The beautiful island of Antigua has been independent since 1981, yet its centuries-old cocktail of cultures, from Arawak and Carib to West African and British, has given it a delightfully unique flavour. Formal British architecture of the 1700s sits shoulder to shoulder with eye-catching pastel-coloured houses; menus offer creole seafood and spicy stews alongside European fare while the island’s passion for cricket knows no bounds. Our villas here have some of the most idyllic views you’ll find anywhere. Dozens of sheltered coves, with gently curving shores and enticingly clear waters are the jewels in Antigua’s crown while the stunning harbours offer a perfect setting for sleek luxury yachts, motor cruisers and catamarans from all over the world.View villas in Antigua
A fascinating melting pot of cultures, Colonial rule ended in Antigua in 1981 so the ambience here is at once familiar yet enticingly exotic. While small in size, it’s an island with a big personality and a wealth of attractions all within reach of any of our Antigua villas. Learn more about Antigua
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Wherever you’re staying in Antigua, a visit to the capital, St John’s, as well as English Harbour in the south, will give you a sense of the island’s historic significance. In the elegant 18th century former courthouse in St John’s, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda traces each step of the twin islands’ history, right through to independence. Nearby, Fort James and Fort Barrington, built to deter the French, now offer wonderful views of the town and its harbour, while the impressive St John’s Cathedral is well worth a look.In the south, Horatio Nelson’s former dockyard at English Harbour is now a beautifully restored marina with attractive stone warehouses now converted into shops, galleries and restaurants. Take time to stroll around and admire the magnificent super-yachts now moored in the place of Royal Navy ships.
For a change of scene, Fig Tree Drive is a very pretty route around the hills of the southern coast, winding its way through banana plantations, orchards and old sugar mills. Roadside stalls sell freshly picked black pineapple and thirst-quenching juices, and there are wonderful views across the rainforest interior.
As on all the Caribbean islands, good food, great music and fun-loving people means there’s always plenty going on once the sun goes down. From rustic beach bars to chic yacht clubs, reggae to calypso, each town and resort has something special to offer, washed down with a rum punch or two. Many bars offer a happy hour while restaurants, serving both local and international dishes, often feature live music into the night. You can even try your luck at the casino in St John’s.Sunday evenings, however, belong to Shirley Heights, the most famous gig on the island. From around 4pm, locals and visitors alike gather to savour the stunning sunset from the old fortifications above English Harbour as the barbecue party gets underway. The steelband kicks off proceedings, handing over to other local musicians a little later to widen the musical experience. This is a don’t-miss Antiguan institution - and everyone’s invited!
Along with the crafts, beachwear and souvenirs available all over the island, you’ll find one of Antigua’s key shopping attractions is jewellery, with everything from silver costume pieces to rare gemstones. St John’s is one of the Caribbean’s cruise ship ports of call and has a number of stores, mainly at the attractive Heritage Quay, where gems, designer watches, sporting goods, perfume and cosmetics are among the goods available duty free to overseas visitors.Overlooking the harbour, the historic Redcliffe Quay was once a busy dock where coffee, sugar, rum and slaves were traded. It’s now a collection of brightly coloured shops and eateries where you can pick up pretty batik fabrics, paintings and pottery by local artists, as well as a wide range of clothing and accessories. The old Dockyard at English Harbour is another popular place to browse, with boutiques and gift shops housed in the old warehouse buildings.
For a taste of local life, and some less than familiar fruit and vegetables, don’t miss a chance to visit St John’s Saturday morning market, a feast of colourful produce from mangoes and pineapples to tamarind and breadfruit.
Renowned for having a beach for every day of the year, Antigua is blessed with a truly stunning coastline that offers something to suit every taste. The Atlantic winds along the east coast create some excellent conditions for experienced windsurfers and it’s no coincidence that the island’s annual sailing regatta attracts competitors from all over the world. The dazzling Half Moon Bay, despite its breezy location on the southeast coast, is protected by a reef and offers great snorkelling on calm days and bodyboarding fun when the waves are a little higher.
The exquisite coves and bays along the calmer west coast are some of the prettiest you’ll find anywhere. Dickenson Bay and its neighbour Runaway Bay, just north of St John’s, are popular choices and enjoy breathtaking sunsets while the lovely Pigeon Point at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour is a great option for families. Jolly Beach’s long stretch of white sand and crystal clear, tranquil waters make this an ideal place to hire a kayak or try your hand at small catamaran sailing.
St John’s cathedral is the town’s most striking landmark, and although it’s undergoing a huge renovation programme, it can be worth a visit to see the progress being made.
The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in St John’s is a good opportunity to learn a little more of the island’s history, with artefacts from the native Arawaks and displays about life during the colonial era.
Stingray City is an experience you won’t want to miss! At Seaton’s Village on the northeast coast, hop on a boat with your guide and head to the home of the island’s friendliest sea creatures. In calm, waist-deep water you can stroke, feed and play with dozens of stingrays and snorkel over the nearby reef for an amazing day out.
To find out more about Antigua’s sugar plantation history, the open air museum of Betty’s Hope has two sugar mills dating from the 17th century, one restored to working order, along with some interesting background on plantation life.
Nelson’s Dockyard is not only a delightful place to wander around, it also has an excellent museum full of naval history and models of ships that would have docked here over the years.
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