8 Ways to Experience History and Beauty in Antigua
Be Enveloped in the Heart of the Caribbean
Nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, the beautiful island of Antigua attracts visitors from around the world looking for a slice of paradise. A former British colony, the island has an abundance of history in addition to its spectacular natural beauty.
Visit former sugar plantations, forts and navy shipyards, or engage in exciting water sports or eco-tourism among the beaches and rainforests. Despite the impact of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Antigua has fully recovered and even saw an increase in tourism by nearly 13% in 2018. So whether you arrive by cruise ship, plane or yacht, these are the best things to do in Antigua.
Used in the 18th century by the British Royal Navy, Nelson’s Dockyard is the largest of Antigua’s national parks and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. Many of the original buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries still stand, restored to their former glory.
You can even watch ships and yachts come to shore as Nelson’s Dockyard is a fully functioning, modern port. An on-site museum showcases the dockyard’s historical and archaeological significance in the Caribbean and is also surrounded by a myriad of shops, hotels, bars and restaurants to enjoy, in addition to historic forts and plenty of hiking trails to explore.
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Considered one of the top things to do in Antigua, Stingray City has a variety of hands-on experiences with stingrays. After a short boat ride from the tour company’s base of operations onshore, you’ll get to stand in a shallow pool surrounded by stingrays where you can feed, pet and swim with them in the tropical waters.
Surrounded by coral reefs and a variety of tropical fish, you can also snorkel the area and observe the stingrays swimming in their natural habitats. Snorkel City tours also include complimentary rum or fruit punch and the ability to purchase pictures of your adventure to take home with you.
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At the eastern tip of Antigua, a natural rock formation that was shaped by the ocean over thousands of years has evolved into a local tourist attraction. The natural arch, nicknamed Devil’s Bridge, supposedly got its name from an old myth about slaves throwing themselves into the ocean from it.
As the rumor spread, locals believed it must have been the work of the Devil to have so many lives lost in the same spot. Regardless of whether or not the legend is true, Devil’s Bridge still fosters a sense of awe and reverence.
The open ocean lies on one side — as the tide brings in new water and as waves crash against the rocks, a large opening in the top of the formation acts as a powerful blowhole, spraying water many feet into the air.
It’s impressive to look at, but proceed with caution if you decide to try and walk across it. Centuries of salt water have made it extremely slippery, and high winds may make it dangerous to attempt.