On our first trip to Antigua, we hired a private boat and visited some of the most popular snorkeling sites on the island. This time, we spent some time looking for a boat tour that would take us to some different places, and not just for snorkeling. Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor both recommended the Adventure Antigua Eco Tour and it seemed to fit the bill with snorkelling, hiking, and exploring a cave, so I convinced my dad to sign us up! We are not party boat people, so the website’s promise that we would not be forced to play limbo or listen to loud music was very reassuring.
I am so glad we went with this tour. From pickup to drop off, we felt welcomed by the amazing crew, and the sights we got to see were even better with their commentary and background info.
Pickup was bright and early, and staying in Jolly Harbour meant we were the first ones on the list. We headed over to the docks and picked primo seats right at the front of the boat, then enjoyed a personal tour of the coast between us and the rest of our pickups in St. John’s and at Sandals.
Once everybody was on board, we flew along the island’s North Sound, hearing about the islands along the way and working on our tans. After some ecological information about a beautiful mangrove, the crew anchored the boat just off our first major stop.
I pathetically donned a life jacket for the 10 foot swim to the island as well as the provided water shoes, and once I strapped my GoPro to my head I looked about as dorky as it is possible to look. Safety first, am I right?!
We climbed through a cave and up to the top of the island, learning about the geology behind the island along the way. One of the best things about Adventure Antigua was how interesting the staff made their talks: and believe me, it takes a lot to interest me in geology.
Hell’s Gate was seriously beautiful. There’s a natural hot tub where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet, and the top of the island has some stunning vistas.
After just enough time on Hell’s Gate Island, we got back on the boat and headed to our next stop.
Bird Island is known as an extremely ecologically diverse part of the country, especially because it is the only place with snakes. Being completely terrified of snakes, I was rather nervous about even setting foot on this island, but luckily for the eardrums of everyone around me, there were no sightings.
First, the boat stopped a few feet offshore and we had some time for swimming while lunch was prepared. I was expecting some crappy sandwiches and cold chicken, and was totally surprised to be served delectable chicken and amazing pasta. I also had 6 pieces of banana bread – don’t tell the crew. After lunch, we disembarked and walked up to the top of the island after a brief talk about the ecological importance of the island. Again, there were amazing views – in my books, anywhere where you can see the Caribbean sea is a great view.
Finally, we hopped over to the last stop of the day, and one of my most anticipated:
Despite my ridiculously poor swimming ability and fear of water, I opted to go with the advanced group to see some cooler things and so that I could stay with my dad. Normally, I make him hold my hand during all snorkelling, but for some reason I felt really comfortable this time. I think the presence of so many other people, as well as the seemingly very capable staff, was a great way for me to feel safe. I freaked Dad out by immediately taking off to catch up with the group, but all’s well that ends well and I got to see a lot of great coral and fish!
Overall, we had an incredible day exploring the island with Adventure Antigua. For $100 per person, it’s better value than a lot of boat trips out there. If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere with lots of informative commentary from a knowledgeable crew, check out the Adventure Antigua Eco Tour!
Adventure Antigua did not solicit this review – we booked the tour independently and they don’t know I’m writing this! This is just my opinion about a fantastic company.