Tired of beach life? Here are five must-do things in Antigua!
Antigua is universally recognized as one of the most popular destinations for boaters in the Caribbean. It is enough to look at the island’s attractions to understand that this reputation is well deserved.
In most cases, those who decide to take a holiday in Antigua (by boat or not) do so because they cannot resist the call of its 365 beaches, a disproportionate number, given the size of the island, so much so that someone renamed Antigua the island with a beach for every day of the year.
With such a wide choice, it is impossible not to find the one that is right for you, if quieter and more relaxing like Hawksbill Beach, more suitable for practicing water sports like Jabberwock Beach, or perfect for snorkeling like Galley Bay.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that Antigua is just a beautiful country of beaches and sea with turquoise waters and beach life. This nation has a complex history rich in centuries of foreign domination, a mix of cultures, and peoples from different continents with a long and centuries-old history of struggle for freedom.
Tourist who decides to discover this island a little deeper is enchanted by retracing the deeds of Admiral Nelson in his headquarters, admiring the shipwrecks in the Navy Museum and the waters of Deep Bay, marveling at discovering life in the plantations like Betty’s Hope or the typical atmosphere in the capital, St. John’s.
Whether you spend the day at the beach or in the museum, however, don’t forget to save some energy for the evening: Antigua’s nightlife awaits you in the glittering casinos or at typical parties, such as the one in Shirley Heights. If all this has made you want to set sail for the island of Antigua, here is our list of the 5 must-see attractions:
Located in the beautifully restored English Harbor, in the south of the island, Nelson’s Dockyard is the shipyard that was once the seat of the British fleet during the Napoleonic wars and served as the headquarters of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson from 1784 to 1787.
Today this area offers a long list of attractions, such as restaurants, cafes, and shops. Still, the natural attractions are the Dockyard Museum, where Nelson’s telescope and tea box are displayed, and Dow’s Hill Interpretation Center, where visitors can witness a 15-minute presentation on Antigua’s history and culture.
Millions of years of coral reef formation and the impetuous force of the waves have given rise to the famous Devil’s Bridge, an actual natural limestone arch located in the eastern part of Antigua in the Indian Town area.
Located at the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, this impressive limestone block has been sculpted by the ocean waves that have shaped it into the strange shape of today. This natural wonder leaves tourists impressed.
Considering the always rough sea, it is best not to approach with boats and not to swim near it.
When approaching on foot, it is better to be equipped with suitable shoes as the limestone can become very slippery.
Founded in the mid-17th century and named after the daughter of one of its former owners, Betty’s Hope was one of Antigua’s first and largest sugar plantations. Today its mill, no longer functioning, has become a tourist attraction that remains in the memory of the island’s colonial past and the slavery to which it was linked.
The primary mill has been restored with new shovels and crushing machinery, while most other buildings on the former plantation are still in ruins. Those wishing to learn more about what life was like in the fields over the past centuries can do so by stopping at the former cotton warehouse on site, which is now a visitor center and museum. The latter tells the cruel stories of the over 400 enslaved people forced to work at the mill during its most prosperous years.
Related: Antigua Charter Yacht Show 2021
If you fancy a light trek, put on some comfortable shoes and set off for Shirley Heights from Galleon Beach, English Harbor.
On clear days, the panorama from the summit (located approximately 492 feet above sea level) offers lovely and breathtaking views of the southern island of Guadeloupe and the active Montserrat volcano.
Although getting to the summit is not a demanding hike, it is good to remember that the heat can make the ascent more tiring. For this reason, early morning is undoubtedly the best time to climb.
At the top also awaits the famous Shirley Heights Lookout Restaurant & Bar, where on Sundays, local bands often perform live with Caribbean music.
Recommended: 14 Days Yacht Itinerary in Antigua
Visit the Stingray City
Visiting Stingray City is one of the most exciting experiences you can have during your stay in Antigua.
Located in Mercers Creek Bay, along the east coast of the island, in Stingray City, it is possible to live the unique experience of touching and feeding a breed of the south, according to the locals, the brightest, friendliest and kindest in the Caribbean, very friendly and kind.
Throughout the experience, you will be assisted by expert guides who will take you to meet these beautiful animals in a shallow bay with a sandy bottom and surrounded by coral reefs where the stingrays live, sheltered and peaceful.
Whether you choose to stand or swim, you will have the unique opportunity to touch, feed, and play with the stingrays during your encounter as you learn about these fantastic and endearing animals. After interacting with them, don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel among coral reefs and tropical fish.
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