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Sights, Antigua

Antigua’s sights are simply astounding. Hike up to Mount Obama (the highest point of the Shekerley Mountains), to admire the idyllic sunsets. Or, take a trip down to Nelson’s Dockyard, a superb cultural heritage site with a sparkling marina and vibrant atmosphere. To view more of Antigua’s beautiful coastline, Fig Tree Drive runs across the south, leading through wild rainforests and fishing villages.

Falmouth Harbour

Falmouth Harbour is a horseshoe-shaped bay and natural harbour, located on the far south coast of Antigua, situated along the English Harbour’s main road. This fantastic harbour is close to the eastern end of the Shekerley Mountains, and Monk’s Hill lies immediately to the north, too.

This natural harbour was expressly developed to cater for the more superior yachts and affluent clientele, sitting within a sophisticated, busy, cosmopolitan area. Here, you will find chic bars, restaurants and boutiques – all within walking distance.

Falmouth Harbour is a wonderful sight to visit; if you should tire of watching and admiring the impressive boats, you could take a stroll along to Nelson’s Dockyard, or take a trip on one of the famed pleasure cruises. There are a number of water sports you could try during your time here. Alternatively, if you’re looking to simply kick back and relax, unwind on the fabulous sands of Pigeon Beach nearby.

Fig Tree Drive

Fig Tree Drive runs along Antigua’s southern coast and continues through rainforests, farmlands, and fishing villages. Pass through several tranquil villages of pastel-hued homes and charming churches, then why not stop for a while, chat to the locals, take some photographs or perhaps buy some fresh fruit from one of the roadside vendors?

This area is very attractive and features mango, pineapple and banana (known as figs in Antigua) trees peppering the landscape, along with towering coconut palms. Travellers can also venture to the Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery found along this route for a browse, and perhaps purchase a beautiful piece of art – specially crafted by one of the local artists.

Fort Barrington

Fort Barrington was previously named ‘Goat Hill’, serving as a military defence post as far back as the seventeenth century. Not only did the fort guard St. John’s Harbour, it also served as a signal station, alerting forces throughout the island of impending attacks. Interestingly, it is the only fort in Antigua that saw military action.

Today, the remains of the fort consist of a huge semi-circular gun emplacement, three dungeon-like rooms and a powder magazine. Meanwhile, walk up to the fort (and make sure you wear some sensible shoes beforehand) and overlook Fort Barrington’s mesmerising surroundings, right from the top.

An old whitewashed building behind the fort has steps leading down to Deep Bay, where there are remains of gun installations and the foundations of another large building. Looking down into Deep Bay, you can still see the wreck of the Andes barque, which sank in 1914.

Green Island

Green Island is one of the many small islands off the coast of Antigua, privately owned by the Mill Reef Club. Travellers can only reach Green Island by boat, but not to worry – many charter services from Antigua make frequent visits here.

Image source: Flickr. Copyright Andrew Moore.

This is an undeveloped island with beautiful bays of soft, white sands and aqua blue waters; making it a glorious spot to snorkel in. There is also an abundance of colourful fish swimming just under the surface, and if you’re lucky you may witness turtles gliding past you in the waters.

The beach here has a gorgeous backdrop of lush foliage and beautiful plants, being extremely colourful and picturesque. Why not take a gentle stroll and look out for friendly lizards, hermit crabs and the magnificent Frigate birds hovering in the sky. Or, maybe just sit back, relax and let the world pass you by.

Mount Obama

Mount Obama is the highest point of the Shekerley Mountains and was originally called ‘Bogey Park’, but was officially renamed on August 4th 2009, after the United States President – Barack Obama. Mount Obama is now a beautiful National Park, an important area for soil and water conservation and for the protection of native plant and bird species here.

With sweeping views of the entire island and surrounding sea, Mount Obama has become a popular hiking spot. An interesting trail to follow starts at the Mount Obama Park Monument, taking you through a delightful mango orchard. By following the blue and red markings ribbons attached to the trees, you will venture through the rainforest, past groups of superb giant bamboo and then meander towards the summit, where you can glimpse the adjacent islands of Montserrat and St. Kitts.

