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Introducing Antigua & Barbuda

On Antigua, life is a beach. It may seem like a cliché, but this improbably shaped splotch of land is ringed with beaches of the finest white sand, made all the more dramatic by the azure waters, which are so clear they’ll bring a tear to your eye or a giggle to your holiday-hungry throat.

And if life on Antigua is a beach, its isolated neighbor Barbuda is a beach. The pair couldn’t be any more different. While the first looks like something nasty under a microscope, the latter is just one smooth, sandy low-rise amidst the reef-filled waters. Birds, especially the huffing and puffing frigates, greatly outnumber people.

Back on Antigua, there are lots of people, many famous. Guitar-picker Eric Clapton, rag-trader Giorgio Armani, huckster scribe Ken Follett and taste-maker for the masses Oprah all have winter homes here. Some of the Caribbean’s most exclusive resorts shelter in the myriad bays and inlets. But mere mortals thrive here as well. Visitors of every budget will find a beach they can – almost – call their own.

Meanwhile, the locals take the visiting mobs with a dash of grace that always has the backing of an English stiff upper lip should the situation get too dire. The island’s British roots are on display in many ways, but especially when there’s a good cricket test match on. Memories of the old empire, however, are far removed from the island’s beat, which has some of the liveliest steel-drum music in the islands.