Antigua And Barbuda Travel Guide
Antigua is a Caribbean island and, together with Barbuda and Redonda is part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
This small island has undergone major transformations, evolving from sugar plantations to a tropical paradise, ideal for spending your vacation.
You can begin your adventure with the capital of Antigua, St. John’s. Situated in the northwest of the isle, at less than a mile from Deep Water Harbour Terminal, St. John’s is a peaceful harbour, the commercial and industrial centre of the nation. Resting above the harbour line the cobblestone streets along which restored wooden houses with Caribbean verandas expect their guests to come and be part of their tumultuous history.
An interesting sightseeing is that of St.John’s forts. The ruins of Fort James Bay as well as Fort Barrington, situated at south and Fort James on the north, represent sites of great interest for tourist here on vacation. Visiting them does not imply any price: admission free!
The architecture of St. John’s is dominated by the magnificent St. John’s Cathedral, situated at Church Lane. The present cathedral, an Anglican church, was built in 1845 after a series of earthquakes destroyed the previous structure.
For those interested in the history of this place from the early days up to 1981, the year Antigua gained its independence from Britain, a visit to the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda will give you the opportunity to discover exhibits of semiprecious stones, historical prints, steam engines, paintings and much more. All these are housed by the colonial Court House, the oldest building still in use.
On Saturday mornings you can enjoy the open-air Saturday morning market. Colourful tropical fruit and flowers, birds and folk crafts make for a lively morning.
On the northeast side of the island lies Indian Town, a national park, home of 36 species of birds among the acacia trees, locally known as “cassie”. Nature continues to amaze visitors, especially with the existence of Devil’s Bridge, a natural limestone bridge created by the waves of The Atlantic Ocean. At high tide, waves force geysers of water through blowholes that surround the bridge offering a spectacular sight.
Nelson's Dockyard National Park, situated at 18 km (11 miles) southeast of the capital, represents an enormous tourist attraction. The park preserves beaches and luxuriant vegetation with species of cactus and mangroves, shelter of a colony of African cattle egrets. The harbour served as the headquarters of the fleet of the Leeward Islands, while the Georgian naval dockyard, home of the British fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, was used by Admiral Nelson, Hood and Rodney. At Admiral House there are exhibits of Nelson’s personal belongings: his telescope and tea caddy, nautical references. The museum catches glimpses of the turbulent years of the late 18th century. For touring the dockyard you will need only 15 to 20 minutes. Visiting Admiral House children under 12 are admitted free.
Southeast of the dockyard, at 4km (2 1/2 miles) is Dow's Hill Interpretation Center, where visitors can watch an impressive multimedia presentation of Antigua's history, from its initial settlement to independence. For children under 12 admission is free.
Betty Hope is the first sugar plantation on the island. You can see in visitor’s centre exhibits that record facts about sugar and the process of sugar cane turned into sugar, rum and molasses. This site is in process of restoration.
Beaches, surrounded by a barrier of coral reefs are the central attraction of Antigua. What may impress the tourists are the white sandy beaches that invite you to sunbathe.
Antigua’s best nature trail is the one that lasts from English Harbour to Shirley Heights. The walk of less than an hour is worth the effort; standing at the top of a 150m summit, you will enjoy the panorama of this blessed part of the world. If all this appeals you, then join the nature trails that last from 30 minutes to 5 hours. Free brochures at the dockyard and at the office of the National Parks Authority will give you more information regarding this once in a life time experience.
If you want to discover the aquatic scenery, then you can do snorkelling at Long Bay or you can have a spectacular picnic near Devil’s Bridge after hiking to Indian Town Point for 2km (1 1/2 miles).
Addicted more to the urban activities? Antigua offers a great variety of places where you can go shopping.
The majority of restaurants and hotels are to be found in St. John’s. Rather than luxurious hotels, Antigua provides its visitors rustic one and two- story inns and wooden houses with Caribbean verandas.
If you are a fond of gambling you can spend your nights at the casinos or enjoy a couple of drinks in one of the bars.
Situated in the middle of the Leeward Islands, Barbuda is at 17 degrees north of the Equatorial Zone and is part of the Eastern Caribbean Islands. Their neighbors are: to the south Montserrat and Guadaloupe, and to the north and west, the islands of Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.
As far as the climate's concerned, Barbuda is the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands because of the small rainfall amounts, so throughout the year, the humidity is low. The temperature in the winter generally reaches seventy degrees Fahreinheit, varying to eighty degrees during the summer. The temperature is around 24 degrees Celsius.
Getting to Barbuda offers you two possibilities from Antigua. You can either travel by air, or by boat – but this takes three hours.
Britain and France both tried to occupy Barbuda, but after long unsuccessful attempts, in 1666, a colony was established in the island by the British. Christopher Codrington received land in lease in Barbuda which he used to produce food and to provide slaves for his land in Antigua, where he cultivated sugar.
Codringtons were very influential in Barbuda, fact testified by the name of some places on the island and by the ruins which can be seen today on the highest point of Barbuda.
Barbuda is part of the independent nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Despite it`s the Caribbean’s last frontier, Barbuda shelters some of the most exclusive and expensive resorts, such as K-Club or Coco Point Beach Club. The island is 15 miles long and 5 miles wide, being situated at 26 miles north of Antigua.
Barbuda is home for 1.200 people, having a quite small population. But this is part of the charm of the island, because one of the main attractions to Barbuda is its wild character. The fact that development hasn`t touched the island is surprising, because Barbuda is one of the few desert islands from Caribbean. This allows tourists to enjoy the wilderness of Barbuda and its authentic beauty in a peaceful atmosphere. You will not find paved roads on the island, only few hotels and some restaurants. Except of the tourists living in the few accommodations provided for them, the island is mainly populated by frigate birds, or Fregata Magnificens. Tourists are attracted to Barbuda not only by birds, but by beautiful animals such as guinea fowl, fallow deer and wild pigs.
As you might have expected, the activities that can be maintained in Barbuda are mostly those which involve relaxing due to the island's wilderness. Such activities are: beachcombing (on the northeastern Atlantic Coast), hunting, fishing, or just relaxing in the sun. For those fond of fishing, negotiating with small-boat owners offers them the chance to fish for bonefish and tarpon. There are activities which consist mainly in sports, organized by the accommodation, for example: tennis, golf, diving or snorkeling. Besides these activities, the island offers touristic attractions - or simply a lot of other points of interest - like the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, its beautiful pink and white sand beaches, numerous shipwrecks and amazing reefs. But this kind of activity is not the only kind Barbuda can offer. Despite it is appreciated for its calm and peaceful character, the island also provides places for having fun, housing luxurious clubs.
In the northwestern lagoon, Barbuda shelters a sanctuary, called the Frigate Bird Sanctuary which has more than 170 species of birds – such as herons, pelicans or some tropical mockingbirds. Frigate birds are appreciated for being the most aerial water bird and for having the biggest wingspan. The only way of getting to Barbuda`s Frigate Bird Sanctuary is by boat – small motorboats. Many visitors head to the sanctuary firstly for the impressive sight and secondly to eat lobster and barbecue.
Worth visiting are also the historical ruins, like the Dividing Wall. Another place which has historical meanings is Martello Tower. There are also some interesting tours which organize the exploration of underground caves on the island.