Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer
French Islands...Guadalupe, Martinique and Les Saintes. Much nicer than Antigua.
Checking in and out of Antigua takes 3 hours each way and costs over $50 to enter. In the Saintes you go to a cafe, have a beer
and pay one euro.
I have cleared into Antigua at both Jolly Harbour and Nelson's dockyard many times, it is never fast (although two months ago with with new eSeaClear made it less painless) it has never taken 3 hours, even when I've been in line behind a number of boats with many people.
While I usually stay in Falmouth Harbour, I've found that some of the more secluded and distant anchorages
around the island are wonderful, particularly the large (but non-crowded) anchorage at Green Island (see 2013 Trip Blog and Diary 2013-05-08
) is truly wonderful. While clearing in at the Cafe in the Iles-des-Saintes is just a euro, they now require that you use a mooring
ball when close to the port - but clearing in at Deshaies remains just 1 euro and no mooring
The BVI gives a different experience from Antigua and many other islands. As it has easy access for the USA and it has a well-developed infrastructure for boats it is a paradise for charterers. The conditions are very easy with well-protected sailing and many anchorages
available, with backups, within easy sailing distance. There is a lot of chartering going on and almost every anchorage has mooring balls in place for those who don't want to anchor
and will have bars and restaurants ashore. So if you are looking for pristine and empty bays and anchorages the BVI is _not_ the best place to go; but it is beautiful and it has one of the biggest charter
fleets in the world (offhand I cannot think of a place that has more boat available, but I'm sure that there must be someplace else).
I personally prefer the French islands and found that Dominica
(just south of Guadeloupe) is a great place to spend a week or two. While facilities there are limited, the charter base at Point-a-Pitre on Guadeloupe
has a lot of available boats and it is just a short hop past the Iles-des-Saintes to Dominica
. Or up the coast and to Antigua.