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Hike through the Arikok National Park in Aruba, stroll along one of the 364 white sandy beaches of Antigua, and savour the mouth-watering local delicacies in Bridgetown, Barbados. Get ready to be captivated by the vibrant colours and diverse charm of each island as you embark on an extraordinary holiday to the Caribbean's enchanting paradise.

Antigua

At only 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, Antigua is a beach-lovers paradise with 364 white sandy beaches to choose from – almost one for each day of the year. Local writer Cheryl Markosky recommends that if you need a break from all those beaches, the pretty capital St John’s is the ideal place for a stroll to soak up local life.

 

Antigua is a maritime haven too, oozing history and character. Colourful boats and yachts are a key feature offshore, while on land you can explore the island’s historic atmosphere – Admiral Horatio Nelson landed here in 1784. A must is a visit to Nelson’s Dockyard, the only Georgian dockyard still in operation. Within Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, you’ll also find Clarence House, which was built for future King William IV, and Shirley Heights, a partly restored fortification with great views of Montserrat and Guadeloupe. 

 

Top shore experience recommendation:

 

Antigua by helicopter

Take to the skies and soar above this beautiful part of the Caribbean on an exhilarating helicopter ride. During approximately 30 minutes in the air, you’ll fly over the whole island as your expert pilot points out key landmarks. Spot colonial forts, Shirley Heights and historic English Harbour (home to Nelson’s Dockyard) and count the lavish superyachts moored in Falmouth Harbour from your unrivalled vantage point. Take in the arresting views of the verdant backcountry and the white sand on the shore as you trace the coastline from above. And, as you peer into the sapphire Caribbean Sea on the west coast, admire the Cades Reef beneath the surface.

Aruba

Aruba, the smallest of the Caribbean’s three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles, is perfect for first-time visitors with so much to do. Explore everything this island has to offer from the white sand, clear blue waters and world-class shopping to the capital Oranjestad’s mixed cultural history and Schooner Harbour, which is crammed with brightly painted boats and craft stalls.

 

This beautiful Caribbean island also offers a world of discovery for nature lovers. Beautiful Arikok National Park takes up nearly 20% of the island and is full of natural wonders, from cacti to caves. Local artist and writer Liliana Erasmus recommends hiking, biking or off-roading to the natural and historical sites and, although it can be challenging, a peaceful paradise awaits. Just north of the park, head to Baby Natural Bridge, a limestone formation that bridges the waters below, formed over thousands of years by the pounding waves and winds. The original Natural Bridge – which was once one of the island’s top tourist attractions – collapsed in 2005, and its ruins can still be seen.

 

Top shore experience recommendation:

 

Downtown walking tour

Get to know the colourful and bustling capital of Aruba on a fascinating stroll around town. Your knowledgeable local guide will lead the way as you explore the historic downtown area of Oranjestad. Gaze up at the Dutch colonial buildings painted in vibrant pastel shades and stop to admire important monuments and landmarks. The old fort and the museums of history and archaeology make great photo opportunities. Hear intriguing facts about the city’s past, which boasts Spanish, British and Dutch influences. Along the way, you’ll also have the chance to taste provincial snacks. Try a pastechi (a traditional pastry) and a delicious pan bati pancake.

Beautiful Oranjestad, Aruba
Beautiful Oranjestad, Aruba
Beautiful Oranjestad, Aruba
Beautiful Oranjestad, Aruba

Barbados

Why not consider Barbados to be your first Caribbean island? It has something for everyone, no matter your interests, and is a great place for starting your adventure. Whether you choose to head to the exclusive resorts with beautiful white beaches or discover the untamed natural beauty that surrounds the lush plantations and rum distilleries, there is so much for you to explore. On top of all of this, the chance to get close to nature is undeniable. Choose to swim with one of the island’s many breeds of turtle in the calm, warm waters, including green and leatherback turtles.  

 

If you’re looking for something a little more lively, the capital, Bridgetown, is full of charm and character. There are also plenty of shops and buzzing bars and restaurants to discover. If culture is your style, this vibrant capital is also a cultural hotspot with many arts and music festivals throughout the year.

Several mornings a week, racehorses swim at one of the island’s best beaches, known as Pebbles Beach. Grooms from the racetrack at Garrison Savannah, less than a mile away, regularly walk their horses here for baths and bonding.

TimeOut recommends
Stunning Barbados
Stunning Barbados
Stunning Barbados
Stunning Barbados

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