Antigua and Barbuda are the quintessential Caribbean islands: powder white beaches, swaying palm trees and a relaxed tropical atmosphere come standard. Renowned for their 365 beaches - one for every day of the year - and offering a cocktail of sun, sea and sand activities, the twin islands are naturally dominated by their stunning coastline.
Forming part of the Leeward Islands group in the northeast Caribbean, Antigua hosts regattas including the famous Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week which attract sailors from all over the world. Hotels offer sailing lessons, boat trips, bone fishing and caving whilst the coral reefs are ideal for divers and snorkellers. Beachcombing and of course sun worshipping are popular pastimes.
Giorgio Armani and Oprah Winfrey, among others, have expensive homes on Antigua which continues to be a magnet not just for yacht lovers, but also families and honeymooners. Cricket fans can indulge in their favourite sport and may bump into Antiguan cricket legends Sir Vivian Richards and Richie Richardson.
Away from the glamour, island life here is simple, carefree and relaxed. The twin-island destination has many attractions ranging from its natural rainforests to sites such as the military lookout Shirley Heights, with its views over English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining working Georgian dockyard in the world.
Nature lovers can discover the delights of Antiguan trails leading to the lush Body Pond valley and hikers can scale Mount Obama (formerly known as Boggy Peak) which is Antigua’s highest point. There are also national parks and blow holes including the Devil's Bridge, a natural phenomenon crafted by the colliding of Atlantic and Caribbean surf.
People watching and shopping at the buzzing Saturday market in the capital St Johns is entertaining, with a mix of coconuts, mango and guava for sale alongside antiques and crafts. Here the white baroque towers of St John’s Cathedral dominate the busy town.
Antigua springs to life at night, with dozens of places to party including historic Shirley Heights itself, which is the setting for Sunday night ‘jump ups’ (street parties) featuring live music where the rum punch flows.
Antigua’s little sister Barbuda is a low-lying coral island which lies 43km (27 miles) to the north. The main town housing the tiny airport is Codrington, officially the capital but referred to by all as ‘The Village’. Codrington consists of just a handful of streets and offers a glimpse of the Caribbean as it used to be.
Although small, there is much to do and Barbuda is an unspoiled natural haven for wild deer and exotic birds, and boasts the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. The island also has some important Amerindian rock carvings at Two foot Bay but most visitors stay around Barbuda's smooth coastlines edged with long pink and white sand beaches protected by barrier reefs. The pink beaches of the southwestern shore stretch as far as 16km (10 miles) without interruption and are a favourite with honeymooners.