Jolly Harbor is a large marina and condominium development located on the west side of the island of Antigua, about a 10-mile journey south of the city of St. Johns. Ashore in Jolly harbor are a wide variety of shops (more than 30), several restaurants and a complex of condominium homes, some of which can be rented by vacationers. If you are in need of repairs, the excellent marina here has a 70-ton lift for haul-outs.
The island was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, and he decided to name the island Antigua, which has stuck every since. The island was originally inhabited by the Arawak Indians, who date back from before Christ. It is believe they arrived on the islands by small boats, paddling their way from South America.
English settlers arrived on Antigua in 1632 and immediately set up farming for sugar, tobacco and spices. The French temporarily occupied Antigua for several months in 1666, but it was soon given back to the British. The country (Antigua and Barbuda) gained its independence from the British in 1981, and today, both islands support a thriving tourist economy.
The approach to Jolly Harbor is quite easy, but there are some areas to watch out for on your arrival from the north of south. Five Island and its group of sister islands are located off the Pearns Hill area of the island and should be avoided if you are arriving from the north. There are no apparent hazards from the south, but mind a few charted rocks off Ffryes Point and the town of Valley Church.
Once you have arrived in the area (at N17 04.423 W61 54.780), you can set a course of 86 degrees true for .7 mile to intercept the flashing red light at the beginning of the entrance channel to Jolly Harbor. From the flashing red entrance light, head in another .7 mile, and then make the starboard turn at the flashing red and green buoys into the basin. Depths are reported to be at least 11 feet (with deeper spots), but if you draw more, radio into the marina for details.
The shopping area, restaurant and marina offices are located in the southern portion of the basin, while customs is located straight in on the east shore north of the marina’s fuel dock. Jolly Harbor Marina is full service and had a 70-ton lift to facilitate repairs on land. The marina has a chandlery, which is excellent for stocking up on spare parts and other marine-related items. Jolly Harbor is also a port of entry, and you can clear through customs here if you are just arriving on Antigua.
See our “Local Notices to Mariners” blog for updates on the latest conditions and advisories for this area.
V.C. Bird International Airport, located on the northeast corner of Antigua, is the point of entry for visitors arriving by air to Antigua and Barbuda. There are both direct flights and connections from North America via San Juan and St. Martin and several weekly flights from Europe. Scheduled and charter service is available to many of the neighboring islands. The airport is served my such major carriers as Air Canada, American Airlines, BWIA, Continental, Delta and US Airways.
Getting around Antigua is relatively simple. If you have a bike, or a good set of walking legs, many of the towns are easily explored by foot or pedal, but there are also busses that run on “semi-regular” schedules around the island. Figuring out the schedule and routes can be frustrating. Taxi cabs are available throughout the island, and many are also qualified as tour guides for sightseeing trips. Rates for the trips can be obtained from the local hotels.
Lastly, you can rent a car. There are almost two dozen agencies on the island and rates range from $40- $50 U.S. dollars a day. You will also need to get a temporary license (valid for three months), which costs an additional $20.