Places to visit in Antigua & Barbuda
At the north-eastern point of Antigua there is a remote wild area known as Indian Town Point. The area was legally constituted as a National Park in the 1950’s.
Within the park there is a remarkable example of sea-water erosion. Geological, Devil’s Bridge is a natural arch carved by the sea from soft and hard limestone ledges of the Antigua formation, a geological division of the flat north-eastern part of Antigua. A bridge was created when a soft part of the limestone eroded away by action of Atlantic breakers over countless centuries.
Sammy Smith, a 104 year old Antiguan patriot had the answer. Here is a quote from his memoirs “To shoot Hard Labour”.
“On the east coast of the island is the famous Devil’s Bridge. Devil’s Bridge was call so because a lot of slaves from the neighboring estates use to go there and throw themselves overboard. That was an area of mass suicide, so people use to say the Devil have to be there. The waters around Devil’s Bridge is always rough and anyone fall over the bridge never come out alive”
Betty’s Hope Sugar Mill
Betty’s Hope is located in the limestone district of Antigua’s tranquil rural area, with beautiful vistas over the rolling landscape to the distant ocean. The founder of Betty’s Hope was Governor Keynell, whose widow inherited the estates upon is death in 1663, but had to flee Antigua during the French occupation in 1666. When Antigua was reoccupied by the British, Parliament annulled all land claims prior to the French occupation, (of those who had fled or been disloyal to the Crown). Instead, in 1674, Betty’s Hope was granted to the Codrington family, then residing in Barbados. Today an active restoration of Betty’s Hope is under way. New sails have been installed on the mill and the crushing machinery has been restored to working condition. The next phase of restoration involves repairing the cistern complex and the planting of trees and crops of former times.
A visitor center has been created by converting a former cotton house storeroom into a museum. This includes various aspects of the plantation’s history and shows early estate plans, pictures and maps, artifacts and a model of the central site to giving an overview of the of “Betty’s Hope”.
The Dockyard Museum
The Dockyard Museum was built in 1855 and originally served as officers’ quarters in the Royal Navy Dockyard. Restored in the 1970s, the building served as offices for the National Parks before opening its doors as a museum in 1997. Today the museum presents the history of Nelson’s Dockyard alongside exhibits that highlight current archaeological and historical research in Antigua.
Museum of Antigua & Barbuda
The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda was opened in 1985 and is operated by the Historical & Archaeological Society, a private non-profit organisation. The exhibits, which interpret the story of Antigua from its geological birth to political independence, are placed in the old St. John’s Court House of 1750, a very historic building. Today, it is indeed a fine setting for an interpretive museum and is an excellent example of adaptive use for the oldest building of the capital city.
Some of the Museum’s programmes include an education programme for Antigua & Barbuda’s schoolchildren, providing special lectures and the organising of monthly field trips to historic sites. Cultural evenings are held for the general public, and a newsletter is distributed to the Society’s members.
English Harbour has been the haunt of many famous naval officers including Rodney, Nelson, Collingwood, Prince William Henry, Hood, and Cochrane. Today the Dockyard at English Harbour is named after the victor of the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Lord Nelson. Nelson was based at English Harbour from 1784 to 1787. He was Senior Captain at 27 years of age and became temporary Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands for a short time.
Today you can visit Nelson’s Dockyard where many of the restored buildings house modern facilities that still reflect the naval heritage of English Harbour. Private yachts now replace Naval vessels in the harbour, But English Harbour remains a favourite port for those making the long Atlantic crossing.
Shirley Heights Lookout is home to the ‘biggest and best’ party and is a ‘must do’ on the island every Sunday for the last 25 years where crowds of visitors and locals converge from 4pm to reserve their spot to watch the most wonderful view of the sunset on the island, as the Steel Band plays. From 7pm the Soca, Reggae and Calypso music takes over and the partying really starts. As hunger strikes there is an excellent barbecue with a huge selection of dishes to choose from.