Girls Getaway in Antigua – Do, See, and Eat

August 23, 2021

girls getaway in antigua

Antigua tourism’s tagline is “the beach is just the beginning,” and we certainly found that to be true. While the 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – are stunning, the lush rainforest and craggy coast also offer myriad outdoor activities to be enjoyed and the culture and history are fascinating. Our girls’ getaway in Antigua was a blast!

Island Tour

girls getaway in antigua

Our first destination after arrival was to rent a car with a driver and get familiar with the island. This included visiting a handful of Antigua’s beautiful beaches as well as drive to some of the panoramic lookout points. The number of scenic viewpoints in Antigua is staggering. Some are long hikes, while others are short walks. Note: if you don’t want to hike to all of them, most can be reached by car as we did due to time constraints.

Lobster, Lobster, Lobster

We’d heard that the spiny lobster in Antigua is some of the best in the world. Since both Alison and I originally hail from New England, naturally we were skeptical that Maine lobster cannot be beaten.

During our day driving around the island, we stopped at Beach Bum, a tiny bar and grill right on Half Moon Bay with just a few outdoor picnic tables. We ordered the grilled lobster.

The lobster was cut in half and grilled. The meat was removed and sautéed in a ton of butter and garlic, then stuffed back into the half-shell. Let me tell you, this New England native was impressed!

Truth: I had to hold myself back from licking the shell! Who knew that this rugged hole-in-the-wall beach bar could serve up something so scrumptious?

Island Cruise

_Patti-Morrow_luggagandlipstick.com_

Just off the eastern coast of Antigua, Green Island Beach belongs to the category of private beaches. If you want to explore the white sand or snorkel in the clear water emerald water, you can only do so with either the permission of the Mill Reef Club members or as part of a boating tour, which is what we did.

The tour was a circumnavigation of the island. Full disclosure, when I read the description, it mentioned various landmarks which I thought we were going to dock and visit. However, these were only pointed out along the way. In total, four hours were spent on the boat, with an open bar. I’m not much of a drinker, but the other folks seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The remaining two hours were spent docked at Green Island where lunch was served. It was beautiful, but I would advise you if you are planning to go on a boat tour, check to see how many people will be on your boat as well as how many other boats will be docking at the same time. There were way too many people when I was there – wall-to-wall bodies all vying for a spot in the warm shallow water; I know I would have loved it without the hordes.

Zipline

girls getaway in antigua

If you like feeling like you’re flying high above the rainforest canopy, then ziplining is for you. Ziplines range in length from 52 feet to 328 feet, offering a bird’s eye view of the flora and fauna resting in the rainforest below, while listening to the numerous bird species.

After a safety briefing, we were cinched into a state-of-the-art harness. Let the adrenaline begin for our aerial zips above the treetops and crisscrossing the gorge!

In total, we opted to do six zip lines, one treehouse, and two wobbly suspension bridges.

Hike to Mermaid Gardens

girls getaway in antigua

The enchanting Mermaid Gardens are natural pools formed into the cliffside, opening to the Atlantic.

We started our hike at Galleon Bay, passing through the Galleon Bay Resort. It was a great start, passing through the resort’s gorgeous lush gardens overflowing with vividly colored flowers, and sprinkled with pomegranate and guava trees.

Then the path begins to incline almost immediately onto a rockier trail, slightly challenging but not too bad. We kept going straight, following the gravelly trail. After a while we could hear the crash of waves on the cliff, so we began our descent down on the craggy path, which too, was a bit tricky.

After about ten minutes of clambering down the rocks, we spied the pools below and began the climb down. The unique pools were formed by layers of large flat rocks, with the sea as the best possible natural backdrop.

The rocky area around the pools is uneven and very slippery from the constant splash of the ocean. You would not want to visit during high tide.

After the hike to get there, the water in the pools was nicely cool and refreshing.

Hike to Pillars of Hercules

pillars of hercules

After our hike up to Mermaid Gardens, we embarked on another trail, this one downhill, to get to the Pillars of Hercules – the number one activity on my list of things to do in Antigua.

The path down from Mermaid Gardens was a bit steep and muddy, so I took it slowly. There were also a lot of acacia bushes with one-inch thorns, so again, caution was needed, and I was glad I’d worn sneakers and not my walking sandals.

We passed a stunning lookout point, a multitude of cacti, including one that produces a long red “cactus cherry” that you pick off from the top. My guide, Randy, picked it, so I ate it, not wanting to waste his effort and the cactus’s sole offering. It was pretty tasty, something like a sour grape.

After a while, the path curved around and there was nothing but huge boulders of all shapes ahead, as far as the eye can see. Some of the boulders were still wet from the early morning rain and/or tide so I switched to my water shoes.

I scrambled over a large number of boulders, and then, there they were… I cannot overestimate the visual impact that nature’s elements have created – a startling series of curvaceous pillars hugging the coast, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

The surreal geological ash rock formations were naturally carved into the cliff face by the fierce wind, rain, and crashing waves, displaying themselves in striations of curvilinear and tubular shapes.

I couldn’t get enough of this amazing site, taking myriad photos and videos, and eventually had to be dragged away. It was my favorite girls’ getaway in Antigua experience!

Snorkel at Galleon Bay

galleon bay

After hiking to Mermaid Gardens and Pillars of Hercules, we were pretty hot. Coincidentally, the hike starts and ends at Galleon Bay, which we’d heard is the best snorkeling location on the island. What better opportunity to cool off and have more fun at the same time?

The crescent-shaped bay is more secluded than some of the other beaches. If your goal is to spot wild turtles and stingrays in their natural habitat, it’s possible to do it here, although, like all nature, it’s hit or miss.

Eating Farm to Table

girls getaway in antigua

After our strenuous day of hiking and snorkeling, we stopped at a tiny off-road restaurant called Morline’s.  It’s a family-owned farm-to-table business with just three cozy dining cabanas that seat up to eight people. My BBQ fall-off-the-bone spare ribs and coleslaw were scrumptious.

Lionfish dinner

what to eat in antigua

On our last night, we were treated to a special dinner at our hotel, Hodges Bay – lionfish and lobster that had been locally caught that morning!

I went to the local fish market early in the morning and watched a local fisherman deliver his just-caught catch onto the dock. I followed him into the market, watched him clean the fish, and had the fish delivered to our hotel chef to prepare for our private dinner party later that night.

lionfish

Lionfish are not indigenous to the Caribbean but somehow got there from Southeast Asia. They are very invasive, repopulating quickly and causing the ecosystem to suffer.

I think the new solution to the overpopulation problem is ingenious: fish them out and eat them, aka “kill it and grill it!”

The fresh lobsters were caught by locals who free-dive for them just off the coast.

Our chef’s preparation of the grilled lobster was similar to the lobster at Beach Bum Bar (above).  He made the lionfish into an incredible ceviche appetizer. I gobbled down every bite of both!

Epilogue

Antigua is awash in outdoor activities to suit every physical condition. We loved our adventure-packed visit and highly recommend a girls’ getaway in Antigua!

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Disclosure:  The author was honored to be the guest of Antigua & Barbuda Tourism during her stay, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own.

About the Author

Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.”  Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.

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