01 May 2012
The entire Frantz family was together for Antigua. Mom and Haessly flew down to meet us for a week. We couldn't have been there at a better time. We arrived in time to see parts of both the Classic Yacht Regatta and the Antigua Sailing Week. Both regattas are big sailing events. They provided for spectacular racing, and with regard to the Classic, equally spectacular eye candy.
Mom and Haessly joined us in Falmouth Harbor, a well-protected bay adjacent to the historic English Harbor. In an effort to show them some of the island by sea, we sailed to Nonesuch Bay, on the eastern side of Antigua. It is part of a marine management area and is home to a number of beaches and resorts. The snorkeling was decent, but the highlight of the stop was Harmony Hall, a boutique resort, restaurant, and art gallery. We ate lunch at the restaurant, which sits up on a hill overlooking the bay. The art gallery was also interesting with works from local artists. After two days in Nonesuch, we sailed back to Falmouth Harbor and into the Antigua Yacht Club Marina.
The Classics were ending, so we watched as the beautiful old yachts were replaced by modern racing machines... a stark contrast. It is safe to say that Blue Heron, decked out as she is for cruising with jerry cans and dinghy on deck, looked a bit out of place in both groups.
The adjacent English Harbor was a major British port during the 1700's and 1800's. Walking though historic Nelson's Dockyard, named after British hero Lord Nelson, is like taking a step back in time. The dockyard has been kept in original design, but was restored and transformed into a bustling commercial area, and the center of events for the race week.
Antigua, though small, isn't exactly walkable. We rented a car and toured the island to see some of the other areas and historical sites. Betty's Hope Estate was the first major sugar cane plantation on the island and, while it is open to the public, the ruins are likely visited more by goats than tourists. The saving grace of the sight was a restored windmill, one of many that were built on Antigua for the processing of sugar cane.
At the northwestern corner of the island is St. John's, Antigua's capitol. The town was relatively dead, likely because there was no cruise ship in port and it was a Sunday. This was disappointing at first, but provided a glimpse of the real Antigua that, for a tourist, is often hard to find in many places.
The island is not all that developed and there are still large areas of forest that remain relatively untouched by people, with the exception of ganja growers. We took a rainforest tour by zip line one morning, which was a pretty cool way to see some of the forest. After a quick safety briefing, we zipped one by one from platform to platform through the forest. Later that day, we hiked from Pigeon Beach on Falmouth Harbor over to English Harbor. The trail runs by the foundations of several British fortifications and provided great views of both bays.
It was a great week that went by all too quickly, but we look forward to making the most of our remaining stops before heading home.