Cruise from Puerto Rico down the Lesser Antilles
April 2015
Part IV - Antigua

The next Caribbean island we visited was Antigua. We arrived early in the morning in St. Johns, the capitol of Antigua. Again, we could disembark at 8:00 a.m. Again: We always tried to get from the ship as early as possible to have most of the day for the land excursion. We were usually ready for breakfast at 7:30 at the latest. I ate proactively enough to last for the whole day, even if it was not my time for a heavy breakfast. Having lunch on the island means less time for sight-seeing and it saves money.

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Arriving in the harbor of St. Johns Walking through the mall at the pier
As soon as we did get from the ship we were looking for a taxi. There were many drivers offering trips to any place on the island or an island roundtrip. I have to mention again: The advantage is that you can determine yourself where you want to go and where you want to stop and for how long. I had read about the best places to visit in my guide book just before we arrive. By the way, all the taxi drivers also acted as a guide by explaining the sights and answering all our questions.

We made a deal with the taxi driver Nick for 80 USD for a round trip almost all day for the two of us only. With a taxi you were able to see more and you also were always ahead of the slowly crowd of the ship's excursion packages.

The ship offered land excursions lasting 3.5 hours for 69.75 per person. They also offered more than just land excursions: About 17 more activities you can choose from like snorkeling, sailing, helicopter flying, horseback riding, golfing or just swimming with prices ranging up to 359.00 USD.
The White House of Antigua The hospital of Antigua
While we drove through St. Johns in the direction to the east, we passed the residence of the Prime Minister, the White House, as we were told by the driver. Then he even made us get out at the hospital to have a look. I don't know why? Maybe he was a dangerous driver or he was just proud to have such a good hospital in St. Johns. Or was it because of our next destination: The Devil's Bridge.
First stop at the Devil's Bridge It's dangerous that's why we visited the hospital before
There was a warning: "Visitors to Devilís Bridge do so at their own risk. The limestone formation is often slippery because of the waves and it is advised people do not walk across the bridge. Swimming at Devilís Bridge is not allowed". I am the only one who dared to walk over. Though I wouldn't swim.
I dared to walk over and watched out not to be swept away
I had to watch my step while looking around
The bay on the other side looked more calm and save for a swim
Then we drove all the way to the south and visited Nelson's Dockyard at the English Harbor. We parked the car, not the one on the photo, in the parking lot. The entrance fee was 20.80 EC$ or 8.00 USD. It was worth it.
Unfortunately this is not our car driving us to the English harbor
In the early eighteenth century, the British Royal Navy recognized the strategic importance of English Harbour in protecting ships from hurricanes and in its position at the south of the island for monitoring French naval activity. Horatio Nelson, the British Hero of Trafalgar stayed in Antigua from 1784 to 1787. When the restoration of the dockyard began in the 1950s, it was renamed Nelsonís Dockyard in honor of the years he spent in Antigua.

"Today, Nelsonís Dockyard provides many sites and activities for visitors to explore and enjoy. The Dockyard Museum, located in the former Admiralís House, presents visitors with exhibits regarding the Dockyardís history and current archaeological research on the island. The Copper and Lumber Store Hotel offers five-star accommodations and is a magnificent venue for special occasions. Businesses including gift shops, art galleries, and restaurants also reside in the Dockyard and demonstrate how the park preserves the areaís unique cultural heritage while meeting modern needs.Ē This has been copied from and now take a look at following pictures.
The Nelson's Dockyard museum This antique building became a boutique
This one became a handicraft shop And this one a restaurant
The old Officers' Quarter now with Port Authority offices, etc. The Copper and Lumber House is now a hotel with restaurant
The old ships changed to new yachts. A special rowboat, which crossed the Atlantic
An old looking ship at the dockyard A new little park in front
This old building is a hotel with a nice ambiance
It was a Pitch and Tar Store before and now has nice paintings inside
Another painting in the lobby An old map hanging in the stairwell
These are the boat house pillars with a nice garden to relax
From the Nelson's Dockyard we drove to the southern tip of Antigua: Shirley Heights and Cape Shirley, named after Sir Thomas Shirley, the governor of the Leeward Islands in the 18th century. The lookout of Shirley Heights was part of a military complex, also named Fort Shirley. One of the restored buildings is now a bar and a restaurant, where parties with live bands take place on weekends.
Now leaving old Nelson's Dockyard and driving to the Shirley Heights Lookout
That's an old map of the lookout This building has become a bar and restaurant
What a beautiful view from the Shirley Heights Lookout A close-up view of the English Harbor
From the Shirley Heights Lookout to Cape Shirley The most southern tip must also be defended
No way to climb the rocky coast of Cape Shirley, though It seems to be that soldiers were pretty save in "The Blockhouse"
There is now only one way: up north. After Liberta we turned left onto the Fig Tree Drive which we followed all the way to the west until we reached the Carlisle Bay. This is really a beautiful spot. No wonder that the most exclusive resort in the Caribbean has settled down here: The Curtain Bluff.

