Why You Should Escape New York For Antigua & Barbuda
New York Why You Should Escape New York For Antigua & Barbuda By Emma Diab Let’s take the most stressed out city in the nation and pit it against an island paradise. Sounds fair, right? We've put images of the less pleasant aspects of daily NYC life against images that spell out why exactly you should get to Antigua & Barbuda, especially now that you can fly there nonstop with JetBlue. We even spoke to some experts from Uncommon Caribbean to get you the most up-to-date recommendations, from out-of-the-way local food shacks to ritzy beachside cafes. By Emma Diab
New York Why You Should Escape New York For Antigua & Barbuda Let’s take the most stressed out city in the nation and pit it against an island paradise. Sounds fair, right? We've put images of the less pleasant aspects of daily NYC life against images that spell out why exactly you should get to Antigua & Barbuda, especially now that you can fly there nonstop with JetBlue. We even spoke to some experts from Uncommon Caribbean to get you the most up-to-date recommendations, from out-of-the-way local food shacks to ritzy beachside cafes.
Way Better Than: Packing into the 7 train in Long Island City
When you’re swimming off the coast of St. Phillip, you’ll be chilling with hilariously adorable stingrays who pretty much flap around like needy sea-pancakes. This spot is also perfect for snorkeling through the coral reefs to meet underwater locals like the Queen Angelfish and the Stoplight Parrotfish. Bonus: you won’t get a ticket if you speed by the latter. Continue Reading
Way Better Than: Windsurfing in the Hudson River
In Dickensen Bay, the Caribbean breeze will carry you for a more fulfilling ride than a turn on the Hudson ever could. Once you’re done, lay in the hot sand or take a glass-bottom boat tour and check the reefs below your feet.
Way Better Than: Trying to find blanket space at Coney Island
A boardwalk ‘dog at Nathan’s may be a quintessential NYC moment, but stop in at OJ’s to see what that translates to in Antigua. This beachfront bar is decorated with salvaged flotsam and the tables are right in the sand. The food -- fare such as seafood pasta and grilled red snapper -- is plate-scraping good, and show up on the weekend for live jazz.
Way Better Than: Trying to navigate any of New York's treacherous waterways
Antigua’s got tropically pleasant kayaking pretty much all over. NYC’s East River is facing some tough competition. This three-and-a-half hour kayaking adventure gets you paddling past sleepy-eyed turtles and nesting pelicans. You’ll snorkel through sunken caves before getting dropped off at the organizers’ home, where there will be banana bread made from the fruits of their own garden. Talk about hospitality.
Way Better Than: Being stuck in traffic
Cruising with the windows down rocks anywhere -- except maybe on Queens Blvd where there seems to be a 15-minute red light on every street. But Fig Tree Drive is the type of driving your car aspires to. The road winds through the rainforest, air thick with mangoes, pineapples, and bananas -- which is what the Drive is named for, as "fig" means "banana" in Antiguan. Be sure to load up your trunk with seasonal favorites and jams when you pass through tiny towns.
Way Better Than: Crowding into your old college buddy’s thimble-sized East Village apartment.
Partying in New York City is all types of fun, but the Lookout Party is perfectly Antigua and it can’t be replicated anywhere else. This former British military complex-turned-restaurant is situated on a hill where you can watch the sky change colors over the whole of English Harbour. Pair vibes with Antigua’s flagship beer, Wadadli, and Shirley’s mean barbecue staples.
Way Better Than: Missing the start of a Yankees game because the subway was too crowded.
Cricket is the biggest sport in the West Indies and has reached near religious levels of participation in Antigua & Barbuda. You might be lucky enough to sit in on an international match at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, or just run into a friendly game in a park or on the beachfront.
Way Better than: Braving the crowds of Times Square.
Certain spots are beacons for travelers, but that does not mean they’re worth it. Jacqui O’s Beach House is totally worth it -- beckoning locals and tourists alike into this ritzy restaurant that specializes in modern French cuisine crafted with seasonal produce from the island. Sample their pineapple gazpacho, curried mussels, and if you have room, maybe some mango tiramisu for dessert.
Way better than: Watching the beauty of NY snow turn into grey slush.
This beach evokes the same feelings one has while staring out at Central Park blanketed with fresh snow, before its four-minute lifespan ends and it turns into muck. Miles of pink sand with not a footprint in sight and as quiet as the DMV on Black Friday (seriously!), this shoreline needs to be experienced to be understood. Its famous pink sand isn’t a trick of the light, it’s due to a single-celled marine organism called red foraminifera. Science!
Way Better Than: Being fooled by the many “authentic” slice places across the city. Will the real Ray’s Pizza please stand up?
It turns out material happiness does exist, and it can be found in the styrofoam container you’ll get from Carvell’s, filled with heaping mounds of food -- baked chicken and fried red snapper and curried conch and rice. The food is dished out until only 3pm, so load up for a tropical lunch al-fresco.
Way Better Than: The punch at an East Village house party.
Welcome to Papa Zouk’s, a cobbled-together shack renowned for its extensive roster of that distilled-sugarcane goodness. If you dare, try and sip on the "Fire Rum", the owner’s own special recipe of different rums that survived when a fire burned down the original Papa Zouk's. The words “But why is the rum gone?” will never fall from your lips, even in jest.
Way Better Than: Waiting in line to get into the latest hot spot.
Turner’s Beach Bar is a right-on-the-shore beach shack where the locals outnumber the tourists, but everybody gets along -- think of a summertime-at-the-Rockaways kind of vibe, but with more rum. Their rum punch is especially strong and the food is made-to-order so your curry goat or chicken roti will be made fresh and bulging with a generous portion of spicy goodness. (Or go with what you know and have one of their burgers instead.)
Way Better Than: The anxiety of not knowing the name of your breakfast cart guy three years into your relationship. (It’s just been too long to ask, okay?!)
Don’t worry about awkward introductions -- Buba’s joint will make you feel like family, especially as his own family lives onsite. All the ingredients are grown in the family’s large garden and there’s no set menu. While you'll definitely be eating local Caribbean fare -- things like salt fish, seasoned rice, baked chicken, eggplant, and plantains, it depends on what they have cooking for the day.
Way Better Than: NYC garbage day.
Come for the food and ambiance, stay for Cecilia herself, a Swedish ex-model who glides through her eponymous cafe to personally greet her guests. Dine on selections like a starter of fresh clams gratinee, an entree of lobster catalana tossed with sweet onion, and one of the ever-changing sorbet flavors for dessert. This cafe is all wicker-chairs and elements of breezy blues and whites coupled with fresh sea air -- garbage day is far, far, behind you.
Way Better Than: Reading the memorial plaque of a steamboat fire in Astoria Park
Depressing history aside, Astoria’s Hell Gate Bridge is good enough for a #nofilter during golden hour, but turn to Antigua’s Hell’s Gate for a natural-made phenomenon. The only way to get close enough is swim to it, and once you reach the rocky outcrop, put on your best Spiderman face and climb to the top for a vista only the Caribbean could offer (take that Manhattanhenge).