When Columbus landed in Antigua in 1493, he may have wished for a travel guide to tell him about the 365 beaches that make up the island's coastline. Modern explorers now have many ways to discover Antigua's beaches, hotels, restaurants, and adventures.
A great starting point and primary tool for your research about Antigua should be the vast and seemingly endless Internet. More and more, information that could once only be found in print or through difficult research is becoming readily available on the Internet. This site aims to provide you with the most comprehensive collection of information about visiting and staying in Antigua, and is a great way to begin your search. Also consider spending time browsing through the helpful Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Web site and the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association Web site. These sites provide helpful tips and specific pieces of information about Antigua. The Caribbean Tourism Organization is another available contact and resource. Internet search engines such as Google will allow you to expand your search should you need more information after going through these sites.
Many travelers will already be familiar with Web sites for Internet vendors who provide information and service for such things as flights, hotels, cruises, and other services. These sites allow users to search and access large amounts of information in an orderly format. Even if you are not prepared to book a flight or reserve a room, these sites can give you specifics about the kinds of options that are available. Travelers on all kinds of budgets will find that Internet vendors are helpful databases of information.
While most travel information can now be found on the Internet, some people still prefer to consult the travel section of their local bookstore. Books are still great sources of information for travel planning. A good place to start is with general Caribbean travel guides. These books will give you general information about seasons, weather, and other concerns while traveling in the greater Caribbean and British Leeward Island regions. After consulting these general guides, look for guidebooks dealing exclusively with Antigua and Barbuda. But before diving headlong into any particular guide, browse through each to get a sense of the kind of vacationer it caters to. Guides present different information in different ways. A guide that seems to focus on individual travelers who seek outdoor adventure would not be a suitable guide for families with small children. Use the type of information that a guide presents to judge whether it will be useful in planning your vacation. Finding a guide that caters to your style of vacation can prove invaluable in your research.
Before leaving the bookstore, take a moment to stop by the magazine rack to check on any periodicals that focus on travel and/or the Caribbean. While articles in these publications may not always directly address Antigua, they will often have features that can be useful in thinking about your vacation. Magazines with online content may also have a searchable archive of their articles, where you can search for particular pieces of information.
Once back on the Internet, there are several more resources to consult that may prove useful in your search. The Internet can act as a phone book: indexed directories of businesses and vendors are especially useful in finding information on smaller or locally-owned operations on an island. Directories will generally provide phone numbers, mailing addresses, and Web site links for businesses that have their own sites. These directories can help to give you an idea of the sort of businesses and services you can expect to find in Antigua.
Once you have found particular hotels, rental companies, areas, or restaurants that interest you, Internet message and bulletin boards can provide valuable insight concerning the particulars. Interested in taking a day ferry to Pigeon Island, read what others have to say about the experience and service. Or if you are researching an all-inclusive resort, find satisfaction ratings from guests who have stayed there. In addition to allowing you to read about other people's experiences in Antigua, these boards allow you to post questions to gather more information or clarify a specific area of interest. Keep in mind that you never know who you are communicating with online. Never disclose personal information to another bulletin board user either online or through an email message. Also keep in mind that the information on such boards is not official. Nonetheless, these boards can be good resources when it comes time to making decisions for your vacation.
If you are still looking for firsthand accounts, there is no better place to turn then friends, family, or coworkers who have traveled to the island. These sources are valuable because they offer trustworthy and honest information regarding Antigua. A friend will never hesitate to tell you about a bad experience at a restaurant, or to tip you off to a lovely deserted beach. Learning what made or ruined the vacations of others can help you make the most of your own.
All in all, there are many ways to research the Caribbean and Antigua. Each offers different kinds of information in different ways, and uncovering that information should not be tiresome or boring. Find resources that get you excited about the possibilities of visiting Antigua.
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