Yesterday and today were so full, I’ll have to break them up into 3 posts…here’s part 1!
Antigua is 440 square kilometres, 18 kilometres from top to bottom and 23 from side to side (yet it takes upwards of 45 minutes to get from one side to the other due to the winding and often rough roads). It’s claim to fame is that it’s the island of 365 beaches…one for every day of the year. There IS a way to get around (literally) the island and see most of those 365 beaches, the Excellence Catamaran Circumnavigation Tour and yesterday was that day for us!
This 6 hour tour has pickups at Sandals, Jolly Beach, Galley Bay and its regular port in St. John’s where we were whisked away around 10:00 AM. After a the Sandals/Halcyon Cove pickup (which was great for us agents to see the grounds and beach of both resorts), we were on our way! It was a windy day so it wasn’t always a smooth ride (and it would get worse as were to find out later) but there’s really nothing like flowing over azure blue waters with the wind and sun in your face and a drink in your hand.
Many of the island’s sights and resorts were pointed out by the crew including the Pillars Of Hercules..
…celebrity-loaded Long Island…
and houses of the stars, Eric Clapton..
…and many more.
Another warning I must give is that if you have motion sickness, the 20 minute or so Atlantic portion of the cruise will be rough. With 5 to 10 foot waves and the catamaran cutting right through them, we were at times rising and falling like a carnival ride and swaying side to side, fun for me but difficult for some. The marvelous crew managed to bring drinks around at the time without spilling!
We stopped for lunch on deserted Green Island in a sheltered cove with good snorkeling but here is my only complaint for the day. As an avid snorkeler, I will only occasionally do an organized snorkeling excursion, preferring to go out on my own. As a snorkeling excursion here was included, I decided to participate. Although they did divide the group into beginners (2/3) and ‘advanced’ (1/3), there were about 60 in total, far too many for a comfortable snorkel. I was constantly buffeted by flailing arms and flopping fins even though I tried to stay at the periphery. We were also kept on a strict itinerary with no deviation so for the beginner, I would say this would be a good way to see if you like snorkeling but for the more advanced, it may be an exercise in frustration, as it was for me. Saying that, I did get some nice video of a sea turtle swimming.
The excursion ends around 4:00 the boat docks in the duty-free area of St. John’s where you can do some shopping, should you desire.
The large and spacious boat has capacity for about 100 comfortably but be warned (the first of several): there isn’t a lot of shade so you’ll need to SPF it up several times during those 6 hours. The captain and crew are funny, informative and very attentive, bringing drinks around like clockwork. The included meal was a generous portion of barbecued chicken or fried fish, island rice and a variety of salads which was delicious (although my wife and I agree that eating outdoors somehow makes all food taste better). There are two levels on the boat and we were told earlier that the upper level offered the best views…and they were right.
Prices are currently $120.00 US per adult, $65.00 per child (although there were no children in evidence on our cruise), a great price for a day of sea, sun, surf and the sights of Antigua.