Picture yourself blasting across bubblegum blue water – a small ramp forming every now and then to launch off. Never too windy but always some form of breeze. Heading back to shore the tropical greenery flutters in the wind and the whole vista is picture postcard stunning.
If that doesn’t get you frothing at the mouth, then nothing will! Antigua truly is a freeride windsurfing paradise.
Flying into VC Bird Airport is ideal for windsurfers, as during the approach you swoop down to sea level and are given a bird’s eye view of the conditions.
Trade Winds hit the northern part of the island first – and it’s here that the majority of the windsurfing action takes place.
If you don’t want to drive too far for your windy fix then it’s best to pick an accommodation option in this area. There are plenty to choose from, particularly around the Dickenson Bay area, which just so happens to be on the main road that swings past Jabberwock Beach – probably the most consistent and popular spot on the island.
Here the breeze puffs straight onshore, allowing you to sail along parallel to the coast. A few small shallow reef areas can be spotted from the beach – some are buoyed-off for your safety – but other than that it’s a great place to blast, gybe and jump.
If you spent your whole trip just sailing at Jabberwock Beach it wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Heading round the corner to the northeast side of Antigua, the wind swings a little more side shore from the right.
The UK water sports company Sunsail used to be based out of Club Colona in Hodges Bay. The hotel is still there, and remnants of old windsurf kit can be seen lying around, but they no longer hire gear or offer lessons.
There are access points to the water if you search, and the sailing here can be quite relaxing. There is usually a slight wind shadow on the inside but once off the beach the breeze is steady and consistent.
Venturing over to the Atlantic side of Antigua, many windsurfers choose to head to Half Moon Bay. The spot can be a little tricky to find but it’s worth searching out as the sailing can be awesome. On its day the beach even gets a small wave for some aerial antics.
It’s worth pointing out that the shore break can be challenging to the inexperienced. If it looks nasty—and you’re not feeling confident—then avoid it.
If you’re a hard-core wave head then Antigua isn’t the destination for you. A shallow reef shelf blocks most swell activity and surrounds the island. Having said that, there is one place which is pretty good, but you’ll need a boat …
Lying approximately four kilometres opposite the mouth of St. Johns harbour is a small sandy atoll sitting on its lonesome. Sandy Island nestles just outside of Antigua’s reef barrier and picks up a decent amount of surf.
If you’re competent in waves (and you’ll need to be, as the break is shallow, fast and hollow) then with the right amount of persuasion you could get a local to ferry you across or even hire a craft yourself.
But remember – if things go awry, then it’s a pretty lonely place!
Tuition and hire
Windsurf Antigua is based at Jabberwock Beach and offers kit hire and lessons. The gear available is freeride in nature (90L – 150 L boards) and will get you on the water in no time if you’re not taking your own equipment.
Patrick Scales runs the outfit and is contactable via his website: www.windsurfantigua.net
If, during your visit, the wind should not blow then fear not as there are plenty of other activities to keep you amused.
St Johns is the buzzing capital of Antigua and has a choice of shopping outlets to browse.
Dickinson Bay features a number of water sports rental shacks that offer dinghy and catamaran sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and banana boat rides.
Eating and drinking is fantastic in Antigua with great restaurants on offer. On Sunday night Shirley Heights Lookout, overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard, is the place to be.
Tez Plavenieks is an experienced freelance writer specialising in action sports and travel. He currently edits, writes and produces content for a variety of different outlets both online and in print.