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Be inspired: Do something just for you; learn to sail in Antigua.

March 17, 2016

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There’s something special about learning; the opportunity to try something different, something new and personally rewarding.  So why not be inspired to learn to sail here in Antigua?

Combine a learn to sail trip with this stunning Caribbean destination and you have the makings of a very special vacation.  Imagine a week of being on the water, at one with nature, without any telephones or computers – pure escape.  Here you will learn whilst out sailing and on board; no classrooms, no online study – just you, some friends, your Instructor and the tropical breeze.  You will hop from bay to bay; learning about how to plan your trip on the water, the various points of sail and how to anchor at the end of the day.  No two sailing days are the same, from what you learn, to the type of breeze, to the bays you will stop in.

From our base here in sunny Antigua, we offer the American Sailing Association (ASA) Learn to Sail certification.  This is a carefully graduated sailing programme taking you from novice to being able to take the helm – all carefully tailored to your own pace of learning and understanding.  We teach the ASA Certification on the smaller boats in our fleet.  This means that you learn in a controlled, safe and comfortable environment.

Horizon Antigua's Instructor Paul

Horizon Antigua’s Instructor Paul

Of course, no Caribbean adventure would be complete without time for snorkelling, swimming and exploring.  Your Instructor will take you to the best spots; some only accessible by boat so you get the best of both worlds.

vixen under sail 11

Learning to sail in Antigua’s sunshine

Your new adventure starts here – just pick up the phone or drop us an email.  +1 (268) 562 4725 or



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Horizon Destinations win big in Caribbean Travel Awards

December 2, 2015

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Several Horizon charter destinations featured in the Caribbean Journal Awards for 2015! Awards included:

Innovative Destination of the Year — Antigua and Barbuda

Caribbean Airport of the Year – VC Bird International Airport, Antigua

Up-and-Coming Destination of the Year — Grenada

Also amongst the awards were JetBlue Airways – Airline of the Year. JetBlue services numerous Caribbean destinations from an increasing number of US airports.

You can read the full award list here.

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5 nights all planned out for you!

November 3, 2015

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Your relaxing time in the Caribbean island of Antigua, 5 nights all planned out for you! 

By Megan Grant, Customer Services, Horizon Antigua

 Your very first day and night in paradise! … Now you’re all settled in and have completed your boat briefing you can have a relaxing first evening at the highly recommendable Sheer Rocks restaurant. It has some incredible views, a peaceful atmosphere and amazing food. This restaurant/bar is located at the Coco Bay resort. You can stay moored in Jolly Harbor for the night as you may need to do your chart briefing in the morning anyway! So you can just take a quick 10 minute taxi ride over. They do wonderful Tapas for lunch (served until 4.30) so if you just fancy some bites to eat and a cool dip in the plunge pool then this would be perfect for you. Their fresh to order A La Carte dinners are always exquisite with locally sourced fresh fish on the menu. Don’t also forget to order from their extensive cocktail and wine menus. Sheer Rocks isn’t one of the cheaper places to go but it is well worth it. You get every penny you pay for! (Try their Mojito Royale!)

1Your second beautiful morning and evening! … Since you’re all topped up with water and fuel from Jolly Harbor you could head North, across Five Island Harbor, avoid the next two set of rocks (you can’t miss them!) and anchor up at ‘Pinching Bay’. This beach is only accessible by boat so you are more than likely to be the only people there. There are plenty of snorkeling spots from the beach and on the surrounding edges of the bay. This spot is perfect for mooring up in the day and having lunch but it isn’t recommended for overnight anchoring as it can get rolly! So after your snorkeling, beach coving and exploration, start to head North again to a place called ‘Deep Bay’. This spot is perfect for an overnight stay as it is protected from any unlikely incoming swells. Just watch out for the wreck as you go into the bay. It is best to stay to the right of the bay as you enter and then you can anchor when you approach the beach. Occasionally there are turtles in this bay and of course the wreck is amazing to snorkel. You can whizz over in the dinghy or take the boat closer to the wreck and anchor close by. I recommend snorkeling the wreck when the sun is high as then the visibility is a lot clearer. This will also make it easier to anchor closer by. Hopefully you have all the provisions you need so you can enjoy a beautiful sunset dinner onboard.

