Antigua's tourist office boasts that the island has 365 beaches, 'one for each day of the year'. It has great reefs and wrecks for diving and snorkelling. On neighbouring Barbuda you can track the island's fabled frigate birds and visit the Caribbean's largest rookery.
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This romantic beachfront resort on the sands of Dickenson Bay offers luxurious accommodations set amid two uniquely themed villages.
Nelson’s DockyardThis historic dockyard is Antigua’s most popular tourist sight, as well as the island’s main port of entry for yachts. The dockyard, which dates from 1745, was abandoned in 1889 following a decline in Antigua’s economic and strategic importance to the British Crown. Restoration work began in the 1950s, and this former royal naval base now has a new life closely paralleling its old one – that of an active dockyard. It’s the only working Georgian marina in the western hemisphere. Souvenir shops, restaurants and inns as well as boating facilities occupy the handsome old brick-and-stone naval buildings, whose history is outlined on interpretive plaques. It’s easy to imagine a British frigate being prepared to sail out and blast a few French or pirate ships. A must-stop is the two-floor Dockyard Museum in a former officers residence. It has exhibits on the history of the island, the construction of the dockyard, and daily life at the local forts. There is also the Nelson Room, where displays examine the ‘irritation, lust, piety and jealousy’ he felt for the (married) Lady Emma Hamilton.
St John’s CathedralThis twin-spired cathedral is St John’s most prominent landmark. After an 1843 earthquake leveled the original 1681 wooden church, it was quickly replaced with the current neobaroque stone structure. The unique pitch-pine interior creates a church-within-a-church effect and almost feels like you’re inside an old sailing ship. Closed for renovation for some time to come, it can only be seen on special guided tours set up through the deanery.
Hawksbill BayNamed for a landmark rock formation, this bay has a string of four lovely beaches. The turnoff for the first one is before you get to Hawksbill by rex resort, but the other three must be accessed through the resort. The furthest one is Antigua’s only official nudist beach.
Antigua's Sailing Week is a major week-long yachting event that begins on the last Sunday in April, attracting about 150 boats. In addition to a series of five races, there are rum parties and a formal ball, with most activities taking place at Nelson's Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour. In May/June, Barbuda celebrates a rendition of its own Carnival called Caribara.
Carnival, Antigua's big annual festival, is held from the end of July and culminates in a parade on the first Tuesday in August. Most Carnival activity takes place in St John's. Calypso music, steel bands, masqueraders, floats and street 'jump-ups' are all part of the celebrations. If you have enough energy by the last day to be up and dancing in the streets at 04:00 you can jump up during J'Overt, the climax of Carnival. The other major musical event is the annual Antiguan Jazz Festival, which takes place in October.
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