Whatever rugged Antigua may lack in tropical scenery the island more than makes up for with what are some of the best watersports conditions found anywhere in the Caribbean, and 365 beaches ('one for each day of the year' say the Antiguans) to enjoy! For many, too, the great bay of stunning English Harbour and historic Nelson's Dockyard (Britain's West Indies naval base now restored to its 18th century prime) will prove a magnet.
When Christopher Columbus discovered Antigua in 1493, he encountered the unfriendly Carib Indians. Columbus chose to name the island Santa Maria de Antigua, in honour of a church in Spain. For many years, both the Spanish and French were unable to settle on the island due to the fierce nature of the Caribs. But in 1632, the British managed to take control of this island and neighboring Barbuda, developing the sugarcane industry with the use of slaves imported from Africa. During the 1780's, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson commanded a British Navy Base at Antigua's Falmouth Harbour, which is today the best-preserved harbour in all the Caribbean. In 1981 Antigua and Barbuda were granted independence.
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