2Your third morning and evening! … For this day you could head North again up into Dickenson Bay and anchor there whilst you explore the wreck on the beach that’s been there since our last hurricane in October 2014. This is another sheltered anchorage and is great for overnight stays. There are various watersports activities such as water skiing, dingy sailing and kayaking. The boys will come out to you and pick you up if you need them to. There is a lovely lunch spot called ‘Ana’s on the beach’ which is located further down from Sandals and it is on the beach front so you can sit with your toes in the sand whilst having lunch. Ana’s does get pretty busy so we recommend making reservations! Feel free to use the local phone you have onboard to do this. Ana’s does some amazing local seafood dishes including fresh shrimp followed by their wonderful catch of the day which could either be Tuna, Mahi Mahi or Wahoo and sometimes even Snapper. For dinner you could head ashore and eat at Coconut Grove. For something more casual, walk to Mr. Chippy who does awesome fish and chips on a Tuesday and Friday night!

3For your fourth day! … For today I recommend having an awesome sail South down to ‘Carlisle Bay’. However, along the way you could check out some of Antigua’s most beautiful beaches such as Darkwood or even Turners. They are a great place to stop for lunch and serve great local food such as goat curry or jerk chicken but for those who prefer burgers and hotdogs, that option is also available! After lunch you can head to Carlisle bay which is calm and ideal for an overnight anchorage. There are some beaches along the sides of this bay that you can anchor off and have all to yourselves. The clear water makes it easy to anchor and perfect for snorkeling. The hotel there is also now public so feel free to go and enjoy a nice meal or even just some cocktails but just a reminder the hotel is five stars so it might not be cheap!

4For your fifth day! … If you want to experience some of Antigua’s other marinas you could head along South West coast to Falmouth and English harbor. Falmouth Harbour is great for restaurants, re-provisioning and, in season, seeing all of the superyachts coming in and out! Falmouth Harbour is easy to access as it has a clearly marked channel and someone will always be available on the VHF channel. It has plenty of restaurants to eat in such as ‘Club Sushi’ in case you fancied some fresh fish. On Saturdays they do an ‘All you can eat’ menu on the sushi! However they do serve steaks and burgers for those who prefer their food slightly more cooked! There are some other great places like ‘Cloggies’ and ‘Abracadabra’s’. However, if you prefer you can always just pick up a mooring buoy and eat at another great place called ‘Catherine’s’ and watch all the hustle and bustle pass by! There is a small beach known as ‘Pigeon beach’ close by to the mooring buoys. If you happen to be here on a Sunday you can take a taxi up to Shirley Heights. I would recommend getting there for about 4.30/5 to watch the sunset and listen to the steel drums. It’s an amazing view and the party afterwards is always a blast!

If you prefer something a little quainter you could adventure further South into English Harbour and do some historic sightseeing and discover where Lord Nelson used to have his fleet. You can anchor off of Galleon beach in a protected bay which makes for a good overnight stay and a relaxed day of swimming and snorkeling! There are plenty of places to explore such as the old Fort at the top of the hill or you could adventure to the Pillars of Hercules which are tucked around the corner. They are great for snorkeling and climbing! There aren’t as many restaurants as Falmouth Harbor here but there are still some good ones such as the ‘Copper and Lumber store’ or ‘The Admirals Inn’ which serve lunch and dinner. The view is amazing and the atmosphere is calm and relaxed.

Your final sail back to Jolly Harbour! … At Horizon we require that the boats are back on the dock by noon (12 o’clock) on your last day of charter. They have to be refueled and the water tanks filled back up so we recommend that you are on the fuel dock in Jolly Harbor for around 11.15/11.30 as they go for lunch at 12! This is a lovely sail as you can get an amazing coast line view all the way back. Perfect for those last minute snapshots! A member of the Horizon team will come and meet you at the fuel dock and bring the boat back onto the dock for you! Now it’s time to pack your things and hopefully we’ll see you next time for another amazing trip in Antigua and Barbuda!

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St Maarten-based carrier flights to BVI and Antigua

October 21, 2015

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Caribbean airline WINAIR is embarking on a major expansion push, the carrier announced this week.

In its initial push, the St Maarten-based carrier has announced plans to increase frequency of flights to St Kitts, Nevis and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

The company is also adding two new destinations to its network: San Juan and Antigua.

The company additionally announced the acquisition of a fifth DHC-6-300 aircraft “which will expand our fleet and charter business within the north-eastern Caribbean,” the company said in a statement.

WINAIR’s Tortola flights will resume daily operation Dec. 15, with the addition of a midday flight and a total of six frequencies per week.

The St Kitts and Nevis flights will mean splitting St Kitts and Nevis flights to single direct flights, operating five times weekly and operating two days a week as combined flights, both of which will begin Nov. 30.

In December, WINAIR will add a daily midday frequency from St Maarten to St Kitts and Nevis.

Beginning Nov, 28, WINAIR and its partner, Air Antilles, will launch service to San Juan on ATR-500 aircraft; St Maarten-Antigua flights will launch begin with daily service, seven days a week starting Dec. 15.

See the original article on Caribbean Journal here.


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LIAT’s New Winter Schedule

September 9, 2015

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LIAT has launched its new winter schedule, which will come into effect on September 15.

The airline has moved up the launch of its winter schedule due to the acceleration in the fleet transition process, as well as the current state of affairs in Dominica.

The schedule ensures that all critical flights required to maintain services to Dominica will be in place upon the reopening of the airport, according to the company.

Antigua will also benefit from daily nonstop service to and from San Juan, as well as an additional connection between the two three times a week.

You can read the full post here.

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“Well-set-up” is an understatement

March 14, 2015

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This blog piece originally appeared on Swizzle Media, 5th February 2015, and is reproduced with their kind permission here. The original piece can be viewed here.



I’d not been back to Antigua since I left in 1994. After graduating from college and spending three years skiing and surfing, I set off to see the world as a paid deckhand. My first gig was a delivery from subfreezing Newport, Rhode Island, to balmy English Harbour aboard a Swan 65. I had no money, nor a place to stay once we arrived, but how hard could it be, I thought, to find a job on one of those superyachts? I found out; it was hard. So as the months wore on and the little money I’d made on the delivery dried up, I was homeless in paradise, sleeping on the beach. After years of living hand-to-mouth, I was finally ready to return home and join the adult world. Antigua was my crossroads.


I wasn’t consciously avoiding a return to Antigua, but I wasn’t yearning to go back. Then I started thinking: Wouldn’t it be cool to explore the island with my fiancée, Caroline, from the comfort of a well-set-up charterboat? It was.

“Well-set-up” is an understatement. The Beneteau 473 Undaunted we chartered from Horizon Yacht Charters in Jolly Harbour, on Antigua’s west coast, was immaculate, and the service provided by Al and Jackie Ashford and the whole Horizon team was top-notch. First stop—Falmouth Harbour, 12 or so miles down the south coast.


We nosed out of the slip and leaned into the wind bending around the southwest corner of the island—a wonderful reentry into the cruising life. We could have tacked our way up through Goat Head Channel between Middle Reef and the mainland, but the engine and autopilot were happy to keep us safe in deep water and heading effortlessly toward Falmouth. Since the annual, and very popular, Antigua Sailing Week was on, I wanted to claim some territory in what I expected to be a busy and crowded anchorage.

Falmouth and English Harbours are must-stop destinations for any Antigua-based charter. Falmouth, a big harbor with good holding, is both well protected from, and cooled by, the easterly trades. Services abound for visiting cruisers, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and Internet cafés.


Historic Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour is a 10-minute walk from the Falmouth dinghy dock and well worth a visit (you can walk, bring your boat into Freeman Bay and dinghy in, or try to find a space for stern-to mooring at the Dockyard quay). The buzz was electric by Caribbean standards. Every aspect of the Caribbean sailing life—crews in matching T-shirts hustling for provisions, well-tanned liveaboards spending a lazy day ashore, racers recounting the day’s competition, and plenty of visiting charterers, tourists off cruise ships, and locals make this place seem like the epicenter of the Caribbean sailing scene. In many ways it is. We spent a couple of days there while Caroline finished up some work within reach of an Internet connection and I revisited the scenes of my youth. The beach I had slept on had not changed, nor had (except in size and quantity) the big boats in the harbor, and the international crowd. But the road to Shirley Heights had been repaired, and marinas had been built. The buzz of English Harbour offered Caroline a window on my misspent youth, but after a couple of days we were ready for less buzz, more sailing, and a lot more solitude.


