Europeans first settled Antigua, now famous for its beaches, in about 1640. Antigua meaning “Ancient” in Spanish is also known as “Wadadli”, which means “Our Own”. The island, the largest of the Leeward Islands, covers an area of 281 sq kms (108 sq mi) with a population of approximately 69,000.
Antigua is well developed, with an established tourism industry, offshore banking, Internet gambling services and two medical schools.
The Capital, St. John’s, sits in the north west of the island close to VC Bird International Airport. It has a deep harbor, which can accommodate large cruise ships.
English Harbour on the southeastern coast is home to a restored British colonial naval station called “Nelson’s Dockyard” after Admiral Horatio Nelson. English Harbour and the neighboring village of Falmouth are internationally famous as a yachting and sailing destination, and provisioning centre. The world famous Antigua Sailing Week, takes place there, at the end of April and beginning of May every year.
Laze on one of the numerous beaches, or sail through the air on a zipline and get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest and its inhabitants. Take a tour around the island on a catamaran. I sailed on the Excellence, we stopped for lunch – barbecued on-board by the captain – and then spent an hour sunbathing and snorkeling on Green Island. Or take an off-road eco-tour combined with a sea kayak tour through the North Sound.
And as night falls dance to the rhythm of a steel band or the exciting energy of a reggae calypso band at Shirley Heights Lookout (Every Sunday). Or head to English Harbour or St. John’s and try one of the many nightclubs and bars. And if you’re feeling lucky there are a number of casinos throughout the island.
For sailors there are numerous regattas with the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week in April being the highlights. Or for something more sedate you can charter a yacht and sail the sheltered waters of the Caribbean.
And of course if you’re feeling romantic, and you’re with the one you love, why not start a whole new life and get married on the island?