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Antigua the True Gem of Yacht Chartering in the Caribbean

Has Antigua become one of the forgotten gems of yacht chartering in the Caribbean?

Antigua is well known for starting yacht charters in the Caribbean when Commander VEB Nicholson (“Commander Nicholson”) stepped ashore form his 72-foot schooner MOLLIHAWK. The demand for chartering Commander Nicholson’s schooner was overwhelming and thus, started the Caribbean yacht charter business as we all know and love today (Thank you Commander Nicholson).

Reasons to go

1. Direct flights from London, JFK, Miami, Charlotte, Newark, Toronto it couldn’t be easier to get to the Island and start your charter.
2. Antigua has 365 beaches. That means one for every day of the year.  I couldn’t think of a better place to jump onto a boat for a week or two!
3. Most charters start in Falmouth Harbour, English harbour or Jolly Harbour and these locations are all within 30 minutes’ drive of the airport.
4. Antigua is best between November and March. The temperatures are usually around the late twenties.

Things to do

1. Nature & Parks – Antigua is home to many parks, botanical gardens, and animal nature parks.
2. Outdoor Activities – The weather is perfect for any outdoor activity from snorkelling to fly fishing or even horse riding on the beach, and of course sailing!
3. Historic Sites – Antigua is home to various museums, a cathedral, as well as one of the earliest sugar plantations and sugar mills.
4. Beaches – The beaches are plentiful and are world-renowned for their scenic views.
5. Culinary experience – Antigua has a wide variety and interesting choice of dining spots and restaurants from a casual dinner to a fine dining chef’s table experience.

My Recommendations

I(Mike) highly recommend having dinner at MAIA at SouthPoint. It is al fresco dining and the perfect way to look over the mega-yachts at the ‘Yacht Club Marina'. I thoroughly recommend their sushi menu, it is mouth-watering!  

Falmouth Harbour is well renowned for its great marina that accommodates bareboats to mega yachts. At the entrance to Falmouth Harbour, you can anchor off Pigeon Beach behind Bishop Shoal. There is a great restaurant at the far end of the beach and is perfect for long lunches (seaward end) called Catherine’s Café. It serves a lovely French Rosé wine, and I cannot think of a better way to spend the afternoon.

Beautiful and Scenic Antigua for Chartering

Just around the corner from Falmouth, is English Harbour. You can either anchor off Freeman Bay or stern too at Nelson’s Dockyard. Admiral’s Inn is great for Lunch or Dinner and as the name suggests, this is where Lord Nelson spent his time whilst in the Caribbean. The bricks used in the building were brought over from England as ship’s ballast, and it is said that the ballast used on the return trip was mostly rum. A must whilst in English Harbour is a trip up to Shirley Heights Lookout to watch the sunset. On a Sunday night, there is always a barbecue party.

A short trip up the East side island you will arrive at Nonsuch Bay. Nonsuch Bay is one of my favourite areas on the island. Green Island is great for anchoring in Rickett Harbour or around the corner in west bay going up to Bird Island you are protected from the prevailing sea as you are behind the reef. There is always a welcomed breeze to cool yourself down at night. If you love kitesurfing, you will be in heaven!

About 30 miles north from Nonsuch Bay / Green Island is the island of Barbuda. The island is very quiet, but the beach is simply stunning.  I have never felt sand so fine in my life The place to anchor is just inside Cocoa Point, if you are lucky you will probably see a turtle or two!
Coming back to Antigua from Barbuda you enter Boon Channel to the North East of the Island, you will then arrive at Great Bird Island. If you love snorkelling and nature you will love Great Bird Island. It is known as a ‘desert island’ dream and the views from the top of the island are wonderful. As you look over the ocean from Great Bird Island the next stop would be Africa!

After leaving Great Bird Island and heading back through Boon channel you will arrive at Deep Bay, which is located at the North East of the island. Deep Bay is the perfect place to anchor for the night. The beach is amazing and ashore you can walk up onto the Peninsula to Fort Barrington and see St John’s to the West and Deep Bay to the south. Due to prevailing winds, your stern will sit towards the sunset, I couldn’t think of a better way to watch it.
Chilling in Antiqua with a Beer
From Deep Bay and sailing south across Five Islands Harbour, you will never come across such beautiful crystal clear turquoise water. If you haven’t already by this point you will now understand why Antigua is still such an amazing place to charter a yacht.

After crossing Five Islands Harbour, you will arrive at Jolly Harbour. Jolly Harbour is a lovely marina to visit and is still family-owned.  The owner and I had a long chat aboard my boat a few years ago after he very kindly took my mooring lines for me. Of course,  this chat was over a few Wadadli beers (Wadadli is an alternative name for the island). There are some lovely restaurants, bars at the marina. There is also a great supermarket and it is easy to refuel if needed.

Sailing south from Jolly Harbour you can sail either inside or outside Cades Reef, the colour of the water inside is what dreams are made of. Morris Bay & Carlisle Bay are lovely places to stop for the night. Dinner at Carlise Bay is not to be missed, and there are a number of options to pick from, so everyone will be pleased. This could be the perfect place to welcome in the New Year.



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Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Samantha Wilson

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