The hypnotic rhythms of the steel-drum band are mesmerizing and suddenly, I’m swaying to the music. The aroma of island Barbecue floating in the air is intoxicating. And, with a Rum Punch in one hand and a dish of marinated local watermelon and seared yellow-fin tuna steak in the other, I squeeze onto a bench at a picnic table and gaze out at the sea and sky. Now, embraced by the warmth and the mood, I know that my vacation has begun.
The twin-island experience of Antigua and its quieter sibling, Barbuda, lure adventurers with their seductive tastes that blend West African, Caribbean and Spanish and British influences with locally-sourced seafood and exotic fruits and vegetables. This is a unique emerging cuisine. The local farm-to-table dining is elevated, not only by romantic and adventurous settings from beaches to cliffs, but also by the focus on quality ingredients attracting chefs from around the world.
Restaurant Week (May 4-19, 2024) is an annual culinary extravaganza. It celebrates diverse and delicious flavours by bringing together local and international celebrity chefs to collaborate on showcasing the rich culinary heritage of Antigua and Barbuda cuisine. They prepare everything from traditional Caribbean classics like Fungee, Pepperpot, and Ducana to local twists on international dishes. Participating restaurants throughout the destination will be offering inspired dishes at gentler prix fixe prices, making the flavours of the islands even more accessible.
Sheer Rocks is a divine restaurant and inn. It’s airy bougainvillea-draped dining room leads to a terraced patio on a cliffside, protruding over the rocks and the sea. As far as the eye can see, there is bright blue sea and sky. A selection of exuberantly flavoured tapas dishes includes light tempura pumpkin flowers with lemon ricotta, and silky tuna carpaccio perfumed with pink peppercorns, followed by meaty hickory-smoked grouper and pillow-y lobster ravioli with plump lobster tempura drizzled with turmeric dressing. Seasonal menus of handpicked ingredients and spices are unparalleled. The Fox House Restaurant and Bar exudes a relaxing and cozy ambience with its gentle sea breeze and open garden, and built-in fire pits. Grilled lobster, creole seafood pots infused with lemongrass, and conch fritters are paired with exotic signature cocktails and local beers, as well as Antigua’s renowned locally produced rum.
Barbuda has one of the longest beaches in the Caribbean, and is rife with coastal caves that are hiding places for undisturbed indigenous petroglyphs. At Wa’Omoni Bestaurant (Yes, with a “B”!) in Codrington, the selection of char broiled burgers includes conch, lobster and venison burgers. With the opening of Nobu, Barbuda has also become a Caribbean sushi haven. Peruvian-Japanese fusion includes wagyu anticucho, conch and spiny lobster sushi, and robata-style grilled seafood. This caps a lobster experience in which you swim out to lobster traps, select your own Barbuda spiny lobster, and have it prepared by the chef in a multi course feast on the beach.
Between enjoying local flavours, we pass through charming coastal towns and stare in awe at UNESCO heritage sites. And it’s all encircled by 365 beaches of sun-kissed sand and resplendent teeming coral reefs for diving and boating like nowhere else in the world.
The Antigua Yacht Club Round the Race Island Tour ( Jan 20, 2024,) is an annual sailing event held in Antigua and Barbuda that attracts a diverse fleet of yachts and sailors from around the world to its challenging and scenic course. Jolly Harbour Valentine’s Regatta (February 9 – 11) is known for its festive and romantic atmosphere that features various race classes, social events, and vibrant parties. The Antigua 360° Race wraps around Antigua and Barbuda, offering sailors a full circumnavigation of the islands. 13th Superyacht Challenge in Antigua (March 13 – 17), is a prestigious and competitive sailing regatta exclusively for superyachts, known for its thrilling racing and luxurious atmosphere.
For more information on wellness and wellbeing, romance of the sea and sun, exotic cuisine and adventure in Antigua and Barbuda visit: www.visitantiguabarbuda.com
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Publisher of DINE and Destinations magazine.