Antigua - Roadtrip for 4 days

I had no idea what to expect from this side of the Caribbean and Antigua was the first country I visited in the East Caribbean. Will it be the same crowded as the Bahamas, and will it be the same expensive as the Bahamas? 

Initially, I thought that these countries were just all about beaches with nothing else to offer. However, there is a lot more to do than just lying around at the shore.

With 4 days in Antigua, I had not enough time to also visit Barbuda, the other island. 4 days doesn't sound much, but with a rental car, it was plenty of time to see the places.

It would even be possible to see driving around the whole island of Antigua within a day.

Arrival in the East Caribbean

After 2.5 hour's flight from Jamaica, I arrived in Antigua. The airport was relatively small, but the lines were long. It seemed like a huge plane had just landed from the UK.

I picked up my rental car at the airport and drove to my accommodation. The roads were relatively narrow and had many potholes. However, renting a car is worth it, as a taxi to or from the airport costs $40 USD.

I quickly learned that Antigua is an expensive place, as evidenced by the prices at the supermarket. Although, not comparable to the prices in the Bahamas. That's a good start and also the crowds are less. That's promising.

As I drove through the streets on a Sunday evening, I noticed a lot of traffic and loud music coming from many houses. Locals seem to enjoy their island all day long, but the only disturbing point was that the noise was just nearby my accommodation.

Day 2 - Exploring the Island

The locals turned off the music at a human time. Although there were a lot of roosters everywhere in the neighborhood nd I especially hated the chicken and rooster farm right next to my accommodation. At around 4 am, roosters start crowing and that continues for hours with 10 seconds intervals. Terrible!

Due to this fact and with one day to explore the island, I set off early in the morning towards the east. No matter in which direction to drive, after 30 minutes a coast appears. This was the east coast.

The roads were pleasant to drive on, although a bit narrow. There were many fast drivers, but they were mostly cautious. The potholes were the only problem at times.

My first stop was at Devils Bridge, somewhere in the east of Antigua. 

Next, I headed to Half Moon Bay. It is approximately 1.6km long and has been ranked as one of the top ten beaches in the world. It's indeed nice.

Shirley Heights. This was the only place in Antigua where I had to pay an entrance fee ($15 USD), as it was a national park with old blockhouses from the colonial era that needed maintenance. 

And the entrance fee is worth it. It's the best site in the whole of Antigua. The panoramic view of the English Harbor, spectacular.

The views of the bays and different coastlines are unique and stunning.

Driving to English Harbour

English Harbor, where there were many yachts and sailboats.

All the shops and stores in the harbor were geared toward boat tourists.

Drove to Darkwood Beach in the southwest. The weather could change every five minutes, which was fascinating and made Antigua even better.

My last stop was at Jolly Harbor, where I climbed a hill to get a great view of the bay and sailboats.

Rental cars with foreign-looking people (like me) are all over the streets. Somehow that makes it easier and safer to drive the narrow and winding roads, as locals got used to the strange behavior of foreign drivers and keep their distance. 

Tourism is definitely a major industry in this country and that is clearly visible on the streets. But at least not the same crowded as in the Bahamas. 

I arrived back in St. Johns around 4:30 pm. 

Day 3 -  So many beaches, but also crowded cruise ships

In the morning I visited Fort James before the cruise tourists arrived. At 9 am, there was no one there, and I could enjoy the view in peace.

This place was once used to protect the island from invaders.

Then I drove to the various beaches in the northeast.

Dickenson Bay Beach was probably the most visited beach in Antigua, as it was where all the resorts were located. It was also obviously visited by the cruise tourists, who were transported here in busloads, where they stayed for 2-3 hours before being transported back.

Runaway Beach was quite similar to Dickenson Bay Beach. It was slightly smaller but equally nice. 

However, it was the same story with the cruise tourists being brought in by the hundreds. Some of them looked like they were suffering from severe seasickness. Many arrived with sunburns and left in a worse state than when they arrived.

Finally, I went to Fort James Beach. This beach is less touristy and more secluded, as it is mainly visited by locals.

I found this beach to be the most enjoyable, as it was not crowded and I was able to relax without any interruptions like music or people who want to sell stuff. 

Day 4 - Departure to St Kitts

My last day on the island, I had to return my rental car in the afternoon and catch my flight to St. Kitts.

I enjoyed Antigua. It's definitely more comfortable and less crowded than the Bahamas. But it's still near to the US and has many direct flights from the UK. Then there are the cruise ship passengers. This combination causes a busy place and a bit packed with tourists. I wonder how the other Caribbean countries look like in that regard.

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