Antigua – St. John’s, Nelson’s Dockyard & Fort Berkeley (Antigua)

Categories: Travel reports, Central America & the Caribbean, Antigua

365 beaches, for every day of the year” – with this advertising slogan boasts the 23 km x 18 km islet of Antigua,the last island of our AIDA Caribbean cruise before we will arrive back in the Dominican Republic.


The port info of the AIDA of Antigua

location: Heritage Pier South
Lying time: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All on board: 6.30 pm
AIDA Port Info Antigua: Download

From the port terminal to the city

In the best weather we arrived in the morning as the second ship in the port of St. John’s. The huge “Regal Princess” was already in the harbour. Since we were curious about how big the ship really is, we googled on the Internet: over 3,500 passengers, 1,350 crew members and a seawalk – a glass floor 40 meters above sea level. Madness! Then the AIDA suddenly seemed so small to us 😉 Ten minutes later, on our other side, the “Jewel of the Seas” arrived, which we had already seen on Grenada. So the trio was complete for today. A 25,000-inhabitant town like St. John’s can look slightly overcrowded when suddenly 7,500 visitors are on the mat.

For today we had not booked a trip in advance, but wanted to decide spontaneously what we do. When we wanted to get ready after breakfast in the cabin and took another quick look outside, we couldn’t believe it … it rained in torrents! And so violent that you only saw a white wall. It didn’t want to stop. So backpack off again, shoes taken off and waited. After 1.5 hours, the sky rose again and the sun shone violently. So nothing like going on, because it was already 11.30 o’clock.

In the port, besides many small shops and boutiques, there is a small tourist information office where we have inquired about the location of the bus terminal.

Over Market Street we walked past the “VC Bird Monument” towards the market hall. There was a lot of fruit & vegetables here today but somehow not to be seen. Opposite the market hall there is also a small fish market.

By bus to English Harbour

At the entrance to the West Bus Station you will find a large overview board with all important destinations on the island and the respective bus numbers. In the info house next to it there was even a sign with the touri hot spots and the price per bus ticket. A really good and transparent system!

The historic Nelson’s Dockyard harbour

The bus no. 17 goes to English Harbour,more precisely to Nelson’s Dockyard. Since this is also the final destination of this route, we were able to enjoy the ride in the small minibus quite relaxed and did not have to pay attention to when we had to call “Busstop” to the driver. The minibuses are used by the locals and so it happened that we were the only whites on the bus. 30 minutes later we arrived at the final stop in the south of Antigua. Only when you get off you pay the bus driver – for us that was just 1.50 US dollars per person. The bus stops almost exactly in front of the entrance of Nelson’s Dockyard – how practical.

Nelson’s Dockyard is a historic port complex and shipyard that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016. In the 18th century, English Harbour was home to the naval base of the British admiral Nelson, who from here also had a steady view of the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe. Due to its natural location, the port was one of the few hurricane-proof ports in the Caribbean.

Today, Nelson’s Dockyard is a large open-air museum and a private marina. We wanted to look at both. Admission is 8 US dollars per person. Since we only had a 20 US dollar bill with us, we could only pay for our tickets with this one. But we didn’t think about one thing before: the note had a crack of 0.5 cm. Scandal! Of course, it was not possible to pay for it, because the bank would not take this note from the museum. That’s pretty obvious. You have offered to pay us in East Caribbean dollars… but we did not have this currency with us. Unfortunately, we had also left our credit card on the ship. Well, and now?

After thinking for a while, we went to the nearest supermarket and asked if we could pay here with US dollars. No problem, but we would only get East Caribbean dollars back. Wonderful! So we bought something to drink (in the hot weather anyway urgently needed) and got the local currency as a change. So we went back to the ticket office of Nelson’s Dockyard and behold, it worked. The former workshops and houses have been beautifully restored and are now used for tourist purposes, for example as a hotel, restaurant, bakery, souvenir shop, etc. In the harbour lay some medium-sized yachts, which stop here on their (world) trips and are partly overtaken.

The Fort Berkeley

A small hiking trail on a hill leads a little further to Fort Berkeley, which is located on a small headland. Here we were completely alone, because the path was not signposted, but gave us this tip by a park ranger from the museum.

