Friday, 17 June 2016

A Historic Visit to Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua.

One of my strongest memories of visiting Antigua when I was a child is Nelson's Dockyard, located in English Harbour, so naturally I had to go back when Claire and I went to the beautiful Caribbean island last month. We got a taxi from our hotel, St James's Club, and just 10minutes later we were there. Togo our lovely taxi driver asked what time we'd like to be picked up (in Antigua you always pay for a return taxi journey), and we agreed 1pm, so we'd have three hours to explore the area. It was slightly different to how I remembered it in my mind - I always thought it was much bigger than it actually is - but it was still just as beautiful and lovely to walk around.

It was very quiet when we went on a Monday morning, with just a few other visitors strolling. It's a national park, so you pay a small fee to enter and this gets you into the dockyard, Clarence House, and Shirley Heights, which we'd already visited the day before. The dockyard contains some of the original buildings from Nelson's time, as well as a luxury hotel, cute little museum that's really rather interesting. There's also a mini supermarket, a bakery (get a pineapple turnover!), and a few bars and restaurants.

Dating back to the 1600s, English Harbour became the main naval harbour on Antigua in 1723 after soldiers noticed it was the only harbour on the island that actually protected the ships from a major hurricane. It was also in an excellent location to monitor the neighbouring French island of Guadeloupe. These days it's a very touristy place, and there's also a marina there full of yachts, but it's well worth visiting due to the hugely historic nature of the harbour and dockyard. 

The Former Naval Officer's House is now the museum, and entry comes included in your national park ticket. It's an incredibly beautiful building with a rather dreamy wrap-around porch.

Also I'm wearing that fugly outfit because I was horribly sunburnt and it was the only thing I had that covered as much of my body as possible without keeping heat on the skin (aka cardigans/trousers etc). It's super important when sunburnt to keep it covered but also to let it breathe in loose clothing so the skin can heal. I don't usually wear that top and skirt together as they don't really go, but my white shirt I usually wear with the skirt was just too low cut on my chest.

Anyway. The beaut Naval Officer's House...

Also there are red phone boxes everywhere in Antigua because it used to be a British colony until it declared independence in 1981. 

After wandering around we decided to have a drink at one of the bars on the waterfront, where we had super cheap rum and coke's (when in the Caribbean!), like, I'm talking $5 East Caribbean Dollars, which is about £1.30!

We still had an hour to spare, so decided to walk up to the fort. A bit of a risky walk in flip-flops, I stumbled numerous times and cursed my decision to wear such silly walking shoes. In my defense though I had no idea there would even be a fort!

It was a really hot day the day we did Nelson's Dockyard, and considering both of us lived in Australia as kids, even we struggled with it when walking to the fort! Eventually we got there though and had a beautiful view of English Harbour.

We really loved our three hours at Nelson's Dockyard, the naval history is fascinating and I always love learning more about Caribbean history. It's all very Pirates of the Caribbean! I think 2-3 hours is the perfect amount of time to spend there, any more and you might struggled to find things to do, unless you go for lunch or dinner.

Have you ever been to Antigua and Nelson's Dockyard?


My trip to Antigua was in partnership with Elite Island Resorts and Hayes and Jarvis, with my accommodation and flights complimentary. This does not effect my opinion in any way and as always I am 100% honest in my reviews. You can book a holiday to St James Club in Antigua via Hayes and Jarvis.

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