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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Skip the Glitz in Antigua


3. What to Do

The view from Shirley Heights.  

Steer away from the coast to explore the island’s rain forest interior. Head to Fig Tree Drive, a winding road lined with tropical fruit trees, and stop at the Fig Tree Art Gallery to peruse local artwork and crafts before following the signs for Wallings Dam, where a network of trails leads around a Victorian-era reservoir. Ascend about 1,200 feet to Signal Hill for panoramic views, or for another interesting hike, go to the Christian Valley Agricultural Station, a state-supported fruit plantation with 40-plus acres. From here, take the two-hour hike to the top of the formerly named Boggy Peak, Antigua’s highest mountain, officially renamed Mt. Obama in 2009.

Explore Antigua’s colonial past as a hub for the British Royal Navy at Nelson’s Dockyard ($7 admission) in English Harbour. Still in operation today, it’s also home to the Dockyard Museum, which traces the history of the British naval presence. For a great view of the harbor, head up to Shirley Heights, a former military lookout but now famous for Sunday parties (about $7.50; starts around 4 p.m.) with food, drink, and steel bands.

Find a quiet beach on an island whose 365 beaches are all public, with most easy to access and therefore often populated. Head to the island’s south side and hit the trail to Rendezvous Beach, which is accessible only by boat or 4x4, keeping the crowds away. Take the road from St. John’s to Falmouth, making a right on Farrell Avenue, then make another right at the sign for Spring Hill Riding Stables and continue on until you see a white house and a trail to the right that leads to the beach. There are no amenities, so bring your own sunblock and water, and get there soon: A big resort is in the works, much to the dismay of many locals.

Published on Jan 31, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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