Its slightly smaller sister island, Barbuda, lies approximately 30 miles to its north and covers an area of around 68 square miles. The third island included in the nation of Antigua, the tiny Redonda, is only 0.6 square miles in size and is now a nature reserve. The capital of Antigua is St John's and its skyline is dominated by the magnificent baroque towers of the city's cathedral. The cathedral was destroyed twice by earthquakes, first in 1683 and then again in 1745. Its present structure dates back to 1845. St John's has a new dock for cruise ships and is the island's hub for dining and shopping. It also contains various attractions, including the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. Located in the central area of St John's, this museum contains some fascinating exhibits telling the story of the islands from their geological birth until today. Exhibits include, for example, a life-size replica of an Arawak dwelling (the Arawaks were among the indigenous people populating the West Indies) and the cricket bat of Viv Richards, regarded as one of the greatest cricket players of all time.
Historic sites and attractions
The evocative, graceful historic district of Antigua, the English Harbour, is also well worth a visit during an Antigua holiday. Focused mainly on Nelson's Dockyard National Park, which was originally used as a naval base during the turbulent period of the late 18th Century, this district contains the world's only remaining Georgian dockyard, as well as some outstanding buildings, including Clarence House. Above the harbour is Shirley Heights, which can be reached via the Look-out Trail, a scenic forest walk, and offers spectacular views as far as Montserrat and Guadeloupe, as well as featuring an array of military buildings, gun emplacements and the Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre. This centre enables visitors to see a most impressive media presentation centring on the history of Antigua and features observation decks with excellent views over the harbour. Barbecues, reggae and steel band music and rum punch are typically available here on Sunday afternoons.
The cemetery close to Shirley Heights features an obelisk dedicated to 54th regiment soldiers. At the far side of the bay, the ruins of Fort Berkely draw many Antigua visitors and also make an excellent view point over the harbour, which is of particular advantage during the Antigua Sailing Week. Another attraction worth taking in during an Antigua holiday is the Sea View Farm Village, where Antiguan folk pottery is fashioned and sold. In Brown's Bay, located at Nonsuch Bay, which forms the centre of the arts community of Antigua, the Harmony Hall Art Gallery exhibits continually changing local art and is the host of the Craft Fair and the Antigua Artist's Exhibition each November. The nearby Sugar Mill Tower has been converted into a bar, and offers patrons some of the best panoramic views to be found on Antigua, including some stunning views over Nonsuch Bay.
Antigua has an array of beautiful beaches. In total, there are 365 beaches, most of which are located on the calm Caribbean side of Antigua. Some of the most popular beaches include Dickenson Bay, Runaway Bay, Fort James, Deep Bay, Galley Bay and Hawksbill, a combination of four crescent shaped beaches, in the north-west; Darkwood Beach, Fryes Bay, Doigs Beach, Rendezvous Bay, Pigeon Point and several beaches on Johnson's point in the south and south-west, as well as Half Moon Bay, now a national park, and Long Bay in the east.
You can enjoy hiking among the island's stunning natural surroundings, jogging, bird watching, Eco tours, golfing, hunting and bike, jeep and helicopter tours, zip line tours, boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming with stingrays, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, sailing, safaris and seafaris, tropical adventure tours and more. In short, an Antigua holiday will have something suitable for anyone, from adventure seeking singles to families looking for some fun or simple relaxation.
Antigua is one of the sunniest among the Eastern Caribbean Islands, with annual rainfall being as low as 45 inches. The nearly constant north-east trade winds only flag a little in September, but keep temperatures at a comfortable range in the mid-seventies during the winter months and the mid-eighties during summer. Humidity is low throughout the year, so whenever tourists arrive, they will find pleasant conditions with plenty of sunshine.