Ready to start Christmas shopping? Looking for a mind-blowing present? Forget the latest gadget. Don’t worry about sizes. Definitely skip the crowded mall. The best surprise is the gift of travel. And as you look at the miserable weather report and listen to the wind howling outside, you’ll have a warm, sunny destination to look forward to after the holidays.
Fly to Antigua, a Caribbean island known for its perfect white-sand beaches. This already sounds like paradise, but it isn’t your destination. You’re continuing on to Barbuda, an even smaller and quieter island that’s only 27 miles–or a quick 12-minute flight–away. Christopher Columbus landed here on his second voyage to the Americas, and today, the limestone-based island is known for its long, deserted beaches, free-roaming donkeys, and peaceful simplicity.
You’re heading to Barbuda’s southernmost tip, an area ringed by shipwrecks and coral reefs. Coco Point Lodge is surrounded by soft sand and warm, turquoise water on three sides. The small resort has been owned and run by the same family for more than 50 years, and it’s staffed by native Barbudians. It’s an all-inclusive resort, only in that everything is “no problem,” but don’t expect wrist bands, lukewarm buffets, and herded activities.
Watch the sun rise from your beachside verandah. Search for shells along the two-and-a-half-mile beach. You’ll have it all to yourself. Wade into the waist-deep water, or learn how to windsurf in the trade winds. Pick up a picnic lunch, and bike east to Spanish Point. Visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, where you’ll ride a boat around Codrington Lagoon to see the males’ scarlet throat pouches during mating season. Or go reef fishing, and try to catch pompanos, groupers, and barracudas.
Then take a sunset cruise on the Missa Ferdie. You’ll sail through Cocoa Bay and Gravenor Bay before returning to Coco Point for a Saturday night feast. After an appetizer buffet of stuffed lobster tails, lobster bisque, and wahoo sushi, you’ll barely have room for more grilled seafood, much less the famous coconut layer cake from the bakery.
This has been the perfect place to recover from the stress of the holidays. Maybe next year you should avoid the stress to begin with . . .