I’ve wanted to visit Antigua for a while. For me, Antigua is a proper Caribbean island. It’s one of the big holiday destinations I’ve dreamed of going to. I’ve watched many a cricket game on the TV broadcast from St. Johns and thought I’d really like to visit there one day. My Mum had said the same, so when we saw the cruise that went there, we decided that was the one for us. St. Johns was the fourth of our 5 island stops, and instead of blindly wandering around the island, we organised a tour in advance and joined 4 others in a detailed and informative island tour.
*It’s taken a long time to get back round to posting this. In light of recent events, I decided now was the perfect time to write about our amazing day. <!
We quickly realised in Dominica that a tour is the best, the safest, and the most fun way to see an island with lots to show you in a small space of time. Our tour guide was a local guy, who had grown up playing cricket and football and was deeply passionate about the island’s people and history. He was a great laugh, and seemed to have a brain teaming with knowledge. The people we were with were slightly more eclectic. There was an older couple who were lovely, from the US, and hopped into the tour at the last moment, and there was a middle aged to elderly couple from North Carolina, and they could not have been a more stereotypical southern couple if they’d tried.
The tour started by driving over to some of the older and higher areas of the island. We drove out of the capital, and on the way to the high peaks and look outs, our guide told us all about the history of Antigua and all about the churches and people who live there. It was pretty fascinating, and a change of pace from the Dominica trip we had embarked on. He definitely knew a lot, but sometimes I couldn’t help but thinking that I’d rather see more of the island and explore for longer than hear him talk about the history. I also would have preferred more time seeing the sites than stopping at his wife’s craft stall, but there we go, it was a good souvenir opportunity.
On our way to Shirley Heights, the famous lookout over English Harbour and the island itself, we stopped at a centre that had a history show and information. It was interesting take on the island’s history, and was nice to see some maps and old pictures of the island pre-modernisation. Then, it was off to Shirley Heights. The views from up there are absolutely stunning, and I would definitely say it is a must visit on any trip to Antigua, however long your stay is.
English harbour was quaint, and oozing with wealth. It was nice to have a bit of time to wander round, the mingle in the markets, and to actually take photos and see things that we had been eagerly awaiting. It is also the home of Nelson’s Dockyard, which is a former British Navy base. It was full of historic buildings, and artefacts, and was by far my favourite bit of the day. It was so unusual to actually get to see some of the British Empire outside of the UK. It was so quaint, and definitely felt super British, and is another UNESCO World Heritage site that I can say I’ve seen. My big criticism of the tour was that I didn’t feel like we got enough time to explore, to check out the buildings, watch the boats, and actually experience the harbour and docklands itself. I did manage to squeeze a moment to write my Gran a postcard and send it from a proper Antiguan post office. It’s sometimes the little things in life.
We ended up at a pretty quiet and very pretty beach before we ended the tour. Yes, it was nice to squidge our toes in the white sand and have a little dip in the semi-warm water, but it wasn’t the whole reason I was there. The beach time was cut a little shorter than was originally planned because the tour guide took us to a little bakery (a side business of his) and shared some of the bakery’s famous treats. Not at all what I expected, but an amazing and lovely authentic thing for him to have done! He also heard my Mum ask about black pineapple (a local supersweet pineapple that we had been told we must try) so he stopped at a stall on the side of the road for us to pick one up, and it was most definitely the sweetest and nicest pineapple I have ever eaten.
We finished back up in St. Johns at the end of the tour, and for the first time since I visited the Caribbean on our cruise, I actually think I understood how people visit for longer than a few days. Dominica is definitely my favourite island so far, but I feel like Antigua has so many more options that the previous islands we visited didn’t have. You can feel that it’s wealthier and has better hotels and facilities. I just wish we had timed the cruise a little better and made it for the England cricket match.
Have you ever visited Antigua? What did you think of the island?
Is it somewhere you would like to visit?