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  • Dave Philbrick

Antigua & Barbuda

view from Antigua balcony

Reasons to Go

Warm and sunny year-round, safe, friendly locals, English-speaking, lots of activities, and more beautiful beaches than days in the year.





Hot Tips

-01-


Frigate bird - Barbuda
Showing off for his girlfriend!

Barbuda has the largest ‘magnificent frigate’ bird breeding colony in the world, and you can actually get within feet of them here while elsewhere they are usually nesting high on cliffs. They are typically seen as just dots in the sky, even in neighboring Antigua, despite having a 6-foot wingspan because they fly at such high altitudes. They come to Barbuda to mate and the big bright red throat sacs of the males are one of the most dramatic bird mating displays. Most of their lives are spent airborne and they can fly months at a time without touching down. Most of this breeding colony goes between Barbuda and Galapagos!


 -02-

Take a helicopter ride to Barbuda with CalvinAir and experience stunning views of Antigua and Barbuda. The express ferry to Barbuda takes 1.5 hours and is usually bumpy and uncomfortable. With CalvinAir you’ll be in Barbuda in only 15 minutes, and with an added island tour you’ll catch incredible beach views - from cliffs hit by whitecap waves to idyllic Princess Diana Beach and Nobu - and the chance to look into a lush sunken world (sinkhole) in the middle of a forest.


Dave enjoying his bird's eye view.

-03-

The Instagrammable Shack a Kai bar on Princess Diana Beach offers a grilled Barbudan lobster lunch for about $35 that is not to be missed. The setting is incredible, served on a pastel picnic table on a poster-worthy beach. But the food is even better: Enoch Beazer is a grill master and the lobster is fantastic - tender and delicious steamed with fresh coconut water and a shot of rum, and the small potatoes perfectly done. Even we New Englanders give it 5 stars!


Dave enjoying his Barbuda lobster at Enoch's bar
Dave enjoying his Barbuda lobster at Enoch's bar



Your Itinerary

SUNDAY

From East Coast cities, even with a connection through Miami, you can arrive in Antigua by lunch. If you are a confident driver and have experience driving on the left/British side of the road, picking up a rental car at the airport makes getting around the island convenient. However, be aware that not just secondary roads but even primary roads are often very narrow, so choose a car accordingly. Also, you’ll see chickens, cats, dogs, and even mongoose crossing the road! Most of the roads are not smooth, and there are even speed bumps added on roads to slow down traffic. Despite the frustrations of driving on Antigua – including cars parked blocking a lane, or some busy intersections without traffic lights – drivers are remarkably courteous and patient. You’ll find Antiguans kind and courteous to tourists and each other, no doubt related to the very many churches on the island. Head to your hotel or resort which regardless of location will take you less than an hour, and relax and have dinner there.


View from our balcony at Galley Bay Resort, with our frequent guest a West Indian Whistling Duck
View from our balcony at Galley Bay Resort, with our frequent guest a West Indian Whistling Duck

We highly recommend the Galley Bay Resort & Spa with its immaculate and spacious grounds, excellent air conditioning, and 5-star food despite being all-inclusive, and also the Cocobay Resort for its stunning photogenic cliffside restaurants, infinity pools, and very charming grounds. Depending on your location, you’ll want to re-order the below itinerary to start with the day that involves the shortest drive after your day of travel.










Pristine beach at Galley Bay Resort
Pristine beach at Galley Bay Resort
Galley Bay Resort's Gauguin Restaurant at night
Galley Bay Resort's Gauguin Restaurant at night


MONDAY

After breakfast, you will explore the south side of the island. Drive to English Harbour to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nelson’s Dockyard and park in the free lot beside the entrance. At the entrance is a bank with ATM and Antigua souvenirs for sale. Your entrance fee comes with a guide and the Admiral Nelson anecdotes of the time he was a young commander there are especially interesting. Opposite English Harbour you can see the house where Princess Margaret spent some of her honeymoon. Across the harbor is Shirley Heights which is the highest point of the island. If you’re ambitious and it’s not too hot you can climb it like the feral goats there, but most people drive to the top and take photos over Falmouth Harbour and the Caribbean Sea. For lunch and the rest of the day relax back at your resort and enjoy its beach and pools.


Partial panoramic of Nelson's Dockyard


TUESDAY

After breakfast explore the east side of the island. Drive to Stingray City and snorkel among the stingrays, which is the most popular tourist activity in Antigua. Also not to be missed is their trip to Laviscount Island which has over 50 Giant Aldabra Tortoise.


The tortoises really are giant!
The tortoises really are giant!