This resort is absolutely high class, but only for people who can afford 1,200 USD per night. The owner Howard Hulford said something like that: I do not have a cheap season, because I do not want cheap guests. That was written by the hotel-tester Heinz Horrman in the German newspaper "Die Welt" recently, exactly on September 26, 2015. However, Howard Hulford already died in 2009. No mentioning of that in the article. The policy may have changed during the last six years. I wonder which travel reports you can believe in the media. But you can believe mine.
Would be nice to have a house here but it's a resort It's the Curtain Bluff, the best resort in the Caribbean
While we followed the Old Road along the west coast up north we encountered also Third World ambience. Maybe the expensive resorts and land owners didn't pay enough taxes to help the poor and keep the environment tidy.
You cannot get rich by selling fruits The owner may have run out of gas
You do not earn enough by harvesting pineapples But you can afford a house like this if you own this land
Next stop was the Valley Church Beach, which was a beautiful beach to swim, sail and relax. There was also a nice beach restaurant "The Nest" where you have a huge selection of meals and drinks.
Also nice houses at the coast with the Valley Church Beach close-by
One beach of many at the west coast Here you can sail
Here you can swim Here you can relax
Here you can buy Here you can eat
Now choose your favorite meal from the extensive menu of The Nest
Heino was drooling over beer by licking his lips Or maybe he was looking for a Miss
A billboard of president Gaston Brown with family A memorial of the first president Vere Bird
Back in St. John we had plenty of time before getting back on the ship. As usually I strolled around town trying to get an impression of historical and contemporary buildings, art and life.
The St. Johns cathedral of St. Johns The museum of St. Johns
A street in St. Johns A street corner in St. Johns
A colorful painting of happy country life An example of not so happy city life
An example of some seemingly happy folks A colorful painted car depicting happy sights
Finally back on the "Summit". Not relaxing yet in the pool but looking back to St. John in the evening sun. Waiting for some passengers arriving after the gangway has been pulled inside. What a pity: No one. Then we were gliding out of the harbor until we hit the sea.
Last view of St. Johns after getting back on the ship
Our ship is gliding out of the harbor passing-by a ship junk yard
Last sight of Antigua: The Fort Finally: A beautiful sun set
That's it. Not much but all what you can do in a day between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Again: We always try to leave our arrival city right away in order to see the countryside first to be on the safe side to reach our ship before the scheduled departure. It get's very expensive if you miss the ship. One white lady told us that it once happened to her. She even was jailed and mistreated, because she didn't have the right documents, whatsoever, with her. Eventually she was able to fly out (I don't remember that she named the island).

Here at last some brief history about Antigua as copied from "Antigua" in Wikipedia : "In 1632 a group of English colonists left St. Kitts to settle on Antigua. Sir Christopher Codrington, an Englishman, established the first permanent European settlement. From that point on, Antigua history took a dramatic turn. Codrington guided development on the island as a profitable sugar colony. For a large portion of Antigua history, the island was considered Britain's "Gateway to the Caribbean".

Antigua, with Barbuda and the tiny island of Redonda as dependencies, became independent in the year 1981. It's a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The Queen Elizabeth II is still head of state and is represented locally by the Governor-General. The head of government is the Prime Minister. The House of Assembly has 17 members.

English is the official language, but Creole French (Patois) is spoken by many locals. According to the census in the year 2011 Antigua has 80,161 inhabitants, of these are 1.7 % whites, 91 % are of African origin and mulattos, 4.4 % are of other mixed races and 2.9 % are of Asians and East Indians.

The currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (EC$). The exchange rate is 2.70 EC$ for 1.00 USD. But there is no problem to pay in USD, but be careful not to mistake EC$ prices as USD.

All of the previous information are very brief, just to give you an idea of what kind of island Antigua is. If you want to know more about the places we have visited and more about politics, economy, etc. then look up any guidebook and the internet.

Created November 2015

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