Antigua Cruise Port
- Overview of Antigua
- What language is spoken in Antigua?
- What is the national currency?
- How do I get around Antigua?
- How can I stay in touch with home? Either via Email or phone?
- What are the must-sees in Antigua? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- What are the must-eats?
- What are the must-drinks?
- Which are the best souvenirs to buy in Antigua?
- What is the weather like in Antigua?
Antigua Port Guide was produced in cooperation with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. Our special thanks to them.
Antigua is the best known for having 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – so you definitely will not see them all while in port stop! Christopher Columbus discovered and named Antigua in 1493. In 1981, Antigua and neighboring Barbuda became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.
Most cruise ships dock at Heritage Quay (pronounced key), a new dock in the capital city, St. John’s, which is within walking distance of the downtown area. There can be as many as 4 cruise ships in port at one time, so the downtown area of St. John’s can get fairly crowded.
Check out this video of Antigua. Beautifully done!↑ Back to Top
English is the official language of Antigua↑ Back to Top
The national currency of Antigua is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.
Do they accept US Dollars around the port?
US Dollars are widely accepted throughout the island; however, change is generally given in Eastern Caribbean Dollars. Major credit cards and traveler’s checks are also generally accepted, except by small vendors. When you are given a price, be sure you know which currency is being used.
Where can I get or exchange money?
Banks are the best places to exchange money, as the exchange rate will be better at the banks than on the ship or at a port city shop. The current exchange rate as of January 2011 is ECD$2.69 to USD$1.00.
- Banks closest to Port:
- Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB) - 1 minute walk away from the Heritage Quay Port. On the corner of Thames and St. Mary’s Street, this bank is equipped with a number of ATM’s and is able to handle currency exchanges, personal and commercial services.(see map).
- Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) – 3 minutes walk from the Heritage Quay Port. Make a left once you exit the Heritage Quay Shopping Centre. ECAB can be found on the corner of High Street and Thames Street. ATMS along with personal and commercial transactions can be done here.(see map)
- Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT) – 5 minutes walk from the Heritage Quay Port. Located on High Street, this bank is equipped with ATM Machines and is able to handle both personal and commercial services.(see map)
- ATMs closest to Port: ATMs can be found at the banks noted above and banks found throughout the island.
Although most attractions in Antigua are not within walking distance, the capital of St. John’s, where the cruise ship will dock, is a relatively compact area and easily walk-able.
Most of Antigua’s attractions are easily accessible by public transport. Busses are privately owned and operate frequent services from the bus terminal in St. John’s. Those wishing to visit the South Western coast of the island could use the #20/22 Bus Route, Those wishing to visit the Historic District of English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard could use the #17 Bus Route. The service terminates at the entrance to the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. It is always a good idea to let the friendly drivers know where you intend to go, in order to confirm that you are boarding the correct route. Bus Fares usually run between $1-$2 USD and change is given in EC Dollars.
Note: Route Numbers are displayed on the front of the busses.
Taxis meet every cruise ship – they are unmetered, but rates are fixed by the government. Be sure to agree on the fare before getting into the cab, and confirm which currency is being used for the quote. (Fixed Fares)
Driving is on the left on Antigua as it is in the UK. Most rental car companies have online booking systems which make special allowances for cruise passengers. Passengers are met at the Port by Rental Car Company Representatives with the vehicle reserved. It is advised that passengers contact the car rental companies directly by phone to make/confirm a reservation, being sure to inform the agent that you are a cruise passenger.
Note: A temporary license (USD$20) is required in order to rent a car.
Scooters are available through Cheke’s Scooter & Car Rental, located 9 miles southeast of the port (see map.) Cheke's provides a special offer to Cruise Ship Passengers of USD$55 for the day with optional Insurance at an additional cost of USD$10.
Quad bikes are another way of exploring Antigua both on and off road. Quads range from 200 to 400cc. These are available at USD$45 per day and there is also a Cruise Ship Special at USD$65 where they will deliver the quad bikes direct to the cruise dock.
Daily rates include: 2 Helmets, Instruction, 24 hours of Rental Time and Maps. e-mail or call Tel: (268)562-4646 or Mobile: (268)773-3508 prior to your arrival and reserve a scooter. The minimum age to drive a scooter is 18, and helmets are mandatory for both driver and passenger.↑ Back to Top
How can I call home? Are there call centers?
Prepaid phone cards are readily available across the island and can be used at payphones near the port and around town.
Where are the Internet cafes?
- The Coast, located to the left as you leave the port, is a restaurant/café that offers free WiFi.
- The Skullduggery Café, located 9 miles south of the port in Falmouth Harbour, offers free WiFi internet access as you enjoy their unique café and gift store.
