Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Best Antigua Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Fort James Beach, Antigua
Fort James Beach is the closest beach to the Antigua cruise port. © Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority

Antigua has seven beaches near the cruise port, and one in particular is easy to reach by taxi or rental car.

Shore excursions that include transportation only to the beaches aren’t common because they are so close to the cruise port. Instead, cruise visitors on a tight budget who want plenty of beach time may find it cheaper and easier to take a taxi or rental car.

Anyone who wants pure convenience can buy a shore excursion that includes transportation, lunch, umbrella and chairs. The cost is often $55 or more per person.

Beaches Near Antigua Cruise Port

Cruise visitors will dock at St. John’s on the northwest shore of the island. They have a choice of the well-developed resort beaches or the more quiet beaches with fewer crowds.

Three convenient beaches lie just north of St. John’s Harbour.

The quiet Fort James Beach is the closest. It is named after the 17th century British fort that protected the harbor from attack. The ruins of the fort may have moderate appeal to anyone with an interest in history. Otherwise, there are few other attractions within walking distance. There also are few amenities such as restaurants at the beach.

Runaway Bay Beach, Antigua
Runaway Bay Beach is another one close to the cruise port. © Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority

The rate from St. John’s to Fort James and the beach at the time of this writing was $12 one way for up to four people.

Our taxi driver promised to wait for us at the beach, and he did. Other taxi cabs were available at the beach for anyone who wanted to get back to the cruise ship and didn’t have a driver who waited for them.

More popular and crowded beaches with extra amenities are a little farther north of Fort Bay Beach at Runaway Bay and Dickenson Bay. They are two of the best beaches for anyone who wants a little more action.

Runaway Bay is a long stretch of white sand with plenty of nearby resorts and restaurants, along with rentals for watersports, chairs and umbrellas. Dickenson Bay offers many of the same amenities.

Another option is Fryes Beach, which was available as a shore excursion at the time of this writing. The excursion cost $55 including lunch, chairs and umbrella and lasted four hours. It’s 25 minutes south of the cruise port.

Heading South

Beaches pack the southwest coast of Antigua like this one at Carlisle Bay.
Beaches pack the southwest coast of Antigua like this one at Carlisle Bay. Credit: Pixabay license

A second cluster of Antigua resorts lies to the south of St. John’s and offer several well-known beaches with opportunities for recreation.

Anyone with a rental car can simply hop from one beach to another.

Deep Bay is one of the closest, and like Fort James Beach it is only a 10-minute drive from St. John’s. It is a good location for snorkeling because of a shipwreck. Hikers can visit the nearby ruins of Fort Barrington.

Galley Bay is a popular option with surfers and turtle watchers, while Hawksbill offers four crescent beaches including one for nudists.

Farther south is Carlisle Bay, which is about a 35-minute drive from the cruise port. A taxi ride there will cost $31.

Southeast and Elsewhere

Cruise Port Beach Map

Beaches outside of St. Johns and the resort areas are generally less developed, but some good options are available.

English Harbour is a popular attraction on the southeast coast, and Pigeon Point is a convenient option five minutes away. Facilities include showers and restrooms.

On the far eastern coast is Half Moon Bay, which is now a national park. It has pink sand and a nearby restaurant.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.
December 12, 2023