City Guide: St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

The stunning, natural beauty of Antigua and Barbuda is obvious when you flip through pictures and travel magazines but the real effect this island has on your senses will leave you with a true understanding of what natural beauty really means. Located on the island of Antigua (Barbuda is its sister island, north in the ocean), the capital city may be the main attraction but the island itself is not a large one, making all four corners of it accessible in a single days drive. From green mountains and small, lush forestry to cruise ship enthusiasts visiting this particular harbour year round for its 365 beaches, this city (and the rest of this country, in fact) holds warmth and beauty in its palms, ready to share some with you on your trip.

Sites you can't miss:

Nelson's Dockyard
Just a short drive away (30 min.) in the south of the island, this well preserved piece of Georgian era history is really something to behold as it is the dockyard of its era still in use today, after much restoration was performed in the early 1950's. The landlocked harbour currently holds a museum, shops, restaurants and two restored 18th century hotels, The Copper & Lumber Store Hotel and The Admiral's Inn.

Shirley Heights Lookout
An incredible view isn't the only thing this former military lookout offers. A very popular, must-visit Sunday party (from 4pm – 10 pm) offers a fantastic bbq, local bands, music and drinks accompanied by a spectacular 360 vista of the natural beauty that is Antigua.

Museum of Antigua and Barbuda
Housed in a colonial courthouse dating back to 1750, this museum is filled with the rich history of the island, spanning both geographically and politically. Opened in 1985, there is much to see and learn about the original Arawak natives as well as the colonial history of the land, with a replica of an Arawak house to boot.

Half Moon Bay
You might be wondering how you can narrow down a list of 365 beaches to one must-see spot, but when you hit Half Moon Bay, you'll understand why it stands out. A 1.5 km stretch of soft, sandy beach on the southeastern coast finds the likes of surfers, snorkelers and snugglers (the honeymooning type) spending the entire day in the Atlantic Ocean's wild yet warm touch.

What you have to eat:

C & C Wine Bar is a casual wine bar located in Redcliffe Quay serving a roster of fine wines, including a selection of South African wines. Be sure to order a cheese plate to accompany your drinks or stay for a full meal of pasta, bruschetta or an island favourite: delicious coconut shrimp.

Head to Australian Homemade ice cream for your cool-down ice cream treat or just a coffee boost mid-day. Made with fresh, natural ingredients like milk, egg, yogurt (for the sorbets), their rich ice creams are available in the usual vanilla and chocolate but let's be serious here: when  you've got offerings of papaya, banana and my personal favourite, pistachio up for grabs, why wouldn't you try something that will really knock your socks off? If you've got your mind (or stomach) on other things, there is a menu of fresh waffles, coffee, tea and other drinks available, too.

Where you should stay:

Cocobay Resort
Near the south west area of Antigua, Cocobay Resort offers painfully charming cottages with stunning white wood decor with private plunge pools and hammocks or the ultimate relaxation experience.

Cocos Hotel
Made for lovers, this couples only resort is situated hillside in Bolands overlooking Valley Church Beach and the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. Perfect for honeymooners, romantics and intimate wedding retreats, the individual cottages feature private balconies, a private beach and a spa perfect for pampering.

Hermitage Bay
Pure five star luxuries awaits at Hermitage Bay with guest accommodations featuring the stunning blue sea as their front yard and lush, green gardens and hillsides as their backyards. This all-inclusive resort is nestled away from the hustle and bustle for true serenity but is still closely located to the excitement of St. John's shopping and nightlife. You'll fine restaurants, boutiques, a spa and yoga all at this hotel. Possibly the best feature of each of these 25 private cottages: the garden shower.

Tags: antigua, Caribbean, island travel, st. John's, travel

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