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Views like this don’t come without a little effort. And let me tell you, Antigua hiking is so worth the effort! Even my husband, who wasn’t super pumped about an early wake up call on vacay loved this adventure.
The husband and I went on our yearly big kid-free getaway to Antigua with a few goals in mind: to relax, to reconnect, and to explore the Caribbean island of Antigua for the first time.
We are an active family from Texas, so we find it easy to bring that active lifestyle into our travels. When traveling, I opt for adventures that challenge us, but are so much fun that we don’t notice we are exercising. That’s why hiking along the coast of Antigua was a no brainer!
Our guided hike was hosted by Adventurous Hikes and Tours, which is THE way to hike if you want to see the most beautiful sights of Antigua on foot! Our tour guides for the morning, Rodney and Valentine (Val), made the experience even better than we could have imagined. Read on to find out more about this excursion and why you need to book this tour when visiting Antigua!
What You’ll Need to Bring
- Comfortable shoes that can climb over rocks, walk through sand, and possibly get wet.
- A backpack, if you’re carrying a camera or drone gear. My husband’s backpack is waterproof and he says it’s comfortable to carry. It’s also surprisingly sturdy for the price point! It’s held up well for our travels.
- If you are a snacker, it would be wise to pack a healthy snack in your backpack.
- Your tour guides, Rodney & Val will have water and Gatorade, so no need to bring drinks.
- If you burn easily, you might want to pack a sun-safe long sleeve breathable shirt. It can get humid in Antigua, so you will most likely work up a sweat!
- Non-toxic sunscreen – if you are hiking on a sunny day, you’ll probably want to reapply often. We hiked on an overcast day in April, so the temperature was very comfortable and no sunburn for us.
This is a link to our KIT, which has some of our favorite kid-free travel must-haves.
Adventurous Hikes and Tours offers two different tours: Pillars of Hercules and Mount Obama. You can read more about each tour on Adventurous Hikes and Tours’ website and book through their website too!
We chose the Pillars of Hercules tours because of the ocean views the tour offers.
With either tour, your guide(s) will pick you up in their air-conditioned van that is equipped with WIFI.
The start of the Pillars of Hercules hike was about a 40 minute drive from our resort. We got to ride through Antigua’s capitol, St John’s. I couldn’t believe how narrow the streets were in some places!
It looked like a busy city with several fruit/veggie stands and a farmer’s market. I loved how colorful the buildings in Antigua are.
The start of Lookout Trail is 1/2 mile from the bottom (the parking lot) to the top (Shirley Heights). From Shirley Heights, we took another route down and completed the loop by walking on beautiful Galleon Beach. In all, with the stops for pictures, sightseeing, and learning about the island, the hike took around 2.5 – 3 hours.
The first part of the hike is through a thick tree coverage. While our hike was on an overcast day, I can see how this part of the trail would be nice and cool on those hot sunny days. This part of the trail had me huffing and puffing!
Rodney and Val taught us about the local plant life along the way.
The first clearing we came too, Rodney pointed out a few things to us in English Harbour. I was taking a lot of pictures, as usual, and Rodney assured me the views only got better from here!
How amazing is this spot?! Rodney kept telling us how much prettier the views are when the sun is shining, but I wasn’t at all complaining about our views. Even with the cloud coverage this place is beautiful!
We made it to Shirley Heights, and my shirt turned a darker shade of pink from all the sweat. I love a good sweat! Do you?
Many months prior to our trip I’d booked a Sunday Sunset Party at Shirley Heights tour. The locals and tourists come together on Sunday evenings for dancing, singing, eating, and beautiful sunset views over the harbor. The tour was cancelled before we arrived to Antigua, so I was a little bummed that we were going to miss out…..until we got to have Shirley Heights all to ourselves! Yes, hanging out with locals and tourists and watching the sunset from 490ft high would have been amazing, BUT we got to hang out here without anyone blocking our view AND with our own personal guides! How cool is that?!
This was the perfect spot to bust out the drone. Can you spot the drone in two of the images below?
Here are a few drone shots I took. The bottom right image is where we were standing – the tiny little building on top of that hill.
Rodney and Val told us about the history of Shirley Heights, an old military lookout dating back to 1791. We saw the cemetery, officer’s quarters, and the guard house.
Next was a sampling of the local fruit. Val picked us fresh tamarind off the tree and showed us out to eat it. It was comparable to a Sour Patch Kid – very sticky, sweet, and sour.
The cactus, a Turk’s Head cactus, has little pink fruit located in the red “hat” part on top. The guys showed us how to pick out the fruit. It was similar tasting to a kiwi fruit.
From the lookout, the views continued to get better. Walking down the rocky coastline with steep cliffs and the occasional sailboat in the distance was something you have to see for yourself.
Rodney & Val were patient with us and let us go as fast or as slow as we needed. They offered a helping hand when the spots were a bit of a stretch. They have spent many hours on these trails and are experts at what to look out for. The husband and I for sure would have been lost without our guides.
After making it down to water level, we got to climb this rock wall! Rodney and Val were patient with us, talking us through every step.
Finally we made it to the highlight (for me), the Pillars of Hercules. This formation was naturally carved out by the waves and wind and it’s such a sight to see! To get to the Pillars of Hercules, you may get your shoes wet. We were there at low tide, so Rodney watched the waves and let us know where to walk for minimal water on our shoes. He also pointed out the spots where the rocks were slippery.
The last part of the hike was finished with a walk on the peaceful Galleon Beach.
We couldn’t have asked for better guides for Antigua hiking. It was such a relaxing hike to not have to focus on finding a trail or missing a trail marker. It was nice to have someone to take our picture too! We loved learning about the history of Antigua and sampling some of the local fruit.
We hope you get a change to hike Antigua on foot with Adventurous Hikes and Tours.
Let me know in the comments where your favorite place for coastal hiking has been!