Written by Jodeci527 on 12 Oct, 2013
Hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers sail into the small port of St. John's Harbour each year. Although only capable of holding a maximum of four to five cruise vessels at once, the island has been blessed with a thriving tourism economy and…Read More
Hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers sail into the small port of St. John's Harbour each year. Although only capable of holding a maximum of four to five cruise vessels at once, the island has been blessed with a thriving tourism economy and therefore the process of disembarking and getting around has never been simpler for cruise passengers.Even before the ship has been docked at the port, Antigua welcomes cruisers to her Caribbean shores. Faint strains of steelpan music waft on the breeze and several white sand beaches can be spotted from the observation deck, tempting passengers to add a swim to their planned itinerary.However, the most prominent aspect of the town which can be witnessed while still onboard is the St. John's Cathedral, whose twin towers majestically looms over the surrounding area from its location on upper Newgate Street. While the church is currently undergoing reconstruction, its historical value remains priceless and countless visitors walk through the town in search of a better vantage point. Thankfully, the cathedral is situated on an incline which makes capturing a photograph a less tedious task than it otherwise would have been.After guests have disembarked, a short walk leads either to the modern shopping plaza of Heritage Quay or the quiet historical area of Redcliffe Quay, depending on the berthing position of their ship. Both quays are worth a look, as they significantly differ in appearance and attractions.For guests wishing to travel on their own, taxi drivers are never hard to find. They're a pretty competitive bunch, so if you play the 'I'll think about it' card, you will most likely be offered a discount on the original price quote. Most drivers already have a package tour to offer, but all are willing to accept customized itineraries. This freedom however, will cost a bit extra.For cruise ship passengers who prefer to stay a little closer to home, the town of St. John's, has quite a number of attractions, bars and restaurants to keep visitors occupied for a while. Most attractions are free such as the markets, while sites such as the National Museum charges a small fee.I highly recommend checking in with the information kiosk near to the disembarkation point. A map of the island and nearby shopping areas will be given, and will help to give cruisers a better idea of their surroundings. Happy cruising! Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 07 May, 2013
Heritage Quay is the largest seaport shopping area in Antigua and is located at the waterfront of the St. John's Harbour. The presence of many different stores and upscale boutiques offer a vibrant shopping experience in a very picturesque area of the city.The buildings within…Read More
Heritage Quay is the largest seaport shopping area in Antigua and is located at the waterfront of the St. John's Harbour. The presence of many different stores and upscale boutiques offer a vibrant shopping experience in a very picturesque area of the city.The buildings within Heritage Quay are painted in bright colours, and each store is bathed in it's own unique hue. From shocking yellow and neon green, to a softer pink and a stunning blue akin to that of the Caribbean Sea, the entire plaza is an irresistable feast for the eyes.Some of the island's largest jewelry stores such as Diamond's International and Jewellers Warehouse have set up shop in the centre of Heritage Quay. These stores offer an extensive collection of fine jewelry with both precious and semi-precious stones. Regardless of it the piece you are searching for is for personal adornment or a special symbol of commitment for a loved one, chances are you'll find something to suit your taste.I've personally have purchased jewelry from Jewellers Warehouse on two separate occasions. I bought an elegant gold ring for myself, and a gorgeous pair of earrings for a friend, and the staff was extremely helpful and efficient, and sized my ring within ten minutes.For visitors who had to pack for their holiday in a hurry, and weren't able to purchase any swimwear in advance, Sunseekers on the upper floor is the best place in Antigua to buy quality bathing suits. One can expect to find hundreds of options in all colours imaginable, and designs ranging from modest and simple, to eye-catching intricate creations. Costs range from $15 to $300 upwards, and if you're interested in a good bargain, ask about their sale corner!The majority of stores at Heritage Quay, however, tend to gravitate towards the sale of clothing and footwear. Everything from formal wear to beach sarongs and flip flops can easily be found, andd all of the stores accept major credit cards and some debit cards.I advise all potential visitors to bring along a copy of their travel tickets in order to take advantage of the seriously low duty-free prices at Heritage Quay. Without proof of travel, regular prices will be charged.After a day filled with flitting about from store to store, a leisurely lunch at the Island Beehive restaurant is recommended. Enjoy local cuisne and a bottle of Wadadli beer at a decent price. Several other restaurants and bars are located a bit closer to the waterfront, and an establishment known as The Coast offers an open air bar right on the boardwalk.Simply put, whether you're in the mood to shop until you drop or you're only looking for a place to pass the time and people watch, Heritage Quay just may be the place that you are looking for. Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 29 Jan, 2013
One of the more popular attractions in downtown St. Johns is the Public Vegetable Market and Craft Market Complex. It's located away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping areas, but only a few minutes walk away from any point of the city.…Read More
