sunset on Jolly Beach in Antigua
Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean

The Best Antigua Beaches Near the Cruise Port

They say that Antigua has a grand total of 365 beaches- one for every day of the year. A bold claim to make for an island so small, but it’s a claim that I’ll say is actually quite believable. If you’re docking here on a cruise, you’ll arrive in the vibrant little city of St Johns; and while there’s several places to explore in the city, beaches there are not. To soak up the delights of the Caribbean Sea, you’ll have to jump into a taxi. Here are the very best Antigua beaches near the cruise port.

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friends on Jolly Beach Antigua

Read a detailed guide to the city of St Johns.

The best Antigua beaches near the cruise port

Dickenson Bay

Have you ever been on a cruise to Antigua if you haven’t had a photo in the telephone booth at Dickenson Bay? This iconic spot with its warm, shallow water and glorious photo prop (the phone box no longer works, FYI), is probably the most popular beach on the list. So prepare yourself- it’s definitely the busiest beach on the island.

The beach is lined with luxury resorts and low-rise hotels, but that also means that there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and very accessible facilities here. As a popular spot for cruise passengers, there are also some good excursion deals to be found for Dickenson Bay. This extremely popular excursion takes guests from the cruise terminal to Bikini Beach Bar right on the beach; and the price includes travel to and from the beach, beach chairs and umbrellas, plus a full lobster lunch with rum punch.

Antigua cruise terminal to Dickenson Bay: 10 minutes in a taxi, or get public bus number 50.

Jolly Beach

Jolly Beach is hands down, my favourite beach in Antigua, and one that I return to year after year. Although there are a few hotels here, it’s generally much quieter than Dickenson Bay. And thinner crowds mean a far more chilled out vibe. (Though there is of course, the good old Coconut Man, who strides up and down selling rum-filled coconuts and calling out ‘DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY!!’ all the while.)

There are a couple of nice restaurants here, but you can also easily walk away from the centre of the action to find quieter spots to relax in.

Antigua cruise terminal to Jolly Beach: In my experience, the journey in a taxi takes 15-20 minutes, depending on traffic. Or take bus number 20 or 22.

Valley Church Bay

Valley Church Bay is a bit further along the coastline than Jolly Beach, and is a slightly smaller but still very pretty, bay. There are still a couple of beach bars and restaurants to be found on Valley Church’s sandy shores, but the benefit of getting further away from the cruise port is that the crowds are generally thinner and thinner.

From Antigua cruise terminal to Jolly Beach: Leave at least 25 minutes in the taxi to allow for a traffic, although it can take less time. Or take bus number 22.

Blue Waters Beach

I’m adding this little cove in Antigua because I know that for many some a good wilderness-style beach is all they really want! If that’s you, I’ve got you.

We were taken to this hidden beach when we went out on a snorkelling catamaran excursion, and the only way we could access it was by swimming from the boat to shore. (At least, that’s what I believed at first. In fact, there was a tiny boat that could be launched off of the catamaran, but as a not particularly strong swimmer I didn’t know that until I was sat on the sand, having clung to a pal’s back for the final five minutes of my swimming exhaustion extravaganza.)

As a very isolated spot, there are no facilities here, but if it’s isolation you want then this is the place for it. (Of course, the only way to visit is by boat.)

Want to visit several of the best Antigua beaches near the cruise port in one day?

If you’ve got time on your hands, it’s possible to visit several of Antigua’s best beaches in one day with a tour; and aside from being able to visit several beautiful spots in one trip, a great benefit of this is the fact that you have a local guide to show you around.

This is a really well-priced tour which takes small groups to Jolly Beach, Ffryes Beach and Valley Church all in one day.

Snorkeling in Antigua

My own experience is that although the beaches in Antigua are absolutely stunning, the snorkelling opportunities here are not the best- at least, not if you want to snorkel directly from a beach. The sand on most of the stunning beaches, is very fine and powdery, so with most movement underwater visibility isn’t great- the colour of the water is generally a milky turquoise colour.

This is the best island for snorkelling in the Caribbean.

If you want to find the best snorkelling in Antigua, your best bet is to head out on a boat tour to one of the reefs or shipwrecks in the waters surrounding the island. This boat tour takes passengers out to Cades Reef, and also includes lunch, drinks on board and a stop at a secret beach.

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