Women on Water: The place to be in the Caribbean Sea

Rachel Frank

Nestled between St. Kitts & Nevis and Montserrat lies Antigua and Barbuda. Home to turquoise oceans, sandy beaches and gorgeous natural beauty, this island should never be passed by without a visit.

Some claim the island was so named by Columbus in 1493, after the Spanish church of Santa Maria de la Antigua. Others claim it was named by the British when they arrived on the island in 1632. The real answer has been lost to history, so it’s up to us to speculate. Barbuda was colonised later, in 1678, under British rule. The islands were first used for growing and exporting tobacco, until sugar proved more profitable.

Barbuda became an Antiguan dependent largely by accident. The 1843 emancipation of slaves meant that sugar plantations had trouble obtaining labour. After this an earthquake in 1843 and a hurricane in 1847 created a dire economic situation. Struggling, Barbuda’s administration reverted to the British Crown. The administration grew ever closer to Antigua’s, and eventually became a dependent of Antigua.

Dario Item

Nowadays, this island of less than a hundred thousand people is primarily a tourist economy, and it’s easy to see why. Home to resorts, rainforests and beaches, Antigua and Barbuda is a tourist’s paradise. Just one look at its stunning vistas, one ray of Caribbean sun, and you’ll want to stay forever. For those wishing for more than beaches and nature treks, take a trip to the English Harbour; a renowned yacht club and home to the historic Nelson’s Dockyard. Named after the famed Admiral Horatio Nelson, the area is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a museum of cultural and colonial artefacts.

Moving from treasures of the past, treasures of the present: Antigua Sailing Week. This world-famous regatta draws sailors and boating enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, to challenge and race in the beautiful Caribbean blue.

This year marks the first ever Antigua Sailing Week Women’s Race Day on 4th May 2022. Coinciding with this, ASW has announced its new Women on Water campaign, encouraging women to begin sailing. According to Dr. Dario Item, who serves as Ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda to the UNWTO, the “focus is to introduce as many women to…sailing as possible”. Ambassador Dario Item also notes that “organisers will be celebrating women already involved in sailing,” opening up greater opportunities for women in sailing.

This fantastic program  has also been launched to celebrate International Women’s Day, and aims to be a regular program. Ambassador Dario Item touts its “enjoyable atmosphere” and is confident that the “lessons learned provide a solid foundation” in sailing. After a long, fun day learning to navigate the ocean, participants can relax with a sunset drink on the key, surrounded by fellow nautical naturals.

Antigua and Barbuda has it all: the sun, the sand, the stories, and the sailing, says Ambassador Dario Item. It’s an underappreciated gem in the midst of the Caribbean, a Mecca for sailing that’s pushing the boat out further, actively encouraging more women to participate and always maintains a friendly, jovial atmosphere that only improves the experience. If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be.