Awe-inspiring views of protected bays, green hills and beautiful sunsets await in Shirley Heights. This one-time military complex sits on a hilltop at the southernmost tip of Antigua, where it historically served to protect the island from invasion. Hike along trails to discover remnants of Antigua’s colonial past. Have your camera ready to snap postcard-worthy shots. Feast on a Caribbean barbecue, sip tropical cocktails and dance to the rhythm of steel drums.
The major highlight of this 18th-century landmark is its panoramic lookout, which offers exquisite views of Freeman’s Bay, English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. Watch as lavish yachts sail into the harbor and moor at Nelson’s Dockyard and off Galleon Beach. On clear days it’s possible to see the neighboring islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat. The views are particularly impressive early in the evening as the sun drifts down behind the hills.
Inside one of the former military buildings is a restaurant that serves variations of traditional American and Caribbean food. Come on a Sunday for the alfresco barbecue and dine on succulent grilled meats such as jerk chicken. A local band entertains the crowds with calypso, reggae and steel drum music.
Follow the trails that traverse the coastline and lead to other historic landmarks. Carpenters Rock Trail travels south from the lookout and across a headland to the remains of Fort Charlotte before continuing to Galleon Beach. Stop at the cemetery to see an obelisk dedicated to the servicemen of the 54th Regiment who lost their lives in the West Indies in the mid 1800s. A paved road takes you to Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre, which has exhibits on Antiguan history.
Shirley Heights sits above the eastern shores of English Harbour. Get here easily by walking along the Lookout Trail from Galleon Beach. From Nelson’s Dockyard it’s about a 15-minute taxi ride. Free parking is available at the lookout’s entrance.
The Shirley Heights lookout and restaurant is open daily. There is a fee to enter the lookout.