Nelson's Dockyard#1 in Best Things To Do in Antigua
If you only break from the beach for one day, head to the beautifully restored English Harbour, where you'll find Nelson's Dockyard. The naval dockyard was once the home of the British fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, and served as the headquarters of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson from 1784 to 1787.
You probably can't hit all the dockyard's attractions in one visit, but you can enjoy a fair few if you plan ahead. The park's official website lists all there is to see and do, including special events, but here's a quick summary: There are plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops; the Dockyard Museum, where Nelson's telescope and tea caddy are on display; and Dow's Hill Interpretation Center, where visitors can watch a 15-minute presentation on the history and culture of the island. Other Dockyard activities include sightseeing along the marina, relaxing at the nearby beach, or taking a trip up to Shirley Heights.
Recent travelers suggest heading to the dockyard on a day when cruise ships aren't in port and tour groups are limited. The extra crowds can take away from the atmosphere. "Cafes along the waterfront were a pleasant place to sit and enjoy views of the boats in the harbor," one TripAdvisor reviewer said.
Nelson's Dockyard is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost of admission is $8 USD and includes a guided tour as well as entry to all sites including Shirley Heights and Dow's Hill. Tours do not run on Sundays.
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#2 Shirley Heights
Wear some comfortable shoes and make the hike from English Harbour in Nelson's Dockyard National Park to the summit of Shirley Heights. On a clear day, the panorama (located approximately 492 feet above sea level) affords views of the southern island of Guadeloupe and the active volcano Montserrat.
It's a challenging hike up to Shirley's and the Antiguan heat makes early morning the best time to make the trek. The popular Shirley Heights Lookout Bar & Restaurant rests at the summit. Come prepared to party on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., when local bands perform live Caribbean music, the barbecue is fired up and drinks are flowing. Be prepared for crowds, though. Recent travelers warn that, while worth it for the awe-inspiring sunset views, this party gets packed.
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