Beaches are a mainstay of most vacations down to Antigua, but the island has so much to offer beyond the pristine beaches and beautiful resorts. Yes, there are about 365 white sandy beaches making Antigua, with the islands of Barbuda and the deserted Redonda, the perfect backdrop to your dream beach vacation. It's lined with beautiful coastlines, brimming with bays, coves, and natural harbors.
But make sure you spend some time checking out the Caribbean flavors of the local culinary scene; every meal is a multi-cultural experience. It all works together to create delicious dishes that include features introduced by colonizers.
The Caribs and Arawaks add hot and mild chilies, allspice, roucou, and West-Indian bay leaves to smoked meat. They were the ones who trained the newcomers to this technique, which eventually earned them the name, Buccaneers. Europeans added thyme, pepper, and mustard. They planted Asian spices like cassia, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Africans added broadleaf thyme, which is today known as West-Indian thyme. Imagine the sumptuous possibilities with all these ingredients and spices added into the dishes.
St. John is the capital of Antigua and is the center of island life on Saturday mornings. This market draws in vendors from all over the island and provides a wonderful place for tourists to spend time. This market is a beautiful reflection of Antigua. You can get in touch with the locals, their incredible culture, and their fun way of life.
Do try and get to Betty's Hope, the first and most abundant sugar plantation on Antigua's island. It stands as a reminder of the role that Antigua played in the British Colonial Era. It was a plantation that helped Britain generate considerable wealth in the Caribbean.
Established in 1674, Betty's Hope was named after the daughter of one of the former owners. The comprehensive visitor's center and museum educate tourists on the daily lives of slaves on this plantation. It also offers a way to step back into the past and understand Antigua's rich history.
Do not miss Nelson's Dockyard National Park and Shirley Heights!
Nelson's Dockyard, located in English Harbor, served the British Naval Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). It also served as the headquarters for Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson from 1784-1787. The area is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, shops, and even a museum where you can spend a fantastic day out in Antigua.
Shirley Heights is a great hike that you can take from the Dockyard. Shirley Heights is just under 500 feet above sea level, and the summit of this hike allows for views of Guadeloupe island and the active volcanic island of Montserrat, both located just to the south. It is also a prime spot for a great Sunday night party at the Shirley Heights Lookout Bar and Restaurant. For more nightlife fun, head to Falmouth and English Harbors.
My favorite trivia for Antigua is Mount Obama, the highest point on Antigua. The name was changed in 2009 to give honor to former US President Barack Obama. Some of the island's famous residents include Oprah Winfrey, Jamaica Kincaid, Giorgio Armani, Richard Branson, and Eric Clapton.
With a wide selection of markets, shops, and restaurants to tour while in Antigua, this island filled with rich colonial history offers plenty of activities away from the beach.
Are you looking to find out more about Antigua, give me a call or email, and we can plan your perfect Caribbean vacation.