Located in the heart of the Leeward Islands, Antigua & Barbuda are comprised of a blend of coral, limestone and volcanic materials that have melded together over the millennia to create a coastline dotted with reefs and coves that today provide private, calm, warm, crystalline waters abounding in diverse recreational opportunities.
Here, clear turquoise water gently laps against 365 sugary-white sand beaches creating the most seductively breathtaking seashore in the world. From sunbathing and swimming to sailing, scuba diving and snorkelling, these beaches are enjoyed year round by the adventure seeker, water nymph and book worm alike, while romance seekers come to enjoy the many breathtaking sunsets made even more spectacular by the legendary green flash that accompanies that last dip of the sun.
With more than 62 per cent of leisure travellers interested in a beach experience, one might think the beaches of Antigua & Barbuda could get crowded. Not so. The sister islands’ miles upon miles of pristine coastline provide the ideal Caribbean backdrop for people of varying tastes and interests from across the globe. No wonder it was to these islands that Britain’s Princess Diana escaped the paparazzi with her two young sons soon after her much-publicized divorce. But you don’t have to be royal born to explore these islands that define the pure Caribbean beach experience.
Many of Antigua’s famed beaches rest inside the calm, protected waters on the Caribbean Sea. Since all of the island’s beaches are open to the public, the only challenge posed to visitors is determining the one that best suits their mood of the day.
Northwest coast: Antigua’s developed northwest coast is home to the popular Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay, which provide a fully loaded resort beach experience. Or, for those who want a beach close to St John's, Fort James, a locally popular public beach, and Deep Bay are excellent choices. During the winter months, Galley Bay, which is known for its wave breaks, is flushed with surfers and joggers. A series of four crescent-shaped beaches at Hawksbill are also highly regarded, one of which is great for those seeking a nude sunbathing experience.
Southwest and south coast: The beaches of the hilly southwest corner of Antigua are generally less developed than those around St John's. Winding along the coast are Fryes Bay, Darkwood Beach and Johnson’s Point. Rendezvous Bay and especially Doigs Beach, both located on the central southern coast, are especially quiet beaches as they are only accessible by four-wheel drive or footpaths. And, after a day at Nelson’s Dockyard, Pigeon Point is a great stop off for a cooling dip or a refreshing drink at the local beach bar.
East coast: Half Moon Bay, voted number one on the Travel Channel’s list of the world’s ultimate beaches – and now a national park – is always a great choice. Long Bay, on the easternmost point of the island, is another good choice for families as it is completely protected by its reef. Situated at the extreme eastern point of the island, on the road to Long Bay, is Indian Town. Over the centuries, powerful Atlantic breakers have swept in at the end of a 3000-mile journey from Africa, carving out a natural limestone arch called Devil’s Bridge. The blow holes and spouting surf make a spectacular site. Legend has it that if one throws two eggs into the water to boil, the devil (who is said to be down there) would keep one and return the other.
Beaches of Barbuda: The best-kept secret of the Caribbean is the smooth coastline edged with alternating pink- and white-sand beaches protected by barrier reefs on the island of Barbuda. Nearly deserted beaches combine with an environment rich in marine life offering those who venture over from Antigua the opportunity to enjoy excellent diving, snorkelling, fishing, birdwatching and of course, an escape from the everyday.
Though most of Barbuda’s beaches are composed of fine white sand, a few are noticeably different. These are the striking pink-sand beaches created from the tiniest of pink shells, the colour of cotton candy, that are washed ashore in various coves.
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