This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.
Antigua’s ambiance is one part Caribbean comfort, one part British elegance, with its history deeply rooted in British colonialism. Nelson’s Dockyard served as the base of England’s naval fleet during the 18th century, led by Admiral Horatio Nelson, and today, the dockyard has been restored, giving visitors a glimpse of what life was like for sailors who lived and worked here. The Dockyard Museum sits inside a building that once served as the Naval Officer’s Home, while the onsite restaurant seats its customers in an area formerly reserved for the seamen’s galley. Visitors can look down on Nelson’s Dockyard and the bay it once commanded at Shirley Heights, another former military outpost set on a cliff on the opposite shore. The remnants of its military errands remain here in the form of gun emplacements and a monument to soldiers. But today, the area is more well known as a site for weekly parties. Each Sunday, tourists and locals alike gather here to enjoy BBQ, drink and dance to local reggae from the afternoon into the night. And that’s not the only place to kick-back and relax. Antigua boasts 365 beaches—one for every day of the year—and plenty are totally deserted. Divers and snorkelers will want to head to Cades Reef, a 2-mile stretch of tropical fish habitat where explorers can count dozens of species. Nature lovers will want to make a trip to Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda, a largely undeveloped area with no cities to speak of. The birds here far outnumber the people, especially at the Frigate Bird Sanctuary at Wa’Omoni Beach Park. Here, the birds thrive year-round, but are especially fun to watch during the mating season that lasts from September to April.
- Best time to go:
November to May
- Fun fact:
Barbuda is circled with the wrecks of 17th century ships, many of which haven’t been officially explored
- Getting there:
Delta flies from New York (JFK) and Atlanta to Antigua
- Entry documents:
Eastern Caribbean dollar; U.S. currency is widely accepted
- Must-try local food:
Locally caught seafood
- Best buys:
Local handicrafts, including palm-frond bowls and woodcarvings
- Information please:
Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority—antigua-barbuda.org