Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadalupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin. The settlement of St. John’s has been the administrative center of Antigua and Barbuda since the islands were first colonized in 1632, and it became the seat of government when the nation achieved independence in 1981. Saint John is also the capital of Antigua.
Antigua, the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Its highest point is Mount Obama (1319 ft.), formerly known as Boggy Peak, located in the southwestern corner of the island. Barbuda, a flat coral island with an area of only 68 square miles, lies approximately 30 miles due north. The nation also includes the tiny (0.6 square mile) uninhabited island of Redonda, now a nature preserve. The current population for the nation is approximately 68,000.
Temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September. Low humidity year-round.
We docked in St. John, Antigua at 7:30 AM and were cleared to debark by 8:00 AM. Since we had an early excursion scheduled Kay and, I as we customarily do on these days, ordered room service for breakfast. The rest of our group ate in the Lido. We all gathered at 8:30 in the Atrium to make our way to the dock.
As scheduled our guide was waiting for us at 8:45. Ira Fabian, as we learned his name, led us about a block to his Land Rover where we made our way through town and the very busy market area and started our tour of the island. Over the next 3 ½ hours we road along the shore, ascended narrow rut filled trails up into the mountains and snaked through the many tiny villages on the island. All along the way Ira answered all of our questions and shared what life was like on the island. We also learned that Ira’s life experiences were not limited to Antigua. Ira has traveled the world as a competitive bicyclist. Ira is not 51 years old but still competes in his age class. He also has children who live in New Jersey and a brother in Atlanta. Ira treated us to rum punch which he provided on the top of one of the islands highest points which is only accessible by walking or a sturdy four-wheeled vehicle. Later at a beach front restaurant I had the opportunity to sample the islands only locally produced beer, Wadadli and Wadadli Gold. They were typical Caribbean lagers, too light for my preference but at least I added two more to my list of tried beers.
As mentioned above, Ira confirmed that the temperature varies little, hardly ever below 70 and never reaching 100 degrees. As a result of the beautiful weather a number of celebrities call Antigua home for part of the year.
Ira Fabian, our guide on Antigua
A photo of Ira and his bicycle, taken from the internet
Produce sold from the back of a truck in the town market
Views from the mountain top
Views of one of the 365 beautiful beaches in Antigua
Our “home away from home”
Tomorrow we arrive in St. Lucia at 8:00 AM. Kay and I do not have any excursions planned. We will probably do a little window shopping and maybe find a local beach to relax on for a while.