Wooden Cottages on Bluffs Overlooking Caribbean Sea
The aerial view of Cocos Hotel Antigua is pretty jaw-dropping—a palm-covered cliff towers over the beach, and 26 wooden cottages poke out among the lush foliage. But the views from the cottages are even more impressive: from the private balcony, you can see the ocean stretch for miles.
Though the premium sea-view cottages have a full view of the ocean, the premium-plus cottages have the very best vistas. They sit highest on the hill, so you can enjoy unobstructed views of the Caribbean from the balcony, which is outfitted with adirondack chairs and a personal hammock. A hilly path leads from the cottages down to the infinity pool and beaches that flank both sides of the peninsula. The hotel's small layout means employees can devote attention to the little things: staffers restock in-room fridges daily with drinks of your choice, and the beach bartender sees to it that you have a cold drink in hand while lounging beachside.
You can freshen up after the beach in your own outdoor shower and dismiss any lingering tension with a spa service at the Serenity Cottage. At the onsite restaurant, Cocos's chef prepares a mix of international cuisine three times daily beneath the vaulted ceilings of the open-air dining room. Though the menu borrows from diverse culinary traditions, you'll find a strong Caribbean influence in almost every dish, from fresh-caught-seafood entrees to the coconut crème brûlée.
Colonial History Blended with Laid-Back Island Charm
On Antigua, the largest of the British Leeward Islands, you can visit a different beach every day of the year—the island has 365 of them. Some were named by Frommer's as the Caribbean's best. Celebrities such as Oprah, Eric Clapton, and Giorgio Armani have been drawn to the powder-soft sands here, building sprawling estates amid the thatched-roofed bungalows. In the northwest, Dickenson Bay is a popular destination with something for every type of beach-goer: umbrellas and loungers, glass-bottom-boat tours, and fast-paced watersports. There's an equally lovely landscape beneath the waves—just offshore, Cades Reef, a 32-foot-deep (10 m) barrier reef, shelters barracuda, eels, eagle rays, and nurse sharks.
Like other isles of the British West Indies, Antigua retains a lot of English culture from its days as a colony, including a pervasive love of cricket and traditional afternoon teatime. You can see a lot of the island's colonial roots in its capital city, St. John's, where Fort Barrington served as an important military defense post for the British Royal Navy as far back as 1652. Today, the stronghold still boasts a powder magazine and gun platform alongside some of the most panoramic views in the Caribbean.
The island's distinct culture also shines through in its cuisine, which includes conch fritters and cornmeal fungie, a dish similar to polenta. Sample local flavors at St. John's Saturday-morning market, which bustles with vendors selling pineapple, breadfruit, and tamarind. Next door, a smaller market showcases crafts, jewelry, and parrots selling summer's hottest feather extensions.
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