This past Christmas, I decided to surprise visit my younger brother who happened to work in Antigua. Prior to this trip, I had never even heard of this island. And as a single who is ready to mingle at a moment’s notice, I was hopeful for an experience comparable to MTV Spring Break. Boy…was I wrong.
Instead of a “Hangover” sequel filled with blurry nights and bad decisions, I experienced the complete opposite: countless women wearing rings, and countless beaches that were empty. But what started out as complete and utter disappointment, gradually turned into appreciation for tranquility.
In other words, an island getaway that was destined for travel-dating:
Numerous beaches that vary in size and seclusion. Ideal for couples who seek a more private setting. Optimal setting for “Sex on the Beach” (not the drink).
More exclusive, with numerous all-inclusive resorts that directly cater to couples.
Very friendly locals who gladly welcome all visitors.
Not as fully developed as other island hubs.
Relaxed culture and “Island Time,” which is anything but punctual. Slower pace can be frustrating to less-patient tourists.
To help organize my island assessment, I created six categories: Food, Culture, Shopping, Beaches, Nightlife, and Romance:
Most of my meals consisted of a fresh catch on top of a bed of rice and vegetables. I like spicy and I like seafood, so I was in culinary heaven. For others, this could result in porcelain hell.
Antigua is known for its Caribbean cuisine, which is an eclectic mix of African, East Indian, Chinese and European culture. The selection is heavily seasoned and often infused with English fare to accommodate to the tourists. If you’re a seafood lover, you will sure enjoy Antigua’s fresh selection of same-day caught lobsters, oysters, and red-snappers.
Ideal Breakfast: An Outdoor Cafe
For breakfast, try the Bay House, an al fresco venue that overlooks all of Dickenson Bay, which is known for its intensely white beaches. Combined with the restaurant’s selection of locally-inspired dishes, the gorgeous view from Bay House is an ideal way to start your day. And if the timing is right, one can marvel at the remarkably magical rainbows that accentuate Dickenson Bay.
Ideal Lunch: A Beachside Bar/Restaurant
Lunch is best-experienced at one of the many waterfront bars and grills that border the island. Westpoint Bar & Restaurant is a marina locale that offers a lively view of ship traffic, whereas Millers by the Sea offers a more beachside atmosphere with its live reggae band and close proximity to the water.
Ideal Dinner: An Intimate Locale
Seeking a more private affair? I suggest dining at Le Bistro: Antigua’s first authentic French restaurant serving for over 30 years. The location itself is smaller and exclusive, making it an ideal location for couples. However, if you’re looking to truly marvel at the island’s beauty, we suggest going to Shirley Heights Lookout, which is undoubtedly the best view of the sunset that the island has to offer. Tourists from all over the island arrive as early as 4:00 PM to reserve a spot for the view.
Locals are very welcoming of tourists and embody a feel-good mentality that is comparable to Jamaican culture. The island moves at a slow pace, everyone can’t be bothered, and all scheduled activities are tentative in nature. Be wary of this easygoing vibe. “Island Time” can be your best friend or worst enemy, depending on your patience. For example, expect every meal to last at least 45 minutes due to slower service. Starved? Order your food during the first drink order. Parched? Order 2-3 drinks at one time. You’ll thank me later.
Did I mention that most of the beaches are empty? Some will appreciate this “one-with-nature” vibe, but I preferred to visit the busier, beachside bars (sue me, I’m single). But in respect to travel-dating, the beaches are bountiful, varied, and cater to a couple’s every need. There are areas for long, romantic walks, and venues for lively, beachside festivals.
Numerous duty-free shops line the harbors, but they pale in number to the much larger ports of authority located in Mexico or Jamaica.
My favorite part. For a memorable night, I suggest visiting the bar scene concentrated at English Harbour, which is located on the northern end of the island. The majority of establishments are a combination of outdoor clubs and bars with live bands. Single med students and Europeans who work on the harbored yachts frequent this scene (not that you couples care).
My favorite location, Abracadabra, offers the perfect setting for dancing in the moonlight. But for those up all night looking to “get lucky” outside the bedroom, I suggest visiting The Majestic Isle Casino, a brand-new establishment in the South that is directly connected to The Sandals resort.
By all means, do not venture downtown late at night unless you’re with a local. I kid you not, I bought a six-pack from a convenient store and immediately had a beer taken away because a bum wanted to “borrow it.” ‘Nuff said.
Nature takes its course on this beautiful island: the views, the beaches, and the remoteness allow any couple to truly enjoy and appreciate each other. If you favor “hustle and bustle,” avoid this island at all costs. But if you’re looking to create sparks on an island getaway, Antigua will be your paradise.
MissTravel’s Overall Score: B+
If you want to take the island less-traveled, then plan a trip for two to Antigua. Its perpetual island-vibe, combined with an array of intimate beaches and breathtaking views, creates an ideal atmosphere for any budding romance.
In the mood to experience the wonders of Antigua? Join MissTravel and arrange your island-date today!