The ultimate guide to Antigua

Is there anyone who doesn’t dream of visiting the Caribbean someday? I doubt it! One of the islands that’s caught my eye recently and is definitely on my travel wish list is Antigua. If you’re trying to pick where exactly to head to on your next holiday to the Caribbean – and I’m very envious if you are – read on to learn all about the joys of sunny Antigua.
The ultimate guide to Antigua

Antigua – brief facts and history

Let’s start with the basics. Antigua is one of the best-loved Caribbean islands, and is particularly famous for its beaches, stunning coral reefs and rich history. One of the things that appeals most to me about this island is the mix of things to do and see – I love the fact that, while it’s every inch the sunny paradise you’d expect, there’s far more to it than just nice stretches of sand.

It got its name back in 1493, when Christopher Columbus sailed past and decided to call it Antigua (reportedly after Santa Maria de la Antigua of Seville). However, the island had already been populated for around 3,000 years.

In the 17th century, it became an important centre for the sugar trade – so much so that around 150 plantations sprang up in just 60 years. So, for a long time, the island very much relied on sugar. These days, tourism is at the centre of its economy.

It wasn’t until 1981 that the nation of Antigua and Barbuda officially declared their independent status, so much of its colonial history isn’t too far in the past. Enough about its history, though – let’s look at what it has to offer holidaymakers today!

A beach for every day

Antigua’s most famous characteristic is its number of beaches – 365. Quite literally, there is one for every day of the year. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that, does it?

I think it’s fairly safe to say that pretty much every beach here is gorgeous, but that doesn’t mean there’s no variety. There’s scope to find stretches of sand lively and secluded alike, as well as family-friendly, which really gives the island a wide appeal.

Obviously, it’d be crazy to try to list them all here, but here are some that stand out:

• Long Bay: protected by its reef, this beach is ideal for families.
• Runaway Bay and Dickenson Bay: these are two of the island’s liveliest beaches, so if you’re looking for a great atmosphere and plenty of people, these are always a safe bet.
• Rendezvous Bay: this quiet beach is the perfect spot for relaxing away from the crowds.

Top sights

You’ll find a lot of the island’s top sights in and around the fantastic capital, St John’s. Here are some of the best:

• English Harbor: this is the island’s most historic area, and it encompasses the fab Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. Dating back to the 18th century, this dockyard was a base for the British Navy and is the only Georgian dockyard in the entire world today.
• Shirley Heights: offering the best vantage point of English Harbor, Shirley Heights is a great place to visit – particularly on Sundays, when there’s a barbecue and steel band to enjoy. What actually is Shirley Heights, you ask? It’s a complex of military buildings and gun emplacements, but, to be honest, it’s the views and music that are really worth coming for.
• Fort James: dating back to the 18th century, this fort was designed to guard the capital’s harbor. Today, it’s impressively intact, but like Shirley Heights, its architecture comes second to its harbor views.

Hayes & Jarvis Caribbean holidays are just one option for your getaway to Antigua. If you’ve got several weeks to spare, you could even pick a few destinations and spend some time island-hopping!

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ULTIMATE ANTIGUA GUIDE ULTIMATE ANTIGUA GUIDE Reviewed by Zahir Style on July 30, 2019 Rating: 5

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