More Antigua: St John’s Harbour

More Antigua: St John’s Harbour

Since our two sets of visitors we’ve leisurely toured a bit more of Antigua, notably the west coast. A few nights in Jolly Harbour to take care of chores and then we were off to Deep Bay for a couple peaceful nights and sort of within reach of St. John’s Harbour by dinghy.

The look of relief to be on firm ground!


Having briefly seen Jolly Harbour when we cleared into Antigua, our return was primarily to deal with boat chores. This is the best grocery store we’ve found here, and it is also the closest to any dinghy dock so we took the chance to replenish our supplies. They also have laundry facilities so that was checked off the list. And we were able to fill up with diesel and water. I also picked up another tin of varnish as the UV has already done a number Altera’s toe rails that were refinished in September, so I will be applying a few more coats in the very near future. A week prior I had 3 locals drop off their cards offering to do this for me while we docked at Nelson’s Boatyard. Now I’m wondering if I should have sprung for it.

Presumably somewhere up north was getting some winter weather as we had a notable north swell for a few days, so we stayed in Jolly Harbour a couple extra days as it was wrapping into the anchorage and hitting us on the stern so it wasn’t causing an unpleasant roll that we anticipated further north in Deep Bay.

Deep bay is a beautiful spot immediately south of St John’s Harbour and about a 3 mile dinghy ride from the capital city. We elected to just take a 40 minute dinghy from the nice anchorage rather than move Altera. We got a bit wet as is expected with our small dinghy, but that was nothing compared to the rain squall that greeted us a few hundred yards from town as we approached the cruise ships. The rain finally cleared after drenching us, but the cloud cover remained. Had we not been soaked it would have been a perfect day for seeing the town, but we didn’t let that stop us.


Racing the rain to the finish line.  Too bad we didn’t have an extra horsepower or two…


Drenched but still smiling!


A local fellow who had greeted us at the dock gave a recommendation for lunch so after a partial tour of town we took a break to enjoy lunch under an umbrella while more rain fell around us. We enjoyed south African style spring rolls as an appetizer which were by far the best I’ve ever had, and reasonably priced too!

Thin head of hair dries much quicker than a cotton T-shirt.


Following lunch the rain held off and we wandered around more of the town, seeing their food markets, the fishing dock and fish market and the bus stop. As the school kids finished their day the streets became a little busier and we gradually made our way back to the water front.

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We made the mistake of stopping for a drink and wifi in the small cruise ship mall and suffered from sticker shock when the bill came. We should have known better!


Overall St John’s is an interesting Caribbean town. I didn’t have high expectations based on reviews I’d read of it being a dirty town to visit, but I certainly didn’t find that to be the case. It was refreshing to see a port town that is still dominated with local businesses and services for the residents rather than a pretty façade of shops and restaurants that becomes a ghost town late in the afternoon when the ships depart.

This article has 5 comments

  1. Yes I do prefer solid ground but I don’t mind the boat…as long as it’s not moving?  …have fun…love Mom

  2. Hey guys!

    I love checking in on your adventures! It seems like ages since we were together back in Deltaville. We’re heading down the thorny path in April and are curious about your experiences clearing in with a pet  in various Caribbean countries. Would love your thoughts or links on your blog on the subject – sorry if it’s obvious to find – my internet is super limited in the Exhumas. Cheers!

    • I’ll try to write up something more complete later but here’s our experiences so far. I think in some cases you’d have it easier with a cat that doesn’t leave the boat.
      – We haven’t done Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, St Kitts & Nevis, Monserrat, Dominica and a few others
      – Puerto Rico: Even though the web says you need a health certificate, we just got asked on the phone whether he had his shots. We said “yes” and that was the end of it. Might be different if you’re not coming from the USVI since then you might need to actually go in to customs. If coming from the USVI usually a phone call is enough, even as Canadians. I would have up to date shot records but wouldn’t worry about a health cert coming from the Bahamas or DR.
      – USVI: Just have shot records. Don’t need a health certificate. They’ve never cared about the dog when we’ve checked in (from Puerto Rico/Culebra or BVIs). Two pretty good pet stores in the marinas in Charlotte Amalie (Crowne Bay and Yacht Haven) where we found quality food.
      – BVIs: We needed a ton of paperwork, including a titer and recent health cert, not one from when you left the US (see Local head vet is good about responding to email if you have questions ( Coming direct from the US we had to get the USDA to sign off on the health certificate (less than 30 days old). Need to make an appointment for the vet to meet you when you arrive. Costs for the inspection vary, seems like $20 is most typical. You can’t check in at Jost van Dyke with a pet.
      I’ve heard that you don’t need the USDA signature if you’re coming from the USVI. I’d ask Dr. Deveaux or Dr. Laura at Canines, Cats & Critters which has offices in the USVI and Soper’s Hole in the BVIs ( There’s another vet that’s easier to get to for a health certificate in Red Hook: and I’m sure they’re also used to dealing with BVI pet imports. I got a health cert there for Puerto Rico (that I didn’t need) and was happy with the office & vet.
      You can get an export health certificate for $10 when you leave but you might need to taxi to the head office in Paraquita Bay to get it. Useful if you want to check in to Dutch St Maarten.
      – St Martin: Check in on the French side. They don’t care about pets at all (no questions on the form or from the officials). Dutch side is more like the BVIs but once you’re there you can take a taxi or dinghy between the two sides without checking in or out. You only deal with customs if you move your boat between the two countries. Got a health cert from but it was a decent hike. There’s a vet in Grand Case too. Couldn’t find one in Marigot.
      – Antigua/Barbuda: Like the BVIs: lots of paperwork, titer, … See Email & fax addresses on the form didn’t work. This one did: Dr. Tubal very reasonable but had to meet us on arrival before Magnus could touch land (actually several hours after we got there) for $50 inspection. We got a health certificate in St Martin but it wasn’t super-official. He was more interested in our USDA health cert from last fall since that had pretty much all of the requirements on it. We should have had another vet inspection before we left but the vet was off island so we got away without it.
      Barbuda is part of Antigua. Once you’re checked in to Antigua you can just pop over there without any more paperwork.
      – Guadeloupe: French. No questions, no paperwork 🙂 We expect the same in Martinique.
      We’re probably going to skip Dominica for timing and dog paperwork reasons.

      • On that note, do you have the current address for the Bahamas pet import stuff? I sent mine off months ago but haven’t gotten anything back so I’m guessing the office moved again.

  3. Looks like you are doing well. Will be following the next leg of your journey and wondering what island you will be off to. ? Nan and Grandad