Roseau, Dominica This was a substitution for the advertised Grenada, which the ship bypassed because of recent storm damage. Dominica is an eco-island (with no great beaches) known for its forests, waterfalls, and hiking trails. Unfortunately, public transport into the hills is not readily available when a ship is in port. The usual shared minivans turn into taxis and the rates climb to 10 times the usual fare (still reasonable for most cruisers). Instead, we walk about two blocks inland from the dock and catch a minivan south along the coast for 30 minutes ($1 US each way) to Scotts Head, a fishing village with a spit of land and a mini Rock of Gibraltar offshore (which you see as you approach the island from the south). The beach at the base of the rock is narrow and cobbled, but offers very pleasant swimming and excellent snorkeling. Simply snorkel northwards along the shoreline below the rock and you will find a fine coral-festooned wall that descends about 200 feet into the blue depths. The fish here are small even though it is a protected area, the fishing village is too close to allow fish to grow large. This is an unsecured beach, and you would do well to leave your beach bag with someone (if you can find anyone else there). My wife takes a swim and brief snorkel, and then relaxes on shore with our gear as I snorkel for an hour or two longer. After snorkeling, it is an easy walk up a jeep trail then a well-worn path to the top of the rock, where you will have beautiful views of the village and shoreline all the way back to the ship. Minivans leave the village reasonably often and the return to the ship is no problem.
St. Johns, Antigua There are two bus stations here within easy walking distance of the dock, which is downtown (there also is a secondary dock a bit farther out). Ask in town for directions to the bus terminal you want. Eastside buses go across the island to historic Nelsons Dockyard, which we did not visit this time, but which has a nice secluded beach within easy walking distance (I think the name is Pigeon Point, but ask at Nelsons for the nearest beach). We arrived on a local holiday when eastside buses were infrequent, so we took a westside bus for 20 minutes ($1 US) south to Jolly beach, which is a broad travel-poster-beautiful beach lined by attractive low-rise hotels, restaurants, and dive shops. The bus drops one just outside the resorts (this is the transport for the resort workers) and one simply has to ask directions for the public beach access. One walks through several checkpoints, the beach is so secure. There were a few wave-runners, but very few people and the water is that wonderful Caribbean blue over the white sand bottom.
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