One of the more popular attractions in downtown St. Johns is the Public Vegetable Market and Craft Market Complex. It's located away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping areas, but only a few minutes walk away from any point of the city. The Vegetable Market is set up on the ground floor of the two storey building, and over forty different farmers and vendors earn their livelihood there.Inside of the complex, many small wooden tables are constructed, and each table is laden with many different types of fruits and vegetables which were harvested from farms or even small backyard gardens. Usually a table would specialize in a few specific crops such as eggplants and sweet potatoes, or okras, cabbage and breadfruit.A large variety of tropical fruits are sold here, and that's the main attraction for me personally. Grapes, tangerines, golden apples, sugar apples, bananas and specialties such as the Antiguan Black Pineapple are all found here at the best prices on the island. The cost is significantly lower at the market, which is enough of an enticement to draw locals out of their homes before the sun rises on Saturday mornings, when the largest harvests hit the city.Visitors, especially from the cruise ship port tend to explore the Vegetable Market for a taste of exotic fruits such as the genip and the tiny but sweet yellow and red Caribbean plums. Both of these fruits have a solitary seed in the center, covered by a sweet and fleshy exterior. If you visit during the mango season, the market is laden with the colourful fruit and different by-products such as jams and candies. A resultant sweet scent lingers throughout the building, and tempts you to sample as many tasty treats as possible.Apart from the allure of the foreign fruits, tourists usually visit the complex to browse in the Craft Market. Everything from souvenir T-shirts and magnets to woven baskets and keyrings can be found here. If you're looking for something unique, I recommend to get either a customized leather handband, created in your presence or a painting by one of the several artists at hand. Outside of the Antigua Vegetable Market and Craft Market complex is a small park with several benches. In the park, a large statue of the founding father of the island, V.C.Bird Senior has been erected there, and it's common to see persons pausing to snap a photo since the statue seems a bit random at the Public Market. Costs at the markets vary, but everything is very affordable. Fruits can be bought for $1-2 USD, for small portions. Local drinks such as coconut water or sugar cane juice are sold for approximately $3 a bottle, and snowcones are made in a pick-up truck outside on the street for $1.50. Vegetables and Fruits are usually sold by the pound, but for small portions it is possible to hand select your choices.If you are interested in seeing a slice of local life, the market complex is the best place to visit in St. Johns. It's noisy at times, and can be crowded on the weekends, but the experience will be very real. There's nothing orchestrated for tourism purposes there, and the products sold are the very best which the nation has to offer. Close
Written by two cruisers on 23 Jul, 2012
A Carmen Miranda look-alike welcomed us to Antigua as we left the Carnival Freedom. Her male counterpart was playing the drums at the end of the dock. Put us in a very good Caribbean mood. However once we entered Heritage Quay (pronounced key) we were…Read More
A Carmen Miranda look-alike welcomed us to Antigua as we left the Carnival Freedom. Her male counterpart was playing the drums at the end of the dock. Put us in a very good Caribbean mood. However once we entered Heritage Quay (pronounced key) we were beset on by men offering to give us a $20 taxi tour of the island. The cruise director had warned us about taking a tour from one of these guys. Cruise passengers in the past have missed the boat departure, because of a taxi breakdown, or poor sense of time on the part of these tour guides. So, we side stepped each one who approached us. Finally I did tell one that we didn't want a ride, just directions to the museum. He was so startled he graciously told us how to find it, just a short walk away.Walking to the Antigua-Barbados Museum, Bill warned me to watch my step. Good advice. There are deep grooves between slabs of concrete on the street. I'm sure it is to allow rain storm run-off, but they were real ankle-grabbers. The museum is located in the oldest surviving building in St. John's. It was the former court house. This is not a Class A museum like the Smithsonian or The Field Museum. But its the little museum that tried. Displays were arranged in chronological order starting with the formation of the island through volcanic, sedimentary eras and earthquakes. We learned that the highest mountain called Boggy Peak has recently been renamed Mount Obama. There was a nice display of stone-age tools found in the bay. There was an unsual basket the original people called a cassava squeezer. The casava root is processed in it by squeezing and evenutally becomes a flour like tapioca. We saw a model of the square waddle and daub housing structures used a hurricane in 1951 knocked down the last ones. There was a section of the museum devoted to the slave trade and how it was linked to the plantation life. What downgrades the museum is the lack of professional signage. But I applaude that there were signs and explainations at all. We learned more about the Caribbean from this one museum than on the whole rest of the cruise.Now that our brains had been fed we found a place to feed our bodies. Hemmingway's Caribbean Cafe occupied the second floor and balcony of an 1800's building on St. Mary's Street. Not owned by Ernest the Author, but he did stay here when it was a boarding house. I loved sitting at our balcony table enjoying the colorful buildings of the historic area. Bill loved watching the drivers below and how they managed to cram their vehicles into tiny parking places. Bill stuck to the breakfast menu which always suits him. I was adventuresome and ordered Conk Fritters and Key Lime pie. I think we even heard some Jimmy Buffet music floating up from the sidewalk vendors. For the atmosphere alone I would recommend this place...but the food was awesome, too.We shopped along Heritage Quay and on Thames Street and Redcliffe Quay. Remember the $20 tour taxi drivers harassing us earlier?...well their wives, sisters and aunties took up the harassment as we poked around in the stall markets. "Sweetie, Honey, Sugar" was the way they addressed us. Very persistant and frankly there was nothing there I wanted to buy. Redcliffe Quay was different. We found a nice gallery and a pottery shop. I bought a blouse at the boutique Island Girl and a tea towel at the Linen Shop.Back on board ship we watched party boats arriving. Just as at St. Thomas, we found the bay at Antigua lovely. Close
Written by workout_lisa on 29 Feb, 2004
We went to the town of St. John for a morning of shopping. There were many duty-free shops throughout the town, and we were able to compare prices and get some great bargains on watches, and jewelry. I didn't think that the prices…Read More
We went to the town of St. John for a morning of shopping. There were many duty-free shops throughout the town, and we were able to compare prices and get some great bargains on watches, and jewelry. I didn't think that the prices were any better than any other place you can go to duty-free shops, however they had a great selection.
