The largest of the British Leeward Islands
All the signs pointed towards Antigua. The largest of the British Leeward Islands had warm, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbours, and a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. It would make a perfect place to hide a fleet. And so in 1784 the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson sailed to Antigua and established Great Britain’s most important Caribbean base. Little did he know that over 200 years later the same unique characteristics that attracted the Royal Navy would transform Antigua into one of the Caribbean’s most sought after destinations.
The signs are still there, they just point to different things. The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into English Harbour now fuel one of the world’s foremost maritime events, Sailing Week. The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today’s trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery soft beaches. The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the fascinating little island of Barbuda - once a scavenger’s paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs - is now home to one of the region’s most significant bird sanctuaries.
Antigua is the largest of the British Leeward Islands at about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Its highest point is Boggy Peak (elevation 1,319 feet), located in the southwestern corner of the island. The current population for the nation is approximately 68,000 and its capital is St. John’s.