It’s one of the world’s fantastic beach destinations and also a magnificent locale for sailing, culinary flavours, and Caribbean culture. Check these fascinating facts before you head to the island nation of Antigua & Barbuda on your next vacay.
A BEACH FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR
They say there are 365 beaches on Antigua; one for every day of the year. Galley Bay and Valley Church Beach both get a lot of ink from sand and sea lovers. I fell in love with Hermitage Bay on a visit a few years ago; beautiful water, pretty headlands, and a truly remarkable hotel that rises up the cliffs behind the sand. Pictured above is another photogenic gem: Buccaneer Cove Beach.
A PRESIDENTIAL MOUNTAIN
The highest point on the island of Antigua is a mere 1,319 feet high (402 meters). Located in a range of high hills called the Shekerley Mountains, it was known for years and years as Boggy Peak. It’s in southwestern Antigua, not far from Jolly Harbour. Boggy Peak is a good name, but in 2009 the Antigua government renamed it in honor of the then president of the United States. It’s now known as Mount Obama, and there’s also a Mount Obama National Park. The official name change took place on August 4, Obama’s birthday.
A TRIP WITH A VIEW
Not only will the Barbuda Express whisk you from the island of Antigua to neighboring Barbuda in just 90 minutes, but you’ll also get an enjoyable ride on a fine catamaran. You can pick up the boat in at the ferry dock in St. John’s Harbour. But Sundays are charter service only, so keep that in mind. The folks who run the ferry also do day tours of Barbuda, except on weekends. You can explore caves where Arawak Indians used to live, as well as old plantation homes and other sights. A big bonus is an outdoor lobster lunch and time to snorkel or swim.
A MUSEUM WITH HISTORY
The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in downtown St. John’s is located in a colonial-style Court House that was built in 1747 on the site of the first city market. You’ll find exhibits about the formation of the island and information about interesting locals, the settlement of the islands, and profiles of sports celebrities, including West Indies cricket star Sir Vivian Richards, considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
HIT THE HEIGHTS
Shirley Heights, a restored gun battery and military lookout that’s roughly 490 feet above sea level, is high on a hill overlooking English and Falmouth harbours. Famous for its Sunday evening barbecues, Shirley Heights is a terrific spot for live music. You’ll hear songs wafting through the night air as musicians bring a wonderful ambience to the landmark. The views here are some of the best in the Caribbean, with brilliant pink bougainvillea plants framing a series of beautiful, irregularly shaped bays dotted with gleaming white boats and soft-sand beaches.