- HotHotHotSpot Cafe located in Nelson’s Dockyard, 12 miles south of the Heritage Quay (see map). Enjoy a cappuccino in the historic district alongside multimillion dollar yachts. As the name suggests, the cafe serves as a hotspot for yachts, so feel free to request a free WIFI voucher for internet access with any purchase. If need internet on the go, daily cards are also available for purchase, with signals best transmitted in the English Harbour, Falmouth Harbour and Jolly Harbour areas. Easily accessible by bus (Route 17).
- Kangaroo Express, located on Radcliffe St. within walking distance, east of the port, offers Internet access on their computers for $2-3 per 15 minutes.
- Antigua Computer Technology (ACT) has WiFi signals that reach across the island. You may be able to access wireless internet from the comfort of your ship with the ACT signal. Cards can be purchased on shore from ACT’s Office on Market Street in St. John’s, located a short walk from Heritage Quay (see map.) Discrete Hourly Cards run from $5.50 USD for 3 hours.
What are the cell phone rates?↑ Back to Top
- St. John’s Cathedral, located less than half a mile from the port (see map) is one of the first sights you will see upon entering the harbor area. The original church was built over four hundred years ago, but has been rebuilt three times - the existing church dates back to 1845. Two other churches on that spot were destroyed by earthquakes in 1683 and 1745.
- Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, located 11 miles southeast of the capital city of St. John’s, offers visitors a tour of a restored Georgian naval dockyard, which hosted ships from Britain as early as the 17th century. Admiral Nelson used the harbor as headquarters in the 18th century. The Admiral House (which he never lived in) has all types of interesting nautical memorabilia.
- Dow Interpretation Center, just southeast of Nelson’s Dockyard, offers fascinating multi-media presentations covering the history of the island beginning with the different groups of Indians who settled there through the centuries.
- Betty’s Hope, the first sugar cane plantation on Antigua, was founded around 1650. Start your tour at the Visitor’s Center, which houses a model to help you find your way around the site. You will see windmills, a series of cisterns, remains of the Estate House, and a still where rum was made.
Fig Tree Drive is Antigua's most picturesque drive. It meanders from the low central plain of the island up into the ancient volcanic hills of the Parish of Saint Mary, in the island's southwest quarter. The none-too-smooth road passes through an area of lush vegetation and rainforest and rises to the steep farmlands around Fig Tree Hill (figs are what Antiguans call bananas) before descending to the coastline again.
Antigua is said to have 365 beaches - one for every day of the year. Below are three of our favorites:
Dickenson Bay Beach, located just north of the port is on the northwest corner of the island, about 10 minutes by taxi from downtown St. John’s. There are a variety of options at Dickenson Bay, besides the sheer beauty of its powder soft sand and clear blue waters, including: snorkeling, glass-bottom boat rides, and other activities offered by the beach vendors. It is a busy beach, favored by families with children.
Pigeon Point Beach, located near Falmouth and English Harbour approximately 9 miles south of the port, is favored by locals and visitors alike. It is a wonderful beach for snorkeling and is an easy swim for most anyone because of its calm waters.
Half Moon Bay, located 15 miles from St. John’s Pier on the southeast corner of the island (see map), is a great choice if you are looking for a quieter beach. Half Moon Bay was voted Number One Beach by the Travel Chanel, and offers visitors a choice of waves on one end and calm water on the other. There are no facilities here, although there is shade, so bring everything you will need to enjoy the beach with you.
Fryres Beach, located on the South Western Coast of the island, is approximately 8 miles from the port. This beach offers soft powdery white sands, crystal clear blue waters and on a clear day, one is able to see the mountains of Montserrat, Redonda and Nevis. Easily Accessible by bus (Route 22).↑ Back to Top
- Heritage Quay is an upscale shopping complex with over 40 duty-free shops and an area for local artists and crafts makers. There are also restaurants and a food court with a wide variety of options. It is open from 9am to 5:30pm daily.
- The new Public Market Complex offers all the shopping and amenities of a modern and progressive society.
Next to the Public Market Complex is the Craft Market Area. This facility highlights the indigenous and creative nature of the Antiguan people.
Vendors ply their trade in a consumer friendly environment offering a wide range of products to include locally made craft such as leather and shell work, craft made from fish scales, souvenirs, T-shirts, bags, hats, locally made soaps and fragrances and other items all depicting Antiguan culture and lifestyle.
- St. Mary’s Street and High Street, located walking distance just north of the port area, have the greatest concentration of shops on Antigua. On these two streets you will find duty-free items including English woolens and linens, local pottery, rum, and hand-printed fabrics.
- Redcliffe Quay is adjacent to the port and has over 30 boutiques in old warehouses. Once the area of Antigua where the slave trade took place, Redcliffe Quay has been restored and is now a vibrant shopping area where some of Antigua’s best shops and restaurants reside.
