Shirley Heights Lookout
Duration: Half Day
Antigua’s south coast is one of the most beautiful regions on the island. Famous for its picturesque scenery and historic colonial sights, it is also one of the most fascinating. This tour will take you to Shirley Heights, part of an old British military complex that was strategically built on one of the highest points on the island. This famous spot arguably boasts the most breathtaking views of Antigua – particularly at sunset.
Shirley Heights comprises a rambling array of gun emplacements, fortifications and ruined military buildings which were built and used by the British Army to defend the island of Antigua from the threat of invasion by the French and the Dutch in the 18th century, and later during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). This historic complex was named after General Sir Thomas Shirley, a former governor of the Leeward Islands, who strengthened Antigua’s defences in 1781.
Most of the buildings date back to the late 18th century and include the ruins of the Blockhouse, Officer’s Quarters and Ridge and Artillery Quarters, which lead to the Heights. Steeped in history, this old military site is interesting to explore, but the main draw for visitors is the spectacular panoramic views of Antigua’s southern coastline, which look out over the beautiful English Harbour and famous Nelson’s Dockyard, the only working Georgian dockyard in the world.
From Shirley Heights Lookout bar and restaurant (the highest point), you can also see Galleon Beach, the lush mountainous island of Montserrat and even Falmouth Harbour and the remains of Fort Berkeley in the distance on a clear day. This is certainly one of the most dramatic vistas in the West Indies, and probably the most photographed.
Sunday afternoon is one of the best times to visit Shirley Heights Lookout, because this is when one of the best parties on the island takes places as the sun goes down. Crowds of locals and visitors congregate here to admire wonderful views of the island, which are even more spectacular as the sun sets over the horizon. All this takes place to the sounds of steel drums, reggae and calypso music, accompanied by singing, dancing, a delicious barbecue and plenty of island rum punch. The lively party atmosphere is infectious and you’ll soon be up on your feet swaying to the Caribbean beats. This is the perfect way to begin or end your holiday in Antigua in style.
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