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Within a large horse-shoe shaped bay on the south side of Antigua lies Falmouth Harbour, the area of which is split into two main districts. The north side is home to picturesque Falmouth village while the east side offers a more cosmopolitan vibe, boasting plenty of shops and restaurants, and tourist attractions like Nelson's Harbour. The island was originally named by Christopher Columbus who sailed past in 1493 but he didn't land. The following Spanish fleet also didn't land due to the large population of native cannibals and lack of fresh water. The English, however, decided to colonise it in 1684 and it later became a slave trade port. During the time of English rule, which ended in 1981, there was a brief French interlude and all of these various cultures have shaped and influenced the island over time.
Falmouth Harbour is located in a beautiful bay, protected from some of the area's tropical storms. As an English naval stronghold, the area boasts durable links with traditional English structures and on its eastern side visitors will find the fully restored Georgian port, aptly named English Harbour. The area boasts a wealth of natural and cultural sites to keep tourists entertained, as well as a variety of sporting activities to enjoy. Here are some of the areas highlights:
Beach lovers will be spoilt for choice because Antigua claims to have enough beaches to enjoy a different one every day of the year. The two nearest to Falmouth Harbour are Galleon Beach and Pigeon Point. Both boast golden sands and tranquil waters, with Galleon beach hosting some calm shallows making it the better choice for young children. There is also a small reef here which affords the perfect snorkelling conditions. Located out in the warm Caribbean Sea are several floating docks that you can sunbath on or use as diving boards into the crystal clear waters below. Alternatively, lounge in one of the sun beds dotted along the beach or seek shade under the palm trees and enjoy a relaxing few hours in paradise.
Next to Falmouth Harbour within walking distance of the port, is the historic and tastefully restored Nelson's Dockyard. Named after Horatio Nelson, it has been revived to its former glory and can boast that it is the only remaining Georgian dockyard in the world. It is home to a small museum and exhibits that track its history and importance throughout the years. Also home to some lovely gift shops and quaint cafés to enjoy, this attraction is well worth a visit.
Hill walkers can enjoy a trek to the summit of Shirley Heights, although it's possible to travel there by vehicle. The summit offers impressive views across the bay area. Up here you can also enjoy a traditional Caribbean BBQ every Sunday, accompanied with reggae music, rum punch and a steel band. Local stalls sell craft items here, as well as some traditional souvenirs. On the other side of Falmouth Harbour is the less travelled, but more visually rewarding, summit of Monk's Hill. Nestled on the summit you will find Fort George which was a fortification built in the 17th century. Now fallen to ruin it is still an impressive structure. From up here you can look down over Falmouth Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard.
Due to its small size there are only a few shopping opportunities in the harbour area which offer a limited variety of gifts and souvenirs for visitors. Next door in English Harbour you will be able to pick up some local pieces of art and pottery but the variety is still not extensive and you would be better off travelling slightly further afield to the capital of St. John's if you are in need of some proper retail therapy. The museum has some quaint pieces and keepsakes and some of the town shops sell traditional brightly-coloured Caribbean clothing .
Due to the region's varied colonial history, the cuisine in the area reflects French, English and Caribbean influences. There are a number of good eateries in the area which cater to all tastes and budgets. Le Cap Horn French Restaurant and Pizzeria offers a choice of dishes with quality meat and fish available. Diners can enjoy some sumptuous French inspired cuisine with a Caribbean influence. For some expertly prepared seafood head to Rumbaba which is housed in a traditional wooden building. It is a small, intimate venue where you can watch the chef prepare your meal, and offers dishes at very reasonable prices.
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