July 24, 2013

Antigua, a little piece of paradise is situated off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and is about 17 degrees north of the equator. Antigua is roughly 108 square miles with a sprawling coastline littered with coves, bays and amazing beaches. The island is the largest of the British Leeward Islands and filled with rich history. When exploring this little slice of heaven, be sure to see the breathtaking views at Shirley Heights, which overlook the English Harbour. St. John’s Cathedral is also conveniently located on this island and has become quite the tourist attraction.

Lay of the land

In Spanish, Antigua translates to “old” or “ancient” and it’s easy to see why, with rich and cultural history to see on the island.  It might also be the perfect setting for your perfect destination wedding.  The best time to visit Antigua is from May to November, which is the island’s off-season.  Your rates will be a lot cheaper and there will be fewer tourists crowding the streets and beaches.

Must-sees, Must-dos

Stingray City

If swimming with stingrays sounds like fun, take in the number one attraction on Antigua.  This is one of the most popular attractions for snorkelers and non-swimmers because you can actually touch and feed a stingray!  Watch the graceful fish swim around you while experiencing a unique encounter with your new husband!  A guide will be with you at all times to aid you in your one-of-a-kind experience.  In addition to swimming with stingrays, be sure to check out the brilliance of the coral reefs and other colorful fish!

Barbuda Express

This convenient ferry service travels five days a week between Antigua and Barbuda.  Barbuda is the sister island to Antigua and is most popular for its pink sandy beaches!  Enjoy whale watching aboard the Barbuda Express or travel to St. John’s Island for shopping.  While on the catamaran boat,  diving and snorkeling is offered and hiking in the caves at The Highlands.  Don’t be surprised if you see the largest Frigate bird colony flying above you outside the Galapagos. Be sure to take a camera with you so that you don’t miss the opportunity to capture nature in action!

National Parks Antigua

You can visit all of the National Parks of Antigua in one day, including the Dockyard Museum, Dow’s Hill, Shirley Heights, Fort Charlotte, and Fort George.  The Dockyard Museum is filled with artifacts that display the history of the ancient island.  Dow’s Hill is a major sightseeing attraction and is an unforgettable setting for weddings on the island.  Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout and is the perfect place to watch a stunning view of the sunset.  Every Sunday night, a party is held at this iconic venue. Fort George was previously a hideout for the islands inhabitants just in case there was an invasion.  Beautiful views of the island can be taken in while you stroll along the beaches at this location.

Where to Stay

Sandals Grande All-Inclusive Antigua Resort & Spa

This resort has been named the World’s leading Honeymoon Resort three years in a row!  Not to mention the World’s Most Romantic resort.  The location is everything for this resort because it is conveniently situated on Antigua’s most famous beach, Dickenson Bay.  The resort features a two-in-one bonus since there are Mediterranean and Caribbean Villages on the resort.  The Mediterranean Village is built into the mountainous landscape filled with boutiques and swanky places to eat.  With a six star diamond award, the restaurants at the Mediterranean Village are sure to please.  The Caribbean Village is a picturesque location with groves surrounding the lush landscape and pink plumeria dangle above your head.   There is always something to do at the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa!  Get a massage at the Red Lane Spa, take in the adventure tours or swim with the fish while scuba diving.

There are plenty of watersports that you can take part in, or challenge your new husband to a round of golf. Book an all inclusive vacation through Sandals, you experience many amenities such as unlimited premium drinks, after hours parties and nightclubs.

Sugar Ridge Antigua

A luxury boutique hotel bordered with sugar cane is the perfect setting for panoramic views of the turquoise seas ahead of you.   Offering rooms that are in unique sets of four, each room has its own entrance and radio frequency door lock.  All rooms come with a four-poster bed draped with muslin and accented with rich textures and natural tones.  iPod docks are offered in the rooms along with flat screen televisions and complimentary Wi-Fi.  Dine at the hotel’s more formal restaurant known as Carmichael’s while overlooking the resort.  Take in the panoramic views as you savor the grilled filet steak with spinach and crème fraiche.  If you are into a more casual dining area, check out the Sugar Club restaurant.   The entire bottom floor of the Sugar Club is the exclusive spa.  The spa features four treatment rooms, a hair salon, and nail salon.  Two swimming pools, cabanas and fountains are also open all day for your pleasure.  Weddings are held at this luxurious location and is perfect for your intimate ceremony along the sandy beaches of Antigua.

Jumby Bay: A Rosewood Resort

This exclusive resort is one-of-a-kind because it offers fully staffed private estate homes and luxury villas.  This private oasis features an Estate House restaurant with dining options fit for a king and queen.  There are two other restaurants on the grounds including the Verandah Restaurant and the Pool Grille.  Each restaurant overlooks an infinity pool.

You can expect all three meals included as well as an unlimited open bar and afternoon tea.  You will have access to the Beaches of Jumby Bay, and an array of watersports are available at your fingertips.   Relax at Sense, A Rosewood Spa or enjoy a round of golf.  The hotel also offers sailing, deep-sea fishing and scuba diving with instruction.  Island tours are also available with sightseeing opportunities.

Where to Eat

Catherine’s Café

One of the more hip places to eat on the island.  Featuring a sprawling view of both Freeman’s bay and Nelson’s Dockyard, this setting is unparalleled.  Serving French cuisine with daily specials, this restaurant is hard to disappoint.  Catherine’s Café is open six days a week, Wednesday to Sunday with live music and the ideal accompanying French wine.  Enjoy a lobster salad sprinkled with grapefruit, melon and mangetout peas.  With specials every day it’s hard to eat the same thing every night. Lobster Risotto, Strip-loin Tournedos, Mahi Papillotte and Duck Legs Confit are just a few of the inspiring dishes on the menu.

Ristorante Paparazzi

An authentic Italian restaurant set in the heart of the pristine beaches of Antigua.  The Ristorante Paparazzi blends home-style cuisine with the warm hospitality of the island.  Serving lunch, dinner and dessert this restaurant is voted the best wood oven pizza in the Caribbean.   With twenty unique pizzas, Ristorante Paparazzi restaurant is a must-see!  For lunch sample the fresh soups, salads and tappas.  If you are still feeling hungry, try the tortellini gigi or seafood linguini. The philosophy behind the Ristorante Paparazzi is “that you serve dishes in a specific order to achieve a certain kind of eating experience.”

To achieve the experience, try the salmon affumicato for an appetizer and the stracciatella alla as a soup. For the next course try the insalata di spinaci con gamberi which is a baby spinach and avocado salad.  For your main course choose between pasta, chicken, veal, beef or fish.  Finish your meal off with Ristorante Paparazzi’s desserts like tiramisu, cheesecake or variety of other sweets. .

The Cove Restaurant

Take in the beautiful blue waters of Antigua while dining in this intimate outdoor restaurant.  Sit at a candlelit table while basking in your newlywed glow.  Sample authentic Antiguan lobster bisque soup and coconut shrimp for a starter.  The main courses range from beef to pork, chicken, lobster and even salmon.  Other seafood items such as mussels and snapper are also on the menu.   Dessert includes coconut crème brule, lemon and apple tarts, chocolate lava cakes or dark mousee au chocolate.