Two of our most requested and sought-after destinations at any times are the wonderful Caribbean islands of Barbados and Antigua.
With both on the UK’s green list and dedicated to visitor safety, and with people understandably desperate to make good choices for their long-awaited holiday, both are fantastic options for winter sunshine and relaxation.
I am very familiar with both, having had the privilege to get to know them well and am often asked which of them would I recommend.
Although a predictable response, the short answer is both equally though it will always come down to personal choice of the things that you like to do and experience most and who is in your travelling party.
Year-round sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. Hurricane season is mid-August until late September with Christmas, New Year, winter and spring fantastic times to travel.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the criteria you may wish to consider when making that all important choice.
The Caribbean is renowned for its sublime crystal-clear waters and powder white sand.
On Barbados, the Atlantic facing east coast is rugged with beaches tending to be favoured by surfers. The south coast has some lovely little beaches and a delightful boardwalk whilst the west coast facing onto the Caribbean Sea is more sheltered and boasts the longest, softest and sandiest beaches.
Bathsheba (east), Crane and Accra (south), Gibbes and Mullins (west) are amongst my favourites.
Antigua has no less than 365 wonderful beaches, one for every day of the year and with every single one open to the public, and with the island being so small, it is easy to get around.
The biggest challenge is picking a favourite. Mine include Dickenson Bay, Jolly Beach, Half Moon Bay and Darkwood Beach.
Both islands have fantastic options catering for a range of budgets.
In Antigua, we love the family friendly Blue Waters resort on the beautiful north-western coast with a touch of elegance and superb facilities offering a choice of bed and breakfast, half board or all-inclusive.
The luxury all-inclusive, adult-only Hermitage Bay offers rejuvenation and relaxation for a flawless luxury Antiguan holiday.
In Barbados, infamous, star-studded and luxurious Sandy Lane is impeccable and the Colony Club on a beautiful stretch of beach in the heart of Holetown, is a firm favourite with our clients.
If you fancy staying on the south coast, Bougainvillea ticks the boxes with a luxury feel, family friendly self-catering options and is within walking distance from St Lawrence Gap.
A Caribbean honeymoon on either of these islands will provide an experience of romance, relaxation, indulgence, pure joy and fabulous memories.
For Antigua, consider Jumby Bay, Hermitage Bay, Curtain Bluff or Cocos.
In Barbados, Sandy Lane, Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Coral Reef and The House by Elegant Hotels are all highly recommended.
Sandals have fabulous all-inclusive resorts in both.
Culture here means one thing – carnival! The celebration of all things Caribbean: outlandish costumes, upbeat music, plenty of rum and delicious cuisine make the finest combination.
Try the famous Oistins fish fry on a Friday night in Barbados or Shirley Heights lookout in Antigua with its superb barbecue and steel pan music.
For great culinary experiences, there are endless choices with Barbados a clear winner for me on the fine dining front. We loved the Fish Pot on the northwest coast and had a delightful meal at the lively and elegant Champers on the south coast, which offers a great choice of Caribbean and European delights.
In Antigua, Trappas is a must visit in English Harbour thanks to its traditional fare including the flatfish, Cajun shrimp and fried green tomatoes.
Carmichaels is a renowned Antiguan restaurant nestled at the top of Sugar Ridge that offers a romantic setting perfect for photos and beautiful fine dining. Jacqui O's BeachHouse and Island Fusion are regular client recommendations.
In Antigua, we really liked Beachlimerz on Fort James Beach where you can chill out, “lime” and try unique Caribbean cocktails to a soundtrack of great music. Ana’s on the Beach is a chic new restaurant in Dickenson Bay with an open-air bar, beach cabanas and loungers with the emphasis on luxury lifestyle and service.
For Barbados, choose from the vibrant buzz of St Lawrence Gap with its many bars and lively nightlife to the more relaxed Holetown with an abundance of elegant restaurants and exuberant nightclub, the Red Door Lounge.
Barbados tops the bill for lush fairways and challenging courses and if staying at Sandy Lane you have no less than three splendid courses from which to choose.
They don’t like cricket in the Caribbean; just as 10cc do, they LOVE IT! With an England tour scheduled for March 2022, both islands will feature with high profile matches and will be in big demand.
Indulge in a vast array of water sports around both islands. You can fly across the water - propelled by wind, motor or muscle-power, or dive beneath its pristine surface.
Deep sea fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding, windsurfing, sailing, kite surfing and kayaking along the coast or inland in the mangroves are all accessible in and from most resorts.
I hope to have provided a little bit of insight into visiting these holiday gems and would be happy to expand where necessary and help you create a memorable Caribbean holiday.