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Nelson's Dockyard picture in Antigua
Caitlinator / Flickr

Key Info

Details

  • Shopping, Sightseeing Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.9
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    4.5
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

If you only break from the beach for one day, head to the beautifully restored English Harbour where you'll find Nelson's Dockyard National Park. 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 National Park 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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Nelson's Dockyard picture in Antigua
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#1 Nelson's Dockyard National Park If you only break from the beach for one day, head to the beautifully restored English Harbour where you'll find Nelson's Dockyard National Park. The naval dockyard was ... Read more » Caitlinator / Flickr

#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 ... Read more » Z dead / Flickr

#3 Devil's Bridge Millions of years of reef formation amount to this: The Devil's Bridge. The natural limestone arch located in eastern Antigua, near Indian Town, has sustained the crash of ocean ... Read more » Z dead / Flickr

#4 Hawksbill Beaches The four secluded Hawksbill beaches Royal Palm Beach, Sea Grape Beach, Honeymoon Cove and Eden Beachare technically on the property of the Hawksbill by Rex Resorts, but they're ... Read more » V.J. Matthew / Shutterstock

#5 Dickenson Bay Located in northwest Antigua in St. John's parish, Dickenson Bay is considered the premier beach of the island's 365 stretches of shoreline. That's because Dickenson offers a ... Read more » Squish_E / Flickr

#6 Valley Church Beach Just south of Jolly Harbour on the island's west coast, you'll find the serene waters and soft sand of Valley Church. The natural beauty of the palm tree-lined ... Read more » Lindasj22 / Shutterstock.com

#7 St. John's Saturday Morning Market Many head straight from the cruise ship dock to Antigua's Heritage Quay or Redcliffe Quay duty-free shopping centers, but insiders know where the real deals are: The Saturday Morning ... Read more » Geoff Howes / Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office

#8 Galley Bay Beach Galley Bay Beach on the northwest coast of the island has some of the best surfing waves in Antigua. Plus it's a must-see for animal lovers. Sea turtles often ... Read more » Geoff Howes / Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office

#9 Betty's Hope Built in 1674 and named after the daughter of one of its former owners, Betty's Hope was the first and largest sugar plantation on the island. It's no ... Read more » Ragingwhitebuffalo / Wikimedia

#10 Half Moon Bay You'll have to put a little effort into visiting one of the most breathtaking beaches of Antigua, as easternmost Half Moon Bay is far away from just about everything ... Read more » Squish_E / Flickr

Nelson's Dockyard picture in Antigua
Shirley Heights picture in Antigua
Devil's Bridge picture in Antigua
Hawksbill Bay Beaches picture in Antigua
Dickenson Bay picture in Antigua
Valley Church Beach picture in Antigua
St. John's Saturday Morning Market picture in Antigua
Galley Bay Beach picture in Antigua
Betty's Hope picture in Antigua
Half Moon Bay picture in Antigua
Nelson's Dockyard picture in Antigua
Shirley Heights picture in Antigua
Devil's Bridge picture in Antigua
Hawksbill Bay Beaches picture in Antigua
Dickenson Bay picture in Antigua
Valley Church Beach picture in Antigua
St. John's Saturday Morning Market picture in Antigua
Galley Bay Beach picture in Antigua
Betty's Hope picture in Antigua
Half Moon Bay picture in Antigua

Nelson's Dockyard has restaurants, cafés and shops aplenty. A short presentation at the Dow's Hill Interpretation Center will fill you in on the history of both the dockyard and the island. Caitlinator / Flickr

Hiking from Nelson's Dockyard to Shirley Heights takes about one hour. At 492 feet above sea level, Shirley Heights is one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset. A barbecue with live Caribbean music is held at the peak on Sunday evenings. Z dead / Flickr

Travelers like to walk across this natural wonder amouting from years of reef formation and incessant waves. Many stop at this limestone arch in eastern Antigua to take pictures and brave the blast from one of the natural blowholes.  Z dead / Flickr

The four beaches at Hawksbill Bay offer calm waves and secluded spots for relaxation. The strangely shaped rock that juts from the water gives the bay its name and helps travelers find its beaches from the road. V.J. Matthew / Shutterstock

One of the most accessible and active beaches on Antigua, Dickenson Bay has something for everyone. Its location only 15 minutes from the cruise port makes Dickenson Bay a popular beach with chairs and umbrellas available to rent. Squish_E / Flickr

Just south of Jolly Harbour's buzz and bustle, Valley Church Beach is a serene waterside retreat for travelers prone to lolling in the sun. Those visiting for the day will appreciate the on-site facilities and the beach bar serving up Caribbean fare and tropical drinks. Lindasj22 / Shutterstock.com

Arrive early at this busy market where Antiguan vendors sell a wide variety of items. Come prepared to barter for souvenirs, fruits and vegetables, and tropical flowers. Geoff Howes / Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office

This beach's turquoise blue water boasts some of the island's best surfing waves, which can make it a rough spot for swimmers. When nighttime rolls around, plan an outing to Galley Bay to watch turtles nest on the beach.  Geoff Howes / Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office

Betty's Hope, built in 1674, was the first sugar plantation on the island of Anitgua. The small museum in the cotton house storeroom on site enlightens visitors with stories of the plantation's history. From here you can enjoy a view of Pares Village. Ragingwhitebuffalo / Wikimedia

With fewer crowds, Half Moon Bay is the right seaside spot for those looking for off-the-beaten-path relaxation on soft white sand. Sizeable waves make this beach surfer-friendly too. Squish_E / Flickr

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