Adventures and Misadventures in Antigua

Fun and exciting activities for couples in Antigua

When we travel, it’s always nice to mix in some outdoor recreation with our cultural, artistic, and food experiences. We walk a lot, go hiking and biking, and enjoy nature. But watersports and adventure activities don’t usually show up on my radar. There have been a few exceptions, with varying results.

Planning our trip to the island of Antigua, we chose a few outdoor physical activities that I knew I’d enjoy, but would also present some challenges for me. Perhaps endeavors like these will seem pretty tame to you, but for me they required summoning up a little courage. Ultimately, I came away from these little adventures happy that I did them and even quite proud.

Ziplining in the rainforest

Although I wasn’t as terrified as I was the first and only time before that I ziplined, I was apprehensive. With eight years passed since the satisfying feeling of accomplishment in Mazatlan, I felt like I was starting at ground zero. As I was getting geared up by the staff at Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours, I remained calm and followed instructions of the patient staff members who made me feel more confident that everything would be just fine.

Getting geared up at Antigua Zipline

Getting ready to zipline

The first of our six runs was short, thankfully, since I managed to get myself turned around halfway down the cable. Knowing that I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle, I somehow got myself turned around facing forward maintaining enough momentum to reach the platform. When I landed, the guides explained what I needed to do to avoid that situation again (my right arm had been too far forward on the brake cable), so I felt determined going on to the next platform. My form was terrible throughout the whole experience, but I made it to each platform without major incident. I’m glad I did it, but have to admit that I was relieved to reach the final landing. Mr. TWS, on the other hand, would have loved to take the full course of 12 runs.

Feeling relaxed after ziplining in Antigua

Feeling relaxed and relieved after ziplining

It was nice to have the challenge behind me and I felt a glow of success as we rehydrated with cold water on the shop deck afterwards. Will I zipline again someday? I suppose if someone challenges me, I’ll be inclined to do it!

Biking, kayaking, and liming

Our kayaking experience in Antigua was part of a biking, kayaking, and historic fort tour guided by Triflexcursion in St. John’s. I love riding bikes, but I don’t take well to water sports, and only once before tried kayaking (which of course, seems quite tame to most).

Kayaking, biking, and hanging out at the beach bar in Antigua -- Top photo courtesy of Triflexcursions

Biking, kayaking, and chilling out — Top photo courtesy of Triflexcursion

Mark and Giles, who run Triflexcursion, are terrific guides and their professional and friendly assistance really made this a fun and comfortable activity.

The biking through the city of St. John’s and through residential areas to a cove for kayaking was an easy to moderate ride with a few hilly streets in town. Arriving at the kayaking beach, I was relieved to see that we’d be navigating the calm waters of a cove and that the kayaks were the type that left legs uncovered. My previous kayaking experience was on a rushing river in Montana in a craft that covered our legs making me feel worried, appropriately or not, about toppling over and not being able to get out! As we paddled out with the others in our small group of eight (including Giles and Mark), Mr. TWS in back and me in front, I focused on the task at hand and soon started to get a rhythm. Although Mr. TWS and I would sometimes get out of sync, we moved along at a good clip, only a couple of times getting a bit too close to the other kayaks and needing to push off and away — a situation that made us all laugh.

What I thought might be an uncomfortable situation turned out to be a lot of fun, and I even convinced Mr. TWS to sit back, relax, and let me get us back to shore in the final stretch. We were last to arrive, but not too terribly far behind the others.

After our kayaking excursion, we rode our bikes to Fort James Beach, stopping for a beverage and some liming (common term in Antigua for “chilling out”) with our group at a beach bar for a while before walking uphill to the ruins of Fort James.

Swimming with the stingrays

Planning this trip, I was really surprised to hear that being up close and personal with stingrays was even an option. I’d only previously heard about the dangers of stingrays. But these southern rays of the Caribbean and western Atlantic Ocean are very gentle and not dangerous. Mr. TWS was excited about this excursion with Stingray City Antigua, but I was sure that my highlight would be the boat ride to the floating platform in shallow waters of a reef where we would see the stingrays. I’m not much for being in water (besides pools) but I enjoy being on boats.

