Antigua, English Harbour
A former British colony, Antigua is the archetype of the Caribbean island, with its 365 golden sandy beaches edged with palm trees bent by the wind, turquoise waters and a fantastic reef full of picturesque diving sites where you can observe the wrecks of ancient shipwrecks off its shores.
English Harbour, a former naval base for Royal Navy warships in the 18th century, is the only example of such site in the world dating back to Georgian times. Above English Harbour, the imposing fortifications of Shirley Heights, named after General Shirley, governor of the island in 1781 dominate the island. On Sunday afternoons, this place comes alive to the sound of reggae and tourists mingle with the locals to experience the true Caribbean atmosphere of Antigua. The island also boasts a long seafaring tradition, for its historical connections with Britain and for the famous Antigua Sailing Week, one of the most important regattas in the Caribbean with over 150 boats from the smallest to the millionaire mega-yachts. The capital, St. John's, overlooks a large bay and a busy cruise port that welcomes thousands of visitors every day. Heritage Quay is the heart of St. John's with shops, restaurants and duty-free, while a few steps away Redcliffe Quay, is a colourful district with brightly coloured townhouses and recently restored old warehouses. There are lots of cafes and restaurants where you can relax after a walking tour or a boat trip before immersing yourself in the vibrant and exotic atmosphere of the Heritage Market, and be pleasantly overwhelmed by the colours and flavours of the typical fruits and vegetables, from tiny pineapple to giant avocados.
Barbuda is the younger and much less developed sister island (there are only a couple of hotels and a few inns) but its beaches are perhaps even more beautiful than Antigua’s. It can be reached by a 20-minute flight or by boat, in approximately one hour. The pink beaches, pristine and quiet coves and exotic flora and fauna of rare beauty makes this small island a beautiful hideaway.
Once you reach Jolly Bay you come across the most spectacular beaches of Antigua, endless stretches of sand where you can spend a day in complete relaxation and solitude. A sunset cruise along the West coast is the best way to visit Rendezvous Bay and the North-Eastern islands. But Antigua is not only beaches, a visit to Betty's Hope reminds of the notorious times of slavery through beautifully restored and functioning mills.
Antigua is a dynamic island that offers the visitor all sorts of activities in a joyful and colourful atmosphere, an island to be experienced as intensely as the colours of its amazing sea, an island with a charm you are never tired of.