Hear about travel to the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda as the Amateur Traveler talks to former park ranger Jeff Ohlfs about his recent trip.
Jeff says, “As you know, I’m very park centric. There’s a lot of beautiful places there to explore. There’s a lot of nature and history there. They’ve got the all inclusive resorts all over the place. So it’s a great Caribbean island, if you want to get away and just do the all inclusive and a beach stay. I’m not that kind of a person, but they’ve have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year there.”
Jeff visited all 3 islands that make up the country of Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua, Barbuda and the restricted uninhabited island of Redonda. He also made a side trip to do an arial tour of the volcano on Montserrat.
We start on the main island of Antigua. Jeff stayed in the main city of St Johns which is also the main cruise ship port on the island. There were 3 cruise ships in town when he visited but it can get as many as 5. They are glad to see those ships again in Antigua as the vast majority of the economy comes from tourism.
Jeff focused on the national parks and there are 4 on Antigua: Fort Barrington, the Megaliths Of Greencastle Hill, Devil’s Bridge National Park, and Nelson’s Dockyard. Nelson’s Dockyard is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fort Barrington is part of the fortifications that protected St Johns and the island in the age of sail. Devil’s Bridge is a natural arch by the east coast. Near Devil’s Bridge is the best preserved of the old sugar plantations on the island: Betty’s Hope.
The Megaliths Of Greencastle Hill is the “Stonehenge of the Caribbean”. It is not clear what the function of these standing stones was.
Nelson’s Dockyard is a protected bay on the south side of the island that was renamed for Admiral Horatio Nelson who was stationed in Antigua for part of his naval career. You can see the facilities that were used to supply and maintain the British Navy. The dockyard still sees ships come in for repairs but caters more now to the yachting crowd.
The final national park in Antigua and Barbuda is Codrington Lagoon National Park on the island of Barbuda. This area is a nesting spot for seabirds like frigate birds. Jeff saw Barbuda on a tour that included stopping at the park, the pink beach, the sea caves and Princes Diana Beach.
Jeff did another day trip out to Redonda but for this one you will need both special permission and you will need to hire a helicopter. This rocky island has been home to numerous bird species. There used to be a guano mining operation on the island but other than that the island has not been inhabited. Jeff says that Redonda is known as the “Galapagos of the Caribbean” as the birds there are not afraid of people.
On the same trip to Redonda, Jeff took a helicopter tour of Montserrat. Montserrat’s main city of Plymouth which was abandoned in 1997 because of volcanic eruptions. It was then mostly buried in ash. Much of the island is still a volcanic exclusion zone. Visiting has been difficult in the time of COVID because of their policy of a 5 day quarantine.
Whether you come for the beaches, the history or the rum, hear why Antigua in the Lesser Antilles might be a fun place to soak up the sun.
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Antigua and Barbuda
Santa María La Antigua
Antigua Seaview Inn
St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda
St. John’s Cathedral (Antigua and Barbuda)
Hemingway’s Caribbean Cafe
Megaliths Of Greencastle Hill
Fig Tree Drive
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
Shirley Heights Lookout – Visit Antigua & Barbuda
Admiral’s Inn and Gunpowder Suites
Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge – The World’s Toughest Row
Pink Sand Beach
Princess Diana Beach
Kingdom of Redonda
The Alchemy of Air
Antiguan Pepper Pot
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