Leon and George of Stingray City, Antigua

On the boat with Leon and George of Stingray City

Climbing down to the ladder of our small boat into the water, I immediately saw the stingrays gliding close by. I’m pretty sure I screeched and looked foolish, but I kept on descending into the water and then walked gingerly toward our waiting guide. I donned snorkeling gear and awkwardly swam around a little attempting to get an underwater look at the creatures. With our guide George’s encouragement,
I finally managed to be face-to-face underwater with a stingray (affectionately known as Slim) and even managed to hold it briefly. I didn’t spend a lot of time swimming with the stingrays or snorkeling around, but it was fun to hang out with Mr. TWS watching the rays gliding about and catching the reactions of others in the group. In my defense, I did see a few others who seemed somewhat uncomfortable, too.

Approaching the platform to swim with the stingrays at Stingray City in Antigua

Approaching Stingray City

I also enjoyed a stop we made at Laviscount Island, Stingray City’s nature preserve and beach where they are planning to build a restaurant. We enjoyed a rum punch on the lovely beach and got to meet some of the amazing animals that are inhabiting the island — Giant Aldabra Tortoises (including Jeffrey weighing in at 300 pounds), the super cute red footed tortoises, iguanas, parrots, and deer. George and other staff clearly love these animals and educating visitors about them.

Tortoise on Laviscount Island, Stingray City, Antigua

Tortoise on Laviscount Island, Stingray City

Hashing with the hashers

We were expecting a fun time with the Hash House Harriers (with a slogan like “drinkers with a running problem”, how could it not be?) and we were not disappointed. Until our visit to Antigua, I’d never heard of this international non-competitive running/walking social club. It’s been around since the 1930s and there about 2000 chapters around the world. The Antigua branch was established in 1991, and we were participating in their 800th event.

Walking with the Hash House Harriers of Antigua

A fun and eventful walk with the Hash House Harriers

As you might know, Mr. TWS and I love hiking, especially on the trails of the Sonoran Desert. We looked forward to joining the hashers at Galleon Beach for a fun walk and libations. Meeting up with the group, we quickly realized that we were the only ones not wearing athletic shoes (we had come from a food walking tour in St. John’s and figured we’d be fine for a “fun walk” in our sandals). Not to be deterred, we marched on happily, although somewhat embarrassed by our poor choice of footwear.

Along the way, hasher Christopher Waters, an expert on Antiguan ad British history, paused at various spots such as old British fort ruins and tombstones, to share his knowledge and insights. We were enjoying conversations with others in the group — many who have been participating in these walks for years.

About halfway during the walk, the trail took a more challenging turn, with some rocky climbs, narrow dirt paths winding downhill through dense foliage and low-hanging branches — just the kind of hilly terrain trail we love. However, largely due to having the wrong footwear and his very dark temporary medical sunglasses, Mr. TWS slipped on a gravelly spot and slid down a slope, breaking his fall with his hands to stop the slide. He was fine except for a bruised ego and quickly got to his feet, but there were a few cuts and scrapes (and quite a lot of blood) which photographer Woody Woodson (also a medic, coincidentally) bandaged up right away.  We continued on with the help of very nice hashers in the group looking out for Mr. TWS, making our way back to Galleon Beach and much-deserved adult beverages.

We were congratulated on making it to the finish — the first people to ever to do so (or attempt to do so, I imagine) in sandals! We were also initiated into the society of hashers in a memorable ceremony that we’ll keep secret for now.

There’s more to come about our Antigua highlights.

Note: Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority sponsored our island exploration, but the perspectives and recommendations in this article are strictly our own — as always.

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The Traveling with Sweeney duo in Antigua

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Adventures and Misadventures in Antigua

  1. Pingback: Lights, Camera, Action in Antigua | Traveling with Sweeney

  2. Suzanne Fluhr

    I have yet to be brave enough to try zipping. It’s embarrassing. Your other Antigua activities sound like ones we choose when available. Like you, Mr. Excitement and I sometimes find ourselves paddling at cross purposes in kayaks and, especially, in canoes.

  3. Pingback: A Taste of Antigua: 5 Top Liming and Dining Experiences - Traveling with Sweeney

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