Antigua is humbly known as “The land of sea and sun” and has a reputation of having 365 beaches! That’s one for every day of the year! I was blessed to visit Antigua Island in the middle of January for an extended weekend [perks of living in the Caribbean]. While I wasn’t there long, I had a great couple days and wanted to share with you what I experienced!
– If you want a good sunset –
Arguably the best place to watch a sunset, especially on a Sunday night. We went to Shirley Heights for their Sunday night festivities and were greeted with hundreds of friendly people, a live steel drum band followed by a live reggae band, strong rum punch, an incredible sunset, and an even better time.
Before getting into the festivities, let’s talk about the view. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prettier sunset in my life [yet]. Overlooking English Harbor, you get a stunning view of the sun sinking below the ocean, uninterrupted by islands or trees, as well as the light reflecting off of the boats into the harbor. My words don’t do it justice, so I included a picture for you. After sunset, it is still an incredible sight to see. The ships in the harbor light up, and the moon shines off the surface of the water, leaving the view looking etherial [there’s more pictures at the end of this post]. Our experience was incredible, and I am so glad I got the chance to experience Shirley Heights both before, during, and after sunset.
Upon our arrival to the lookout, it seemed as though we wouldn’t be able to see the sunset, but after grabbing [the strongest ever] rum punch, we were able to wiggle our way between the crowd, after offering to take a few pictures of people with the sunset in the background. The grounds are filled with people of all ages, visitors, locals, artists, yachties [I’ll explain later], and so many more. It really is an experience to be had. After the sun sinks below the horizon, look out for the live band that comes out. Live music and dancing under the stars…hard to beat after a sunset celebration! If you enjoy a more laid-back night, there are tables and a grass hill that you can sit on and laugh with your friends. We were lucky enough to do both, which was the best option if I had been given the chance.
Jolly Beach [otherwise known as Jolly Harbor Beach] is nestled next to Jolly Harbor. While not nearly as stunning as the sunset over Shirley Heights, it still presents a great option if you have other plans, and don’t want to commit to an entire night for sunset festivities. It is a stunning little beach, offering views of the harbor, soft white sand, and a pretty great sunset as well. After a long day of traveling from Grenada to Antigua, and spending the day driving all around, I didn’t end up gettin any photos on the beach, but did get some later in the trip off of the boat I stayed on.
– Yachting Industry –
Before moving to the Caribbean, I was unaware of how large the yachting industry is. To be completely honest, I didn’t even realize it existed in it’s own entity. If you want to see some [gigantic] private sailing vessels, Antigua will not disappoint. While I thought my exposure to what is known as a “super yacht” in Grenada was about the norm for the yachting industry, Antigua proved me wrong. I was able to see tons and tons of yachts [basically small cruise ships] all lined up next to one another. The sheer power of these boats compared to a tiny dinghy that can only hold two [MAYBE three] is incredible. You really start to think about how much work is put into each teeny detail, even without setting foot on the vessel itself.
With how incredibly clear the water is, and all the beaches has to offer, it’s no surprise that Antigua is a huge hotspot for boating. Everything from luxury cruisers to racing sailboats can be seen bobbing along anchored in the harbor. There are even people that sail, paddle, or row all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and stop in Antigua!
On top of getting to look at pretty boats and crystal clear water, depending where you stay in Antigua, you may have interactions with the crew of many ships in port. Whether it be a single manned crew, or a crew of 50, the stories these people [endearingly nicknamed “yachties”] have to tell are incredible. These people are from all over the world, with differing backgrounds, experiences, and ways that they got into the industry. From the outside, it may seem that the industry is completely void of interpersonal relationships aside from individual ships, but that is not the case. The friendships that form across oceans [literally] is incredible to see, and is a much more tight-knit industry than one may think. I loved hearing the stories of all of the people that I met that live on and around the water all the time.
– For the Thrill Seeker –
Prior to Antigua, I had never really seen anyone kiteboarding. Being from Florida, this was a really neat thing to get to see different at the beach from the typical surfers. Jabberwock Beach is filled with kites of all colors, and it makes for an incredible skyline. I don’t know a whole lot about kiteboarding personally, but I got to see everything from setting the kites up, all sorts of tricks, to breaking it all down and walking away from the beach leaving only footprints. I did not try it, but I enjoyed the day on the beach watching the kiters [is that the right terminology??] and soaking up the sun!
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay gets its name from the shape of the shoreline, and holds onto it’s namesake. A gorgeous beach with rocks, coral, sand, and some really cool cliffs to hike on hold the beauty of the beach. While not nearly as “thrilling” as kite surfing, climbing all over the rocks and walking down the short cliff while being splashed with the roaring waves may not be everyone’s cup of tea. While I don’t have any photos of the clay hike, I do have a bit of GoPro footage, and will be sharing that with the Antigua video when I post it! Personally, I could have walked up and down all day. Fair warning though: the “cliffs” are covered in clay and can get really slippery, it’s a good idea to have a buddy to hold onto so you don’t slip!
– For the Foodies –
A popular spot after a long day of adventures, Flattie’s is right around the corner from Jolly Harbor. They’ve got a great atmosphere in the warm Antigua weather, and a good variety of options on the menu! We ate there twice while I was visiting, and the PeriPeri chicken seems to be a favorite [it can be pretty spicy though!] You can also try some Biltong, which is essentially South African beef jerky, but better than the kind you get in the States [in my opinion]!
If you’re close to Falmouth Harbor and need a quick breakfast, Skull Duggery is an easy fix. We started our morning out with one of their “famous” espresso martini’s and their egg breakfast sandwich. At night, it has more of a bar feel and is lots of fun, while still being relaxed enough to have a conversation with your friends at the table! Not to mention, you can listen to the water ripple against the adjacent boats!
Antigua is known for having some of the sweetest pineapples in the world, and I can’t say I disagree [yet]! Fresh from a pineapple plantation, you can grab the gorgeous and delicious golden fruit from a produce stand right next to the beach! I may be biased, since pineapple is my favorite fruit, but a fresh golden pineapple on the beach is probably the best snack to have!
The first place I actually visited in Antigua after being picked up from the airport was Castaways. A little restaurant on the beach, the food and atmosphere are hard to beat. After enjoying something delicious that they have to offer paired with a fruity cocktail, we walked down to the beach to enjoy some sun before heading off on our first real adventure!
Look out for a video of Antigua on YouTube from me soon! I’ve included more pictures from my trip below! Have you ever visited Antigua? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
Enjoy the sun!