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CHECK OUT ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: A CARIBBEAN HOT SPOT
 
(2022 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: ANNE DIMON



 

It appears 2022 could be shaping up to be the year of Wellness Travel. As we slowly and safely emerge from the confines of the pandemic, destinations beckoning include those that allow us to 1. Escape to a warmer climate, 2. Rest and relax amidst peaceful surroundings, 3. Embrace and participate in the local culture, and 4. Be inspired by the beauty and serenity that comes from simply being in nature.

Located in the eastern Caribbean, about a four-and-a-half-hour’s flight from Toronto, Antigua & Barbuda is a two-island destination that allows for all of the above.

Here are wellness-inspired themes that this Caribbean country offers travellers motivated by a desire to maintain, promote or kick-start a healthy lifestyle.

Hotels and Resorts Catering to the Wellness-Minded Guest

As important as the geographic destination itself are the local hotels and resorts that welcome and cater to wellness-minded visitors. For instance, if beach and oceanfront are what you crave, you cannot get much closer to shoreline than the upscale all-inclusiveCurtain Bluff. With four championship tennis courts and on-site instructors, the 72-room luxury boutique resort is a big draw for tennis enthusiasts, but there are also fitness options for wellness-minded travellers not so much into tennis. Classes, including yoga, Pilates and aqua aerobics, are offered several timesa week. Squash, basketball and pickleball are also available. curtainbluff.com

On the island of Barbuda, Barbuda Belle is a luxury, eco-friendly boutique hotel, blissfully embraced by peace and quiet. Travellers seeking an out-of-the-way experience will find it at this full-service property located on a secluded beach, a 17-minute flight from Antigua to Barbuda, followed by a 20-minute speedboat ride to the destination. The collection of eight upscale guest bungalows plus a Club House and an on-site restaurant—much of it built of bambooand other natural materials—has a Bali feel.barbudabelle.com

 Nature Beyond the Beach

Yes. The beaches are beautiful but there is so much more beyond the sandy, wave-washed shores. One example is Walling’s Nature Reserve. Part of Antigua’s Green Corridor, the reserve is a community project opened in 2018 that offers guided nature tours as well as walking and hiking trails, ranging between five and 22 kilometres. wallingsnaturereserve.org

Another nature-immersive option is the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. A refuge for the national bird and an easy, guided kayaking excursion off the Barbuda coast, the sanctuary allows travellers to get close to hundreds of these massive birds—some with a wingspan of up to two metres. The best time to experience the Frigate Bird Sanctuary is  November through April when thefrigate birds travel thousands of kilometres from the Galapagos Islands to mate in this Caribbean sanctuary. visitantiguabarbuda.com/destinations/frigate-bird-sanctuary

Fitness in Nature

Beyond hiking in Walling’s Nature Reserve and kayaking to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, fitness activities abound on these two beautiful islands. As just one example, local tour operator Adventurous Hikes and Tours offers various hikes including the three-hour tour to Mount Obama (formerly known as Boggy Peak), the twin island nation’s highest elevation. adventuroushikes.com

Among a number of other fitness activities, the all-inclusive St. James Club, Antigua, offers a 45-minute guided Float Fit Class that incorporates yoga and Pilates poses as you try to maintain balance on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). As the waves and wind gently rock the SUP, it’s definitely not as easy as it looks! stjamesclubantigua.com

Authentic Cultural Experiences

Authentic experiences can include anything that is true and natural to a destination. As with many other destinations, cultural experiences centre on food. When it comes to wellness travel, the concepts of “eating locally” and “farm-to-table” are typically front-and-centre. One farm-to-table experience you won’t want to miss is a visit to Antigua’s Colesome Farmers Market. Located 25 minutes from the capital city of St. John’s, the working farm, farmers market and on-site vegan restaurant are a great spot to explore the hyperlocal harvest plus enjoy some traditional dishes. Another way to “taste the culture” and learn about the Antiguan & Barbudan cuisine is with the Eat ‘n Lime Food Tours offering easy walking food tours through the city of St. John’s. colesomefarmersmarket.com; eatnlimefoodtours.com

Anne Dimon is the Co-Founder and President of the Wellness Tourism Association as well as the Founder/CEO of Travel to Wellness (traveltowellness.com)

Take a local cooking class

If you like to cook or simply like to learn about the local cuisine check out Nicole’s Table, a popular, hands-on cooking class which includes lunch. During the class you can learn how locals—like Chef Nicole and her family—live, plus how to prepare a few traditional dishes. Accommodating small groups of between six and 14 people at one time, classes are themed and include “From the Sea” and “Cooking with Rum.” It’s a fun, engaging experience where you also get to meet other visitors to the island. nicolestable.com

 Tour the island(s) during a workout

One great way to get a workout is to tour the island with Antigua-based Triflexcursion. The company offers hiking, cycling and kayaking and some tours combine all three. Bikes, kayaks, bike helmets and bottled water are all provided, and the company can also customize tours. triflexcursion.com

 

 
 
 
 
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