Antigua, is a stunning Caribbean island. Its coast is lapped by the waters of both the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. It has a beach for every day of the year, a cruise port and a beautiful old harbour to boot. So can you see Antigua in a day? Join us for our Adventure Antigua Xtreme Circumnavigation tour review to find out.
Our Pick Up
With my dry bag in hand, I squinted into the sun, looking for the boat. I was convinced we had missed it, that it had arrived and departed again from one of the other beaches at our resort. Thankfully, however, it pulled up a couple of minutes later and we climbed aboard with one other couple. We were the first people on the boat. “Sweet”, we thought, “An almost private tour”!
Being first on the boat, we got the pic of the seats. I originally thought it would be fun to sit on the sideways seats at the front that’s the captain informed us we would have to straddle them like horses… Maybe not. We picked the front seats that were partially in the Sun and partially in the shade to satisfy both Mr Fluskey and my requirements. I pulled the chin straps on my cool new sun hat tight and prepared for the day.
The Other Pick Ups
The boat pulled out and started zooming along the coast, past Galley Bay and on up to the next resort with a booking. There wasn’t anyone waiting on the beach and we all looked around confusedly but nobody came running so after a respectable amount of time we decided to carry on to Sandals.
The group that boarded from the sandals beach at Dickinson Bay was huge. As they came down the sand we were wondering how they were all cram onto the boat but luckily there was another Xtreme Circumnavigation boat or two from Adventure Antigua slightly further along the bay.
The final pick up meant our boat was totally full…not quite the private tour we thought we might accidentally get but it was great to see tourism flourishing after COVID-19 had brought it all to a standstill for so long.
The boat picked up speed, rendering my hat totally useless. As we zipped across the waves, the guides began yelling some fun facts for us. We could hear the guide at the back who started talking about a minute before the guide at the front. It was like the world’s longest echo.
We pulled up to a pretty rock arch called Hell’s Gate that was apparently used in the Peter Pan film, Wendy. The cast was hired locally and there are many recognisable spots around Antigua used. I haven’t watched it yet but I am looking forward to yelling, “I’ve been there” at the screen and shocking my fellow viewers.
The first point at which we disembarked was Stingray City. Missing this attraction was one of my biggest regrets after our first trip to Antigua.
The boats pulled up to a floating pontoon and the staff explained how to keep both themselves and the rays safe during interactions. Everyone lined up for their photos with the de-barbed ray. It made me a little uncomfortable but visitors are more than welcome to skip this if they don’t like idea or are just too nervous to hold a ray.
The group bobbed around on the surface or hopped about nervously as a couple of inquisitive or hungry stingrays swooped through the water around us. As they brushed past my legs, I could feel how string their wing muscles were. They are incredible creatures. The rays here are fed but are free to come and go as they please. It is a sanctuary of sorts.
Having seen photos of this spot before I was sad not to have met more stingrays but I think that the boats in the distance had arrived first, meaning the rays had head in that direction…this is pure speculation though. Being wild animals, they could have just been off, exploring the deep sea.
Green Island is a small uninhabited island off Antigua’s south coast. It is picture perfect and so peaceful. Well, apart from an hour or so at lunchtime when it is inhabited by a few hungry tourists.
We hopped off the boats and went for a wander along the pretty little beach. The water was stunning, perfectly clear and a bright turquoise that deepened to royal blue at the horizon. I wasn’t kidding when I said picture perfect!
After a few minutes, the call came that lunch was served and we lined up with dumbly tummies. On the menu, we had tender and tangy BBQ chicken, a simple pasta dish, a green salad and a selection of soft drinks.
It was only when we sat down with our plates that I noticed the couple with a picnic blanket, a cute wicker basket and a bottle of bubbles. Turns out, this couple had visited with the Xtreme Circumnavigation tour five years before and had loved this spot so much that they had arranged a special trip to return. We apologised profusely for disturbing their romantic moment as we left.
Geeking Out at the Pillars of Hercules
We passed from the Atlantic side to the Caribbean Sea as we round the corner to the south coast. The boat passed the famous Shirley Heights lookout (another of those spots we still haven’t been to) and the Pillars of Hercules. These curved rock formations have been formed by wave erasion and weather erosion (there’s that geography GCSE) and the sedimentary rock gives them beautiful striations.
Taking a Turn Around Nelson’s Dockyard
As our boat idled at the entrance to Nelson’s Dockyard we heard about some of the history. This port was first constructed in the mid 1700s to cater for the British vessels that frequented the aptly named “English Harbour”. It remained an important harbour for the British through the next 300 years but now it is more used to the pleasure craft that descend every year for yacht week. The whole area has had a wonderful regeneration and it plays host to a nice hotel as well as mani taking some wonderful historical sections. If you revisit on foot, you can try and hunt out some 18th century graffiti. Oh and the name? Yes, it is THAT Nelson who was stationed here in the late 1700s, but it didn’t get the name until the 1950s.
Pillars of Hercules x2
After we puttered back out of the harbour entrance on our Xtreme Circumnavigation, the boat stopped and we were given the chance to jump back in the water for some snorkelling. Half of the group followed one guide, going further from the boat and up to the impressive rocks, whilst the others hung by the boat.
I was fascinated to see what happened to the rocks underwater so we powered off with the first group.
There were a few fish but they weren’t the main attraction for me. I enjoyed seeing the rocks that swooped down into a large shelf.
Rum at Rendezvous Bay
As the clouds came rolling in, we got a last little bit of sun, sneaking in below them. The sky turned sepia as we pulled into Rendezvous Bay.
Everybody launched into the waist-deep water to get onto the pristine sand where our hosts were serving up a stonkingly good rum punch. Some members of the group were shy about asking for seconds but….and there is no surprise here…the four Brits among the group ended up with a third serving each.
Feeling merry, we didn’t have far to go for our hotel. It was a very quick boat ride and luckily, the rum only really kicked in when we were back on dry land. It had been a long day, and we were ready for bed pretty early, salty, wind-whipped and tipsy from out Xtreme Circumnavigation tour.
Sooooo, did we see the whole of Antigua in a day? Not quite (but then my bad eyesight didn’t help). However, we did see a wonderful array of things that would have been very tricky to see by car and it gave us some ideas of places to revisit during our trip, or on another holiday in Antigua. I would definitely recommend a crazy day with Adventure Antigua. I was impressed at how much they crammed into a day that went by surprisingly quickly. There was a nice blend of action above and below the water and I liked the blend of history and nature.
In terms of food and drink provision, I think it would be a good idea to bring some water for the first half of the day but the soft drinks and lunch are grand and the rum punch is a total winner. Wear your swimmers, bring your sun cream, remember your sense of adventure and you’ll have a grand day out!