Tens of thousands of vacationers flock to Antigua each year. Like many Caribbean islands, a wealth of activities awaits, from diving to dining, as well as an active nightlife. While some may hear about BarbudaÂ—AntiguaÂ’s sister island 24 miles to the northÂ—few choose to make the trip, especially when they hear the population barely scratches 1,500.
But if youÂ’re in the mood for a seclusion that is rare in this world, the modern and luxurious Lighthouse Bay Resort on Barbuda is definitely worth a visit. The tone is set when you board a private helicopter at the airport in Antigua for the short jaunt to the resortÂ’s helipad. With only nine guestrooms situated on a narrow spit of land flanked by a turquoise ocean on one side and a restive lagoon on the other, Lighthouse Bay is one of the CaribbeanÂ’s smallest resorts and the supreme getaway.
If you need a break from lying on the beachÂ—the primary activity hereÂ—there are several options. If youÂ’re in the mood to go horseback riding in the surf, the resort will bring a few steeds over from the mainland by barge. Or if youÂ’d prefer, catch a motorboat for the short trip over to the main village and explore this country that is truly stuck in time, where chickens, donkeys, and goats wander the streets and townspeople are friendly and eager to show you around.
The rooms are designed with an understated Caribbean elegance with top-of-the-line appliances and marble baths and showers. The cuisine emphasizes fresh seafood and vegetables cultivated nearby, as well as venison; on Barbuda, the deer run wild. 888-214-8552, lighthousebayresort.com Â—Lisa Rogak
Jukebox Heroes For a taste of BarbudaÂ’s nightlife, head for ItÂ’s A Bit Fishy, a restaurant and nightclub where late-night karaoke standoffs between locals and visitors are the stuff of legends. 262-772-3525, itsabitfishy.com.
Carnival In late May, the annual five-day Barbuda Caribana starts, which includes a beauty pageant, car show, horse race, and a variety of musical acts and impromptu parades wandering through the streets. barbudaful.net.
Hot Under the Collar Visit the impressive Frigate Bird Sanctuary about 10 minutes away by boat. In the mating season of late fall, the male proudly struts his puffed-out red throat pouch in order to attract the females that soar overhead. barbudaful.net
Three more must-stay resorts
Hermitage Bay With just 25 luxury cottage suites set into a hillside of tropical gardens overlooking turquoise waters plus a staff that caters to your every whim, this Caribbean dream destination makes it hard not to relax. 268-562-8080, hermitagebay.com.
Carlisle Bay Two restaurants, three bars, a spa, and spectacular views complement the 82 contemporary luxury suites at this secluded waterfront resort. Each room also features individually controlled air conditioning. 866-502-2855, carlisle-bay.com.
Jumby Bay Set on a 300-acre private island (no cars allowed) two miles off the coast of Antigua, this Rosewood resort gives you secluded access to three white sand beaches and an array of wildlife. 268-462-6000, jumbybayresort.com.