The small Caribbean island of Antigua lies near the centre of the Caribbean chain sandwiched between St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Guadeloupe. Once an important station for the British Navy it has many historical and cultural attractions, as well as the natural ones such as beaches, rainforests and reefs. There’s plenty of special offers in Antigua to make the most of, and once there, here’s a list of the most popular attractions in Antigua.
Antigua is home to 365 beaches, one for each day of the year. Some are perfect for lazing on the sugar white sand, others are better for activities including snorkelling and windsurfing or walks and romantic picnics. Some of the best are the five secluded Hawksbill Beaches, quieter than the popular Dickenson Bay, but still with plenty of facilities. They are ideal for swimming or snorkelling on the reefs further out. From here you can also take a boat out the uninhabited Prickly Pear Island.
Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour
Other than its beaches one of the most famous attraction on the island is Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and shadow of British Navy’s influence in Antigua. In the middle stands the restored Georgian naval dockyard once the home of the British fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. The Dockyard Museum is well worth a look to learn about the history of the area.
While the exterior of the island is full of idyllic beaches, old English forts and naval bases, the interior is filled with lush emerald green rainforest, home to many types of birdlife. The best way to see the interior is on a hike or nature trail, of which there are many around the island. Another great way is to go on a rainforest zipline canopy tour over the treetops.
Situated on the island’s northeastern point, Devil’s Bridge sits within one of the island’s four national parks – Indian Town Point. Devil’s Bridge is a natural rock bridge which was created by waves and surf pounding it over centuries and provides a spectacular sight surrounded by blowholes and wild surf. There are many hiking trails nearby, as well as excellent picnic spots. One of the best is to Long Bay, which is also great for snorkelling.
It’s not only the island that has attractions here though as the views under the waves are just as popular. A trip to Antigua can’t be complete without a spot of snorkelling or diving to see them. There are four main types of coral reefs around the island – barrier, bank barrier, patch and fringing, which are home to a vast array of species, from sea turtles to clown and angel fish, manta rays, lobsters and lionfish. The reds, oranges and purples of the coral gardens can be viewed both snorkelling right off the beaches or on an organised scuba trip further out. One of the best places for snorkelling and diving is the Cades Reef on the southwestern part of the island.
*Image Shirley Heigths, Antigua via Shutterstock