Antigua and Barbuda: Sightseeing
Life is a beach
Antigua and Barbuda have a colourful history ancient and modern which has left a legacy of physical landmarks and cultural influences for the modern traveller to engage in. The years of occupation by the military powers in particular the British Navy, the later development of the sugar can industry under Codrington, slavery to serve this industry, the abandonment of the Naval Base, the decline of the sugar industry, the emancipation of slavery and the much later development of a now thriving tourist industry have shaped Antigua and Barbuda into the beautiful islands full of physical and cultural interest.
The military occupation has given us Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour, now restored to former glory as a tourist attraction and many defence installations with magnificent views throughout the eastern coastline of Antigua. The sugar cane industry has given us Betty’s Hope, Harmony Hall with its restored sugar mills. The tourist industry has developed the islands hotels and resorts which have proliferated along the white sandy beaches to offer a wide range of water sports, in-house activities and a variety of local and international food. Tour operators offer eco and adventure excursions by land, sea and air. Cruise ships arrive at Heritage Quay, sometimes there are 4 ships in harbour at one time. Local events such as Sailing Week, Carnival and Cricket Tournaments are regular features in the islands calendar. There is so much to see and do, so do sacrifice a little time from relaxing on the beach to explore Antigua and if you have time Barbuda with its huge lagoon and frigate bird sanctuary will not disappoint you. If you don’t see it all you must return.
Excursions in Antigua and Barbuda
There is much to see and do in Antigua and Barbuda, never a dull moment they say. Excursions are generally seasonal and pre booking is advisable. The excursions listed here are sub-divided into land, marine and ecological. Firstly land excursions. Adventure Off Road Tours offer 4WD off the beaten track guided tours to discover the history and geology of Antigua, Estate Safari Tours do a similar tour in their 4WD Nissans including lunch and drinks at their own private restaurant at Parnham, Tropical Adventures do a full day Island Safari Adventure Tour in 4x4 Landrovers, Wadadli Off Road was created by two Antiguan artists, offering multi media workshops in painting, pottery and batik. Now for marine excursions. Caribbean World Travel and Tours offers Treasure Island Cruises aboard a catamaran to Cades Reef for snorkelling and entertainment, Round the Island, Bird Island for the naturalists and a Sunset Cruise, Wadadli Cats have four large sailing catamarans sailing to; Bird Island, Cades Reef, Triple Destination Centres to Green Island, English Harbour and Shirley Heights, the last destination is by taxi, Round the Island and their Sunset Cruise. Tropical Adventures have cruises on board ‘Tiami’ catamaran and their power cat ‘Excellence’ for island tours and to Barbuda to the frigate bird sanctuary.
Adventure Antigua offers Extreme Circumnavigation on board a 45 foot offshore racer including a stop at Stingray City Marine Park, lunch at Green Island, an historical tour of Nelson’s Dockyard, snorkelling at the Pillars of Hercules, a natural formation set in the cliff face ending with a stop at secluded Rendezvous Bay. Visit Stingray City leaving from the village of Seatons, a short boat ride takes you to Stingray City where you can swim with and feed the Southern Stingrays. The kids will love it. Black Swan Pirate Party Cruise is fun for all the family. Leaving from Redcliffe Quay you will find yourself rope swinging, walking the plank, swimming, snorkelling, dancing to calypso and enjoying an open grille seafood lunch with drinks. Antigua Seafaris have two excursions, a full day on board a 40 foot rigid inflatable boat to the uninhabited islands of the North Sound Marine Park, a mangrove lagoon eco system where you can find frigate birds, brown pelicans, egrets, herons, red bill and also Hawksbill Turtles, stingrays and sunfish, onwards to Bird Island, Mercer’s Creek, Devils Bridge on the east coast, a stop at Green Island to swim and snorkel, heading south to Shirley Heights, pass the Pillars of Hercules and Nelson’s Dockyard, stop at Cades Bay to swim and look for starfish and head west for the final leg. Antigua Seafaris also offers a trip to the best snorkelling sites at Cades Reef National Park by high speed power boat. Treasure Island Cruises offers a Cades Reef Cruise which includes snorkelling, entertainment by live steel bands, limbo and fire dancing plus a beach BBQ, also a Round the Island Cruise, a Bird Island Cruise and Eco Tour and a Sunset Cruise. Finally ecological excursions.
Tropical Adventures offers a full day Island Safari Eco Adventure Tour in 4x4 Landrovers, half day is devoted to exploring Antigua’s eco systems and half a day kayaking in the mangroves south west of the island plus snorkelling in Cades Bay. Adventure Antigua organises an Eco Tour with small groups to explore by kayak the hidden reefs and waterways of the North Sound Marine Park. The owner Eli Fuller has designed his tours around history and ecology. Snorkelling, caving, hiking and exploring the mangroves are all part of his full day tour. The Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour is a must. Located at Fig Tree Drive, this tour is a unique eco tour through the rainforest canopy. It consists of 26 elements comprising zip lines and suspension bridges which start at the Old Pump House and traverse a gorge before ending with an optional 60 foot controlled parachute jump. Mid way there is a juice stop in a tree house high in the canopy. Visit Barbuda by the Barbuda Express ferry and spend a day visiting the frigate bird sanctuary, the lobster breeding lagoon, the caves used by the early Arawak Indians and see the miles of pristine white and pink sandy beaches.