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As well as offering excellent sailing conditions due to its calm trade winds, Antigua is home to some spectacular marine life, excellent beaches and is rich in nautical history, including Nelson’s Dockyard, where the namesake Royal Navy Hero was based between 1784 and 1787 to ensure British laws were implemented and adhered to.
Antigua is Spanish for ‘ancient’
The top places to visit when sailing Antigua
1. Five Islands Harbour
Five Islands sits to the north of Jolly Harbour in the centre of a beautiful lagoon. An excellent snorkelling location due to it’s protected reef, you can explore the abundant marine life and see the eerie shipwreck, Andes, before stepping back on-board for a relaxing evening sailing the tranquil seas while watching the sunset.
The Andes Shipwreck is one of the only wrecks in the world that you don’t need to scuba dive to see.
Named by sailors shortly after Antigua was discovered by Columbus, keen ornithologists will be in their element on Great Bird Island, where, as the name suggests, you can see some of Antigua’s rare birds, including the man o’ war bird and the brown pelican. After a spot of bird watching, take advantage of the beautiful scenery that give the island it’s affectionate nickname of a ‘desert island dream’.
Great Bird Island is the only place on earth where you may be able to spot the rare Antiguan Racer Snake
Named after Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, Nelson’s Dockyard was built in the early 1700’s as a base to monitor French naval activity and protect the islands trade infrastructure. A nautical history lovers paradise, visit the museum to see artifacts from Nelson’s reign and learn about the trade routes in and out of English Harbour.
One of the main reasons for the construction of Nelson’s Dockyard was to protect the Islands sugar!
4. Nonsuch Bay
Head to Nonsuch Bay and spend the day alongside some of the seas’ most amazing creatures at Stingray City. You’ll be able to get up close and personal with the rays, touching and feeding them. After this, snorkel through the colourful corals and tropical fish before savouring a cocktail ashore.
Nonsuch Bay Rays are the brightest rays on the planet (apparently!)
Rendezvous Bay is a large, sustainable area in Antigua where the main ethos is to maintain the Islands culture and heritage. To the rear, you’ll find a 50-acre nature reserve that is home to over 360 different species of wildlife including the West Indian Whistling Duck. Take a stroll through the parks and see some of the splendid flora and fauna that the bay has to offer before stepping back on-board.
The West Indian Whistling Duck is named thanks to its ear piercing ‘chiriria’ whistle
Top five places to eat and drink in Antigua
Incanto Restaurant and Lounge Bar (English Harbour) – A romantic Italian style restaurant which prides itself on using the freshest local ingredients. Choose from locally caught pistachio tuna or tender striploin steak.
Castaways Beach Club (Jolly Harbour) – Situated on the beach in Jolly Harbour, Castaways offers the very best Indian cuisine in a truly Caribbean setting. Try mutton sukha, a dish originating in Mumbai but infused with locally sourced coconut.
The Bay @ Nonsuch (Nonsuch Bay) – The epitome of fine dining, The Bay @ Nonsuch is situated in luxurious location overlooking the bay and offers guests a la carte dining to die for, including locally caught seafood and tender cuts of the finest meats.
Beachlimerz (Fort James Beach) – Located across the lagoon form Five Islands Harbour, Beachlimerz is a chilled out restaurant on the beach, serving local delicacies such as Mahi Mahi and a Caribbean Jambalaya. Try the house special cocktail, the Tropicocomokoloco for a true taste of Antigua.
Sheer Rocks (Ffyres Beach) – South of Jolly Harbour, Sheer Rocks have one of best rum collections on the island. Choose from a 10yr oak aged English Harbour Reserve or for something a bit special, indulge yourself with an El Dorado 25yr.
Antigua Sailing Week
Sailing enthusiasts flock to Antigua at the end of April every year for the world famous Antigua Sailing Week.
Held annually over the last week of April, the event, which is based at Nelson’s Dockyard, attracts thousands of sailors from across the world, to sail and spectate. Visit the Antigua Tourist Board for more information.
One week Antigua sailing itinerary
- Day 1 – Sail from the base at Jolly Harbour to Deep Bay, Five Islands Harbour – Sail to Five Islands where you can snorkel the shipwreck, Andes
- Day 2 – Sail from Five Islands Harbour to North Sound – take a hike up to Fort Barrington and sail to Great Bird Island
- Day 3 – Sail from North Sound to Dickenson Bay where you can spend the day relaxing or partaking in watersports
- Day 4 – Sail from Dickenson Bay to English Harbour where you can retrace Nelson’s steps
- Day 5 – Sail from English Harbour to Nonsuch Bay and visit the Pillars of Hercules
- Day 6 – Sail from Nonsuch Bay to Carlisle Bay and visit the sustainable site of Rendezvous Bay
- Day 7 – Sail from Carlisle Bay to Jolly Harbour Marina where you will spend the night before disembarking the following day.
Flying to Antigua
There are regular direct scheduled flights from the US to Antigua. North American air carriers serving Antigua are predominantly American Airlines (New York JFK, Miami and Puerto Rico), Delta (Atlanta), JetBlue (New York JFK) and Continental (Newark).