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WINTER 2012I sea&iI55aboardashore

56Isea&iIWINTER 2012Antigua & St BarthsThese two islands in the Leewards' chain are poles apart in style but because their differences perfectly compliment one another they offer the best ofeverything. Begin your cruise from the unpretentious, old-world island of Antigua and spend a few leisurely days acclimatising to the Caribbean pace oflife before progressing through the Leewards' chain and ending your itinerary at the glittering and sophisticated island of St Barths. Antigua Lying at the centre of the Eastern Caribbean chain, Antigua issteeped in maritime history (Admiral Nelson once commandedthe naval dockyard here) and is renowned for being awonderfulplace for fun, socialising and complete relaxation.Miles of gorgeous beaches are its primary attraction (there are365 of them), but Antigua's colonial past also places it in poleposition on the Caribbean cruising map as it has manyhistorical sights.Essential viewing during a visit includes English Harbour andNelson's Dockyard - the latter being the most impressive man-made site in the Caribbean. Once the home to the British RoyalNavy under Nelson's command, this cultural hot spot is a lastingsymbol of England's powerful navy, and the Colonial navalbuildings still remain intact. Above English Harbour, the oldfortifications of Shirley Heights are also worth a visit, especiallyfor the Jump Up on Sundays when the Lookout Bar serves rumpunch accompanied by lively reggae. Other sites to prioritise during a few days on Antiguainclude Betty's Hope (the site of Antigua's first sugarplantation), and Fort James, which still has a full complementof cannons that, in their heyday, used to shoot across the bowsof passing vessels that hadn't paid the customary 18 shillingsto the fort's captain.Save time, also, for the amazing beaches, the best of whichare considered to be Half Moon Bay on the east coast andDickenson Bay in the northwest. Both are long stretches ofsparsely populated white sand. The island's verdant interior