The Ultimate Travel Guide to Antigua

We partnered with English Harbour Rum to create this travel guide that will help you make the most of your trip to Antigua! English Harbour Rum is a premium Antiguan rum produced by the distillery that brought rum production back to Antigua back in 1931. ? 

If you are fancying a relaxing, slow paced vacation in a tropical paradise, then welcome to Antigua! With over 365 beaches, tropical rainforests, and historical sites, Antigua has a lot to offer. The island has a well established tourism economy with many hotels, villas, and restaurants to choose from. If you are feeling adventurous, you can kayak through the mangroves near the North Sound Marine Park or maybe take an eco tour of the forest via ziplines. Maybe you are looking for something a bit more low-key. Laze around in a hammock by the beach and sip on your favorite frozen cocktail as the hours and stress fade away. English Harbour rum is a great light bodied rum that we would recommend in any rum cocktail! ? All this and more awaits you in Antigua, so get your bags packed and lets go! 

 Antigua: What’s the History of the Island?

Christopher Columbus visited the island in 1493 and decided to name it for the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Sevilla, Spain. To no surprise, he thought that he had finally arrived in Japan…It was colonized by English settlers in 1632 and remained a British possession although it was raided by the French in 1666. At first tobacco was grown, but in the later 17th century, sugar was found to be more profitable. The island became known as the “gateway to the Caribbean,” because it was situated in a position that offered control over the major sailing routes to and from the region’s rich island colonies.

In the 1740’s, Nelson’s Dockyard, the world’s only remaining Georgian dockyard, was constructed and named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who lived in the Royal Navy Dockyard from 1784 through 1787. Antiguan rum dates back to the early 1700’s with records showing sales to early colonial America as early as 1720. The English settlers established an economy based around slavery and the sales of sugar. In 1807, Britain abolished slavery, and all Antiguan slaves were emancipated by the early 1830s. As the sugar industry began to wane, as did the rum production. It wasn’t until 1932 that the island would see the production of rum again, when a group of Portuguese rum shop owners joined together to create Antigua Distillery Ltd., initially producing rum under the Cavalier label. In 1993, the label created the English Harbour brand, and with the launch of the five year old batch in 2001, aged rums became their focus. You can now visit these many locations preserved in time, and feel the history of the island.

Antigua: Best Time to Visit?

December to mid-April is generally the best time to visit Antigua because that is when the weather is the coolest and driest in the Caribbean. During the summer months it can get pretty toasty, plus Hurricane season starts in June, reaching its peak activity around August-September. 

Places to Explore

Shirley Heights Lookout

Travel to the southern tip of the island to The Lookout, part of Shirley Heights military complex, for a breathtaking view of the harbor. This location complex was the Signal Station from which a system of flags was used by day and guns by night to convey messages to St, John’s. The Shirley Heights military complex also included a guard house, magazine, kitchen, officers’ quarters, adjoining parade grounds, a 40-bed hospital, canteen, and a cemetery.

Zipline Adventures

Take a eco tour of Antigua’s forest via ziplines at the Antigua Rainforest ZipLine Tours resort. This is a great family-friendly day trip. According to their website, their youngest zipliner was only 4 years old! Get out there and have some fun!

Fort Berkeley

This location once served as the English Harbour’s most critical line of defense. Built in 3 stages throughout the years 1704 and 1745, it was equipped with 29 large cannons. Now you can visit the spot and enjoy the amazing view and watch yachts and sailboats pass you by.

Fort George on Monk Hill

Break out your hiking shoes, because your going to need them for this one. At the summit of Monk Hill sits the ruins of Fort George, the first fort constructed in an effort to secure Falmouth Harbour, back in 1689. Ruins of the original buildings, water cisterns, magazines and sites for the original 33 cannons can still be viewed, as well as wonderful views of Falmouth Habour and the surrounding countryside.

Nelson’s Dockyard

This is the only remaining Georgian naval dockyard in the world, so it is a must see! It was originally used during the Caribbean wars with the French, Spanish, and Dutch during the 18th & 19th century. You can now visit the national park which includes restored buildings, a museum, gift shops, & restaurants.

Antigua Sailing Week

During the week of April 28- May 4, 2018, you can catch Sailing Week, where sailboats and yachts from around the world join for a week of boat racing, fishing, and rum fueled festivities. 

Downtown Market

 Enjoy an afternoon shopping and strolling through St. Johns vibrant & colorful downtown. 

Devil’s Bridge

Adventure out to Devil’s Bridge to see massive blowholes that have been created by the friction from the Atlantic & Caribbean Oceans colliding. Be careful and don’t get too close! 

Keep reading on page 2 to find some great choices for food & drinks!