Antigua: Half Moon Bay & Betty’s Hope

Our last full day! We went back to our new favorite snorkeling spot on Galleon Beach.

Chillin’ in the shade and enjoying a morning of snorkeling and beach time.

Mid-morning another Trans-Atlantic row boat entered the harbor. The two-man boat, Tikkurila, finished the 3000 mile trek in just over 51 days. The hoopla begins when they light the flares. The blue boat with the Antiguan flag circles around the rowboat several times and escorts it into Nelson’s Dockyard.

Tikkurila rowed into English Harbor this morning.
Calm day with several snorkelers exploring the harbor.

Today I found the most beautiful conch shell. It was perfect. A treasure for sure. I wanted to take it home but the conch was still living in it. Sadly but carefully I dove deep and found it a good home in the grass where it would be safe.

I found a beautiful conch shell when snorkeling.
Catch and release … I dove deep and hid it in the grass.

Incidentally, at the airport there’s a conch display of shells removed from carry-on luggage. Conch shells are considered weapons and are compared to brass knuckles. They need to be in checked luggage.

These small fish were either very dark blue or black. (I’m still working on my underwater photography skills.)
This is a ship wreck. Several fish swimming around it.
One last visit to our favorite near-by beach, Pidgeon Point. Nice shady spot decorated for a kiddie birthday party.

We wanted to check out one more beach on the top ten list — Half Moon Bay on the east coast of Antigua. Snorkeling is suppose to be good but it’s in the Atlantic which could have big waves and rough water. (West coast is the Caribbean). Its’ a beautiful drive.

By the time we arrived at Half Moon Bay is was raining.
Waves, dried seaweed and rain. The beach was deserted.
A view of Half Moon Bay (photo taken from

We drove back to the ridge which is part of the Shirley Heights complex where there are several ruins.

Rain at sea.
Rainbow over the super yachts in Falmouth Harbor

Betty’s Hope

On our way to the airport we made a stop at a historic sugar cane plantation called Betty’s Hope. This is a sugar plantation site where one of the two sugar mill towers has been fully restored complete with sails. Betty’s Hope was one of the earliest sugar plantations.

The sugar mill tower on the left has been fully restored.

Windmills were central to the operation of a sugar estate. Betty’s Hope was large and required two mills to process all the cane. With a steady wind and working from sun up to late into the night, each mill could crush 60-70 cartloads of cane or about 2 acres per day.

It was the first large-scale sugar plantation to operate in Antigua and belonged to several generations of the Codrington family from 1674 until 1944. Christopher Codrington acquired the property in 1674 and named it Betty’s Hope, after his daughter.

The Still House held pipes that carried condensed rum from the condensing coil into large tanks for mixing and diluting down to about 60% alcohol, and then into wooden barrels for storage and in some cases to age.

Remnants of the Still House where condensed rum was mixed, diluted, stored and aged.

Like other large plantations, Betty’s Hope was an agricultural as well as an industrial enterprise, and home to a large number of people. Supervised by a handful of European managers, hundreds of people of African origin lived out their lives on this and similar plantations, first as slaves, then as labourers after their emancipation in 1834.

Enduring the hardship of cultivating and processing the sugar under exhausting conditions, they developed great skill as craftsmen, boilers and distillers.

Small huts where the enslaved workers lived.

Throughout its 300 year history, Betty’s Hope played a prominent role in Antigua and Barbuda history and influenced the lives of many generations of Antiguans. (Information taken from

Random herds of goats pass through the property.
Formerly a cistern, now filled with trees and greenery.

Walking through the property we came across a Flamboyant tree. In the spring, it’s covered with dazzling red blooms. In the Summer and fall, the large dark brown pods can’t be missed hanging from the leafless trees. The seeds rattle within and can be used as musical shake-shakes.

Flamboyant tree at Betty’s Hope.
Long pods from the Flamboyant tree are used as a musical shake-shake.
A decorated shake-shake made from a pod.
Dazzling red Flamboyant trees bloom in the spring. (Photo from
This big shady tree makes a peaceful resting place for the goats.

The adventures of Jane and Peggy in Antigua & Barbuda are coming to an end.

We were elated to return the rental car without a scratch.
A farewell sunset on our way home.

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Jane is a resident of Browndale neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

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