This lovely Caribbean island has stolen my heart and it will stay in my memory forever. Especially since it was one of those spontaneous vacations, where we decided to hire a car and just go with the flow. The island is so small that you don’t need any special preparations, however if you have limited time for exploring, these tips will help you save some time and money. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t do in Antigua:
1. Don’t hire a car in Antigua if you are not an experienced driver
I am not kidding, driving on Antigua’s roads is far from normal. First of all they drive on the left side (British legacy), which can be quite challenging in those few roundabouts… or anywhere else for that matter, if you haven’t done it before. Secondly, the roads are in a very bad shape throughout the entire island and somewhere the holes are so big (and unmarked!), you can easily get a flat tire or loose a wheel cap. Been there, done that 😀 So if you are a driving rookie, perhaps you should consider taking a trip with some local agency.
2. Don’t go to Mount Obama
Antigua offers much more than “just” great beaches, white sand and crystal clear waters. The island is quite diverse and most of its hills offer great views of turquoise waters and green landscape. There is however one hill which is not worth climbing at all. Mount Obama (402 meters) is the highest point of Antigua and we thought it would be a good opportunity to move our butts and make some fantastic photos. It turned out that the road which leads to the top is not only in a very bad shape, but can actually be quite dangerous. It is pretty steep and we almost crashed into a local, coming down the road with his SUV full of crops. We parked our car somewhere in the middle and walked up for about 30 minutes. And guess what?
There is literally nothing to see when you come to the top. Just some kind of transmitter, surrounded by a closed fence and high trees. I was totally wet (humidity up there is very high) and exhausted, so you can imagine I did my share of cursing. We did find a very narrow path along the fence, hoping it would lead to a place with a view. Again, nothing. Just dirty shoes and a lot of scratched legs from the thorns. Ok, there was a glimpse of the coast between the trees, but it wasn’t even close to what we had hoped for. So until someone decides to give this point a bit of humanity (the name itself is not enough), I advise you to skip it.
3. Don’t try to find a free parking space in St John’s
If you hired a car, you will probably want to see St John’s, the island’s capital. Just do yourself a favor and find a paid parking space. There are quite a few and the best option is to find one which offers a fixed day rate (around 10$-12$ for the whole day). The roads are poor and narrow, and you will only end up cruising around, wasting time and money. If you think your time is free, the gas is definitely not 😉
4. Don’t search for a cheap coffee
Coffee in Antigua is for some reason considered as gold. And the saddest part is that we couldn’t find any place with decent European cappuccino… you know that creamy milk foam which keeps your spoon standing up? I mean I don’t mind paying extra money for a good coffee in a unique location but it really pisses me off when I receive brown hot water with some sorry excuse for a foam. The closest we got was somewhere in Antigua Yacht Club Marina where they served Julius Meinl. The price was 5 $ per cup, but at least they had free wi-fi. Which pretty much makes up for anything, at least in my book 🙂
5. Don’t go to Jacqui O’s
At first I wanted to write just “don’t go to Jacqui O’s for coffee”. But after I received the owner’s comment to my review on Tripadvisor I decided to publish it and let you decide where you spend your money:
My review: “We stopped at Jacqui O’s because of the “Tripadvisor badge” sign, and the attractive location on the beach. We asked the waiter if they can make a decent cappuchino, when the owner came and ensured us they can. What we got was a disgusting piece of dark water and a spit of milk. For 12$. We felt robbed, but we didn’t want to complain, we just paid and left after 5 minutes. The beach is great though and probably coca cola and vodka do taste normally… *sarcasm on* (ok I admit, this was a bit nasty from my side 🙂 )
The owner’s response: “Your coffee was $4.47USD. We are not a Starbucks. Our coffee is made by a machine supplied by Nespresso, ‘What else?’ George Clooney likes it. Complaints to Nestle, Lausanne. Switzerland. Furthermore, your bullying question, directed at Ophia, one of the sweetest members of my staff, infuriated me. You are lucky I didn’t make your Cappuccino (that is the correct spelling by the way). FYI, sarcasm is considered by an idiom as defining ‘the lowest form of wit’”
Oh, Lance… you should know better. And by the way, we never talked to Ophia – we were served by a guy.
Anyway, if you read this post carefully, you probably figured out there isn’t much to worry about in Antigua. If I couldn’t find anything more to complain about, except from bad coffee and free parking space… I guess you can let your hair down and just enjoy this Carribean pearl.