All we had to do was sail through the entire Race Week fleet first. As it happened, our departure put us in competition with over 200 racing boats rounding a leeward mark that could have doubled as our intended waypoint. We wound our way through the fleet, taking care not to mess with anyone’s line, and then it was just us. Wing and wing. Water gurgling in our wake. Cruising at last. To avoid bashing to windward along the southeastern side of the island, we retraced our path along Middle Reef, headed for Deep Bay. The biggest effort required was to flop the genoa over as we cleared Johnson Point and started reaching north. Deep Bay is a peaceful anchorage and was our staging point for an island north of Antigua we wanted to explore (I hesitate to mention its name for fear of enticing everyone to go there and spoil it).


We realized why Barbuda doesn’t get overrun with charter boats when we emerged from the relative protection of the reef that wraps around the northern side of Antigua. The trades were honking. The seas were building, spray was flying, and the boat was heeled well over. Caroline held on tight and flashed me a look that said “I thought this was going to be a peaceful sail. What have you gotten me into?” I’d reefed down nice and snug, the hills of Antigua quickly fell into the distance, and the boat performed beautifully; I assured her that this is the sailing people dream about and tried my best to look very much in control. That didn’t make the passage north any less exciting, especially because for about 18 of the 25 miles there is no land in sight. We wanted solitude, right? Needless to say, Caroline was the first to spot the low-lying island we were headed for.

Things calmed right down as we barreled into the protected waters of Barbuda’s western side. Our course brought us past a pristine pink-and-white sand beach that we paralleled for about an hour. Do the math. We sailed past this gorgeous undeveloped beach in flat water at 6 knots—6 miles of sheer bliss. There were a couple of cruising boats along the beach, but none were within 2 miles of us when the anchor went down and the dinghy was humming us in to shore.


The beach forms a narrow barrier between the open ocean and a large inland lagoon. The peace was palpable. Chris Doyle’s accurate and informative cruising guide promised that George Jeffries (who answers to Garden of Eden on VHF channel 16) would be available to take us on a tour of the island’s frigatebird colony. Is this what the Garden of Eden looked like?

George picked us up on the lagoon side of what we were already calling “our beach” at 0900 the next morning. He took us across to the colony in the large mangrove forest where thousands of frigatebirds live and raise their young, and talked about the island like he was talking about his own family. Quite a contrast to the buzz of Antigua. He then brought us into Codrington, Barbuda’s only village, but not before he stopped the boat in the middle of the lagoon. “I want to check something,” he said. Then he threw a Danforth anchor off to the side (seemingly at random) and started hauling in a trap that was teeming with lobsters. How did he know where it was? There was no buoy, no marker of any kind on a monochromatic stretch of water. After spending the better part of the day with George, it was obvious to me that the island and its surrounding waters are simply part of his DNA.

After lunch in the village, where we were treated like friends, George brought us back to our dinghy. “Man, I like it here,” I said. All Caroline did was smile as she drove the dinghy back to our boat. Of course, after a hard day of visiting the Garden of Eden, we needed to recover with a little snorkel, a long walk on a beach without footprints, and a quiet time of watching the sunset.

We didn’t want to leave, but we wanted to see more of the island too. So the next morning, after George had dropped off some fresh lobster, we decided to head to a new anchorage about 15 miles southeast. It would be upwind for part of the way, but we’d be sailing in protected waters. When the next beach came into view, we had no trouble getting excited about parking for a few more days and exploring a new private paradise. There was nobody there, all the way to the horizon. I didn’t want to get my shorts salty, so I just took them off and jumped in the water to check the hook. It was like we’d sailed into a movie. The few buildings on the shore belonged to Coco Point Lodge, one of the Island’s few hotels, but there was nobody in sight.

We spent a few more enchanted days here—dining on lobster in the cockpit, beach, soft sand, sun on the skin. But we knew there was still a rocking little passage back to Antigua waiting for us, and it was only when we could no longer put off leaving that the anchor finally came up and we pointed the boat back out into the open ocean. The trades had lessened a bit, and our angle back to Antigua was a little broader than it was on our trip over, so when Caroline flashed me a look of “Love” rather than “What have you gotten me into,” I knew we’d done good. Plus, we’ll be back in December. After several preemptive honeymoons, being engaged for over a year, and trying to figure out a wedding venue, we realized that this island is the only place for us to get married.

