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Antigua is best known for its beaches, of which it has exactly 365, one for every day of the year. With this in mind, when we visit this beautiful Caribbean island, we think it’s only fitting that we stay at The Verandah Resort & Spa – which contains 30 acres of beachfront. Its enviable location on the pristine northeast coast next to the spectacular Devil’s Bridge National Park, however, is not the only reason we love to stay here. As well as the deep soaking tubs in the bathrooms, this resort has the biggest free-form swimming pool on the island… and of course, it’s stunning.
If you’re looking for a great place to eat, and you’re a fan of French wines, we can highly recommend booking a table at Le Bistro. Chef Patrick’s garlicky soups and seafood bouillabaisse, not forgetting his famous lobster dish, are enough to show us why he is one of the Discovery Channel’s “Great Chefs of the World”. His French heritage is evident in every recipe (Vendée, the heart of one of France's finest gastronomic regions to be specific), but keep your eyes open for some of the notable Caribbean twists.
The bar scene and nightlife in Antigua is relaxed and friendly, and we think there’s nowhere better to experience it than Dennis’ Cocktail Bar – one of the lesser-known beach-front bars on the island. The owner, Dennis Thomas, has become a local hero with his historic facts, titbits and host of “Did you knows?” The view is across two of Antigua’s most eye-catching beaches, and we can’t help but be in awe – that is, however, until food starts sashaying past us from the kitchen, and we can’t take our eyes off that! We recommend any of the seafood and for something different – the curried goat is first rate.
When we feel compelled to get off the sun lounger and wake up our inner culture-vultures, we always pay a visit to the Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery. It’s tucked away in the heart of magnificent rainforest, shaded by giant silk cotton and royal palm trees and there is no truer Antigua shopping experience. There’s original artwork by the resident artist, Sallie Harker, for sale, as well as numerous other Caribbean painters, sculptors and artisans – a rare opportunity that we never miss to purchase black coral jewellery, original beach rope baskets and seascapes and paintings of native wildlife.
Antiguans are known to be fanatical about cricket - Sir Vivian (“Viv”) Richards who played for and captained the West Indies team was Antiguan. However, we nearly prefer the unlikely “sport” of crab racing, which is almost a religion in Antigua. Races are held in bars at least twice a week with the island’s most eccentric sports nuts in attendance.
Have you been to Antigua? Where are your favourite Antigua hangouts?
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About the author: KatieKatie Manning
Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning