SeaKayaking is one of the many non-motorized sports offered to guests for free at Sandals Grande Antigua. All that is required is signing out the Kayack for a block of time and off you go. Make sure to wear a hat and a shirt as the sun is strong and you can burn easily within ten minutes of being on the water.
There are five hiking paths in Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, all maintained by The Royal Naval Tot Society of Antigua. In fact, I didn’t know how many of there are until I came back. I discovered four, with one being to the west and three to the east of the bay. It’s quite simple to follow them: Just look out for stones and trees marked with a white dot and you’ll find the way through this incredible landscape of southeastern Antigua. Sometimes you’ll have to look twice before you find the next white dot and sometimes you think for yourself: “Do they really want me to go THAT way?”. This means that basic rock climbing skills are useful while high heel shoes are surely not (Before you ask, I have some of A and none of B). Especially the last two pathes are a little more difficult to walk on than the others. But Number 4 is also the one with the best views among them. All paths are seldomly used by tourists, making this a real “off the beaten path” experience. In fact, I didn’t see any other people on any of the paths. The paths are following:
1) Middle Ground Trail (Fort Berkeley – Pigeon Beach)
2) Jones Valley Trail (Shirley Heights Lookout/Barack buildings – Galleon Beach Road)
3) Lookout Trail (Shirley Heights Lookout – Galleon Beach Road)
4) Carpenter Rock Trail (Shirley Heights Lookout/Graveyard - Fort Charlotte/Galleon Beach)
5) Clarence House Trail (Old Wharf – Clarence House)
I tried 3 uphill as well as 2 and 4 downhill (2 on two ocassions). 1 goes up and down, so it doesn’t really matter from which side you come. I didn’t know about the existence of 5 until I returned to Germany. If you ask me to pick the best, I would say that 4 is by far the best, but 1 is also very good.
Attention: Hiking on these paths is NOT RECOMMENDED during rain or when rain is in sight. Your path may get slippery and muddy which can result in danger for yourself.
…is the only hiking path I discovered in the national park which was on the western side of the bay. The distance of this path is around a mile and goes from Pigeon Beach to Fort Berkeley (or v.v. of course…). It leads you through an arid landscape with an interesting flora, including many of the “Turks’ Head Cactus” and “Cephalocereus nobilis” (the publishing of this cactus’ nickname may lead to this tip being censored...). It is not uncommon to see goats on this path, but they do not any harm – at least not unless you come too close to them. That means that you also have to be careful with their dung and that you may encounter unpleasant odours at some part of the hiking trail. In terms of sights, you’ll see Fort Berkeley (see separate tip), One Gun Battery, some baracks and cistern ruins and the ruins of Fort Cuyler. Fort Cuyler was left mainly intact, with only its weapons removed and the traces of time visible. There is not much left of the barack and cistern buildings. Be careful when walking around here and do not use the structure connecting two of the cisterns as it may collaps under your weight. If someone is able to share some more knowledge about this place, just send me an e-mail.
...is the darkest of the hiking pathes in Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. It is also the only one which splits in the middle just to have the parts joined again some hundred meters later. It leads through a forest and a large part of this trail is located in a dry creek. Coming from the Lookout, the path starts right behind the large barracks building. You’ll see the ruins of a cistern, and afterwards a small graveyard. There, only a single one of the tombstones is readable, while the elements and time have washed away the letters on the others. Shortly after leaving the graveyard downhill, the path splits into two parts. I considered the one on the right hand side to be the more interesting one. Why? You’ll have more of the creek that follows. It goes through the ruin of a watermill, which is also the place where the two parts of the path join again. Throughout the creek, you’ll see small crabs – some of them rolling into the creek. But I think they were more present int the section which is not covered by the path on the left hand side. The last part of the trail includes walking over larger rocks. I preferred most other of the trails over this as the largest part of the trail is in the dark forest. However, that also means that you’ll see a totally different landscape you won’t see on the other trails. And that it is the path where you’ll less likely meet the inevitable goats.
In my opinion the most interesting of all the trails in the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park and also the most difficult to walk on. It takes you along the coastline with all its cliffs, its plants and also the usual goats. I walked it downhill from the barack ruins close to the “Lookout” to Fort Charlotte, close to Galleon Beach. The path starts quite idyllic with a wonderful view of the sea. As you continue the direction of the trail, you’ll come to an old, abandoned 19th century graveyard. Although this place is interesting in its own way, it means that you are on the wrong way. Return to the place where you got the last wonderful view on the ocean and look downhill. If you see the white dots there, you’ve found the rest of the path. And it will not be the last time for you to think “Do they really want me to walk THAT way?”. A walk downhill to the cliffs give you an even better view of the landscape than the one you had before uphill. When you reached a rock pointing into the ocean and there’s no possibility to walk further downhill, continue into the landscape with the yellow plants. I have no idea how these plants are called, but they make the orientation with the white dot system quite difficult and you’ll surely lose the path a couple of times. If you do so, no problem. Just walk to the rocks on the field of yellow plants, and climb them up. That’s one of the most difficult points among all the pathes in the National Park – but here you are at the famous “Carpenter Rock”. After passing this point, take time to enjoy the landscape and see where you have walked around. The ruins of a gun battery, making up the main part of Fort Charlotte, marks almost the end point of the trail. What I can say is that this hiking trail was among the hightlights of my whole Antigua trip.
