Cruise Day in Antigua: Top 5 Shore Excursions

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Antigua is a very popular cruise destination in the Lesser Antilles, on the eastern side of the Caribbean. While it is just over a hundred square miles and sporting a local population of under 100,000 people, this tropical island is jam packed with beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, and rich culture for cruisers to explore. With cruises often stopping here for only one day, you won’t get much time to explore all that the island has to offer. To help you decide what to do with your limited time, we’ve got our picks for the best shore excursions to do during a cruise day in Antigua.

Swim with Pigs at Seaforth Beach

A Caribbean pig swimming in crystal-clear waters

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Where else other than the Caribbean can you experience a shore excursion where you play with pigs on the beach? Pigs in Paradise is an exclusive beach experience where you can pet, feed, and play with friendly piggies on a hidden beach. After taking a taxi to Hansons Bay, you’ll have to take a boat to get to Maiden Island, where the pigs live full time. The goal of Pigs in Paradise is to educate people about some of the most underappreciated and adorable animals on the planet through interactive and fun activities. The animals here are living their best life and are protected by Pigs in Paradise, so you can feel good about visiting them knowing that your business ensures that they live long, happy lives!

Hawksbill Beaches

A woman walks along a secluded beach

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The Hawksbill Resort Antigua is home to four secluded beaches, called Royal Palm Beach, Sea Grape Beach, Honeymoon Cove, and Eden Beach. While they are on the property of the resort, you don’t have to stay there in order to visit the beaches, and they are just a 20 minute drive from the port. Being a little further from port means that you can avoid some of the cruise crowds and have a more peaceful beach day. You’ll also get calmer waters than you’ll find at other beaches on the island, so this can be a good place to do some snorkeling. Just be advised that Eden Beach is clothing optional! 

Nelson’s Dockyard

A colonial era canon sits out front at Nelson's Dockyard

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This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on the southern coast of Antigua, which is the opposite coast of the cruise port. That means you will have to take a 40 minute cab ride to get there, but it is worth it to experience Antigua's rich naval heritage. Built back in the 18th century, this dockyard is the only continuously operating Georgian naval dockyard in the world, complete with restored buildings that once served as warehouses, workshops, and officers' quarters. Stroll along cobblestone streets and learn about the intriguing history at important sites and museums. There are plenty of shops and cafes here as well, so grab a bite to eat and maybe pick up a souvenir while you are here.

Stingray City

A group of stingrays gather in shallow waters

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Stingray City is a must-see attraction for both animal lovers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Here you will get the chance to feed and interact with friendly southern stingrays in their natural habitat. You will take a 5-minute ride on a speedboat out to a floating platform that sits among shallow waters with a white-sand bottom and surrounded by coral reefs. The stingrays here are wild animals that gather in this area to be fed and to interact with tourists, so you won’t be interacting with captive animals. The rays are the star of the show, but they also have giant aldabra tortoises, which are massive, ancient creatures who weigh up to 600 lbs and can live for 200 years. After getting your fill of animal interactions, grab a complimentary rum punch to complete the experience!

Antigua Canopy Zipline Tour

A woman launching on a zipline across a jungle canopy

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There is arguably no better way to see the rainforest than with a zipline tour, which provides a thrilling aerial perspective that would usually only be available to tropical birds. Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours offers a couple of different canopy tours, each with at least a half dozen ziplines, ranging from 52 to 328 feet in length. While they do make for a thrilling experience, little skill is required to ride them, so it is a great activity for families and an easier way to see the rainforest than hiking. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to swim and sunbathe during a Caribbean cruise, so this is a great option if you are looking to try something else!

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