There's a reason Europeans in search of serious sun flock to Antigua -- or, more accurately, 365 reasons. The Caribbean island proudly boasts a "beach for every day of the year," and with temperatures hovering around 75-85 degrees year-round, there's no shortage of time to enjoy each and every one of them.
Considering it's only a six-hour flight from New York, it's about time we crashed this beach party.
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Antigua has a rich food culture that mixes traditional island cuisine with that of its former English colonists, along with plenty of Jamaican influences. For more adventurous eaters, roadside food stands serve up piles of jerk meats and plantains. If you'd prefer some comfort take-out, the island is also host to many Chinese restaurants where the menu will look familiar. But you can't leave before trying the island's storied "black pineapple." With darker skin than the fruit you'll find in supermarkets, its flesh is pale and smoothly sweet with hints of rich, creamy coconut. They don't grow enough to export stateside, so get your fill -- or get sneaky with customs.
If you start to miss city life, pay a visit to Antigua's capital, St. John's. Buzzing with a warm island energy, Market Street is packed with restaurants, boutiques and fruit and veggie vendors. While it's no longer open to the public, the looming St. John's Cathedral is worth a walk-by. It's fallen into disrepair -- it has, after all, been standing since 1845 and seen its share of earthquakes -- but the graveyard is now used as a kind of spooky city park.
Gawk at this
Once a base for the British navy, English Harbour is now home to some major yachts. The best way to gawk is to charter a speedboat ride. Not only can you get an up-close look at some of the most opulent boats in the world, but along the way your guide can also point out some of the impossibly posh seaside homes of celebrities including Eric Clapton and Giorgio Armani.
Much of Antigua's coast is rocky, so make sure your beachfront hotel is truly on the sand and not perched on a cliff. Snuggled into an inlet along the island's quieter southern coast and backed by a tropical rainforest, Carlisle Bay resort features a powdery beach steps away from every one of its suites, all of which have ocean views. The resort is carefully designed to accommodate both families and couples, with designated meal times for children, around-the-clock day care and family-style room accommodations.
Don't be intimidated by a rainy forecast. Weather.com will likely predict a 100 percent chance of showers every day, but these rarely last long enough for you to move under your beach umbrella.