This wasn’t my first time in Antigua and it will unlikely be the last. I was asked to attend a ‘mini-conference’ organized by the Antigua Tourist Boards to market their countries with photographers, Youtubers and bloggers –sharing all the beauty and quirks to their followers.
The last time I was here was now over 17 years ago when I was a kid. Things were basically how I remembered them, just a little more modern and developed. Antigua is one of 2 major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. This is one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous nations. Tourists have been flocking here for years and there are dozens of high-end, stylish resorts. Luckily, Antigua till proudly holds on to its roots. There are towns full of candy coloured homes which are scattered over the islands. Rum is ubiquitous and steel drum music can be heard floating through the streets full of smiling, friendly locals.
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The highlights for me and for a lot of the tourists are the beaches. It’s hard to rival some of them. My first walk along Jolly Beach had me absolutely awe struck at its luminous, emerald water over perfect white sand. No photo retouching is required here — the colours really are like that. Antigua and Barbuda have 365 beaches (yes that’s right, one for every day of the year). You will find the most impressive beaches on the west coast, many of them watched over by rolling green hills that were just perfect for the drone photos we took.
The country has a long history. It was originally settled by the indigenous population almost 4500 years ago. The West then discovered the island on Colombus’ second voyage in 1493 and after that is was settled by the French and Spanish. Later the English took over and a dark time of slavery and sugar plantations followed. Slavery was abolished in 1834 and finally Antigua gained independence in 1981.
Since then they have grown a thriving tourism and financial economy. I always feel safe and at home here and they certainly know how to treat guests.
The conference lasted eight days and during that time we were lucky to be shown around the island, take part in all sorts of activities, such as zip lining, hiking and kayaking, while being wined and dined at some of the nicest local restaurants. I should say we only actually spent two half days at the actual conference, really the “conference” is an excuse to gather people to showcase the country to the world.
One experience everyone should witness is to attend the party at Shirley Heights on a Sunday night. The site has one of the best views in Antigua, looking down onto the famous English Harbour and the bays around it, watching the sun set behind the mountains whilst sampling the delicious local barbeques and listening to a melodic local steel drum band.
Whether you are more interested in thrill seeking activities like speed boating and zip lining, or you would prefer to lay back over the bleached white sand and crystal clear waters, Antigua certainly won’t leave you disappointed.
Tom Archer is a freelance photographer with a passion for travel. He shoots a variety of work from weddings to advertising, he is completely self-taught and his work has taken him all over the world. He is in the process of building workshops, which will see him teaching landscape and adventure photography in some of the most beautiful destinations on the planet.