Nelson’s Dockyard

Nelson’s Dockyard is a cultural heritage site and marina within English Harbour, located in Saint Paul Parish. This dockyard is still used today as a working dockyard for numerous yachts and ships today, and today has been completely restored to its original glory.

The dockyard offers much to explore and enjoy, including The Dockyard Museum – located in the former Admiral’s House. Here, visitors can peruse the interesting exhibits regarding the Dockyard’s history and current archaeological research on the island. There are also modern-day, gift shops, art galleries and restaurants housed in the renovated, eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings.

There are many superb photograph opportunities, from majestic boats in the dockyard, the wonderful harbour, the historic sites and the amazing views here, so don’t forget to bring your camera.

Prickly Pear Island

Prickly Pear Island is an uninhabited, islet just off the north shore coast of Antigua. This tiny island only measures about 100 metres north to south (and 50 metres east to west); getting its name from the small hill with prickly pear cactus, which overlooks the island.

The waters here are shallow and calm, and the sand is white and powdery and ideal for families, since children can safely and happily play all along the beach. The island is surrounded by coral heads and sponges; making it an ideal place for snorkelling. There is only a limited amount of gear to hire however, so it is advisable to take your own along with you.

Day trips by boat are also readily available to Prickly Pear Island and are extremely popular, so it is advisable to book well in advance. Tropical fish and turtles swim around the coral formations, and beautiful conch shells can be found dotted along the island. If you are looking for peace and tranquillity, and a few hours of complete relaxation, then this is definitely the spot for you during your trip to Antigua.

Shirley Heights

Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout and gun battery, where the buildings have been adapted to house a bar and restaurant; a visit here is certainly a must when staying on the Island of Antigua.

Located within the National Parks, overlooking English and Falmouth Harbours the panoramic view from the lookout is spectacular, especially at sunset and early evening, when all of English Harbour is illuminated.

During the day, the Lookout is a brilliant place to meet up with friends or to visit while exploring the island. Admire the magical views here and perhaps sample a delicious selection of Caribbean food, either outside on the terrace or inside the 18th-century building.

However, Sunday nights are when Shirley Heights really comes alive. Local bands play a mixture of typically Caribbean, Soca, Reggae and Calypso music, along with current and past world-wide hits. Eat, drink and dance the evening away soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the vibrant music, all while partying with locals and tourists alike.

Sightseeing tours

There is a huge choice of tours and excursions on offer on a trip to Antigua. Choose from sailing, motorboat, land tours and yacht charters, to a day spent sport fishing. Each trip will give you a different experience and help you to understand why Antigua is such a popular holiday destination.

Why not join a guided sightseeing tour of the island, visiting some of the best historical sites, including the National Park – which houses Nelson’s Dockyard and the famous English Harbour? Or, explore the Blockhouse Ruins.

If you want something different, why not try flying through the trees of Antigua’s Rainforest on a zip line? Providing a truly amazing and thrilling experience. If you prefer water to the sky, then sailing is likely to be more to your taste, and travellers can try one of the many full or half day sightseeing cruises available here.

Catamaran day trips are another popular choice amongst holidaymakers; offering a fun day out on the water, from swimming to snorkelling on the many splendid reefs of Antigua. Whatever your interests, you should have no trouble finding a sightseeing tour that is just right for you.

St John’s Cathedral

It is definitely worth a visit to the architectural splendour that is St John’s Cathedral (also known as St. John the Divine), an Anglican church which sits high atop a hill in St. John’s. This fine Cathedral has two 70-ft towers at the west end, which are each crowned by an aluminium coloured dome. The south gate showcases two pillars on top, which are figures of St. John the Divine and St. John the Baptist; these gates date back to 1789 and were originally used for the main entrance to the Cathedral.

Today, this historic building still stands, exuding cultural charm. The cathedral features beautiful hardwood fittings, exquisite alters and an amazing brass candelabrum, which has been restored to how it is thought to have originally looked.