A relatively new trend has taken hold in the island of Antigua and it entails lots of dirt, a fair bit of mud and a lot of adrenaline. Off-roading on ATVs or Quads as they are locally called is now a common weekend activity and several rental agencies now offer these four-wheeled bikes for visitors to tour the island by means of rougher back roads.
Since there aren't any established road maps which cater for off-roading, persons on a time limit such as cruise ship passengers should consider booking an ATV tour complete with a local guide, rather than attempting the mission alone.
For the more adventurous individual, there is no shortage of dirt tracks, and seeing where the road takes you is half of the fun. I didn't join a tour, but rented a pair of ATVs instead. My cousin and I paid just over $100 US for the pair of ATVs and set off on our own. Seeing that at some point it is necessary to drive on the public roads, the ATVs are licensed for road usage and are equipped with side view mirrors for safety.
It's rumoured that it's possible to cross the island primarily by use of old sugar cane routes and dirt tracks, but I didn't try to see there was any truth to that saying. Instead, I simply enjoyed the ride with no predetermined route. I passed through grassy countrysides completely devoid of people, and my cousin and I felt completely safe at all times.
The ATVs are automatic, so it was rather simple to maneuver the machines. I exercised caution and wore long jeans and a helmet. The jeans proved to be invaluable against the thorny undergrowth we travelled through at times.
This sort of experience allows visitors to witness parts of the island that regular tour buses cannot reach. I saw pastures with grazing cattle, acres of farmland, sugar mills and I happened upon several secluded beaches.
Yes, I got covered in dirt and I was totally filthy afterwards but I had a blast! It was truly enjoyable and while it's mostly suited for adventurous hearts, families with older children could have a great day out together. I can't recommend an ATV tour enough!