Thursday, 22 October 2015

Antigua and a Caribbean Treat

On Tuesday morning, before most passengers were up, “Arcadia” docked in St John’s, Antigua.


It seemed like an old haunt to us as we got off the ship but we’ve only been once before. The town’s very vibrant and colourful with a lot of the older wooden shacks in various forms of romantic decay and it’s well worth spending an hour or so wandering and socialising in some of the many cafes and bars.


While we were in one of the cafe/bars we were found by a really great guy called Mangesh. He was one of our wonderful waiters on a previous cruise and, on this occasion, it became our turn to wait on him for a change! We had a great half hour enjoying his company before he returned to his duties on the ship.


The cruise terminal is very close to the town and the ships seem to overwhelm St. John’s and everything else around them.


There’s some interesting wildlife swimming around in the pale blue waters of the harbour.



After the necessary “internet time” first thing in the morning we took a taxi the short distance to rather strangely named ‘Jolly Beach’ where, …………


…… after walking up to the end (where no one else is prepared to walk to!) we had the beach to ourselves to enjoy the incredibly warm Caribbean waters (and its incredibly hot sunshine!).


Although we saw less of the island than we did last time, we still noticed that the housing stock is not that good.


As we left St John’s at 5:30 in the evening it’s incredible ……..


……. how, even mid-sized, cruise ships completely dwarf the little town.

Today, Wednesday, we arrived at tiny Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. It’s the largest of about 50 islands in the group. The islands belong to the Leewards and are wedged between Puerto Rico and the Windwards. Volcanic and hilly and very green, Tortola is a very pretty place.


We teamed up with two of our dining friends, John and Nicola, and hired a car to explore the island. It wasn’t long before we just had to stop and take photos of the first of many breath taking vistas. From almost every viewpoint you can see the many tiny islands which make up this group.


Just as we were talking about stopping for a drink we came across a lovely bar ….


……. with another stunning view to enjoy.


And, just as we restarted our journey, we saw one of the many intriguing wildlife inhabitants! While we were watching these amazing characters one of them dived from the sky in front of us, down into the water like a bullet and surfaced with a large fish - which it swallowed with great ease! 


After leaving sea level, you rise very quickly up into higher parts of the island where some people have some very nice views! The highest point is Mount Sage at 1710 feet.


In the higher regions there were a lot of air plants “growing” on their host trees. Very different from seeing them attached to rocks and for sale in the UK


The gods blessed us even more than normal today as, just as we were talking about having some lunch, this marvellous place just appeared by the side of the road. Seemingly very remote, “Sebastian's on the Beach” is, as it says, ………..


………… on the beach. And what a beach! As the surf came right up to the open front of the restaurant ………..


………. we could not have wished for a more heavenly spot to enjoy a spot of lunch with two lovely people – Nicola and John. (Oh, and that’s Doug as well!)


After lunch Doug brought our very swish $60, (all inclusive) for the day, hire car up to the restaurant  so that John didn’t have to walk so far.


We noticed that the general housing stock on Tortola was rather better than that on Antigua.


The stunning views across the water to the many surrounding islands seemed never ending as we journeyed around the island


After our fabulous trip around most of this lovely island we arrived at a viewpoint over towards the capital, Road Town, where we could see “Arcadia” in the distance. While John stayed to take advantage of the air-conditioning in the car the rest of us braved the sweltering heat of the island for a quick photo shoot.


One last surprise for us before the end of a glorious day was to come across these beauties feeding in the shallow waters of the Beef Island Channel. We were certainly blessed during today’s adventure. Well done Tortola – you came up trumps!

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