I’m calling this the “first five” instead of the “top five” because we are planning to spend a lot more time here, and I won’t pretend to be sold yet on a finite list of superlatives. We love this place too much already to be done exploring!
1. We are docked in Falmouth Harbour, where most private boats go. (Antigua is also a cruise ship destination, but if you arrive by one of those monstrosities, you’ll be on the other side of the island. Thankfully. For us.)
We sailed into Falmouth Harbour just in time for the annual charter yacht show, so we’ve been sharing dock space with about 100 superyachts, including Bono’s motor-yacht, “Nemo”, the largest-ever Oyster sailboat, and Tommy Hilfiger’s 200-foot yacht. Falmouth Harbour has a plethora of shops, restaurants, bars and cafés, without feeling touristy or overdone. There is still no sidewalk and no ATM. No shoes? No shirt? No problem, just take your rum punch to go!
2. So many kids! I do realize this is not universally appealing, but for me this gets Antigua all the gold stars. I was so worried about finding some fast friends for River’s 5th birthday, which came just days after our arrival. But this place is practically crawling with friends–for them and for us. We’ve met so many families already who “get us”, from the Mom who lived aboard their classic yacht all summer (with no life lines!) with her 1 and 4 year olds while their dad was off racing, to the Mom who moved to Antigua at 8 months pregnant so her older son could start kindergarten there instead of in London. Within the first week I had the boys enrolled in preschool, wearing the cutest little uniforms, and coming home saying things like “it’s quite lovely out today, right mum?” And “shall we?” It’s almost too cute for this Mom’s heart to handle.
3. The Boom– Restaurant and Pool
This place is gorgeous. The infinity pool is no charge, surrounded by beautiful cacti and flowers, over-looking English Harbour, and the food is incredible. Take the free water taxi across a narrow stretch of water and you can stroll around Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I take the kids here every few days, it’s that easy and that beautiful.
Located right in the center of it all, the yacht club has Lasers, Picos, 29ers and Optis that you can take out and sail in the harbor, all for just $60 (US) per week. Come back and enjoy some drinks at Bar-B’s pub or head upstairs to Club Sushi for the best sushi I’ve found in the Caribbean.
5. Pigeon Beach
This is just around the corner, literally. The mooring field stretches out in front of the beach, and it’s an easy walk and an even easier dinghy ride. The water is calm and clear and the waves wash up some of the best skim-boarding around. There is a small reef on the far end if you like snorkeling, and the beach is flanked by two restaurants: Bumpkins and Catherine’s Café. One is a local style dive and the other is consistently ranked #1 for all area restaurants. There is truly something for everyone! There is also a playground, though my kids have yet to set foot in it. The beach is too good to be distracted by a swing set.