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Caribbean World Heritage Sites: Nelson’s Dockyard National Park in Antigua

by Karen Rollins Aug 1, 2022

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“World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity… World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.” – WHC website.

The Caribbean is home to 16 cultural and nine natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites spread over 14 territories. These sites speak to the region’s history, culture, and development and its outstanding natural beauty.

In this series, Yello is exploring the Caribbean’s World Heritage Sites. Let’s go to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua.

Nelson’s Dockyard is the largest national park in Antigua and Barbuda and is still used today as a working dockyard.

Located within English Harbour, the buildings of the naval dock, which was once the home of the British fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, have been wonderfully restored to their 18th and 19th century grandeur and now house various shops, hotels, cafes, and marina businesses.

The area is named after Horatio Nelson, the British naval commander, who was sent to Antigua from 1784-1787 to enforce British laws in the colonies.

Within the grounds of the park visitors will find several remnants of Antigua’s colonial past including historic forts which can be explored via nature trails.

Shirley Heights lookout point, which is said to offer ‘the best view in Antigua’ and is often listed as ‘one of the must-do events’ on the island, is also located within the park.

The lookout point was once a military complex with a guard house, canteen, kitchen and a hospital, the view from Shirley Heights is breathtaking. And, on a clear day, visitors can even see the nearby islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat.

Hikers will enjoy the trek up 490 feet, but you should go early in the morning or just before sunset to avoid the sun at its hottest. On Sundays, a party takes place on the site from 4pm-10pm with a BBQ, drinks and local bands playing Caribbean and international music – admission is $8 (US).

A visit to the Nelson’s Dockyard Museum, where Nelson’s telescope and tea caddy are on display, will provide even more history on this fascinating site which is open 8am-6pm and costs $8 (US) to enter including a guided tour.

Visit the National Parks Antigua website for more information.