EXPLORING ANTIGUA

14th October 2016

Posted By : Toya Turner

 

8 of the best sites and sights

 

Curtain Bluff exerts such a strong magnetic pull that many of its guests never leave the property until it’s time to go (reluctantly) back to the airport. But those that do make it through our wrought-iron gates (either in a rental car or taxi) encounter an extraordinary island Antigua, rich with interest and calling out for exploration. Here are some of the essential stops:

 

 

ENGLISH HARBOR/NELSON’S DOCKYARD

The base of the British fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, the harbor was home to Horatio Nelson between 1784 and 1787. Highlights include the Dockyard Museum (check out Nelson’s telescope and tea caddy) and Dow’s Hill Interpretation Center (where you can watch a 15-minute presentation on the history and culture of the island).

 

SHIRLEY HEIGHTS

If you’re feeling fit (it’s not called the “Heights” for nothing), this restored military lookout is within walking distance of the Dockyard and included in its admission fee. In addition to gun battery and graveyard, the big reward is the wide-open view over to Guadeloupe and Montserrat. On Sunday starting at 4 PM, the mood changes as crowds pour in for the rum, the music and the barbecue.

 

STINGRAY CITY

There is something truly magical about standing in four feet of Windex-clear water as harmless rays the size and mobility of bed quilts flutter around you. A short boat ride from the fishing village of Seatons brings you to a floating platform. You can either watch from there or take part in the action

 

INDIAN TOWN NATIONAL PARK

Most people come to this rugged park on Antigua’s northeast coast to see the limestone arch, the Devil’s Bridge, formed by the steady gnawing of waves from both the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. But the park also offers rewarding hikes, excellent birding (more than 36 avian species roost in the park), and a nearby beach that’s great for swimming.

 

ST. JOHN’S

It’s hard to imagine a better blend of shopping, people watching, sightseeing and grazing than Antigua’s capital city. Duty-free bargains center round Heritage Quay, souvenir stalls at Redcliffe Quay, and lively markets on overflow with life on Fridays and Saturdays. For historical perspective: St. John’s Cathedral, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda and the ruins of 18th-century Fort James and Fort Barrington.

 

FIG TREE DRIVE

Even if Curtain Bluff wasn’t on the way, Fig Tree Drive would still be the best driving route on the island. Meandering along its southern coast, it passes crumbling sugar mills, art galleries, roadside stalls with neat rows of fruit, rainforest, farmlands, banana plantations (for some reason “fig” is the local name for banana tree), school children in crisp uniforms, and sleepy fishing villages. To wake up, ride the zipline through the treetops with Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour.

 

BETTY’S HOPE

Once the first and largest sugar plantation on the island, the old stones of Betty’s Hope now bear testimony to Antigua’s role in British colonial history. Built in 1674, the main mill has been restored with new sails and crushing machinery. The former cotton house is an intriguing museum that takes you back through the centuries.

 

FRIGATE BIRD SANCTUARY

The wild expanse of Codrington Lagoon off the northwest coast supports one of the world’s largest colonies of frigate birds known for their soaring aerial skills and scarlet gular pouch that males puff out in mating season. Over 5,000 of them roost amid the scrubby mangroves. The lagoon can only be visited by licensed sea taxi from the Codrington jetty.

 

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