Most cruise fans have been to the popular spots: Cozumel, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas… you know, the ones the big cruise ships can get to. But if you’ve done all of those and you’re looking for something a little different, you might check out an itinerary that includes the island country of Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua is situated in the Caribbean east, southeast of St. Kitts and north of Guadeloupe and Dominica. It is a picturesque island that people dream of visiting when they fantasize about a Caribbean getaway. Antigua is categorized by its beautiful ocean views and turquoise blue waters. What most people don't realize is that there is a lot more to this island than just the beaches.
There are beautiful beaches like Half Moon Bay, Dickenson Bay, Galley Bay, and Valley Church. These are just the right places to enjoy sunbathing, water sports with the family, swimming, and snorkeling fun, but there is so much more to do.
Betty's Hope was the first and the most abundant sugar plantation on the island of Antigua. 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, it 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 enslaved people on this plantation. It also offers a way to step back into the past and understand Antigua’s rich history.
St. John’s Saturday Morning Market
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.
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.
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.
Thinking about a cruise to the Southern Caribbean? Check out a sample itinerary here.
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