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The Fort Berkeley

The great view from the Middle Ground Trail

Coincidentally, we stumbled upon a sign called MiddleGround Trail – Fort Berkeley to Pigeon Beach. “Middle Ground” is the name of the peninsula where Nelson’s Dockyard is located and where we were standing at the moment. The path was indicated with a distance of one mile and since we still had enough time, we just set off. The hiking trail was shown to us all the time very nicely with white paint spots, so that one could not get lost at all. Sometimes it went quite steeply up, but when we saw the view, the effort was forgotten again. From a wide variety of points we were able to look in almost all directions. Really nice.

In between we also ran over a few goats, who were looking for their food up here, which is why this way is sometimes called “The Goat Track“. After about 50 minutes we got out at Pigeon Beach and rested here again for a short time before we got back on the bus #17 back to St. John’s.

On the photo you can see a small overview of our current hiking route: Start is the final stop of Bus #17 (entrance to Nelson’s Dockyard). Along the blue route, you can get to Fort Berkley. From there, the Middle Ground Trail starts to Pigeon Beach(red route). From the beach, we then return to the bus station along the yellow route. All in all a nice circuit for 2-3 hours.

Panoramic view, Middle Ground Trail , Antigua, St. John's, Caribbean, World Heritage, Attractions, On Your Own, Travelreport

Panoramic view of The English Harbour

What to see in St. John’s

In St. John’s we consulted the AIDA Hafeninfo again and wanted to rattle off the rest of the sights of the city. This is on the one hand the Saint John’s Cathedral with a very impressive cemetery full of insaneold tombs (partly from 1720), the well-shielded Government House and the somewhat outdated museum of Antigua and Barbuda.

So slowly we noticed our legs, so we walked back to the AIDA and took some nice photos in the sunset light.

After a delicious dinner we fell into bed after today really tired. Tomorrow we can also sleep out, because this is our last day of the seabefore we go back to La Romana in the Dominican Republic.

All travelogues from our AIDA Cruise (Caribbean Sea)

If you read the list of islands that AIDA is heading for on the route Caribbean Islands, you might think it was a dream for a moment: Dominican Republic, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua. To reach eleven islands in 14 days is already a house number. But that was also the reason for us to choose this route. A cruise is predestined to get to know the Caribbean with its thousands of dream islands in a relaxed way. Here you can find all travel reports of our 14-day Caribbean cruise with AIDAdiva.
AIDAdiva Cruise Day 01 » Dominican Republic: Punta Cana – Short stopover before our cruise
Day 02 » Dominican Republic: AIDAdiva – Our 14-Day Cruise in the Caribbean Sea
Day 03 » Day at Sea
Day 04 » Aruba: ABC Islands – Diving at the Renaissance Plane Wreck
Day 04 » Aruba: Oranjestad – Tourist Attractions & Things to Do by your own
Day 05 » Curaçao: Curacao – Island Tour, Attractions & the best Photo spots
Day 05 » Curaçao: Ocean Encounters Curacao – Diving with Dolphins
Day 06 » Bonaire: ABC Islands – Diving in Bonaire National Marine Park
Day 06 » Bonaire: Kralendijk – Travel Guide & Things to Do
Day 07 » Day at Sea
Day 08 » Grenada: Diving on the wreck of the cargo ship Veronica L.
Day 08 » Grenada: Molinere Bay – Diving at the Underwater Sculpture Park
Day 08 » Grenada: Saint George’s – Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots
Day 09 » St. Vincent: Kingstown & Hiking La Soufriére Volcano
Day 10 » Barbados: Wreck diving in Carlisle Bay Marine Park
Day 10 » Barbados: Snorkeling with turtles in Carlisle Bay
Day 11 » St. Lucia: Diving in the Caribbean with Scuba Steve’s Diving
Day 12 » Dominica: Dolphins, Whale-Watching & the capital Roseau
Day 13 » Guadeloupe: An island tour & the town of Pointe-a-Pietre
Day 14 » Antigua: St. John’s, Nelson’s Dockyard & Fort Berkeley
Day 15 » Day at Sea
Day 16 » Dominican Republic: Punta Cana – Relax one day on the Beach