The next stop on our all-luxury Explora Journeys cruise was St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda. We kept it simple and inexpensive enjoying an incredible beach.
My travel agency earned a complimentary cruise with Explora Journeys but we have also purchased several more tickets because we love the product. This trip report traces that journey taken in late November 2023.
Trip Report Table Of Contents
- Miami: Kimpton Epic
- Explora Journeys
- Key West, Florida
- Sea Days
- Spanish Town, British Virgin Islands (Virgin Gorda)
- St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda
- Deshaies, Guadeloupe
- Gustavia, St Barth’s
- Basseterre, St. Kitt’s and Nevis
- Castries, St. Lucia
- Bridgetown, Barbados
Shopping And The Port
It was a busy day at St. John’s. A Viking Ocean cruise ship was docked alongside Explora for the day. Upon arrival, visitors are spilled into Redcliffe Quay and Heritage Quay, where colorful shops and local hawkers compete for business as travelers are funneled off the boats. Most vendors focused on tourist items (t-shirts, keychains, etc.) or the beach. A couple of international shops were in the immediate shopping area as well with a mix of local and international restaurants.
At the edge and outside of the main cruise port shopping area were a mix of local traders, hawkers, guides, and restaurants. You didn’t have to go far to connect with the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
Finding An Excellent Beach
In the middle of the shopping area was a covered kiosk with local taxi drivers in official uniforms offering rides to nearby beaches. While there are many excellent sites and beaches to visit in Antigua and Barbuda, we really wanted to get our toes in the sand, enjoy the sun with our kids and head back to the ship.
We settled on Dickenson Bay Beach, a short 20 minutes from the port and $5 per adult in fare each way paid in cash. If you’re short on US Dollars, there is a casino adjacent to the cruise port that distributes in USD.
We had no idea at the time, but Dickenson Bay is home to the Sandals Grande Antigua resort. All beaches in the islands are public though the facilities offered therein may not be.
The cab brought us to Ana’s on the Beach. Chairs are available for $5/each for the day, an umbrella for $10. Ana’s had good food with a mix of easy grill bites and local Caribbean cuisine. We ordered a curry and roti along with some fries and lemonade.
The beach was the main attraction and didn’t disappoint. Powder white sand, calm waves and clear water were the perfect way to spend the day.
The kids had a great time. It was just enough time to soak in the sun and not enough to get sunburned. With the taxi for four adults, three kids, some chairs, an umbrella, and some food, the day out cost about $150 total between our two families. It was well worth it.
For Our Next Visit
When we lived in Manchester, I worked in between the Old Trafford cricket grounds and Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. In the summer, tests would last days and its parrallels to baseball (though rather different) intrigued me. Given more time, I might try to catch a match at Sir Vivian Richards stadium, a West Indies cricket legend in his own right, to see it played under the sun rather than Manchester’s dreary rain.
St John’s is on the island of Antigua, but we may try for the Pink Sand Beach on the nearby island of Barbuda. That said, it would be a fairly tight timeline to make the roundtrip work as it is about $100 roundtrip per person and takes between 8-9 hours. If the weather is right a day on the water with a secluded beach on the other side could be a perfect change of pace.
A delightfully easy and affordable day in Antigua and our first visit to the country. We found it similar to other Caribbean islands, especially members of the British Commonwealth, yet the connecting to the local scene is easy and if immersion is your goal, it’s easily achieved steps away from the cruise port. For us, the beaches were impressive and whether we sail here again, we will likely return for the powder white sand and approachable nature of the islands.
What do you think?