Antigua still had secrets to reveal to us in our second week there, and this excursion, from South Coast Horizons to Cades Bay in Kayaks, which enabled us to snorkel in Cades Reef, meant we saved the best of our three excursions to last. Our Island Safari with Stingray City, and the trip to D-Boat, were wonderful, but it isn’t possible to improve on getting up close and personal with some of the marine wildlife in Antigua’s biggest reef.

Reef underwater scene from stock photos.

Photo credit: Underwater reef scene via Shutterstock

We opted for the half day tour, at $75 for the adults, and $50 for the kids. It was well worth it.

Get a taste of Antiguan fruits from your driver

We had a half hour trip to get to Cades Bay from our hotel, and we were expecting an uneventful trip. Our driver, Niall, had other ideas. He was an excellent guide, explaining a huge amount about the scenery on our way, including the different fruits that grew on Antigua alongside the road.

Figs are Bananas on Fig Tree Drive, for example. Antiguans call Bananas, Figs. They don’t have figs on the island, and so there is no confusion. Simple.

The sugar apples by the side of the road looked yummy!

Photo credit: Sugar apples via Shutterstock

We stopped along the way to sample some of the many fruits that grow in the country:

  • Breadfruit,
  • Gnippits,
  • Sugar Apples,
  • Mangos,
  • Avocados,
  • Bananas,
  • Passion Fruit,
  • Papaya, and
  • Black Pineapples.

The lay-bys of Antigua could easily provide you with a delicious fruit salad, as well as the sellers that line the roads…

Believe it or not, a highlight of the trip to Cades Reef snorkelling was the trip there, where we learnt about the fruits of the island, and tasted some from one of the roadside fruit sellers.

We were treated to Mango, Papaya, and Banana along the way to our kayaking location on the South Coast of the Island.

South Coast Horizons is a hotel that offers tours as well. As soon as we arrived, we were kitted out to take a short trip in a Kayak amongst the mangroves and fiddler crabs to Cades Bay.

Kayaking isn’t something that I was likely to be good at though.

Directional control isn’t my strongest point in a car; and you turn the steering wheel the same way you need to go……unless you are reversing; which is why I am rubbish at reversing.

It seems that Kayak’s and I don’t get on; I become a little over-acquainted with the mangroves at times, but my son and the kayak were sturdy partners, so we made it to Cades Bay in one piece.

Our Cades Reef snorkelling trip wasn't just about the snorkels, we also had a lot of fun kayaking through the mngroves to get to the bay where we caught a boat out to the reef.

After our kayaking, which took about 20 minutes, we caught the boat out to Cades Reef for our snorkel expedition.

Before we went, we read rumours that the reef was dying, that there wasn’t as spectacular life to be seen there anymore as the coral was no longer an important feeding ground for the colourful fish around Antigua’s azure blue sea.

The rumours are false.

We saw everything from Parrot Fishes, to Blue Tang, Angel Fishes, Jacks, Needlefish, and even a single Southern Stingray just as we were about to get back into the boat. Caribbean reef life has so much to offer.

My only criticism of the tour was that 30 minutes just wasn’t enough to see everything that this wonderful snorkelling experience in Cades Reef had to offer us.

We have asked the kids what their favourite part of the holiday was; it was this 30 minutes at the reef for both of them. That’s crystal clear for us. We wish we had time, and budget, to go back and do it again. Simply a stunning experience. Snorkelling in such high visibility where you can see the fish over 40-60ft below you is unparalleled on the rest of the island.

Visiting the reef is a must for anyone that comes to the island. Give yourself more time there than we got though, perhaps through a full day experience. However you do it, just get it done.

Our tour wasn’t finished there, though. We were back to the bay for drinks, and a sneaky little trip to collect some Conch shells from the beach.

Cades Reef wasn't just about the snorkelling, we also went in search of Conch shells....

Sadly we got these beautiful shells confiscated at the airport. Oops. You can find out why in our ten things to do in Antigua article if you would like.

Cades Bay is where you leave from for snorkelling at Cades Reef, and its a beautiful spot in its own right.

Do check out the other tours that we did while we were here to Stingray City, and D-Boat. Both are well worth a visit while you are on the blog if you can.

We paid full price for this tour, but did get a slightly reduced holiday to Antigua with Tropical Sky due to our press status. All opinions are our own.