- Jolly Harbour Shopping Complex - Is marina-style shopping at its best. This shopping complex, on the south western coast of Antigua, is a modern shopping facility at the Jolly Harbour Marina. Duty Free Shops, selling alcohol and souvenirs, along with restaurants and bars can be found there. Approximately 6 miles from the Port. Easily Accessible by bus (Route 20).
- Cedar Valley Golf Club, designed by Ralph Aldridge, lies on the northern end of the island about 3 miles north of the cruise ship dock (see map.) Cedar Valley is a par 70, 18-hole championship course with undulating hills and tropical scenery, including the Caribbean Sea, which can be seen from some of the higher tee boxes. Greens fees are $49 for 18 holes and cart fees are $42. Tee times can be requested through the Cedar Valley Golf Club website.
- Jolly Harbour Golf Course, designed by Karl Litton, is a par 71, 18-hole course with ocean views and seven lakes which create beautiful vistas. The Jolly Harbour Golf Course is located on western coast of the island, about 6 miles south of the port, where a wide variety of birds make their home in and around the course. Greens fees are $57.50 and Cart rental for 18 holes is $40.25. Contact the Pro Shop to book your tee time by phone (268) 462 7771 ext 608 or email.
Antigua offers an excellent variety of dive sites, including the coral reef off both the southern and eastern coasts of the islands, which gives both divers and snorkelers the opportunity to explore the marine life in shallow waters. In Deep Bay, there is also a wreck of a three-masted merchant ship named the Andes, which sank over one hundred years ago. It lies in less than 30 feet of water, which makes it a wonderful dive for the adventurous type.
Check out this video of a Hawksbill Turtle diving with this scuba tour. Wonder how he paid for the scuba tour?! :-)
There are several dive operators in Antigua – below are a few:
- Jolly Dive Center, located 6 miles southwest of the port (see map) at Jolly Harbour, primarily dives along Cade’s Reef, a seven mile long reef 20-minutes of the coast of Jolly Beach.
- Indigo Divers also operates out of Jolly Harbour.
- Dockyard Divers operates out of Nelson’s Dockyard, located about 12 miles southeast of the port.
- Prickly Pear Island Tour, which leaves from the Hodges Bay area (located 6 miles northeast of the port see map), is about a ten minute boat ride away from the main island, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 10 am. Miguel’s Holiday Adventures will take you to this small uninhabited island for a day of fun, snorkeling, swimming, or just relaxing on the beach. The tour price includes a West Indian buffet lunch with open bar, snorkeling equipment, beach chairs and beach umbrellas.
- Lawrence of Antigua has a variety of tours in their air-conditioned bus. You can choose from a full island tour, a combination island/snorkeling tour, a beach tour, or a tour including a visit to a zip-line course on the island.
- Adventure Antigua Eco Tours will take you to the lesser-known areas of the island exploring the history and the ecology of the area. Snorkeling gear and lessons are provided.
See this video to get an idea of what you will see on an Eco Tour of Antigua.
Use caution as you would in any port city – don’t flash money or expensive jewelry, don’t walk alone at night and, as a precaution, lock your car doors even when you are in the car. Avoid deserted beaches, and don’t leave valuables in your car. Stay alert!
Note: Wearing camouflage or military apparel is illegal in Antigua and clothing will be confiscated and persons charged accordingly.↑ Back to Top
- Black Pineapple, known as such for its dark green color when it is ripe and its most delicious, is smaller than most commercial pineapples. The Antiguan variety is full of flavor, juicy and sweet, often referred to the sweetest in the world. Get some at the local Public Market, along the streets of St. John’s or Fig Tree Drive.
- Pepperpot Soup, a stew made from beef, pork, dumplings, spices and vegetables is often served with fungi, a dish made from okra and cornmeal. Enjoy this at the Warri Pier Restaurant, set on stilts over the water near the Halycon Cove Resort on Dickenson Bay.
- Wadadli is a light beer brewed on Antigua at the Antigua Brewery. Enjoy ice cold for maximum enjoyment. Wadadli is available throughout the island.
The Map Shop at Heritage Quay, where the cruise ship docks, offers an extensive variety of Antigua maps, postcards, stationery, and a great selection of books by West Indian authors.
The Linen Shop, also located at Heritage Quay, is where you will find all kinds of hand-embroidered linens, crocheted items, towels, tablecloths and other unique reminders of your visit to the island.
The Gold Smitty on Redcliffe Quay has exquisite custom jewelry. Try a pineapple charm (the symbol of Antigua in honor of the black pineapple grown on the island) or a piece with one of their signature Nigerian Pink Tourmaline or Imperial Topaz stones.↑ Back to Top
Where is Antigua?
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