Cruise to Antigua, named by Christopher Columbus in 1493, and discover 365 Caribbean beaches—one for every day, every type of beach—hidden among the countless cliffs and bays. The lush rainforest, dramatic landscapes, and turquoise waters tempt eco-adventurers from swimmers to hikers to zip-line flyers. Swim and snorkel with gentle stingrays—even feed and pet them—and snorkel the coral reefs that ring the island and teem with life. Take a scenic catamaran sail. Stop at Paradise Reef and peer below the surface of the clear Antiguan waters. Lie on a golden beach and sip a rum punch or enjoy some lobster. Antigua and neighboring Barbuda form an independent country in the British Commonwealth. The English settled here in 1632 and imported slaves to build sugar plantations. They became independent in 1981. The capital and largest city, St. John’s, is one of the more developed and cosmopolitan municipalities in the Lesser Antilles.Antigua’s hotels and resorts serve excellent European cuisine, featuring the fresh catch of the day. Go native and try the local fungi (like polenta, paired with salt fish), callaloo (a popular West African / Caribbean dish), and hearty pepper pot. When it’s time to go shopping, find Caribbean fashions, local crafts, and designer fashions in the duty-free shops of St. John’s. Browse luxurious Heritage Quay or quaint seaside Redcliffe Quay.