Antigua and Barbuda

My husband Ralph and I first visited Antigua before we were married for what we thought was an off-the-grid, romantic escape to Half Moon Bay Resort. Little did we know that six of our good friends visited every year. We immediately ran into them in the lobby and had a good laugh, but what was a bit of shock turned out to be prophetic: Antigua is where I now go to be with family and friends.

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In between shared moments, I find a quiet nook to paint while overlooking a sea of coconut trees, bromeliads and bougainvillea, with the water and mangroves in the distance.

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Every day here is just a dream: You wake up in the morning to sheer beauty and go to bed to the sound of tree frogs, but those are just a few of my favorite things…

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Antigua’s 200 beaches are one of the reasons I fell in love with it. They’re simply stunning and in large part why I make it a point to swim every day, whether in the sea or the pool.

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From spider lilies, hibiscus and jasmine to ginger and birds-of-paradise, Antigua’s flora never ceases to inspire.

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Sunscreen and mosquito repellant are the first things in my suitcase, followed by a good book, like Nelson: Britannia’s God of War by Andrew Lambert. This year, I’ll also pack our Henriette Kaftan in Nonsuch, Camille Dress in Tulum and Emilie Dress in Tulum. It layers equally well over a swimsuit or our Lavinia Dress, taking you from a casual beach day to a romantic evening.

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Watching the sunset at Shirley Heights, an old English Fort, with rum punch and a steel-drum band is a must. If we’re at home, a piña colada on the beach is just perfect.

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We love Cecilia’s High Point Café in St. George and often have our guests meet us there directly from the airport. Its waterfront location and outdoor patio offer a wonderful introduction to island life. Catherine’s Cafe near Falmouth is another favorite.

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The rock formations at Hell’s Gate Island are another stunning sight. They’re so beautiful I had a photo of them as my screensaver for years.

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