If you are staying on Antigua and plan to go shopping, I would recommend researching the days where there is a lot of cruise activity in port and avoid those days when possible. The town was very busy with people and you may find it less hectic when the cruise ship passengers aren't also there competing for a good price.
You can find some great discounts on local postcards, and walk a few blocks to the post office to mail them out.
There is a casino in town, that we didn't go to, it looked small and run down from the outside and we thought our time would be better spent roaming the streets, and then heading back to the beach. We never had any concerns about safety while exploring the downtown shopping area of St. John, Antigua. The sales people were friendly but not as pushy as some of the duty free shops I have been to on other islands, so the overall experience was better than in other places.
Written by eiresurg on 21 Jul, 2009
It's definitely worth renting a car if you like to explore. We had one for the entire trip, but just a few days would probably suffice. The roads are narrow and inundated with potholes, but almost all are paved. The island is…Read More
It's definitely worth renting a car if you like to explore. We had one for the entire trip, but just a few days would probably suffice. The roads are narrow and inundated with potholes, but almost all are paved. The island is a former British isle, so you do have to drive on the left, but it's not a problem. We rented through Expedia, but the resort will set it up for you with similar prices. For the week, we paid $440, insurance and temporary license included. Navigating is frustrating, but you just have to roll with it. We explored the entire island. English Harbour and Half Moon Bay are definitely worth the visit. We traveled Valley Road, Old Road and All Saints Road. The travel along Valley Road/Old Road is through "the rainforest". It's interesting. This is their "countryside". I'd say, "do it". A nice discovery is a coffee shop as you travel from St. John's to Falmouth Harbour/ English Harbour called Carib Bean. We went there 3 times. It's quaint and they have a nice porch with a picnic table to enjoy your iced latte. If you enjoy good coffee, you won't be disappointed. We bought several bags and are still enjoying it today! Their phone number is 268-462-JAVA if you want to call ahead, but you don't need to. You have to pay attention, because their sign is a bit inconspicuous.We only had one sketchy moment driving around. A local group (gang) tried to stop us as we drove through this confusing village trying to find Half Moon Bay. Maybe it was innocent, but I swerved and stepped on the gas. The rest of the week's driving was completely uneventful.Half Moon Bay, if you can find it, is worth visiting. There's a beautiful beach with nothing on it. There were only two other groups of tourists there. It had beautiful white sand and was a nice spot to stretch our legs and cool our feet after the drive there. There are no resorts or anything on this beach. The other tourists had taken a taxi there, so that is an option, too. Close
Many of the reviews had good things to say about St. John's. The only redeeming thing we found was a little homemade ice cream shop. We went into town twice. The first day, most things were closed and it was only locals…Read More
Many of the reviews had good things to say about St. John's. The only redeeming thing we found was a little homemade ice cream shop. We went into town twice. The first day, most things were closed and it was only locals hanging around. It was mostly, disappointing. It's pretty dirty, but we sort of expected that. The maps and roads are discouragingly confusing. So, we found ourselves in some pretty sketchy areas [lock doors] at times. This is from the perspective of someone that has traveled internationally alot and driven in many countries, including third-world. The second trip into St. John's was equally disappointing. We went on a day when one of the cruise ships had docked. All the shops were open, but none were really worth a visit. We grabbed our homemade ice cream fix and got out. Overall, unless you are craving the ice cream, stay away. Close
Written by KellySenn on 16 Mar, 2006
St. John's is the main port and capital city of Antigua. There is a lot of shopping, dining, and historical attractions to see, and it is certainly worth spending a day walking around. The cathedral is beautiful and dominates the landscape. The Museum of Antigua…Read More
St. John's is the main port and capital city of Antigua. There is a lot of shopping, dining, and historical attractions to see, and it is certainly worth spending a day walking around. The cathedral is beautiful and dominates the landscape. The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda has good exhibitions on the early history of the island. For those looking for a little local flavor, check out the farmer's market on Friday and Saturday morning, with lots of fresh fruits and even some crafts. This is my favorite thing to go see in St. John's. Close