Caribbean Cruising '22: Awesome Antigua

Suzanna Pinder on 01 March 2022
Antigua is a fabulously diverse island. From historic Nelsons Dockyard at English Harbour to the modern day superyacht glitz and glamour at Falmouth Harbour, from 365 beautiful beaches to rich mountainous forests and from laid back lodgings to exclusive and luxurious hotels – Antigua has it all!

Whether a sailor or not, Falmouth Harbour is an island highlight. Full to the brim with magnificent superyachts, there is a great buzz in the air with crews bustling around preening their yachts for guest arrival or preparing to sail in one of the many regattas. I am sure the yachts are getting bigger – when we arrived we almost missed the racing machine ‘Comanche’ at 100ft, she looked so small, and whilst we were berthed on the tender pontoon, at 45ft there were still tenders bigger than us! Falmouth Harbour is also home to many great bars and restaurants, creating a fun vibe late into the night. We enjoyed visiting old favourites such as Trappas and Cloggys, plus discovering many new places including Indian Summer, Paparazzi and Flatties Flame Grill.

Nearby English Harbour is like stepping back in time. Whilst the square riggers of Nelsons era have been replaced with classic J-Class beauties and modern charter yachts, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is steeped in history back to the 1700’s, when the British Navy stationed themselves here. The classic buildings have been lovingly restored to create a wonderful visitor site with a museum, bars, bakery, souvenir shops, marine suppliers and a couple of small hotels. One of my favourite places to visit is The Admirals Inn and Gunpowder Suites, a lovely boutique hotel set in historic buildings dating from the 18th century. The buildings, originally used to store supplies and Officers, were built by bricks brought over from England as ship’s ballast and replaced by ballast of rum for the return journey (I love quirky little facts like that)! Inside the hotel there are many historic features and artifacts and outside, the garden is set around the pillared remains of a large boat house and sail loft. They also serve fabulous rum punch, which I admirably tested for a lovely couple I am sending to stay in the hotel shortly – that’s how committed to my work I am!

An iconic view of Antigua is from Shirley Heights, a restored military lookout and gun battery overlooking Falmouth and English Harbours. For the adventurous there is a wonderful trail from Galleon Beach, rising steeply along an old riverbed through lush forest, passing interesting ruins and old military graves nestled deep in the trees. For the not so energetic, there is always a taxi to the top! Many people will visit one of their infamous Sunday or Thursday evening jump ups, enjoying rum punch, BBQ jerk chicken and the resident steel band as the sun sets, creating a magical setting. I have visited Shirley Heights at various times of day and particularly enjoy first thing in the morning, tackling the trail at first light and arriving to a completely deserted lookout, enjoying the view as the sun rises and Antigua wakes up below.

Sailing around the island we visited many beautiful bays and anchorages, Deep Bay, Heritage Bay, Carlisle Bay, Dickenson Bay, Jolly Harbour and one of my favourites, Nonsuch Bay. Following a very blustery sail from Falmouth Harbour, we were relieved to finally surf through the narrow entrance of the bay into tranquil water and relative calm, tucked behind Green Island. We had a fabulous couple of days exploring the creeks of Nonsuch Bay, watching kiteboarders blasting across in their perfect breezy conditions and picking our way through reefs and breaking surf by dinghy to explore the more remote and wild areas afloat and ashore. We discovered some amazing cacti, not something often related to the Caribbean, and enjoyed wild displays from fabulous tropic birds, pelicans and turtles.

One last treat whilst in Antigua was to see England play West Indies on the second day of their first test. With the Barmy Army in full cheer, it was a fairly noisy day as England slowly clawed back against the Windies (ultimately a draw) and a great day out.

Sadly, Antigua is where we say goodbye to the Caribbean for this season. ‘Ghost’ now safely ashore in Jolly Harbour under the watchful eye of some marvellous friends until our return next season, when we plan to sail further north.

I hope you have enjoyed virtually joining me visiting Barbados, Grenada, The Grenadines, St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Isles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Barbuda and Antigua over the past few months. Whether you are a salty sea dog, a luxury loving landlubber or something in between, if you are considering a holiday in the Caribbean, get in touch and let me help arrange a fabulous trip you will not forget!

This article was published as part of a series ‘Caribbean Cruising 2022’

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