Sailing The Caribbean | MedSailors Antigua 2018

This post is in collaboration with MedSailors.

If you've been a reader or follower of mine for a while, you'll know that MedSailors has a real place in my heart. Having completed my first trip in Greece two years ago with a friend, then trying Croatia by myself last year, I was overjoyed when they invited me back for my third trip over my 24th Birthday, to sail their new route in Antigua, along with my boyfriend Benji. MedSailors offer skippered sailing holidays, tailored for people age 20 - 35, in five different locations around the world. It is a holiday like no other, and I think it speaks volumes that I keep wanting to go back for more.

I've never been to the Caribbean before, mainly because I always assumed it was expensive and I never really knew where to stay. My brother visited and worked in Antigua for 3 months last year, and he sold it to me within minutes. When a little birdie told me MedSailors were adding a route, I was pretty damn excited, because there really is no better way to see the whole island, than on a yacht.

There is one airport on the island, V.C Bird International, with direct flights from Gatwick. It's an 8-9 hour flight from London, so we stayed the night before to get some much needed rest, before our first day on the boat. MedSailors currently depart from Jolly Harbour, but we stayed in English Harbour which has a bit more of a 'town' and things for us to explore. We stayed at Copper & Lumber Store in Nelson's Dockyard, and it was absolutely perfect. Free wifi, cute rooms and breakfast. There was a little museum next door which we explored, along with plenty of restaurants, a gift shop and an art gallery.

Antigua is a beautiful country and island. It's lined with lushious palm trees, growing their own sugar cane, fruit and vegetables. The sea is the clearest I've ever seen, with beautiful soft white sandy beach and glorious sunshine. The best time to visit is Mid-December to Mid-April, with our trip being at the end of March. The weather was HOT, but being at sea gave us the advantage of a lovely warm breeze, so you're never too hot (especially when your skipper stops in a bay for a swim every day!).

Starting in Jolly Harbour, we made our way around the whole island including the following stops:
- Jolly Harbour
- Ffryers Bay
- Deep Bay
- Dickensons Bay
- Great Bird Island
- Jigsaw Bay
- Green Island
- Halfmoon Bay
- English Harbour (+Shirley Heights)
Before returning back to where we started, in Jolly Harbour!

What To Expect
We stayed on a Catamaran, the perfect yacht for this type of trip. Catering for up to 8 guests, you will have a designated Skipper for your week, sailing you from each Bay and destination. They provide Breakfast and Lunch, whilst we all ate out at restaurants for dinner. You can bring your own snacks and drinks on board, there's always plenty of space to keep things stored or cold, but don't forget to grab a couple of bags of ice in the supermarket before your depart. Each boat has plenty of space, with cutlery and glasses, tables inside and out, bathrooms (with a shower) and a dinghy to get to land. I always bring a beach towel, but you'll be provided some towels too (very appreciated!). There's snorkels and a paddle board to use, but I always recommend bringing your own inflatable. One of the greatest elements of MedSailors, is the mix of cultures! You meet people who have travelled from all over the world. We had two girls from New York with us, whilst the other boat had six Kiwis. Our Skipper Bruno is Brazilian too. It made for lots of interesting conversation!

Speaking of Skippers, you can guarantee you'll be in good hands. All MedSailors Skippers are RYA certified Yacht Masters. This means as well as being fully qualified sailors, they are happy to teach you how to sail if you wish, which is free of charge during your sailing holiday. In addition to their Yacht Master qualification, the skippers attend a pre-season MedSailors training in preparation for the season, and they're extremely knowledgeable on each area you sail to. They know all the best bars and spots, and Bruno was an exceptionally good Skipper. In fact, I had him in Croatia too (small world), so I can vouch for him even more!

Antigua is very much a chilled trip. In comparison to my other MedSailors trips, the Caribbean is all about sailing, swimming, socialising and having a really relaxing time. It doesn't have much in the way of 'towns' or areas on land to explore, which is why sailing is the best way to see the island. We got to experience some great optional extras, but you can take your holiday however works for you. We did everything from Swimming with Stingrays to BBQ's on the beach. Here's some of my highlights!

Ffryes Bay & Dennis Bar
For our first night, MedSailors hosted a Rum Punch Beach Bar, to give us the opportunity to meet the other guests and crew. We had Rum Punch (are you really in the Caribbean if you aren't drinking Rum Punch?) and took beautiful photos of the sunset. Dinner was hosted in Dennis' Cocktail Bar and Restaurant, where we had Coconut Chicken and cheers our prosecco for my 24th Birthday!

