Antigua and Barbuda
Hidden Treasures Waiting to Be Discovered
Rent a jeep or take an organized sightseeing tour to discover a fascinating side of Antigua and Barbuda. For the more adventurous, bicycles can also be rented to explore Antigua’s hidden treasures. Or hop aboard a local bus to see parts of the island that most visitors miss.
Tours to Barbuda can be arranged in Antigua at various hotels and resorts. Barbuda is a short 15-minute plane ride from Antigua.
This historic 18th century dockyard offers an impressive example of Georgian architecture. The site is named after Lord Horatio Nelson, the British naval hero who arrived in Antigua in 1784 at the age of 26 and stayed for three years. The dockyard has been carefully restored and is now a national park. Today, it’s also home to boutiques, charming outdoor restaurants, a museum, and one of the major yacht marinas and chartering centers in the eastern Caribbean.
Shirley Heights Lookout
From this vantage point, a breathtaking view of most of the south coast of Antigua can be seen including Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. Shirley Heights is the site of Fort Shirley, which was constructed in 1781 to protect English Harbour from enemy ships. Visitors can meander through the ruins of the ancient fort, which was named after Sir Thomas Shirley, one of Antigua’s early governors. There’s a restaurant located at the Lookout where weekly open air musical concerts and barbecues are held.
Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre
One of the newest attractions on Antigua, this centre presents an exciting multimedia presentation of six different periods of Antigua’s history. The complex, developed in 1992 with the assistance of the Canadian government, also features a belvedere with a 360 degree panoramic view of Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. The ruins of the 18th century residence of First Clerk Archibald Dow are also located here.
The erosion of soft and hard limestone ledges has created a phenomenon of nature. Located on the north east shore of Antigua, Devil’s Bridge is a natural arch carved by the constant pounding action of the Atlantic over hundreds of years.
Fig Tree Drive
Tropical foliage and lush vegetation are a feast for the eyes on this picturesque drive through the island’s rain forest. Majestic palm trees border a narrow inland road that winds itself almost to the centre of the island near the village of Swetes. The road passes a number of sugar mills and many of Antigua’s finest old churches.
Betty’s Hope sugar plantation was established in 1674 by Christopher Codrington who named the estate for his daughter. Fully restored and opened to the public in 1995, the plantation features the only fully operational wind-powered sugar mill in the Caribbean.
St. John’s Anglican Cathedral
Located in St. John’s, the historic cathedral’s twin spires dominate the capital’s landscape. The original wooden structure was built in 1681 and then replaced in 1722. An earthquake in 1843 destroyed the church and construction of the present stone building was started later that year. The interior of the cathedral is made from pitch pine to protect it against hurricanes or earthquakes.
Antigua and Barbuda Museum
Built in 1748 from local stone, this building served for several hundred years as the Court House and is the oldest building in St. John’s. The museum offers visitors a glimpse of Antigua’s and Barbuda’s rich history. A recently added gift shop has a magnificent collection of color prints and etchings of 18th and 19th century Antigua and Barbuda.
A leisurely stroll through the nation’s capital provides a look at the old and the new. St. John’s is one of the oldest trading ports in the eastern Caribbean and several time-worn buildings, still in good condition, are well worth a visit. A modern shopping complex is located at Redcliffe Quay, an historic structure which has been restored to its original splendor. The open air market bustles with activity as local residents come to shop for fresh fruit and vegetables from an abundance of tropical market fare.
Located on the east coast of Antigua overlooking beautiful Nonsuch Bay, Harmony Hall is a grand plantation home dating back to 1843. Today, Harmony Hall has found new life as a restaurant/bar and an art gallery with paintings, sculptures and crafts from local artists. A craft fair is held each year in November.
On the south coast of Barbuda, this 56-foot tall tower offers a splendid view of most of the island.
Frigate Bird Sanctuary
Located on the northwest corner of the island of Barbuda, this bird sanctuary is one of the largest in the world. Over 170 species of birds can be found here, including pelicans, ibis, herons, kingfishers, tropical mockingbirds, oyster catchers and cormorants. Many birders come to see rare frigate birds which nest here. A fascinating bird, the frigate has an eight-foot wing span yet only weighs three pounds. The male courts the female by inflating his scarlet neck pouch.
In the highlands of Barbuda, about 143 feet above sea level, a cave winds its way underground for a mile. Ancient petroglyphs carved by Arawak Indians can be seen among the stalagmites and stalactites.