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Upcoming trip

Bucharest, Romania
Destination Expert
for Seychelles
Level Contributor
6,527 posts
418 reviews
Upcoming trip

Hi guys,

I am still having some things not clarified yet regarding our upcoming trip in Antigua:

We are staying at Cocos Hotel and we would like to walk to Ffryes Beach along the beaches starting at Valley Church Beach. Maybe we will have a drink at Ffryes Beach Bar.

Which beaches are mainly visited by the cruise ships customers in Antigua? I have the cruise ships arrivals timetable and we would like to avoid these beaches at the time when the ships are docked in Antigua.

What itinerary do you recommend in the north for half day trip and what in the south? We would like to visit English Harbour and Dickenson Beach and Runaway Beach. Is it a good idea to visit English Harbour on Sunday just before the Shirley Heights opening time 4 PM? Do you recommend having a stop in the capital? Are there any things to do in the capital?

Do you recommend visiting Barbuda. Besides 17 Mile Beach and fregate collony are there other things to do on the island? Which tour company do you recommend?

Thank you in advance

Miki

Edited: 03 November 2018, 16:39
11 replies to this topic
Cape Elizabeth...
Destination Expert
for Portland, Antigua
Level Contributor
1,808 posts
192 reviews
1. Re: Upcoming trip

You cannot walk along the beaches from one beach to the other because there are headlands in between. So some of your walking will be on the road, which isn't all that much fun as the traffic goes by fairly fast. But it's possible to do.

The beach bar at Ffrye's is called Dennis's, and is worth a stop, as is the Darkwood Beach Bar (if you get that far).

All of the beaches in that area are popular with the cruise ship people. It's actually hard to find ANY beach in Antigua in the winter that doesn't have too many cruise ship people, though I'd say the beaches you name are among the most popular. So keep that schedule in your hand and good luck!

Distances in Antigua are deceivingly longer than you expect, and traffic in St. Johns can be terrible. It's not like Mahe, where I recall driving from my rental at Anse Beau Vallon to Anse Intendance in half an hour I think it was. If you want to see both the north and south of Antigua, I'd do it in one whole day rather than 2 half days as this will be more efficient if your time on the island is limited. Dickinson Bay has a lovely beach, but it's overrun by the Sandals Resort. Runaway is better in my opinion.

Dickinson is in the north, but still at least a half-hour drive to the northeast and eastern part of the island, where beautiful Half Moon Bay beach is located. Also in the northeast is Devil's Bridge National Park, which is worth a visit. Near Devil's Bridge, Long Bay Beach (home of Pineapple Resort) has good snorkeling and a nice beach. If you like history, on the way to these places is Betty's Hope, a 17th century sugar plantation that is slowly being restored.

You should definitely see English Harbour. I'm not sure if it matters whether you see it right before Sunday night at Shirley Heights. I'm guessing that's fine.

In the capital there is a small museum and an historic cathedral. There is a very good farmers' market which is fun to walk around. If you like to look at old Caribbean architecture, there are still a few good examples among the more modern buildings. Other than that, if you are in Antigua mostly to just relax, I don't particularly recommend St. Johns.

I'm not sure what tour companies are going to Barbuda now-----they are still recovering from the hurricane last year. If you do find a tour, in addition to the frigate birds and the beach, there are some interesting (and accessible) caves. Other than that, there isn't anything to "do" on Barbuda, which was always it's charm!!!

Dorset, United...
Level Contributor
1,812 posts
16 reviews
2. Re: Upcoming trip

Hi Miki,

I'll chip in what I can to add to Cessnapilot's replies. As said before, it's not possible to walk, but the 22 bus will take you to Ffryes etc and you can walk from there. If you want something a bit different you could walk Old Road to Urlings and have a look at the harbour there, which is where the fishermen sell their catch.

The best beach on that side of the island, and with decent off-beach snorkelling to the south side, is Carlisle Bay, and although the eponymous hotel has the prime spot, all beaches in Antigua are public, and there is public access. It is not on the cruise ship route, however, and you're not likely to find any passengers there. It's where the 22 bus starts and finishes.

I like to spend a day in St John's because I'm addicted to roti and curry goat, and I also like poking around in the shops and stalls round the back of town, and buying fruit at the market. If you see a small round bunches of berries, called guineps locally, they're delicious; likewise the local pineapples, bananas and custard apples. But for tourists, shopping apart, I'd say it's not a big draw.