Stingray City
What an experience! We got picked up from our yacht and taken to a shallow pool with a white, sand bottom surrounded by beautiful coral reef. You can stand up or swim with the friendly rays but let me tell you, it is the weirdest experience! One minute I was calm, then the next, I would freak out if they brushed past me. It made us giggle so much and I know will remain a solid memory for both Benji and I. After the swim, we were taken to their land-base for complimentary Rum Punch and bought our photo they took for us. 100% recommend if you're visiting Antigua.

Mahi-Mahi Fish Dinner | Coconut Grove, Dickenson's Bay
This was easily my favourite meal of the trip. We had Cocktails on the beach and watched the sunset, before visiting Coconut Grove for Mahi-Mahi, a fish I'd never had before. There were fairy lights lining the restaurant, candles, a great bar for a Pina Colada and beautiful live Caribbean music. Both Benji & I have put it up there in our 'Top 10 Favourite Meals' because it really was perfection.

An old oil rig turned into a party boat in the middle of the sea? I'M THERE. With a trampoline, rope swing, Fat Boy jump (literally sends you flying) and plenty of slides, this is the ultimate day out with your pals. There's even a bar on board, where we had cocktails and chicken burgers! They play music all day, have games inside and even wi-fi. We had an absolute blast here, and loved watching the sunset at the end of the day.

Great Bird Island
Nicknamed for the unique bird colonies, this is truly a hidden gem where the white sand beaches are backed by an impressive forest and a short hike to the top will reward you with an amazing panoramic view. The water was unbelievably clear here, we felt like we were shipwrecked or in Pirates Of The Caribbean!

St James' Club
We docked in an all-inclusive hotel resort where they kindly let us use the facilities. The cold swimming pool was very much appreciated on my sunburn, and I loved just chilling with my book. It felt like I was on a different holiday! We did Kayak races down on the beach which we absolutely hilarious (even though we lost!) and we had cocktails and danced the night away in their beach bar. A great night.

Beach Bum Bar & Grill, Half Moon Bay
Peaches, the owner, is known here for her amazing food. I had a glass of wine and a massive caesar salad with prawns, with many of the other guests opting for the lobster. This is THE place for Lobster apparently (I'm just not a fan!), covered in garlic butter with chips, salad and garlic bread. This was a great little spot, one I'd never have known about if it weren't for MedSailors.

Beach BBQ!
Writing this is making me miss my MedSailors family so much! We had a BBQ on the beach and it was easily the nicest bbq food I've ever had. Benji had never had ribs before as he used to be a vegetarian and he's quite fussy with food on the bone. Watching him munch into his food with such enjoyment was so amazing, his face was priceless. Another awesome night in paradise.

Shirley Heights
What a beautiful spot this was! Known as a restored military lookout and gun battery, Shirley Heights offers harbor views and is the perfect evening for watching the sunset and listening to the Steel Drum Band. You can hike up here, however we took a taxi and it was a great way to end out last day. We got a taxi back down to Falmouth Harbour, where we had a date night dinner to end our trip. Beautiful.

You will not go hungry on a MedSailors boat. Breakfast is usually cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt and toast, but Bruno often made us up scrambled egg too. For lunch, we had everything from pasta to curry, salads to omelettes filled with so much goodness. I always feel like I'm eating really well on a MedSailors trip. We also bought our own snacks on board like Lays and Pringles.

Currency & Budgeting

Antigua accepts either the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) or the US Dollar (US$). You will be able to get cash out at ATM’s but they're scarce in remote areas, so you are best to have plenty of cash. We had Dollars, but I wish we'd gone for EC because everything is in EC. The menus, paying for supermarket goods, taxis etc are all EC, but they will convert to Dollars if you ask.

In terms of budgeting, I always get asked and this is a really personal one. To give you a rough idea, we spent roughly the following:

Local Tax: $110pp (MedSailors take this when you get there)
Snacks & Alcohol: $100 (We did one supermarket shop at the beginning)
Taxis (Airport, Hotel & to Shirley Heights): $50
Meals: $50 per day for dinner & drinks (per person)
Tipping: 10-20% (we gave a tip to taxi drivers and restaurants)
Tip for Skipper: $50pp (this is completely personal, but we gave 100 in total from us both to Bruno)
Stingray City: $50pp
D-Boat (including food): $50pp

Then we also bought souvenirs - anklets, an extra towel, some bits in the airport, so maybe consider this. I hope that helps!

 I hope the photos do justice to what an incredible week we had. So many amazing moments and I only wish I was back in the Caribbean. MedSailors is a truly awesome experience, and I highly recommend you check them out! Book your MedSailors holiday HERE.

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