Antigua and Barbuda
About Antigua and Barbuda
Book your dream vacation to Antigua and Barbuda . Positioned where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet, it's known for reef-lined beaches, rainforests and resorts. Antigua's English Harbour is a yachting hub and the site of historic Nelson's Dockyard, now part of a national park. In the capital, St. John's, the national museum displays indigenous and colonial artifacts.
Dominated by the magnificent white baroque towers of St. John's Cathedral, the capital city of St. John's is proud of its recently completed cruise ship dock. There are several charming hotels in town or all-inclusive resorts near by. The lively city also offers wonderful shopping and dining.
Amateur historians and the curious will enjoy the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, housed in the colonial Court House, which displays Arawak artefacts. Friday and Saturday mornings are always fun at farmers market, where you can buy folk crafts, tropical fruits, spices and pottery. From St John, the many other attractions are a short distance away. From beautiful nature parks, gorgeous beaches, old plantation houses and charming fishing villages, visitors are sure to fall in love with this island and the generous and smiling Antiguan people.
Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay are lined by many all-inclusive resorts and therefore offer all the tourist facilities.
Fort James and Deep Bay, near the capital St. John's, are the most popular public beaches. Nearby Galley Bay attracts surfers during the winter months.
If you are looking for more rugged and less developed beaches then head southeast towards Fryes Bay, Darkwood Beach, Johnson's Point, Rendezvous Bay and Doigs Beach.
Half Moon Bay, declared a National Park, is great families, as is Long Bay. These shores are completely protected by its reef.
Barbuda's pristine pink beaches stretch for sixteen kilometres. The eastern shore has rougher waters but is gorgeous to stroll upon.
Climate The average summer temperature is of 30° C and of 23° C during the winter. A low annual rainfall, mostly occurring from June to November, practically assures an ideal dry climate. The water temperature hovers around 28° C depending on the season.
The capital, St John's, is on the north western coast of Antigua. Its harbour is made up of the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. It also serves as the country's principal port, the seat of government and main commercial center of the country.
History Although inhabited for centuries by the Arawak and Carib Indians, the island was first settled by English colonists from St Kitts in 1632, St John's soon grew bigger within a few years. Fort James was built in 1703 to protect the city from pirates and the Court House was established in 1747. Antigua was the West Indies base of the British Royal Navy though out the 18th century. The imposing St John's Anglican Cathedral dates back to 1845.
Nature Devil's Bridge, a large limestone arch in Indian Town, offers an incredible sight. Centuries of erosion has carved out the cliffs due to the constant pounding of the Atlantic Ocean. It is most spectacular at high tide when the waves force enormous geysers of water through boreholes in the rocks near the bridge.
Fig Tree Hill Drive meanders from the low central plain of the island up into the volcanic hills of the Parish of Saint Mary. This drive takes you through Antigua's rainforest, into the steep farmlands of banana, mango, and coconut groves, and back down to the coastline again.
Hikers have several choice trails to choose from. You can join expeditions up Boggy Peak, Greencastle Hill, Monk's Hill or the Walling's Dam and Conservation Area.
Sting Ray City offers a wonderful opportunity to swim, feed and hold the striking fish. You can also snorkel in the deeper waters protected by the coral reef.
Unique to Here Rum production began in the early 1800s by estate owners. Antigua Rum was known for its lightness and elegant flavour. Later rum took over the concoction process. These shops banded in 1932 to form the Antigua Distillery Ltd. The Muscovado molasses residues were used in the preparation of the Company's first bottled product. The result was a unique, full-bodied aged rum called Cavalier Muscovado Rum. Lighter-bodied rums were also developed in later years, such as the Cavalier Antigua Rum and English Harbour Rum.
The Antigua Brewery brews Guinness stout, Red Stripe and Carib in house, under license to their respective companies. But the brewery is best know for its Wadadli beer, a refreshing pale lager named after the original Amerindian word for our island
V.C. Bird International Airport Airport Tax : The departure tax of around US $20, per person, is payable at the airport when leaving the island. Distance from Airport : St John's: 10 km Tourist Office : Corner of Nevis St. and Friendly Alley, St. John's. Tel: 268/463-0125 or 268/462-0480 Tourist Season : December through April Festivals & Events April - ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 - Super Eight Series
April - Classic Yatch Regatta
April - Antigua Sailing Week Regatta
July/August - Antigua Carnival
Transportation Antiguans drive on the LEFT side. Car rentals are available, as are mopeds and bicycles rentals. To rent a car you will have to purchase a temporary permit ($20).
Taxis are not metered, so you should agree on a rate before starting the journey. There is no official public transportation system but a sporadic and unreliable local service is available.
Activities & Sports
An incredible array of water sports can be practised on Antigua. Windsurfing, swimming, snorkelling, water skiing, diving and deep sea fishing are all popular. Several marinas offer boating or sailing excursions. These include the Antigua Yacht Club Marina, Catamaran Marina, Jolly Harbour Marina and St. James's Club Marina. If you would like to attempt something new, then try kite surfing. Here you really solely on the power of the wind to propel your board.
