Honeymoon travel guide to Antigua

Jan 22, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. ET

In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? Antigua.

Honeymoon travel guide to Antigua

You'll love it if: You enjoy laid-back beaches, English culture and water sports!

Destination: Antigua

Antigua is located in the Caribbean and is served by V.C. Bird International airport (ANU). Because this airport serves many other islands in the area (St. Barts, Anguilla and Nevis), there are several flight options, including daily direct flights from New York and Miami.

Getting around Antigua is easily done by car or taxi. In town you can hail a cab on the street. Although there are public buses, they don't go to most tourist attractions.

About Antigua

Antigua (pronounced an-tee-gah) is your quintessential Caribbean island, and a honeymoon here is all about the beach — 365 of them to be exact — one for each day of the year! Formerly a British colony, Antigua has retained its English roots, which can be seen in its architecture and traditions like afternoon tea and sailing. In fact, Antigua is a world-class destination for sailing, which offers a unique opportunity for nautical-loving honeymooners.

When to go

The most popular time to visit Antigua is from mid-December through April. The weather is sunny and dry during this time, though prices are expensive as it is peak season. If you're looking for a bargain and fewer crowds, the weather is also pretty reliable during May and late November through mid-December.

Where to stay

If you're hoping for an authentic Antiguan experience and discreet luxury that captures the essence of the island, our top pick goes to Carlisle Bay hotel. Nestled in an emerald green rainforest and located directly on the beach, this island classic offers sophisticated plantation-style decor, exemplary hospitality, luxury amenities and spacious guest rooms (almost all of which offer sea views). All rooms also have large balconies from which guests can enjoy sea breezes and the sounds of nature. And the technology is state-of-the-art: Guests will enjoy enormous flat-screens, Gaggia espresso machines, master switches and large safes. The hotel also offers some of the best dining on the island, which showcases fresh, local seafood, local ingredients and expertly-mixed tropical cocktails! Be sure to try their spicy ginger martini!

If you're looking for over-the-top luxury on an exclusive private island — although it'll cost you — Rosewood Jumby Bay is certainly a honeymoon-worthy pick!

Honeymoon travel guide to Antigua

What to do

For sun worshippers

Spend a day (or a few days) beach hopping. Rent a car or take a boat cruise like Wadadli Cats, where you can either enjoy a lazy day lounging on the boat and soaking in the sun or an action-packed day filled with water sports like snorkeling and swimming.

Our top picks go to Half Moon Bay for its awesome waves, Deep Bay for its powdery white sand and views of Fort Barrington, Dickenson Bay for its calm waters and perfect sunsets and Jolly Beach, for its perfect romantic atmosphere.

Lucky in love

Couples who are feeling lucky can enjoy a bit of gambling at either Grand Princess Casino or at King's Casino, which is a more casual alternative.

For nautical enthusiasts

Antigua hosts Sailing Week each spring in St. John's. The best of the best gather here to race in this world-famous yacht regatta. Charter your own boat through local companies like OnDeck Sailing to enjoy the action, or simply take a sunset cruise with its professional and down-to-earth staffers.

For culture seekers

History buffs will enjoy a visit to Nelson's Dockyard, a cultural heritage site in the English Harbor.

Stop by Betty's Hope, the first large sugar plantation on the island for an informative tour about its history.

For day trippers

If you start to go stir-crazy from too much relaxation, pack a bag and take a day trip to Barbuda to explore Antigua's lesser developed sister island.

For thrill-seekers

Get your hearts pumping in sync and enjoy sweeping views as you zip line through the rainforest like Tarzan.

Party animals

Antigua is filled with plenty of laid-back bars and clubs for you to enjoy. Celebrate the spirit of the tropical lifestyle at Shirley Heights Lookout. Every Sunday evening starting at 4 p.m., the bar and restaurant hosts a reggae party.

If you're looking to dance the night away together, check out Abracadabra or Coast (Heritage Quay).

For a low-key evening out and unexpectedly fine wine, visit C&C Wine Bar, which hosts vivacious Saturday night karaoke parties.

For aqua-philes

Scuba divers and snorkel enthusiasts can't miss a trip to Cade's Reef.

Stingray City Antigua is also an exhilarating underwater experience.

For retail therapy

Because Antigua is a popular cruise destination, there is plenty of fabulous duty-free shopping. Not far from the cruise ship ports is Heritage Quay, a shopping complex with more than 40 duty-free stores.

A trip to the Saturday market in St. John's (on Market Street) is a must for foodies. Find unique fruits and vegetables that you won't find back home — like the juicy black pineapple. You can also find crafts and other fun souvenirs too.

Also check out the shops in St. John's on St. Mary's Street or High Street (closed Sundays).

For R&R

Revel in the post-wedding bliss at Blue Spa, where even Oprah stops by when she's in town. We recommend indulging in a West Indian massage, which incorporates local healing and relaxation techniques throughout the treatment.

Honeymoon travel guide to Antigua

Where to eat

To experience authentic French cuisine, visit Le Bistro — an exquisite restaurant that perfectly blends French and West Indian influences in a delicious marriage.

East restaurant is frequented by visiting celebrities and continuously praised by diners for its mouthwatering cuisine. Its Southeast Asian cuisine will make you feel like you're worlds away. The curries and chocolate cake are splurge-worthy!

Experience the genuine Creole spirit and African influenced recipes as you savor over just-caught seafood at Papa Zouk.

If you're looking for a casual meal and delicious pizza, stop by Big Banana.

Dine at Coconut Grove for an ideal Caribbean restaurant experience. It serves up some of the best local-inspired cuisine on the island.

Honeymoon travel guide to Antigua

What to watch out for

Since taxis are not metered, be sure to negotiate your rate before you depart.

Ask permission before snapping a photo of people on the island — especially at the Saturday morning market in St. John's — and remember that it's common courtesy to tip if someone does allow their photo to be taken.

More honeymoon advice

Honeymoon guide to Miami, Florida
Honeymoon guide to New York
Honeymoon guide to Paris

Photo credits: Katie Goldstein