I visited Antigua in January 2013, it was the first Caribbean island I ever set foot upon and several islands later it still remains one of my favourite cruise destinations. Antigua was everything I expected the Caribbean to be and I really did fall for the islands charm.
We left the ship to the sound of a steel band which was fantastic, it really got you in that island mood. We made our way along the main street towards what I had been told was a market. It was quite a decent walk from the ship and right through a real Antiguan neighbourhood full of colourful buildings, loud music and some very friendly locals. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, I thrive on real travel, travel that is raw and honest and not commercially re-designed or transformed to scream “spend your money” at tourists. The walk to the market gave me everything I love about that side of travel and more, but it was quite early in the morning and a lot of places were still closed so we decided to head to the beach and return to the market later in the day, when it was hopefully a little more alive.
Back at the port we grabbed a taxi along to Dickenson Bay beach, it was a short journey and there were three of us so it kept costs low, although it wasn’t expensive at all to begin with really. We arranged with our taxi driver a pick-up time and we made our way onto our first Caribbean beach. What a feeling it was! I would highly recommend this beach to anyone visiting Antigua. Of course, there are other superb beaches but Dickenson Bay was the one we opted for through a friend’s recommendation. The beach was far from crowded, in fact the three of us had one end of it entirely to ourselves – it was perfect! The water was crystal clear, there was a wonderful bar just behind us and to our right we had a Sandals resort. Dickenson Bay wasn’t as big as I imagined it was going to be but it was an absolutely beautiful way to spend my first day in the Caribbean. At the pre-arranged time our taxi driver returned to take us back to the port. We took a detour on the way back as we had wanted to try some local cuisine but sadly it didn’t work out as planned. Instead we had a scenic drive through some neighbourhoods and decided to eat at the port.
We stopped at one of the restaurants just a few yards from the ship, it was incredibly busy and we waited what felt like forever for the food but it was worth it. The shrimp was delicious! After re-fueling we embarked on the walk back along to the market. The town itself by now was bustling with people, it was a vast change to how it had been earlier in the morning and I was in my absolute element. The fruits and vegetables for sale looked incredible and everyone seemed so full of energy, it was a real positive atmosphere. We soaked up that atmosphere for a while before walking back to the port (as slowly as possible) and grabbing some souvenirs and other items from the shops that were within the port complex.
Antigua is a wonderful island and it has so much to offer. One highlight here of course is Nelson’s Dockyard, that’s on my list for next time, but if you just want to take the day at leisure then the options for you really are quite unlimited.
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