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Cruising Article – 2011-08-24

Top five areas to explore in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

The twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda, along with a number of smaller islands, make up a fantastic archipelago located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This land of 365 beaches, formally occupied by the British, features a fascinating past dating back to the colonization of the Americas. For those looking for a vacation destination with plenty of history in a well-established area, these two islands can provide a number of interesting activities for adventurous minded travelers.

The most unique aspect of the Antigua and Barbuda region is the coral reef surrounding the area. Four types of these formations occur in the water - barrier, fringing, bank and patch - which make for diverse underwater terrain. As these reefs provide an essential ecosystem for a number of fish and contain many historic shipwrecks, snorkeling in any of these areas will be an experience to remember.

A number of islands off the coast of Antigua are home to the North Sound National Park, where vacationers can enjoy a relaxing lunch on the beach and visit Great Bird Island. The area features pristine white sand beaches, clear water, and is the home of many nesting birds such as the West Indian whistling duck, the red-billed tropic bird and the frigate bird.

The Antigua rainforest canopy tour is a great way to see some of the naturally occurring vegetation of the island from a magnificent zipline. After vacationers are guided through the jungle for several hours, and walk over a suspension bridge, a zipline which crosses a 300-foot gorge will be available for those who wish to engage in this thrill. The tour features other activities of this type such as ropes courses and a 36-foot drop known as the leap of faith.

An excursion to Shirley Heights can give travelers a taste of what colony life in this region was like. This locale, named after General Shirley, looks out over the harbor and is the location of many gun placements and fortifications from a bygone area. The view from the top of this hill into the port is quite staggering.

Another historic location in Antigua and Barbuda is Nelson's Dockyard. This was a naval base for the English who began construction of this series of docks, buildings and boat houses in 1725. This district is now a national park and is home to a museum, nature trail, and yacht marina. Visiting this site is just the tip of the fun iceberg for those who come to Antigua and Barbuda.