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  • Writer's pictureJude

How to spend a few days in English Harbour

Updated: Apr 27


English Harbour, Antigua

Charismatic English Harbour is positioned at the island’s most southerly point, greeting visitors with a host of activities and eateries. For a vibrant stay, visit over Christmas, New Year or during sailing week in April. Entering its 55th year, the world-class annual regatta lures hoards of spectators and participants with exciting races followed by parties and celebrations for locals and tourists alike.


May through to October is much quieter but still as enjoyable. Fewer venues are open and the chance of rainfall is higher. Bear in mind hurricane season also looms for a few months from July. But during these months flights and accommodation are cheaper and temperatures still remain consistently close to 30°C.


Yachts on English Harbour, Antigua

Admiral's Inn

Room-only Admiral’s Inn is a boutique hotel comprising 23 characterful rooms within historic Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO National Heritage site. Choose from a range of cosy, water-side cottages or tastefully converted former engineer’s offices within an imposing Georgian building, once used for storing lead, turpentine and pitch. Click on the link to read more about Admiral's Inn.


Admiral's Inn, Nelson's Dockyard

Alternatively, stay next door at ...


Copper & Lumber Store

Olde-world charm with a modern twist. 14 contemporary suites within a sympathetically restored Georgian building once used to store copper and lumber to restore ships. Click on the link to read more about Copper & Lumber Store.



Nelson's Dockyard, English Harbour

Start by spending the morning exploring the world's only continuously working Georgian dockyard. Its bakery provides take-away coffee, cakes and crisp pasties with a shout of scotch bonnet. Browse gift shops, a wood carving studio, clothing stalls and pass the towering palm tree planted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1966, Wander around the museum at leisure, once Lord Admiral Nelson's home and learn about the naval base following his arrival late 18th Century and the building of the dockyard shortly after by plantation slaves. Other points of interest dotted around the grounds include cannons, colossal anchors, cauldrons once used to heat tar and a stone incline plane that helped ease lumber into the saw pit. Read more about Nelson's Dockyard National Park.


Saw pit in Nelson's Dockyard

Boom and The Powder Room

Next, embrace the cool breeze during a short and speedy complementary boat ride across the harbour and lunch at Boom. First work up an appetite swimming laps in the turquoise coloured infinity pool then devour the catch of the day with creole sauce or a crisp salad with the freshest of prawns. The afternoon can be spent relaxing in a poolside hammock, four poster bed or lounger watching pelicans swoop for fish. Alternatively, indulge in a hot stone massage at the on-site spa, The Powder Room.


Boom restaurant with infinity pool and hammocks

Pillars Caribbean Night

After dark, as crickets begin their chirping song, settle on a sumptuous sofa in the hotel's lounge bar. Partake in a game of ancient Warri while a cocktail of your choice is prepared. Adjacent to the bar is Pillars, an open-air, harbour side restaurant. Watch leaping tarpan in the glistening water while tucking into pepper encrusted mahi-mahi atop sautéed plantain with roasted baby potatoes. On Wednesdays a live steel band performs well-known favourite tunes and an additional Caribbean set menu is available.


Steel band performance at Pillars restaurant

Springhill Riding Club

Next day rise early for a pre-booked horseback ride through the plantations around Falmouth Harbour. The highlight of this unforgettable activity is to swim with your horse bareback at a small bay. Click on the link for full details of this 90 minute trail ride experience at English Harbour with the Antigua Equestrian Centre.



Galleon Beach and Pillars of Hercules

Another option is to take the shuttle boat and spend a few hours at Galleons Beach. Snorkel out to the shipwreck where marine life is plentiful and you may be lucky enough to have a turtle swim beneath you. During peak season, beachfront restaurant, Loose Cannon is open for exceptional food and drinks with daily cabanas for hire Tuesdays-Thursdays for EC$300. They include paddle board hire, a mezze platter, wine or cocktails.




Alternatively, set off on a walking trail and see the weathered cliff-side, natural limestone rock formation at the entrance to English Harbour, the Pillars of Hercules.


Pillars of Hercules, English Harbour

Lunch

Take lunch at one of the diverse restaurants sprinkled along Dockyard Drive, serving local and International cuisine.


Lobster curry at Island Fusion Cafe

Shirley Heights

A stay at English Harbour would be incomplete without a visit to Shirley Heights. From 4pm follow the procession of people and cars to the former military lookout, a long-standing tradition on a Sunday evening and more recently Thursdays too. The event kicks off with a steel band performance and a barbecue that continues through the night. At 490ft in height, the far-reaching views are arguably the best on the island. Golden hues darken as the sun sets over the harbour. Sometimes visibility is clear enough to see the islands of Montserrat and Guadalupe. Later, the volume is ramped up and tourists and locals sip rum punch and dance to the reggae beats from a lively local band. To read more about this popular activity have a look at my blog post about Shirley Heights.


Sunset view at Shirley Heights


The next morning take an early stroll around to the marina for a coffee and croissant from Seabreeze cafe. En-route, expect friendly hellos from locals, chickens appearing from behind bushes and cars simultaneously tooting while dodging potholes. Pass yoga posing trees and iridescent hummingbirds sipping nectar, wings as fast as propellers. Look out for mongoose, originally sent over from India to control the numbers of rats. They happened to eat snakes too, leaving Antigua snake-free to this day.


Marina at Falmouth Harbour

Donkey Sanctuary


Donkeys at Antigua's Humane Society

In the afternoon a 20 minute taxi journey takes you to Antigua & Barbuda's Humane Society, an animal welfare organisation incorporating the local donkey sanctuary home to around 100 mares and stallions. They also look after and re-home cats and dogs that have been injured or abandoned. Why not visit the animals or volunteer for a few hours. You will be able to comb their coats, walk the dogs or cuddle puppies and kittens to help socialise them for re-homing. Adoption programs are available to provide donations to help continue care for your chosen animal after you have returned home. Click on the link to read more about the Donkey Sanctuary in Antigua.


Maia at South Point

Meander along to Maia at South Point at night or perhaps one of the other local restaurants in English Harbour. Perch at the counter-top bar with an ice-frosted glass of rosé. Listen to live music on Fridays and Saturdays while watching flaming steaks being grilled to one side and delicate sushi preparation to the other. The restaurant also serves local delights such as a carpaccio of breadfruit roasted with a scattering of parmesan. For dessert sample slivers of Antigua’s national fruit, black pineapple, known for being the sweetest in the world, then bathed in lemon vodka.


Breadfruit at Maia at South Point

Dining and Dancing at Abracadabra

Night owls can dance into the early hours at popular authentic Italian restaurant, Abracadabra. At weekends the venue transforms into an outdoor disco. An ideal way to burn off calories from a rich and creamy risotto laced with mascarpone, lime and lobster.


Abracadabra Italian Restaurant, risotto

A lot can be packed into three days in this location so do as little or as much as you desire. It’s probably worth saving something so you have the perfect excuse to return.







Note: I will receive a small commission if you make a booking at accommodation I have recommended.

If you make any bookings based on my recommendations your contract will be directly with the hotels/activity providers. I am acting as a referral point only based on information from my most recent visit which may be subject to change at any time.




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