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As the land of sea and sun, the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda are home to 365 beaches, friendly people, world-class hotels and amazing cuisine. These beautiful lush islands express a unique charm that makes you feel like you could stay there forever. Watch the video here!

I arrived in Antigua on the new service offered by Caribbean Airways that flies direct from JFK. After a relaxing 4-hour flight, I checked into Carlisle Bay, which is located on the south coast of Antigua. Upon my arrival, I was greeted with a sweet glass of watermelon juice and a refreshing towel. This five star resort is breathtaking and has all of the amenities you could ever need. I spent some time relaxing on the beach, sipping afternoon tea and dipping in the ocean. After a few days in this life of luxury, I was ready for some adventure and excursions. www.campbellgrayhotels.com/carlisle-bay-antigua.html

My first stop was Mount Obama, which was renamed in 2009 by the Prime Minister as a symbol of hope for all people. Formerly Boggy Peak, this is the island’s highest mountain peak and is a popular place to hike. After enjoying fresh coconut water at Mount Obama, I desired a more thrilling experience, so I went zip lining in the rainforest. I zipped across nine lines that were over 300 feet high to get my adventure fix. www.antiguarainforest.com

I had heard a lot about the vegetable market in the capital of St. John’s, so I went and was amazed by how busy and colorful it was. The locals selling the fresh produce were friendly and didn’t mind taking moments out of their schedules to chat with me about the exotic fruits and vegetables that they were selling.

Being the curious traveler that I am, I inquired about a strange looking fruit in the shape of a large brown toe. This fruit comes from the West Indian Locust, aka the “Stinky Toe Tree”. The locals convinced me that the fruit was delicious and encouraged me to try it. Reluctantly, I tried it and was surprised by the strange smell, yet good taste of this interesting fruit.

After eating the “stinky toe”, I felt that I needed to reward myself with some Antiguan black pineapple, which is indigenous to Antigua. The sweet and savory taste of this pineapple has changed the pineapple game for me. I kept thinking, “How can I possibly eat a traditional pineapple after having an Antiguan black?” “Can these be grown in the states?” “Why don’t all pineapples taste this way?” Posing these rhetorical questions wasn’t really going to get me anywhere, so I tried my best to savor the flavor and experience of eating such a delicious treat and I made it my goal to eat the Antiguan black pineapple at least once a day while there.

The cuisine on the island of Antigua is similar to other Caribbean islands, however, Antigua is known for a few special dishes including fungie (made of cornmeal) and saltfish which can be served a variety of ways and is particularly enjoyed during Sunday morning breakfast.

Along my journey in St. John’s, I stopped in at Hemmingway’s for lunch, where I tasted the delicious seafood chowder. The menu has a variety of local dishes and some delicious deserts that are irresistible. Some other spots that I really enjoyed in Antigua are C&C Wine bar, which specializes in South African wine, Australian Homemade ice cream parlor, and Russell’s Bar and Seafood Grill.www.hemingwayantigua.com

After my luxurious stay at Carlisle Bay, I moved to the opposite side of the island to a boutique bed and breakfast called Villas at Sunset Lane, which is located in the hillside above Dickinson Bay. This delightful and beautiful hotel has 10 enchanting rooms and amazing service. The Antiguan born owner, Jackie, is an amazing chef and she prepared all of my meals with the fruits grown on the hotel property and from local vendors who have some of the freshest vegetables and seafood that you can imagine. Although small in size compared to Carlisle Bay, the Villas at Sunset Lane is a warm and charming hotel and the customer service and meals are definitely five star. www.villasatsunsetlane.com

Located north of Antigua is the beautiful remote island of Barbuda with a population of about 1,500. Barbuda is home to pink sand beaches and the Frigate bird sanctuary. I took a luxury catamaran to experience Barbuda’s pink sand and warm turquoise waters and was surprised to see how the sand actually became pink. I took a smaller boat to see the magnificent Frigate birds who migrate between Barbuda and the Galapagos islands. These large seasonally monogamous seabirds have an interesting mating ritual that I got to see in action.

One place not to be missed in Antigua is the longest party on the island which is at Shirley Heights on Sunday afternoons. The view from Shirley Heights is spectacular and on a clear day, you can see the islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat. At Shirley Heights, I enjoyed the music, the food, the drinks and atmosphere. I also ran into the Actor Anthony Mackie and talked to him about his travels and experiences around the world and as a vacationer in Antigua. He loves it there and had perfected the Antiguan accent. I also caught up with the handsome Soca Monarch of Antigua, Tian Winter, whose charisma and popularity made all of the locals heads turn.www.shirleyheightslookout.com

The nightlife in Antigua is enjoyed by both locals and tourists. In my quest to find the spots where the locals hang, I would run into tourists or medical students from all over the world. The caveat here is that the tourists arrive early, and the locals arrive on time, which was after midnight at club Abracadabra. At Abracadabra, the crowd was fun and everyone was in the mood to party, which always makes for a great time. www.theabracadabra.com

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