For the south you could easily spend a whole day in the English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard area before heading up to Shirley Heights. The dockyard is interesting and if you're keen on marine life, check out the harbour either at Skulduggery's bar, or near the dockyard where the Nightwing fishing boats moor, as there is a resident population of tarpon, some of which are over 50kg. The Copper & Lumber Store is an interesting place for drink, and Galleon Beach is also a good beach with snorkelling to the south end.

I'd wait for more replies on Barbuda as I'm not sure what infrastructure is remaining. When I was there there were only a couple of taxis on the island and to explore, you need to look around a bit. The beach where the K Club used to be is beautiful, and again has some patch reef for snorkelling. I'm just not sure how possible it is to move around the island atm though.

Good luck!

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
5 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Upcoming trip

Do not rent from TT Villas rental agency in Jolly Harbour. You will be terribly

disappointed and treated poorly. You will pay a lot for minimal service.

Bucharest, Romania
Destination Expert
for Seychelles
Level Contributor
6,527 posts
418 reviews
4. Re: Upcoming trip

Thank you guys for your help. We are now here, we had 3 glorious sunsets (2 from our sunset cottage and one from Shirley Heights yesterday) but the weather was not great until now. We postponed for tomorrow our Reef riders snorkeling trip and on Thursday we will go to St. John´s. We have already visited English Harbour and Shirley Heights.

Greetings from Antigua

Miki

Dorset, United...
Level Contributor
1,812 posts
16 reviews
5. Re: Upcoming trip

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it. I'd be interested in how you think Cades compares to the Seychelles ...

Bucharest, Romania
Destination Expert
for Seychelles
Level Contributor
6,527 posts
418 reviews
6. Re: Upcoming trip

Thank you manet for all your effort you put in helping me.

We hope to go tomorrow, Andy from Reef Riders was very understanding in postponing the trip due to weather reasons. I am not expecting the reefs I saw in the past in The Maldives (unfortunately none of those we saw in 2014-2015 survived to 2016 el nino) and those experimented in Philippines (Palawan) and Indonesia (Raja Ampat, Komodo NP). But I will definitely make a review about Cades.

Thanks again

Miki

Dorset, United...
Level Contributor
1,812 posts
16 reviews
7. Re: Upcoming trip

Just curious about comparisons as I was in Maldives last Christmas and the coral had suffered badly from beaching - but the fish were amazing; a few months before I was in Antigua less than a month after Irma and Maria hit. Cades really didn't look affected and I thought the coral was in better condition than the Maldives, but the diversity of marine life there will, of course, never come close to that of the Indo-Pacific.

Andy's a lovely bloke and he truly knows and cares about the reef, so I'm sure you'll have a great time with him.

Bucharest, Romania
Destination Expert
for Seychelles
Level Contributor
6,527 posts
418 reviews
8. Re: Upcoming trip

Today we went on the trip to Cades reef. I have not been dissapointed because I did not have great expectations. The marine life is not so rich like in The Maldives, Seychelles or Raja Ampat but for Carribean reefs is above average. We have snorkeled with a hawksbill turtle and a group of surgeons. Visibility was good but ocean was very rough. The last mile until we got to Cades Reef was very bumpy but we have enjoyed the ride. It´s a pity we have not been yesterday when ocean was much calmer but in the end we loved the trip. Last 2 days weather improved but rain still did not dissapear.

Yesterday we have visited Ffryes Beach. It was really great because it was almost deserted, just a few locals and tourists. The beach will get busier in the future because there is a building site of a new hotel on the southern side of the beach.

Tomorrow we go to St. John´s to buy some souvenirs.

Miki

Edited: 14 November 2018, 23:14
Bucharest, Romania
Destination Expert
for Seychelles
Level Contributor
6,527 posts
418 reviews
9. Re: Upcoming trip

We made a lot of shopping in St. John’s. First we have been to Heritage Quay where we bought lots of rum, some jewelry from Pandora (the black pineapple pandant my wife could not miss it :)), some souvenirs from Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, a black pineapple from Public Market and other souvenirs from Heritage Quay. We have visited The Anglican Church which is under renovation. It was a great morning roaming the streets of St. John’s and we were very satisfied with our shoppings.

Miki

Level Contributor
55 posts
1 review
10. Re: Upcoming trip

Glad to hear your visit to St Johns was a success. As someone living here I often think St Johns might be a disappointment for visitors, so I am very pleased you enjoyed your visit .

The weather this last week has been unusually wet - the local weather office has confirmed what we already knew - it is the third wettest first half of November since 1970s.

It should be better ( much drier and sunnier) from now on.

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