There are lots of things to do in Antigua and one of them is a Shirley Heights Lookout trail from English Harbour with Wadadli Trail Blazers. I did this hike the other day and it was a most memorable experience. The hike had incredible views and was a great way to start the day on this Caribbean island.
We went on Sunday and our driver picked us up from The Veranadah Resort and drove us to English Harbour in English Harbour Town. There we met with another group who were coming on the hike and we began. The hike from English Harbour to Shirley Heights Lookout wasn’t a particularly difficult trail so it’s really open to most people.
Hiking Shirley Heights Lookout Trail
The only things you should be aware of when hiking this Shirley Heights Lookout trail from English Harbour is to watch your footing. If you’re not sure of your footing, you could get tripped up and at one point there is a rather steep vertical climb. That said, the steep part isn’t long enough to really make that much of a difference. So the good news is that anyone with basic mobility and fitness should be able to participate. Easy for some slightly challenging for others, that type of thing and the hike to Shirley Heights Lookout is worth it.
The views and scenery the entire length of the hike are just stunning, like the rest of Antigua. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be taking plenty of photos along the way. Since the hiking tour starts at six in the morning the air is still cool and the light is just right. You walk past the harbour for a little bit before a gradual climb starts. You’ll stop at the first view point and have some great views of English Harbour and the surrounding area. That said, nothing and I mean nothing on the hike comes close to the incredible view from Shirley Heights Lookout.
After that the hike to Shirley Heights Lookout Restaurant and Bar continues. You’ll hike along these cliffs and stop at these natural rock formations. Your guide may even take a dip in one of the natural baths before getting to another lookout point. From there the steep part of the hike begins and it’s not that steep by any means. If you’re of moderate to lower level fitness do expect a bit of heavy breathing by the end! If you’re decently fit, it’s not much different than a walk in the park as the steep section is so short.
Now you’re basically done the hike, no problem right?! You’ll hike five minutes or so to Shirley Heights Lookout and enjoy the sublime view. When I say it’s a sublime view I’m not exaggerating as the view could also be described as other worldly. It doesn’t matter how many stunning views you’ve seen, Shirley Heights Lookout will be up there on your list. Something I liked about this hike was once we got to the lookout, it was done. We drove back to the hotel, had breakfast and enjoyed the rest of the day.
I mention that the hike was finished at Shirley Heights Lookout because lots of the time tours run long. I’ve often joked that the fun of any hike is getting to the destination and afterwards it’s all extra. There was none of this with this hike and I was most appreciative. I will note that if you hang around the area, there is a popular BBQ every Sunday at Shirley Heights Lookout.
Things to Bring on Your Hike
Since the hike conveniently starts at six in the morning, you won’t have to suffer through the heat of the day. Since you’re in the Caribbean the sun can still be strong so recommend you apply sunscreen. Also bring some water as the hike will last about an hour or so and it’s important to stay hydrated. It’s extra important to stay hydrated when visiting a warm climate like the Caribbean. Basic running shoes will do for the hike, avoid wearing flip flops or other sandals unless they provide ankle support. As always, a hat is recommended to shield your face from the sun. I recommend hiking everywhere you visit.
Shirley Heights Lookout Sunday BBQ
When we were there, it was Antigua Sailing Week so we came back in the evening to enjoy the sunset and the festivities. Regardless if you do the hike or not, going to Shirley Heights Lookout on a Sunday is something you should consider. When I posted a photo online a friend replied “I hope you made it for their Sunday Night Session”. If you can’t make it, it is not the end of the world but if you can, go for it!
Quick History of Shirley Heights Lookout
Shirley Heights Lookout is located on the most southern tip of Antigua and was used as a military complex. It’s situated over 150m above sea level and has a perfect view over English Harbour. Using flags by day and guns by night it was a signal station to send messages to St. John’s via the Great Fort George on Monk’s Hill.
Quick History of English Harbour
English Harbour is a settlement and natural deep water harbour on the southern tip of Antigua. The settlement gets its name from the nearby harbour which was used by the Royal Navy in the 18th century. It’s also right next to Falmouth Harbour. Today, English and Falmouth Harbour are home to many yachts. English Harbour is most well known for Nelson’s Dockyard named after Horatio Nelson who commanded it during colonial times. As of 2001, the estimated population was just under 800 people.
I recommend the hiking Shirley Heights Lookout trail with Wadadli Trail Blazers. It’s good fun in a beautiful place and a positive way to start the day. Also, since it starts so early you’ll be back with great memories before most are waking up for breakfast! Do remember what I said about the BBQ on Sundays, you’ll be glad you went whether you did the hike or not! If you can go during Antigua Sailing Week, it’s a bonus.
In closing, HUGE thanks to the people at Traverse Events and Antigua and Barbuda Tourism for hosting me. I went as part of a mini-conference and like everyone else, fell in love with Antigua. As always, all opinions are that of Stop Having a Boring Life and always will be.