Dreaming of a Caribbean vacation, but not sure which island to choose? Don't let that be the reason that you don't go at all. Today we have a guest post from an experience travel advisor with tips on the island of Antigua for you....
Meet my island friend Jodi from Starfish Travel.....
"Jodi Harrelson, owner/travel advisor from Starfish Travel, is an experienced island hopper who has turned her love of Caribbean travel into a way to help others... Jodi is an expert at planning unique vacations with a special focus on tropical destinations. Jodi understands how it feels to be overwhelmed by the number of islands and experiences on offer, and is able to find out what sort of adventure you are looking for, and tailor a vacation exactly to what you dream about."
Antigua : Even in a tropical storm, this island didn't disappoint. I had just been through Hurricane Florence & flew into Tropical Storm Kirk as it was passing through south of Antigua and bearing down on St. Lucia. At least it moved on without much damage, unlike what Florence had done.
Antigua & Barbuda together make one single country. Barbuda might be the bigger island in size, however it is more quiet and less touristy, and only accessible by boat from Antigua, as they do not have their own airport. Antigua definitely is the mother island. There are a few places to stay in Barbuda, so you could easily do a split-stay between the two islands if you’d like to spend more time on Barbuda. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to take a day trip there, much less stay on Barbuda for an extra 2-3 days. Now I have a reason to go back!
In Antigua we stayed at the St. James Club, which is one of five resorts in the 'Elite Island Resorts' collection in Antigua. Our room was in the newer built section on the 2nd floor with a beautiful view of the water. Villas sit up on the hillside with even more amazing views of the Caribbean Sea. Some are privately owned so if you fall in love with this island, you might want to consider buying a second home here. It’s location is only a short 30 minute drive from the airport.
Getting around the island…unless you’re familiar with driving on the left, and on narrow unmarked roads, I suggest hiring your transportation. Private airport transfers are available among many taxis. Taxi fares are regulated so there’s a set rate depending on where you’re staying. Taxis are lined up at the airport. It’s very easy & quick to get one. We only left the resort twice during our short stay (4 days) and had hired a taxi driver whose base was at the resort. His name is Oliver, nicknamed ‘Sharpboy’ on his business card. He was fabulous! So kind, so attentive.
Our first adventure off property was to ‘Roadhouse’ for an evening of dancing. Originally we wanted to go to Shirley Heights in English Harbour. The photos I saw around the internet for their sunset celebration were gorgeous! Locals at the resort suggested to go to Roadhouse for a better party so we did that. It was in the middle of nowhere and named for what it is, a road house. No view of the sea but we had a great time, good food, good music, and fun dancing with the locals. Oliver drove us there and stayed until we were ready to leave. I still want to experience Shirley Heights though, adding that to my ‘one more reason to go back' list.
The next day Oliver took us on a private tour around the entire island, which was stunning, but mainly I was on a mission to eat a black pineapple. Well, it’s not really a ‘black' pineapple but a small, sweeter tasting pineapple indigenous to Antigua. I love to experience those sorts of 'one of kind' things. I first learned about them from a blog post by Uncommon Caribbean. If you like those sorts of 'one of kind' adventures too, I highly recommend their blog.
Our tour started at Devil's Bridge , a national park on Antigua. It’s an ancient reef formation with rugged and slippery limestone terrain so be sure to wear some comfy shoes if you plan on exploring this area. The views are amazing, definitely picture-worthy.
Next we visited several sugar plantations around the island before heading to the cruise port area in St. John. This is the waterfront historical area with a lot of shopping. Local vendors sit street-side to sell their souvenirs, restaurants and bars are plentiful. My favorite was a local jewelry shop, the Goldsmitty, ‘Home of the Antiguanite’. Another one of those 'one of kind' finds. Antiguanite is 30 million year old petrified coral, also indigenous to Antigua. Hans Smit, owner of The Goldsmitty created it as a gemstone and designs beautiful pieces of jewelry with it. You can buy some of the designs already made or have him custom design something for you. Antiguanite comes in a variety of colors and patterns. I regrettably didn’t buy anything (it’s a little expensive) but will for sure on my next trip.
It started raining in the middle of the afternoon so I didn’t get the sunny beach photos that I wanted. I can tell you though, Antigua has 365 beaches, one for each day of the year and of the handful we saw, they are stunning. The rain stopped as we made our way to Nelson’s Dockyard , a UNESCO World Heritage Site in English Harbour. We were pretty tired at this point so we didn’t get out to roam around. There’s a dockyard museum and also where you enter to get to Shirley Heights. Resorts are nearby too and most likely where I’ll plan to stay on my next trip. I’m a nauti girl and if I can have both boats and a blue water view at the same time, I’d be one happy mermaid.
So this is where our day ends, with the black pineapple. We drove by the pineapple farm and to a little fruit stand where I bought 5. I don’t remember what they cost but it wasn’t much. They were delicious!! I couldn’t have been happier. This was the highlight of my trip 😃 We (or maybe mostly me) ate all of them before we had to leave the next day because you can’t bring anything agriculture back into the United States.
Antigua was one of my favorite trips and I look forward to going back one day. Hopefully there won’t be a hurricane in my path next time.
Here is a link to Jodi's "Request a Trip" form.