I don’t know how (and even where exactly...) the Clarence House Trail is, so I can’t give all five hiking trails a ranking. However, among the four I used, Lookout Trail was the less exciting when it comes to terms of landscape. Most of the time you walk through an arid landscape and do some rock-climbing, while a part of this trail goes through a forest. But for forest, Jones Valley is the better choice, while the cactus forest is better represented at Middle Ground. And if you want the challenge of rock-climbing, Carpenter Rock is the best choice. And of all the trails, it is the only one without any ruins. Of course, it’s not that bad that you should avoid it by all means. I surely didn’t regret it and every new perspective you get at this beautiful landscape is worth some detour. But if you don’t have that much time, that’s the hiking trail I would skip.
Shortly before we departed for Antigua our home team England played the West Indies.
Best Man at our wedding (Steve) is a cricket fanatic so it only seemed fair that we should take a look at the Antigua ground.
I believe that there are scheduled tours of the ground but our wedding co-ordinator told us just to turn up at the ground and have a walk round. We couldn't believe our luck when we turned up and the grounds man just waved us in.
Minutes later Steve was on the pitch getting the photo he had wanted so much.
For fixture dates please check the website link below
Because the cruise ship passengers that come to Antigua are usually interested in warm water and beaches, the cruise ships are sure to offer a large number of beach activities. (A beach is pictured in photo 5) We don't do beaches, but some of the possibilities on our two trips were:
Catamaran Sail: (Photos of various catamarans, 2, 3, and 4)
As your sleek catamaran slips away from the mainland, enjoy the thrill of sailing on the Caribbean Sea. Feel the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair as you sail along the reef-protected northwest coast of Antigua.
Kayak & Snorkel Adventure: 'Paddle in paradise' with excellent guides on this fantastic adventure for everyone. Arrive at beautiful Mercer's Creek overlooking the North Sound Marine Park and 12 uninhabited islands. Fast motorboats transfer you from the kayak clubhouse to a remote lagoon where, after instruction, guides will lead an approximately 45-minute route through mangroves and tiny islands. Look for shy turtles, skimming ballahoo and starfish in the inlets. After the short descent to the beach, relax under a coconut tree, explore the island or soak in the crystal shallows off the beach.
Pirates Of Antigua - Black Swan: Step back in time and don your eye patch to become a buccaneer and weigh anchor with us to party with the pirates of Antigua aboard the pirate ship, Black Swan. Relive the swashbuckling days of long ago and experience an exchange of canon fire as the Black Swan sails out of the harbor and cruises away into the fantasy world of spirited and friendly pirates.
Stingray Swim & Snorkel:
Protected by the fringing reef, the calm crystal-clear waters are home to many southern stingrays. You'll be assisted and supervised by the qualified staff into the stingray habitat where you'll be able to play with, pet, and perhaps even feed the stingrays.
The Ocean Racing Experience -
Get onboard our performance racing yachts for a fun filled, head to head yacht race! Then take the wheel of your yacht on a cruise out of the harbour. With a maximum of 6 guests and two professional crew, this tour will suit those who want the ocean excitment and sightseeing in one tour.
Equipment: The cruise ship excursions usually supply all the equipment.
Ocean Racing Experience $119
Catamaran Sail: $80
Kayak & Snorkel Adventure or Stingray Swim: Adult $69.
Pirates Of Antigua - Black Swan: $59
Rex Halcyon Cove has a variety of water sports on offer, most of them were free. Please see below for all the activities that we found during our stay here.
Kayaking / Canoeing
Sun Fish Sailing
The only activity that required payment was Jet Skiing which was provided by independent operators.
Although we didn't try any of the activities below we did hear that you did not have to travel far to find these other water sports;
Equipment: All equipment needed for water sports at the Rex Halcyon Cove Resort was provided free of charge.
One thing worth noting is that if you are out at sea and need assistance you may get charged by the Hotel for them to come rescue you. Sandals offer this service for free but at Rex Halcyon you may get charged.
Cricket is a national obsession in Antigua, and the capital, St. John's, is home to one of the West Indies cricket grounds, where many internationals are played. We took and island tour, and out guide took a special detour just for us to show us where Brian Lara made his world record, as well as showing us the homes of many famous cricketers. One of the things that struck us about the cricket ground was that it was completely open to the public, and that there were children playing inside, even though it is a ground that isused at world-class level. We couldn't imagine that ever happening at home!
The Yepton Beach Resort is where we were married in July 1994 and was a small privately owned hotel...more
Five Islands P.O. Box. 305, Antigua Island, ag
Good for: Business
Indian Town Rd, Saint Philip, Caribbean
Good for: Couples