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56Isea&iIWINTER 2012Antigua & St BarthsThese two islands in the Leewards' chain are poles apart in style but because their differences perfectly compliment one another they offer the best ofeverything. Begin your cruise from the unpretentious, old-world island of Antigua and spend a few leisurely days acclimatising to the Caribbean pace oflife before progressing through the Leewards' chain and ending your itinerary at the glittering and sophisticated island of St Barths. Antigua Lying at the centre of the Eastern Caribbean chain, Antigua issteeped in maritime history (Admiral Nelson once commandedthe naval dockyard here) and is renowned for being awonderfulplace for fun, socialising and complete relaxation.Miles of gorgeous beaches are its primary attraction (there are365 of them), but Antigua's colonial past also places it in poleposition on the Caribbean cruising map as it has manyhistorical sights.Essential viewing during a visit includes English Harbour andNelson's Dockyard - the latter being the most impressive man-made site in the Caribbean. Once the home to the British RoyalNavy under Nelson's command, this cultural hot spot is a lastingsymbol of England's powerful navy, and the Colonial navalbuildings still remain intact. Above English Harbour, the oldfortifications of Shirley Heights are also worth a visit, especiallyfor the Jump Up on Sundays when the Lookout Bar serves rumpunch accompanied by lively reggae. Other sites to prioritise during a few days on Antiguainclude Betty's Hope (the site of Antigua's first sugarplantation), and Fort James, which still has a full complementof cannons that, in their heyday, used to shoot across the bowsof passing vessels that hadn't paid the customary 18 shillingsto the fort's captain.Save time, also, for the amazing beaches, the best of whichare considered to be Half Moon Bay on the east coast andDickenson Bay in the northwest. Both are long stretches ofsparsely populated white sand. The island's verdant interior

of the season the island buzzes and hip venues overflow withsparkling celebrities from Hollywood and Manhattan, all ofwhom head straight for the unfailingly cool places, such as theIsle de France hotel, the beachside Sand Bar at Eden Rock, orLe Select in the island's capital of Gustavia. There are two ways to arrive in St Barths, and both are equallyglamorous. You can sail in on your yacht from another island andwatch as the tiny dot on the horizon gradually looms larger as red-roofed houses and green hills zoom into view. Alternatively, youcan opt for a nerve-racking but exhilarating flight. The airportrunway is tucked behind a hill and is the second shortest in theworld - the shortest being that on the nearby island of Saba. Asyou come in to land, the small plane glides over the hilltops atgrass-skimming level, then suddenly drops to the runway over-looking the island's most popular beach of St Jean. St Barths has a stretch of sand for every mood and taste: pristineGrande Saline for nature lovers and naturists; Toni for surfers;hip St Jean for glamour; Flamands for a silent stroll at sunset;Lorient or Shell Beach for a dozy Sunday with the family; andGrand Cul de Sac for gentle water sports. The capital, Gustavia, resembles a mini Bond Street or FifthAvenue, with high-end boutiques including Louis Vuitton?aboardashoreWINTER 2012I sea&iI57Opposite page:cruiseinto Antigua and strollashore for historic sights and fun bars Above: with so manybeaches in the Leewards,you're sure to find adeserted spot on whichto throw down a towelalso has much to offer guests, not least of which is a nail-biting,zip-wire ride through the rainforest. The surrounding underwater world is worth exploring. Snorkelamong the neon-striped fish along the lengthy Paradise Reef offDickenson Bay, or dive into the underwater park at Cades Reef.You can also discover Antigua's Pillars of Hercules, a group ofcoral columns resembling an ancient Greek temple. Antigua is not known for its dining but the island does have afew culinary surprises. The open-air restaurant at Harmony Hallin Brown Bay serves fresh seafood dishes, while the AntiguaYacht Club Marina down in Falmouth Harbour favours an Italian-style menu. Carlisle Bay has two restaurants to choose from -East for Japanese, Thai, Indian and Vietnamese, and Indigo on theBeach for alfresco dining. The bay itself is one of the prettiestanchorages on the island. St Barths With its white, sandy beaches, opulent resorts and fabulousFrench cuisine, St Barths has the scenic beauty of a tropical idyllwrapped up in the glossy lifestyle of St Tropez. A tranquil retreat for much of the year, it comes alive duringthe holiday months when the jet set descend. During the heightST. MARTINANGUILLAANTIGUAST. KITTSNEVISBARBUDASABAST. EUSTATIUSST. BARTHELEMYGOAT ISLANDGustaviaPhilipsburgTINTAMARRE ISLAND SEAL ISLAND REEFSCRUB ISLANDMarigot BayBasse TerreThe NarrowsSt-Johns