. Another interesting destination is the last remaining sugar mill called "Betty's Hope". It is reminiscent of the sugar cane plantations established by the first colonies.
Experience - The pleasant island life
A trip to the Caribbean is a special experience and many travellers' long-cherished dream. The reasons for that are obvious: sun, sand and the sea as well as the delicious Caribbean cuisine with freshly caught seafood, baked lobster and suckling pig. Fruity cocktails sweeten the beautiful sunset and the nights under the starlit sky. Numerous restaurants, beach bars, discos and casinos offer evening entertainment. Of course, visitors want to take at least a bit of this island atmosphere home. You can buy souvenirs in the great shopping centres in Saint John's or in the duty-free shops. Gemstone jewellery, paintings and handmade straw products are typical of Antigua and Barbuda.
Activities - Water sports and island hopping
Travellers who want to do more than sunbathe and relax at the seaside can go sailing, wind surfing and kite surfing, kayaking or paragliding. The islands offer excellent conditions for a variety of leisure activities. Many hotels organise deep sea fishing tours and there are idyllic golf courses on Antigua. In addition, the islands are great starting points for trips to the neighbouring islands of Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis or Guadeloupe.
Since English is the official language, tourist can use it to communicate on the islands. However, visitors may not understand the locals because they speak Caribbean English, which differs considerably from Standard English. Another testimony to the British colonialisation is the left-hand traffic. The tourist season lasts from December to April. During that time, precipitation is lowest.
Antigua and Barbuda are two stunning islands in the Caribbean and a great destination for unwinding and having a rest. Water sports fans can demonstrate their abilities or simply relax at the white sandy beaches at the blue sea.