Clear Caribbean waters, white sandy beaches, a hot tropical climate, refreshing breezes, and friendly people draw tourists to the island of Antigua. Located in the Eastern Caribbean roughly 17 degrees north of the equator and ringed with coral reefs, Antigua is the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands. Known as the “Gateway to the Caribbean,” Antigua was a strategic port in the 18th century. English Harbour on the southern tip of the island was once an important naval base for the British Royal Navy. With a natural deep harbour and several protected bays and two of the best marinas in the Caribbean, English Harbour is now a flourishing sailing community, attracting sailors and visitors from around the world.
When the dockyard, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was restored in the 1950s, it was renamed Nelson’s Dockyard after Admiral Horatio Nelson, the British hero of Trafalgar who was based in Antigua from 1784 through 1787. Today the dockyard is a charming village with the restored colonial buildings housing shops, restaurants and bars. The Dockyard Museum, located in the former Admiral’s House, contains exhibits about the dockyard’s history and current archaeological research on the island. The stone pillars, which once supported the sail loft roof are still standing and can be seen in the charming hotel at Admiral’s Inn.
attracts sailors from far and wide. It’s also known as a “hurricane hole,” a place for boats to anchor to get safely out of the way of a Caribbean hurricane. Additional moorage can be found in adjacent Falmouth Harbour, also a natural deep harbour, within walking distance from English Harbour.
Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout and gun battery. It was first used as a lookout during the War of American Independence to keep the dockyard below safe. The military complex was named after Thomas Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands, who strengthened Antigua’s defences in 1781.The high point of Shirley Heights offers a superb view of English and Falmouth harbours that is particularly spectacular at sunset. On Thursday and Sunday evenings, the lookout becomes hosts a barbecue and steel bands to be enjoyed as the sun goes down. The Lookout Trail from Galleon Beach to Shirley Heights, offers stunning views and a chance to see native flora.
Clarence House, overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard, is one of the finest examples of 19th-century living in the region. The house was built in 1804 for the navy commissioner and later the house was turned over to the governor of the Leeward Islands as his country residence. Today Clarence House is a museum and attractive events space.
English Harbour hosts several world-class yachting events each year. Antigua Sailing Week is one of the top regattas in the world. The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was formed in the late 1980s to showcase only classic yachts and The Superyacht Challenge features yachts in excess of 80 feet participating in a competitive but friendly race. The Antigua Charter Yacht Show, is an industry-only event connecting luxury yachts available for charter with brokers.
Every winter English Harbour is the finishing line for the Tallisker Atlantic Challenge and is proud to welcome and host those who complete this amazing feat. Watching the luxury yachts in the marinas and the comings and goings of both small and large craft from a waterside café, bar or restaurant are lovely ways to while away a few hours.
English Harbour and Falmouth offer a wide variety of delicious restaurants and cafes to satisfy any palate. From freshly caught seafood to international cuisine, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy stunning views while dining alfresco.
When visiting English Harbour and Antigua, there are a plethora of exciting activities and unforgettable experiences to indulge in. From sailing on the clear turquoise waters to exploring historic naval sites and museums, there is something for everyone.