Explore Antigua

Regarded as one of the most prosperous nations in the Caribbean owing to its vibrant tourism industry and excellent financial services, Antigua is encompassed by nearly unspoiled offshore reef protecting promenades of sugary white beaches and hidden coves. Add to this are the clear cobalt blue waters populated with exotic marine life and coral covered shipwrecks. Antigua offers a myriad of activities from exploration of the colonial towns, 4×4 rainforest tours to world class sailing – there’s something in store for young, old and everyone in between.

Once a British colony, English influences are still clearly evident in Antigua starting from locals playing cricket, hotels offering traditional morning and evening tea to the delightfully quaint English Harbor and crumbling sugar plantations. Despite these familiar traits, the laid back vibe of the Caribbean is still apparent in this captivating island. Antigua’s only city and its capital St John’s is dominated by the cathedrals amazing Baroque towers, which is one of the first of many amazing sites to greet visitors arriving by boat.

St John’s offers a vivid blend of harbourside restaurants, bustling farmers market, and is woven with British colonial buildings and West Indian Gingerbread style houses. It is also home to the island’s biggest attraction Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, which offers an unparallel glimpse of Antigua’s colonial heritage. From here, visitors get an unmatched opportunity to soak up the relaxing atmosphere with lunch atop the Admiral’s Inn and enjoy panoramic views of yachts docking in the exquisite harbor.

But the real treat is during the world renowned Antigua Sailing Week – a regatta that commences in late April and attracts some of the most skilled yachtsmen in the globe. During this period, visitors can experience an incredible carnival-like ambience complete with sights of billowing sails dotting the horizon complimented by lively music. Antigua enjoys year round sunshine, and is highlighted with some of the best beaches in the world, perhaps the biggest reasons for its influx of an astounding 2.5 tourists each year.

The VC Bird International airport located on the outskirts of St John’s and towards the north of Antigua serves as the main hub for flights from the USA and UK. Alternatively, many tourists head to this magical island via cruise ships. Exploring Antigua is easily done with private cars, public transportation, busses and taxis. For food buffs, Antigua doesn’t disappoint with a nice selection of bars and diners serving everything from Mexican, American, and Jamaican to succulent seafood dishes.

Unlike some parts of the Caribbean, the crime rate in Antigua is rather low, but common sense must be used just like you would when travelling to any other country. Things you must refrain from doing include flashing expensive jewelry and carry large sums of cash when it’s absolutely unnecessary. Apart from untainted beaches, Antigua is blessed with captivating scenery including unobstructed views of the English Harbour.

If that’s not enough, take a short 90 minute ferry ride to Barbuda – Antigua’s sister island, which is blessed with the Palmetto Point Beach, an eight mile stretch of pink sand beach that gets its unique rose petal hues from the crushed coral in the sand. Another must see place in Barbuda is the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, which is home to 170 species of birds and 5000 frigate birds.

Antigua boasts an energetic island culture and the peace and tranquility you will experience here is like no other part of the Caribbean.

Basic Information

Location – Caribbean Sea

Official Name – Antigua and Barbuda

Capital – St John’s

Official Language (s) – English

Climate – Sunny all year round

Explore

Activities & Adventures – deep sea fishing, bird watching, scuba diving, horseback riding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and catamaran cruises, mangrove boardwalk, safari jeep tours

Attractions & Landmarks – Pacaya volcano, Casa Santa Domingo, the Plaza Central Park, Acatenango Volcano, La Merced, Cerro de la Cruz, Church of San Francisco, Cathedral de Santiago, Convento Santa Clara, Nelson’s Dockyard National Park

Festivals & Culture – Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, Antigua Carnival, Annual Seafood Festival, Antigua and Barbuda Independence Festival

Food & Drinks – Goat water, ducana, Salt fish chop-up fungee, jerk chicken, souse

Other Facts

– Antigua is a Spanish work for ancient

– Antigua is spread across 108.5 square miles

– The capital and largest city in Antigua is St John’s

– While English is the official language, Creole is widely spoken

– November 1st is the national day in Antigua

History

Antigua boasts a vibrant history, and it all started with the arrival of Sir Christopher Codington in 1684. Sir Codington, an enterprising man came to the island to determine if Antigua would support a rather large scale sugar cultivation that already flourished in another slice of the Caribbean. His initial efforts proved fruitful, and over the next 50 years sugar cultivation in the islands hit the high notes. The middle of the 18th century witnessed a rise of more than 150 cane processing windmills, each with a focal point of sizeable plantation.

100 of these picturesque stone towers still stand tall today, with the only difference being they serve as restaurants, bars and shops. Visitors can see a fully restored sugar mill at Betty Hope’s Codrington’s original sugar estate. Most Antiguans are of African descent, slaves brought in centuries ago to work in the sugarcane fields. But Antigua’s history dates way back before the sugar cane era, and as long as two and half millennia before Christ. The first settlements can be traced back to 2400 B.C. and belonged to Siboney – meaning stone people in Arawak.

These peripatetic Meso-Indians created amazing exquisite crafted shells and stone tools, which were later discovered at dozens of sites across Antigua. Much after the Siboney era, the island was inhabited by the agricultural, pastoral Arawaks between 35 and1100 A.D. They were then replaced by the Caribs – a group of aggressive individuals who were descendants from all over the Caribbean. Christopher Columbus was the earliest European person to make contact with the island during his second Caribbean voyage in 1493.

He then named it after the miracle-working saint of Seville – Santa Maria la Antigua. But the influx of European settlement didn’t occur for over a century owing to the island’s abundance of determined Carib resistance and dearth of fresh water. A group of Englishmen from St Kitts finally managed to establish a successful settlement in 1632, and Antigua entered the sugar cane era with Codrington’s arrival in 1684.

Antigua established itself as an important strategic port by the end of the 18th century, and was also regarded as a valuable commercial colony. Dubbed the Gateway to the Caribbean, Antigua enjoyed a great position that offered superior control over the major sailing routes back and forth from the region’s rich island colonies. Many of Antigua’s historical sites that resulted from its ruined fortifications to the perfectly and beautifully restored architecture are reminiscent of the colonial efforts to ensure its safety from invasion.

After the arrival of Horatio Nelson in 1784, the British naval facilities at the English Harbour were developed, which resulted in the construction of Nelson’s Dockyard. The British abolished slavery during King William IV’s reign in 1834, and this move today is commemorated with Antigua’s Carnival festivities.

Geography

Located in the eastern arc of the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Islands, Antigua is roughly 650 kms away from Puerto Rico and is a low lying island. Tucked away in the Eastern Caribbean Sea, Antigua is home to several coral reefs and a whopping 365 pristine beaches.

Neighbors – Saint Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Saint Barthelemy

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Sidney_A_Fernandes/1740009

http://EzineArticles.com/?Explore-Antigua&id=9282374

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