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Experience a “Learn to Sail” adventure in Antigua

December 16, 2014

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Where better place to learn to sail than a tropical paradise like Antigua & Barbuda?  Of course, you could choose a chilly lake, or a busy stretch of water in the middle of winter but, for novices, Antigua is the perfect destination.

We are able to offer a mix of fun learning, exploring islands and coves and feeling the warmth of the sun on your back.

We are an accredited American Sailing Association Sailing School (ASA).  The American Sailing Association curriculum is exactly what you need; modulated courses that take you though from the very basics to the more advanced courses build on your skills and confidence; just what you need to sail a boat with friends and family.

People of all ages have learnt to sail with us in Antigua.  Sailing is more than just getting from A to B; it’s about being able to experience new cultures, explore new places and ultimately enjoy the journey with confidence!


Horizon Yacht Charters in Antigua offer the ASA 101, 103, 104 and 105 courses.


You can find out more by emailing Jackie at our Horizon base in Antigua|


Horizon Yacht Charters (Antigua) Limited | Tel:  +1 (866) 439 1089 | Skype jackieashford1 | Tel:  +1 (268) 562 4725

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Love Cricket! Love Sailing!

August 29, 2014

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Horizon Yacht Charters in Antigua is proud to offer a combined Cricket & Sailing package for those people looking to combine some great Caribbean cricket with a relaxing sailing holiday in the sun.

The first Caribbean Test between England and West Indies takes place on April 13 – 17 2015.  Horizon is offering a package that sees sailors or non sailors (Skippers available) arriving in Antigua before the Test and sailing the stunning waters of Antigua before coming back into Jolly Harbour Marina for complimentary dockage for the cricket Test days.  Our guests can then decide to continue on to the next island for more cricket, or have more fun out on the water!

We have a fleet of 13 yachts in our Antigua base from which to choose – from 2 cabins to 6 cabins – both monohull and Catamaran.

Contact our Horizon Antigua base for more details:

From the UK:  001 268 562 4725

Skype:  jackieashford1

From the US:  1 866 439 1089


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Horizon Yacht Charters Antigua Base announces Cabin-Only learn to sail

August 13, 2014

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Horizon Yacht Charters Sailing School in Antigua is delighted to offer learn to sail, cabin-only American Sailing Association certified courses for their 2015 season.  The courses are ideal for those people who have always wanted to experience sailing but have not had like minded friends to share the trip with them.

Director Jackie Ashford comments “I receive many requests from individuals or couples who want to join a fun Group rather than have one to one sailing tuition and the related expenses.  This will be an accessible way to discover sailing and make new friends in a relaxed and stunning sailing environment.  Sailing is so rewarding and we are pleased to be able to launch this new initiative and get more people on the water”.

The Antigua sailing school course will cover the American Sailing Associationlevel 101 and 103 certification courses over the 7 night/8 day trip.

The courses take place on a Bavaria 40 monohull yacht and all textbooks will be ordered in advance to allow for early reading. Each of the two available cabins can accommodate a couple or two friends sharing. Antigua offers the perfect sailing environment for novices; steady trade winds, non-tidal conditions, beautiful scenery and a protected leeward coast.  Cooking on-board will be part of the learning experience and there will be plenty of time to explore ashore, swim and snorkel off the boat and eat at the many beach-side restaurants.

The program will initially be rolled out at our Antigua sailing school for two weeks:  Week 1 February 7 – 14 2015 and Week 2 April 18 – 25 2015.  A maximum of 4 students can be accommodated sharing two double cabins. Charter fee per person, based on 4 students*, US$1,595**

For more information on Horizon Antigua’s learn-to-sail programs, please contact Horizon Yacht Charters by telephone on +1 (268) 562 4725, by email or on our website. You can visit our cabin-only web-page at

*A minimum of 2 students per course.
**excludes airfare, taxis, port dues, food and drink, Instructor gratuity, course text books. Based on a minimum of 7 nights/8 days. Two people sharing can book one cabin at US$2,895 package price.

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