It is pretty much impossible not to fall in love with this Island, the people and all 365 beaches.
We arrived in Antigua around 7am which was great as we had an early departure time of 3pm. Antigua wasn’t originally part of our itinerary but due to Hurricane Irma causing devastation to St Maarten and the country not having quite recovered our stop was changed to Antigua.
We booked the ATV island buggy tour for the morning so we were up early grabbing an on the go breakfast and into the Arcadia Theatre to meet the shore excursion reps. By 7.15am we were led off the ship out a different exit and was on our way to our safety briefing.
The safety briefing was very brief it was a quick run through of all the dos and don’ts and pretty much signing your life away on a waiver. We did read through the waiver however when you have paid for your excursion and they are waiting to go your not going to not sign the waiver. We were then introduced to our two tour guides for the morning and led off through the port to where the buggy’s were parked.
We picked Jazz the bright orange buggy who seemed a bit temperamental when trying to put it into gear so swapped over to yellow Lexy. Just make sure they change the name of your buggy on the waiver as you are liable for any damage on return.
Off in convoy we went through the local town keeping our eyes everywhere. People were just walking out in front of us and then we had to get out of junctions with a lot of traffic it was stressful but luckily for us it was driving on the same side of the road as the UK.
After driving for around 10 mins we then went off into the rainforest where a bit of off-roading was involved along with some lovely deep puddles that splashed you with mud as you went through them. We had a couple of stops in the rainforest where the guides gave us some history and facts about the area they were really knowledgable guys and were happy to answer any questions anyone had.
We carried on through the rainforest where we were trying to avoid being whipped by trees and splashed by mud but it was all part of the fun. Back on normal road we stopped at a viewing point that looked out to sea where in the distance the guides advised you could see St Kitts. There was also a small beach that looked stunning apparently Antigua has 365 beaches, one for everyday of the year. The view was just beautiful I could of sat there for hours watching the world go by. We also got to try the islands black pineapple which the guides spoke about through the rainforest. The pineapple was so sweet and completely different to pineapple at home.
We continued down the winding roads when we eventually made it to Darkwood Beach where we had around 45 minutes to enjoy the beach, grab a drink and even a quick swim. The beach was beautiful it had to be up there as one of the most beautiful beaches I had been to. I spent a lot of time snapping pictures instead of swimming as I have a stupid fear of swimming in the sea even when it is crystal clear waters… I know I’m mad I will conquer it one day. The beach wasn’t busy at all but then again if there is 365 beaches there is no reason for them to be busy.
Back on the road we took the scenic route back to the port through some small villages where the locals would wave as you passed them all. This was a real eye opener to how the locals live, it just makes you appreciate what you have at home.
Back at port we took a little walk around, Antigua port is a little different to the other ports we had been to. A lot of the ports you visit Royal Caribbean has invested money and they tend to have the same diamond/watch shops but Antigua was different the port was pretty much a local town. There was market stalls, local shops, restaurants and even a Burger King. Part of me preferred this you got a feel for the Island and the people. I mean don’t get me wrong you still get hassled from locals to buy their things but they are just trying to earn a living at the end of the day, we would all do the same if we were in their shoes.
We stopped at Fred’s for ice cream which is literally just as you get through the security gate. The ice cream is all homemade and put into fresh waffle cones the pineapple ice cream was unreal and my picture just doesn’t do it justice as I had eat half of it due to the heat causing serious ice cream melting problems. We sat on the raised decking area for a while and watched the cruise staff practising lifeboat drills and just general people watching as there was 4 ships in port it was a busy day in Antigua.
They day seemed to fly by and we were back on the ship before we knew it enjoying some strawberry daiquiris and reading my book. I watched the ship reverse out the port do a full 180 turn and then off we went leaving the beautiful island behind.
Antigua was definitely one of my favourite ports that we have visited of the Caribbean islands. Every local we came across seemed so friendly and genuinely happy to have us there.
You have to admire the locals especially after the damage caused to the Island from Hurricane Irma, their houses and livelihood being damaged but not a single person I came across was down about it. Every person seemed positive and ready to live for the day.
For the first time, I came away from an island wishing that we didn’t have to leave. I definitely felt there was more to explore in Antigua, like another 364 beaches for example so hopefully one day my travels will take my back to the beautiful Island again.