Scuba diving enthusiast will rejoice in Antigua and Barbuda. One of the islands best diving spot is Cape Shirley where large rocks, coral reefs, ledges and overhangs make for a perfect setting. Rendez vous Reef is quite spectacular, as are Willoughby Bay and Cades Bay Reef, officially designated as a national marine park. There are 73 charted shipwrecks in the waters as well.
If you like your sports on the drier side, then you can enjoy a game of tennis, squash, volleyball, cricket, badminton or a horse-back ride. There are two golf courses available, the Cedar Valley Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 70, championship course and the Jolly Harbour Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 71. There is also a small 9-hole course on Barbuda.
Archaeology The Indian Caves, located in the Highland area of Barbuda, are a geological and archaeological site where ancient petroglyphs carved by the Arawak Indians can be viewed amongst the stalagmites and stalactites. The narrow passage to the east of the entrance leads you the only petroglyphs found in Antigua or Barbuda. Continuing down the passage will lead to another cave which is flooded with daylight.
Attractions & Sights The city of St John's is filled will charming buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th century. One can stroll for hours along the lovely streets. The most identifiable symbol of the city is the St John's Anglican Cathedral, originally built in 1681. It was rebuilt twice following a fire and an earthquake. The Westerby Memorial is a Victorian style drinking fountain erected in 1892. The restored Redcliffe Quay was a warehouse during the 18th century. All visitors must see the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, housed in one of the oldest buildings in St John's. Displays of the island's rich naval history can be seen. It also exhibits both Arawak and colonial artefacts, a life-size replica of an Arawak house, models of sugar plantations and more. Fort James is a scenic bastion built to guard the harbour of St. John's. There are even a few cannons still intact. From here the view of the surrounding harbour is stupendous.
The 18th century Nelson's Dockyard, located in English Harbour, has been completely restored, and it is now the only Georgian dockyard in the world. It was named after Lord Horatio Nelson, the British naval hero who spent three years in Antigua. Be sure to catch the multimedia presentation at the Dow's Hill Interpretation Center. Nearby is Shirley's Heights, the ruins of major military fortifications, barracks and powder magazines. The view from the Heights over English and Falmouth Harbours are absolutely breathtaking.
The unusual octagonal shaped St-Peter's Anglican Church in Parham lives up to its reputation as the finest church in the British West Indies. This area is the earliest British settlement in Antigua.
Sugar mill ruins dot the island's landscape. At one time there were over 170 mills in operation. Today a few have been restored for viewing. The grand Harmony Hall plantation great house, dating back to the mid 1800s, now houses art galleries, bars, restaurants and shops. Betty's Hope Sugar Plantation (1674) was the first large sugar plantation on Antigua. Today this open air museum is partially restored.
Nightlife Most of the action takes place in the intimate clubs and lounges at the larger resorts. Calypso singers, steel bands, limbo dancers, and folkloric groups are always present to create a lively atmosphere. There are a few clubs inviting you to dance the night away, such as 18 Karat, Liquid and Lashings.
You will find three casinos for your gambling pleasures: Kings' Casino, Grand Princess and Royal Antiguan's Casino.
You can often find a beach parties with a BBQ and a live steel band to join. A favourite is at Shirley Heights every Sunday afternoon which presents live music, dancing and food. There are also organized dinner and dance cruises.
Side Trips Barbuda is a mere 15 minute plane ride away. Travellers enjoy its tranquility and peaceful beauty. It is truly a wonderful day trip. Its beaches offer beautiful pink sands as far as the eye can see and incredible diving opportunities with some 73 shipwrecks surrounded by coral reefs.
The Frigate Bird Sanctuary is inhabited by 170 bird species, from pelicans, herons, ibis, to kingfishers. The Martello Tower is a historic fortress, offering great views atop its 17m high tower. A large number of caves can be visited. The Indian Cave displays the only Amerindian petroglyphs of Antigua and Barbuda. Other caves hide underground pools of fresh water surrounded by 15m high Palmetto Palms.
The nearby island of Montserrat makes for an interesting eco-touristic day trip as well. Devastated in 1995 by the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, today it presents luxuriant vegetation and jagged green hills, to the surprise of many tourists. You can go scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, kayaking or hiking.
A variety of lodging options are found in Antigua. You will find exclusive all-inclusive resorts, small hotels, villas, condo resorts and guest homes. On Barbuda there are a few resorts, small cottages and guest houses offering accommodations. Conferences, seminars and exhibits can be held at the Cultural Center.
Eating Out On Antigua there are many types of restaurants to be found with lovely architectural details, such as intimate bistros, seaside terraces and garden-styled courtyards. Seafood and Caribbean restaurants abound. There are also several Italian, French, Indian, Chinese places, and English pubs.
For local delicacies, try Coconut Grove, George, Papa Zouk and Sticky Wicket. If on Barbuda, head to Palm Tree Restaurant where locally caught fish is served with a delicious Creole sauce.
Shopping Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay offer duty free bargains on items like crystal, china, linen, perfume and jewellery. These two places are located in St-John's. Other shops on the island can be found at Jardine's Court Shopping Plaza or Jolly Harbour Villa Resort & Marina.
The Antigua Public Market is a great experience with local charm. Fresh, tropical fruits and vegetables, spices, tea bushes and local pottery are sold here.
Harmony Hall is a restored plantation that has been turned into art galleries and craft shops, and hosts a craft fair every November.