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General

Low-lying and volcanic in origin, Antigua & Barbuda form part of the Leeward Islands group in the northeast Caribbean and have certainly adopted the notoriously ‘Caribbean' way of life. This is a place to take things easy, stroll around markets, sip the fresh juices of coconuts and pineapple and meet friendly locals.

Like most islands in the Caribbean, Antigua & Barbuda's way of life is governed by water, and any visitor will find that their stay is too. Nelson's Dockyard in the English Harbour is at the forefront of Antigua & Barbuda's vast yachting and sailing scene.

Antigua & Barbuda also abounds with colourful bird and insect life. Barbuda is an unspoiled natural haven for wild deer and exotic birds and boasts the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. There are also national parks and blow holes to discover, including, of course, the Devil's Bridge, a natural phenomenon crafted by the colliding of Atlantic and Caribbean surf.

Antigua

Antiguans claim to have a different beach for every day of the year and their island’s many beautiful soft, sandy beaches and coves certainly constitute its main attraction. The most popular resorts have hotels located either on beaches or close by, many of them taking their names from the beaches. However, for the more energetic, there is plenty to see and do away from the beaches. The island is rich in colourful bird and insect life; offshore, beneath the waters of the Caribbean, are splendid tropical fish and coral and there are several sites of historic interest.

An excursion to Great Bird Island can be made from Dickenson Bay. Many hotels offer excursions in glass-bottomed boats for a leisurely view of the reef. A restored pirate ship sails around the island and takes passengers for day or evening trips; food, unlimited drink and entertainment are included.

Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour is one of the safest landlocked harbours in the world. It was used by Admirals Nelson, Rodney and Hood as a safe base for the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Clarence House, overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard, was once the home of the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV. It is now the Governor General’s summer residence and is periodically open to visitors. Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre provides visitors with a good overview of the island’s history including information on the early Amerindians and the impact of slavery on Antigua’s culture and economy.

Shirley Heights and Fort James are two examples of the efforts made by the British to fortify the colony during the 18th century. Shirley Heights was named after General Shirley, later Governor of the Leeward Islands in 1781. One of the main buildings, known as the Block House, was erected as a stronghold in the event of a siege by General Matthew in 1787. Close by is the cemetery, containing an obelisk commemorating the soldiers of the 54th Regiment.

St John’s Cathedral appears on postcards and in almost all visitors’ photographs. The church was originally built in 1683, but was replaced by a stone building in 1745. An earthquake destroyed it almost a century later and in 1845 the cornerstone of the present Anglican cathedral was laid. The figures of St John the Baptist and St John the Divine, erected at the south gate, were supposedly taken from one of Napoleon’s ships and brought to the island by a British man-of-war.

The market is in the west of St John’s and makes a lively and colourful excursion, especially on busy Saturday mornings.


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