4.5-Star Colonial-Style Resort on Historic Coast of Antigua
Giant British battleships used to frequent the marinas of English Harbour, Antigua; you can get an idea of the island’s naval heritage at Nelson's Dockyard, which dates to the 18th century. The base is lined with preserved Georgian buildings, hilltop forts, and nature trails, and it once served as the home of the distinguished Admiral Nelson (whose name is now synonymous with cheap rum). Frommer’s called the dockyard "one of the eastern Caribbean's biggest attractions.” Part of this historic port area also contains The Inn at English Harbour, which has its own private beach and spreads out over 19 acres of hillside gardens.
Head to the inn’s beach and you’ll have access to a private jetty, as well as complimentary kayaks and snorkeling gear. Elsewhere, at the open-air Terrace restaurant, you can dine by candlelight on an included three-course dinner every evening. Or try the onsite spa if you want to unwind after a day out on English Harbour; treatments here use organic essential oils. The spa also has an adjoining lounge where you can grab tea before or after sessions.
As a whole, the Inn at English Harbour’s decor fits right in with the colonial-style architecture of the area; there are mahogany floors throughout the main inn and shuttered windows and canopied beds in the guest rooms. Junior suites balance old-fashioned furnishings—hand-painted armoires and candelabra sconces—with modern amenities such as tiled walk-in showers and flat-screen TVs. Each is adjoined by a private, furnished terrace, and those on the first floor lead directly into the resort's gardens.
Antigua: Colonial History Blended with Laid-Back Island Charm
On Antigua, the largest of the British Leeward Islands, you can visit a different beach every day of the year. The island has 365 of them, some of which were named by Frommer's as the Caribbean's best. Celebrities such as Oprah, Eric Clapton, and Giorgio Armani have been drawn to the powder-soft sands here, building sprawling estates amid the thatch-roofed bungalows. In the northwest, Dickenson Bay is a popular destination with something for every type of beachgoer: umbrellas and loungers, glass-bottom boat tours, and fast-paced watersports. There's an equally lovely landscape beneath the waves—just offshore, Cades Reef, a 32-foot-deep barrier reef, shelters barracuda, eels, eagle rays, and nurse sharks.
Like other isles of the British West Indies, Antigua retains a lot of English culture from its days as a colony, including a pervasive love of cricket and traditional afternoon teatime. You can see a lot of the island's colonial roots in its capital city, St. John's, where Fort Barrington served as an important military defense post for the British Royal Navy as far back as 1652. Today, the stronghold still boasts a powder magazine and gun platform alongside some of the most panoramic views in the Caribbean.
The island's distinct culture also shines through in its cuisine, which includes conch fritters and cornmeal fungi, a dish similar to polenta. You can sample local flavors at St. John's Saturday-morning market, which bustles with vendors selling pineapple, breadfruit, and tamarind. Next door, a smaller market showcases crafts, jewelry, and parrots selling the season's hottest feather extensions.
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