Antigua is one of West Indies islands that used to be under the British rule until the 1800s. At present time, Antigua is a popular vacation spot in the Caribbean and known worldwide for having 365 beautiful beaches, that’s 1 for every day of the year! Besides being an island paradise, Antigua is also home to one of the top 5 sailing regattas in the world. The Antigua Sailing Week is a much-awaited event by many. It is not uncommon for yachts to drop anchor in the towns of Falmouth and English Harbour to visit Antigua during the event. Visitors and vacationers have a choice of inns, hotels, and villas for accommodations when in Antigua. If you’re looking forward to spending time in your very own villa in Antigua, you better book as soon as possible because Antigua villas for rent are often snatched up as soon as they’re available.

Destinations for Antigua vacations

Ideas for Antigua vacations

GEOGRAPHY OF ANTIGUA CARIBBEAN

The geography of Antigua is a huge part of why it was dubbed as “the gateway to the Caribbean”. Its location is perfect for trade and at one time, it controlled some major sailing routes to the other colonies in the region. Antigua is actually composed of several islands but not all are inhabited. The land area is approximately 108 square miles or 281 square kilometers, with miles and miles of beaches and access to the Caribbean and Atlantic ocean, making it a natural hub for trade and blessing it with good warm weather for most of the year.

Many beautiful Antigua villas are available throughout the year. These Antigua villas have a private pool and beautiful view of the the islands and bays. High season for Antigua vacation rentals runs from December through May and Low season for Antigua vacation rentals runs from June through November.

HISTORY OF ANTIGUA CARIBBEAN

The history of Antigua was primarily shaped by its geography and the demand for world trade. European explorers looking for new colonies saw that the land in Antigua is perfect for planting sugarcane, a real money maker during that time. The Europeans took the land from Caribs around the late 1500s to early 1600s. The Caribs took over from the Arawak people who, in turn, displaced the ancient Siboney people who’ve been living in Antigua since about 2,400 B.C.

Cash crops such as ginger, sugarcane, tobacco, and indigo became the primary trade of Antigua. At one time, there were over 150 sugar mills in Antigua with thousands of slaves working on the mills and plantations. Britain abolishes slavery in 1834 and Antigua emancipated all slaves, even forgoing the 4-year waiting period practiced in the other colonies. Although the sugar industry in Antigua has long fizzled out, tourism is now one of Antigua’s major industries. You’d be supporting this when you have a vacation in Antigua!

CULTURE OF ANTIGUA CARIBBEAN

The people of Antigua are mostly descendants of African Slaves who were brought to the region by British colonizers hundreds of years ago; hence, the culture of Antigua is a fusion of European and African culture. This is seen in the celebration of Carnival, the local language, the food, and music.

The Carnival is a huge celebration in Antigua marking the 1834 emancipation from slavery. The celebration lasts for 10 days from July to August and means parades, pageants, barbecue on the streets, and lots of live music. The Carnival is just a few decades old because the Antiguans did not officially celebrate the end of slavery until 1957 but since then, The Carnival has become a much-awaited event by both locals and tourists alike.

The European influence on the culture of Antigua is there although the European-descent population is quite small at just about 3% of the predominantly African-descent inhabitants. Even the language, which is Antiguan Creole, has much more west African words as compared to other creole languages in the region which reflect more of which colonizer used to be on which island. With this said, the culture of Antigua is definitely unique and one that is best appreciated in person by meeting its people.

LANDMARKS OF ANTIGUA

If you’re thinking that there won’t be plenty of landmarks in Antigua because it is just a small chain of islands, you can’t be more wrong! Historical landmarks alone number about 300 in Antigua, not counting the pristine beaches, beautiful museums, well-built forts, and wonders of nature. You better be sure that your vacation in Antigua is at least a week long to have enough time to go around the most popular attractions!

St. John's Cathedral on Church Lane
St. John's Cathedral on Church Lane is a religious site that was originally built in 1683. Since then, it has been rebuilt at least twice because of earthquake damage in the 1800s and 1974. This marvel of architecture still stands today and well-loved by locals and tourists alike.

British Forts and Military Sites in Antigua
You won’t run out Forts and Military Sites on your Antigua vacation because the coastline has lots of these. Some are in ruins but are still a great historical attraction that anyone can visit for free.

Dockyard Museum
There are many museums in Antigua but the Dockyard Museum is a favorite for visitors for many reasons. It used to be the officer’s quarters in the Royal Navy Dockyard and is located in southern Antigua inside the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park and English Harbour. The building has been renovated twice, first to serve as an office and second to its present incarnation as a museum.

Admiral House
A must visit for those passing by Central Falmouth Harbour, Admiral House is likely open to visitors year-round.

Greencastle Hill Park
One of the highest hills and located in western Antigua is the Greencastle Hill Park. The park has been a popular place for centuries for locals, tourists, and hikers because of the beautiful view.

Fort Berkeley
Still looking like an impressive fort to this day, Fort Berkeley was built in 1704 and armed with more than 25 cannons that can hit a target that is half a mile to a full mile away. Approaching ships of enemy navies wouldn’t dare approach this fort back in the day when it was still used for defense. These days, it is a scenic tourist spot.

Other beautiful landmarks in Antigua that are worth a visit include Fort Barrington, Fort James, Nelson's Ruins Northeast, Nelson's Ruins West, and Nelson's Ruins Southeast, Old Sugar Mill Ruins, Old Sugar Factory, Sweets Windmill Ruins, Shirley Heights Fort, Betty’s Hope, Tradewinds Antigua, and Stanford Cricket Ground.