St. John Travel Guide, Antigua
Antigua has a strong English influence, but the West Indies flavour is just as prominent. You can easily find excellent jerk chicken and scone-filled afternoon high tea. Visiting the dockyard to admire the sea of sailing vessels, from mini to mega yachts, is a must. It provides a fascinating look at Antigua's British naval base history.
Breakfast: Visit this farmer's market, just a 10-minute walk from St. John's cruise port, for a simple morning bite of homemade banana bread and fresh-cut black pineapple, the island's national fruit. Arrive early to discover unusual items like soursop, a citrus-flavoured fruit, and dried red sorrel flower, which you can bring home to make a tea that locals use to cure various ailments.
Lunch: Head to Cecilia's High Point Café and order the day's catch at this casual Dutchman's Bay restaurant. You'll be serenaded by jazz and soul music while feasting on fresh wahoo carpaccio or pan-fried redfish with rice and beans. Afterwards, walk your meal off on the quiet, sandy beach. And don't forget your mobile device: The eatery's free Wi-Fi allows for a cheap email check.
Dinner: Go to Quay Bar & Grill in a 200-year-old white clapboard house on St. John's Redcliffe Street, just a few minutes from the port. It has recently been refurbished but offers most of its menu, including seafood favourites like marinated conch salad. Many Antiguans visit this tiny restaurant (formerly known as Commissioner's Grill) for a special meal out "on the town," you'll also find some tourists here.
Tip: Visit Shirley Heights, located just east of and 487 feet above English Harbour, for its 18th-century ruins and fantastic views of Montserrat and Guadalupe islands. On Sunday afternoons, there's a barbecue complete with a reggae band, but on other days, you can still visit the Lookout bar for a rum punch and a local Wadadli beer and chat with locals and other tourists.
For Everyone - Go to Nelson's Dockyard National Park to see the restored 18th-century buildings, walk around the naval museum souvenir and crafts shops, and watch the gleaming yachts bob on the marina named after Horatio Nelson, who was stationed in English Harbour in 1784. Many tourists will be around, but it's an island must-see.
For Couples - try the afternoon tea, often served at many all-inclusive hotels on the island. You'll need to buy a day pass (usually $80 per person), which includes all-you-can-eat and drink. Alternatively, stop by the historic Dockyard Bakery in Nelson's Dockyard for made-on-site bread pudding, pineapple or guava turnovers, and freshly brewed mint tea, which you can sip on the patio behind the building.
For Families - Take a taxi to Dickenson Bay, a three-quarter-mile crescent beach, where water toys of every sort, from scooters to parasailing equipment, are available for a day in the surf. You'll find beach chairs for rent and restaurants and bars for all your needs.
For the Adventurous - Try Adventure Antigua's Xtreme Circumnav, a high-speed boat tour that takes you to five snorkel stops provides gear, lunch, and plenty of post-fun rum punch. There are plenty of reefs and wrecks to explore besides Antigua's bounty of beaches. This is an excellent option if you need to book a ship-sponsored shore excursion.
U.S. dollars are generally accepted, although the local currency is East Caribbean (EC). Carry small bills to make transactions easier.
Barbuda, Antigua's sister island, is just a 90-minute ferry ride from the Bryson Wharf. Explore on your own with a hired taxi, or book the ferry's day tour, which includes visiting Arawak Indian caves, the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, and a lobster lunch at the beach.