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Getting To Know Antigua – Cruise Port Guide
Glorious Antigua, the beach with the island in the middle. We’re going to jump right in to the things to see and do here with our Antigua cruise port guide – because one day just isn’t enough time on this beautiful island.
If soaking up the sun on a crystal white ‘Bounty Beach’ with turquoise seas to explore sounds right up your street, then with Antigua you are spoilt for choice. Antigua boasts 365 beaches to choose from (or 366 if visiting on a leap year!) as the locals say. Cruise ships dock in St. John’s the capital on the western side of the island and this is conveniently located close to all the major touristic beaches on the western coast such as Dickenson Bay and Jolly Harbour. On the east coast you can take a skiff out to a sand bar and even swim with Atlantic Stingray’s if you want to get up close with nature in the wild.
For history lovers, venture east to English Harbour, home to Nelson’s Dockyard, a still active Georgian harbour, where Lord Horatio Nelson was once senior naval commander and where the British based their West Indian fleet. This is also where the famous Antigua Yacht Week takes place each year, and you can stroll along at the Dockyard admiring the stunning boats in their moorings. For the quintessential view of Antigua, head up from the Dockyard to the Shirley Heights Lookout, the former barracks of the British Garrison, now a tourist attraction with its old blockhouse ruins and the stunning views of the Dockyard and English Harbour below.
Antiguan currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which is set against the US Dollar at a rate of 2.7XCD to 1 USD. US Dollars are widely accepted currency across the island, however, just make sure when asking for prices you check what it is you are being quoted in or what is being displayed, especially when negotiating with taxi drivers, or when dining in restaurants.
The port area is in the capital St John’s and boasts several cruise piers, including a brand new expansion to accommodate larger ships opening in 2021. Heritage Quay has some nice shopping opportunities, including duty free with jewellery perfumes, electronics and alcohol (especially Rum) and a couple of small bars and it is from here that you will be able to find a number of options for travelling around Antigua to appreciate its beautiful beaches. These range from taxis to jeeps to catamarans. There is a tourist information centre that can give advice on what to see and do and how to get around, but roughly $12USD one way will get you and 3 friends to the hotspot of Dickenson Bay, where you can even have your photo taken in a traditional British red phone box surrounded by palm trees and the Caribbean Sea as a backdrop.
Next to Heritage Quay is Redcliffe Quay which has more shopping opportunities, including traditional Antiguan arts and crafts, and more dining options. If there is more than one cruise ship in port, and the port can accommodate several on any given day, these areas do become popular and crowded.
If you want to head to the main historical attraction of Nelson’s Dockyard, price of entry is $8USD per person and a taxi would set you back anywhere between $18USD and $30USD per person depending on the type of island tour with your taxi driver you might like to do. It may be worth sharing a taxi with others to bring the price down if you are willing to of course.
Destination photos courtesy of Sam Whiteside ©
Key highlights of Antigua
- Beaches, top recommendations include:
- Dickenson Bay Beach
- Fort James Beach
- Runaway Beach
- Jolly Beach
- Ffryes Beach
- Darkwood Beach
- Turners Beach
- Nelson’s Dockyard
- Shirley Heights Lookout
- Stingray City Antigua
- Betty’s Hope Historic Sugar Plantation
- Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground
- Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour
- Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary and Humane Society
Regular cruise line visitors
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- P&O Cruises
- SAGA Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas
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