You will be given carrots to feed them and then experience a ‘zombie apocalypse’! Dozens will slowly come toward you from all directions, and if they catch you (which they can’t unless you stay in one place for a while) they could bite! The island has rare indigenous Lesser Antillean Iguanas on display as well as many parrots, macaws, and other birds. There will be a short trail hike overlooking ocean cliffs, and then they will ferry you the short distance back. Since you’re almost there, it’s worth a 5-10 minute drive to see Devil’s Bridge, a natural blowhole that is best visited at high tide. Follow signs to “Indian Town Point” at the end of a peninsula you can walk out on the sandstone to watch the waves shoot straight up like a geyser. Then head back to your resort to relax for the rest of the afternoon.


WEDNESDAY

After breakfast explore the west side of the island. It’s hard to have a better start to your day than bottle-feeding and swimming with adorable piglets! Head out to Pigs in Paradise which has a great location at the end of a long dirt road, through cow pastures, on a beautiful scenic beach it has to itself. They have pigs of varying ages from a few weeks old to larger ones that love their pig treats! It’s guaranteed fun and laughs.


Elaine on a swing
Elaine waiting for the piglets to arrive at Pigs in Paradise


Dave bottle feeding his piglet at Pigs in Paradise
Dave bottle feeding his piglet at Pigs in Paradise - aww!

On your way back to your hotel, and to see a different view of Antigua, take Fig Tree Drive and enjoy the lush tall greenery along its route. It’s also the location of the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour that offers ziplining. For lunch and the rest of the afternoon, relax back at your resort.


THURSDAY

After breakfast drive to the Springhill Riding Club in Falmouth near English Harbour and go horseback riding on the beach – including riding your horse while he’s swimming! Don’t forget to pack a towel in the car for when you get back. As the island was a former British colony, riding here is English-style and each rider gets a crop! For lunch, we recommend the Antigua Yacht Club which is known for its sushi and overlooks the marina with restaurant seating open to the public on two floors. The rest of the day relax at your resort.

Two people riding horses in the water
These horses love to swim!

FRIDAY



three people standing by a helicopter
Ready for our flight!

For your day in Barbuda, double-check which CalvinAir heliport you are leaving from and check in around 9:30 am. Enjoy the incredible scenery as you fly from Antigua to Barbuda, and upon landing you’ll be greeted by your car service for the day. We recommend arranging it through Calvin or Shauna Gore at (268) 721-1972 or (268) 778-2117. For the magnificent frigate bird sanctuary, we highly recommend a boat tour by Pat Richardson at (268) 721-3305, who is very knowledgeable about the birds and


Frigate flying with sac fully puffed out
Frigate flying with sac fully puffed out

gives an excellent tour getting you very close to them. Frigates can live up to 35 years old, and spend almost all their lives in the air – they can even sleep while flying! Frigate birds can’t fly if they get wet, so in addition to avoiding rain by flying at 3,000 feet, they avoid getting wet by only catching fish that swim at the surface or from other birds. You will see thousands of birds nesting, and many males puffing out their big scarlet throat sacs.


Frigate birds flying all around!


One of many piles of empty conch shells for the taking
One of many piles of empty conch shells for the taking

Around the nesting lagoon, there are piles of empty conch shells which are so plentiful they are just thrown away! When back on land ask your car service to take you to Princess Diana Beach which has powder-soft sand and one of the best beach shacks anywhere – Shack A Kai, better known as Enoch’s Bar.



One of the best beach bars anywhere - Shack A Kai, or Enoch's bar
One of the best beach bars anywhere - Shack A Kai, or Enoch's bar

Ask your car service to call ahead to arrange for a Barbudan lobster lunch, which will be one of the most memorable meals you’ll ever have. Walk to the end of Princess Diana Beach to the lovely Pink Sand Beach, and along the way, you’ll pass a Nobu restaurant as Robert De Niro lives nearby. Other A-listers are building houses on the beach as well, so the quiet beach (in September we had it all to ourselves) will soon be much busier.


The pristine and perfect Princess Diana Beach
The pristine and perfect Princess Diana Beach
Another view of Princess Diana Beach - those are all our footprints, oops!
Another view of Princess Diana Beach - those are all our footprints, oops!

For the afternoon stop at the caves at Two-Foot Bay, where you’ll climb up to one of the highest points of the island and see ancient petroglyphs carved by Arawak Indians, who were sadly wiped out by the Caribs.


Two Foot Bay's caves are halfway up this cliff, and then you can climb to the top as these 2 tourists have done
Two Foot Bay's caves are halfway up this cliff, and then you can climb to the top as these 2 tourists have done


SATURDAY

Sadly check out of your beautiful resort and drive to V.C. Bird International Airport to catch your flight home.


Dave sitting on a sitting on a covered porch at Cocobay
So many fun daybeds and swings at Cocobay!

Beautiful image of the pool by the sea
Our view of the Cocobay pool

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