English Harbour, Antigua cruises

On the south coast of the island of Antigua is English Harbour, a small settlement that has a big history.

English Harbour, Antigua port guide

Named as such because of its 18th century history, it will come as no surprise to learn that English Harbour in Antigua was once a thriving base for the British Royal Navy.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, the area is filled with important remnants of the island’s past. In addition to a colonial history, English Harbour offers up fantastic beaches, nature trails and snorkelling opportunities, and has become a sailing hub for yachts from around the world.

Top landmarks and sights in English Harbour, Antigua

When in English Harbour, there are several landmarks and sights you could seek out to get to know the island and its people.

Nelson’s Dockyard

Having been acquired by the British in the early 18th century, it wasn’t until the 1740s that the Antigua Naval Dockyard was constructed. Then, when Horatio Nelson was sent to Antigua to enforce British law, he famously reported it to be an ‘infernal hellhole’. When restoration works were undertaken in the 1950s, the area was renamed as ‘Nelson’s Dockyard’, in recognition of his time on the island. Today, the historic buildings are now the site of shops, galleries, restaurants, and hotels. There’s also a Dockyard Museum, where you can learn about the island’s colonial past.

Shirley Heights Lookout

Part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site as the dockyard, Shirley Heights Lookout was especially important during the American War of Independence. During this time, it was used as a lookout point and signal station by the British, to keep an eye on anyone approaching the harbour. There are several hiking routes you can take up to Shirley Heights, and when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding views of the island and its surrounding, sparkling waters.

Pillars of Hercules

Around a five-minute drive south of English Harbour, on Antigua’s coastline, you’ll see the Pillars of Hercules. These intriguing geological formations raise up from the water’s edge and into the walls of the island, at the end of Galleon Beach. It’s possible to hike here from the beach, but keep in mind this will mean traversing rocks and getting your feet wet! Otherwise, you can see them on a boat trip.

Things to do in English Harbour, Antigua

Whether your dream day on a Caribbean Island consists of very little other than beaches and perhaps a rum-based cocktail, or you’d like to get out and about and explore, a stop in English Harbour affords plenty of options.

Head to a beach

In Antigua, you have an incredible 365 beaches to choose from. On a port call in English Harbour, probably the most popular are Pigeon Point Beach and Galleon Beach. Both bring a change to simply relax on soft white sands or take a dip and see what you can spot while snorkelling. Pigeon Point is a 10-minute walk from English Harbour, and has plenty of shaded areas, whereas Galleon has the added bonus of being located between two points of interest – Nelson’s Dockyard and the Pillars of Hercules. You can also rent water sports equipment including paddleboards at Galleon.

Explore the area on a hike

For those who enjoy exploring the local flora and fauna on foot, you could take on one of the local hikes. There are plenty to choose from in English Harbour. Middle Ground Trail is considered of moderate difficulty, taking about an hour and a half to complete the circular route. On the way, you’ll likely encounter other walkers, goats, fort ruins, and a wonderful view of Galleon Beach and the harbor. You could also choose the Carpenter Rock Trail route, Lookout Trail route, or Jones Valley trail to get to Shirley Heights Lookout. The latter takes you through a historic graveyard.

Learn more about Antigua’s history

To discover more about the people and culture of Antigua, you could visit Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre. Here you’ll be treated to a multimedia experience designed to educate viewers on Antigua’s indigenous peoples, colonisation, slavery, the path to independence, and modern life on the island. In addition to the overview of history, here you can also enjoy brilliant views of the coastline and English Harbour below.

Eating and drinking near English Harbour, Antigua

In Antigua, you may well like to try some of the local cuisine. Expect fresh seafood, hearty vegetables, and plenty of perfectly balanced spices. Some dishes to try on a visit to the island include ‘fungee’, which are doughy dumplings made with cornmeal and okra, and ‘ducana’, which is made with sweet potato, coconut, sugar, and spices – often cooked in a banana leaf. Both are commonly served alongside a main meal of fish.

As with many Caribbean islands, Antigua has its own local hot sauces and rums. If you’re interested in the latter, perhaps take a trip to Antigua Distillery Ltd, which was formed in 1932. Two popular rums are produced here – Cavalier Rum, which was started in the 1950s, and English Harbour rum, developed in the 1990s. Should you like a little extra spice on your food, an island favorite is Susie’s Hot Sauce. Made with a recipe that’s over 40 years old, this sauce will certainly add an extra zing to each mouthful.

Shopping in English Harbour, Antigua

There are a few small shops in and around English Harbour, where you can choose a souvenir or two to take home or perhaps find a gift for a loved one. Close to the harbor itself, and at Nelson’s Dockyard, you’ll find stores selling clothing and accessories as well as trinkets and artwork. ‘Things Local Gallery’ is a particular favorite, where you’ll find a range of hand-carved wood works that make for a unique memento.

Getting around: English Harbour, Antigua transport

English Harbour is easy to explore on foot, with many of the main points of interest being located within walking distance of the port. Should you prefer to venture further out, or you have limited mobility, taxis are readily available. There is also a local bus service, however there is no strict schedule to rely on.

English Harbour, Antigua port facilities

The port at English Harbour is designed to accommodate smaller vessels, and as such there are limited facilities. The port is located close to public amenities including shops, cafés, and tourist information.

Top tips for English Harbour, Antigua


The currency on Antigua is the East Caribbean Dollar, which is also used in Dominica, St Lucia, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, and Montserrat. Most establishments will accept card payments, however, you may find it useful to carry some cash for smaller purchases. In this case, US Dollars, Euros, and Sterling are widely accepted, but note that you’ll usually be given change in local currency.


Tipping in Antigua is common but not expected. If you experience good service in a café, bar, or restaurant, and would like to leave a tip, the appropriate amount is around 10% of the bill.


Throughout the Caribbean, Antigua included, warm temperatures are seen year-round. Lows of between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius are felt in the winter months of December to April, and highs of 25 to 31 degrees Celsius are felt in the summer. The rainy season is between June and November, with October seeing particularly high rainfall. During this time thunderstorms during the evenings are common.