The emphasis of this Antigua Eco Tour and Snorkel is on the ecology and history of the area. The warm, clear waters, protected by over twenty little islands, countless reefs, flats and mangrove nurseries are always calm, and there are perfect opportunities for spotting some of the local residents, including turtles, frigate birds, herons, pelicans, spotted eagle rays, sting rays, barracuda, ospreys, turns, noddies, laughing gulls, and the beautiful tropic birds. The crew will talk about local flora and fauna and the interesting scientific turtle project at Jumby Bay, and guests will be entertained by their anecdotes and stories of local history and folklore.
After picking you up from St. Johns, you will spend approximately one hour on the boat with a talk of Long Island (turtle project), Maiden Island (reef ball system), and Guiana Island (mangrove system). Then you'll head to Bird Island, where you'll take a short walk/hike up to the top of the island. The walk takes 25-30 minutes (round trip), and will offer you views that are absolutely stunning of the Atlantic, North Sound, the north coast of Antigua and the Caribbean Sea, as well as other fascinating sights along the way. When you come back from the hike, there is a short snorkeling lesson for those who are not up to date with their snorkeling. All equipment is supplied, and crew members will accompany both guided snorkeling sessions after lunch. You'll then head out into the bay of the island and spend the next 40 minutes enjoying a local lunch, usually featuring BBQ chicken, green salad, pasta w/olive oil and garlic, plantain (a type of banana that you cook); and for dessert, there is the most delicious banana bread. We also have passion fruit juice, tamarind juice (tastes like ice tea with apple juice), diet coke, coke, and water.
After lunch, we head to Hell's Gate Island, where you have a choice to either go snorkeling or swim ashore to the island (short swim) and do a walk through the small cave that runs through the island, and then walk over the natural bridge that connects two small parts of the island. Time on the island lasts between 30-40 minutes. After the Hell's Gate experience is finished, we then head back to a reef off Bird Island, where you can go snorkeling again or, if you simply want to relax, there is plenty of shade on the boat and of course, easy ladders for those of you who fancy a refreshing dip for approximately 30 minutes. After this last snorkeling session, we head slowly back to St. John, into the setting sun, while the crew's "secret recipe" rum punch makes a perfect end to a perfect day.
The boat itself is extremely spacious and comfortable and has a freshwater shower and a restroom. The number of guests on the tour is deliberately kept low to enhance the feeling of luxury. You will leave this tour feeling that you have been welcomed into a very special community of the most privileged visitors to Antigua and Barbuda: those who have had a taste of what it really means to have grown up in the islands and have been let into the "secrets of the North Sound."
We arrived by cruise ship and weren't really sure what to expect, but this is an excursion you don't want to miss. The boat was less crowded than the ones you get from the cruise ship, so the crew was able to give a lot of attention to everyone on board. They were super friendly and very knowledgeable about the areas they took us to to. They took us all around the island, and we experienced some very unique sites, such as a pelican nesting ground, Hell's Gate, and excellent snorkeling. We hiked a mountaintop and had breathtaking views of the bay. The catered lunch was very good, and the rum punch not too sweet. I would recommend this trip to anyone, and if I am ever back in the area, I will book this excursion again.
Reviewer: Sandy Lowry
The food was good, the staff was knowledgeable and entertaining. We had a wonder adventure, on land, on the water and under the water. Great value for the price. I would definitely recommend this excursion.
We loved this excursion! Small group size, excellent tour guides and beautiful sites! The food was awesome!
Reviewer: Mark Schuelke
Pricey but you get what you pay for! Nice ocean boat ride with stops to see islands off the coast with mangroves and wildlife. Saw blue herons and other waterfowl. Snorkeled at Hell's Gate and hiked up and over the landmark. Awesome views from the top! Off to another cay for a luscious lunch on the boat and another nature hike ending in more fantastic views. Another boat ride back with plenty of rum punch to go around. Fun! Crew knowledgeable, friendly and personable! Book this tour!
Reviewer: Cruise lover
Crew was great. They seemed proud of their country and didn't mind answering people's questions. The furnished lunch was excellent and plentiful. Climbing Hell's Gate was optional and the most strenuous part of the excursions. Those that didn't climb it could swim to the island or stay on the boat.