Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trip reports and reviews help little businesses.

Our great reviews on Trip Advisor keep coming in with an almost equal amount between our two most popular day trips: The Eco Tour and The Xtreme Circumnav. Click here to read some of the most recent trip reports. 
These reviews help our company and our team so much and we appreicate the time you take to write them. If you have been out with us and would like to write one, then you can write your own review after clicking here. 
You can also write one on Cruise Critic and or Antigua Forums. Thanks again, Eli

Monday, November 28, 2011

My favorite fishing slideshow of Antigua images

As the oldest image in the slide show clearly demonstrates, fishing has been part of my life since my earliers memories. This photo of me fishing with my dad, brother and sister in the North Sound off Great Bird Island was taken on the same type of boat that I first used on my Eco Tour back in 1999. A small barracuda, a bar jack, a spanish mackerel, and another larger "barri". These same fish can still be found in the North Sound, but these days with the increased use of gill netting, the numbers of fish have dropped considerably. I don't want this blog to be a controversial one arguing for more fisheries protection like many of my writings before. Instead this is one showing most of my favorite fishing photos. Almost all of them were taken by me here in Antigua. I hope you enjoy checking them out. We here at Adventure Antigua are always asked if we do fishing charters. Some day that may be an option, but for now we just do it for fun on our days off.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Birding photo contest

The Environmental Awareness Group is giving all the digitial photography enthusiasts a chance to test their skills this month with a birding photography contest. Click here to find more info. I have decided to clean my dirty lens and get out there. Today was my first try and I managed to get a few nice shots of pelicans and ruddy turnstones. Antigua and Barbuda has so many cool birds at this time of year and with the clear skies that we have been having lately we all should be able to get some nice bird shots.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun photos from our tours

Our Captains regularly take photos while out on our tours. These three images were taken By Captain JD Hall while coming home from our Xtreme Round The Island tour. For more info check photos, description and videos on

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who is Baldwin Spencer Speaking to here?

Last week there was an article in the Daily Observer newspaper here in Antigua which described a speech the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda delivered to people at the start of Caricom Energy Week. Click here for the article.
Here is a quote from the article:
The prime minister said, “The continuing rise in the price of oil coupled with the escalation of tension in the Middle East and in Libya has major economic implications for Antigua & Barbuda and the region. Without swift and decisive action, the end results could cause significant damage to our economies,” the prime minister pointed out.
 Whenever I hear anyone in our government speak about alternative energy I take deep breaths. In one sentence I will explain why: It is illegal for any citizen to use solar or wind power in Antigua unless they live in an area that the government doesn't provide electricity. So.... you can see why I think that the PM's speech is ridiculous. In fact all speeches and press releases to do with alternative  Energy here in Antigua are pointless unless they do something about the legislation.
In the Observer article he goes on to say:

“We are required to devise ways and means to develop our renewable energy resources with the aim of changing our energy matrix to ensure the production of cleaner energy and thereby reducing our carbon emissions.”

The maddening thing is that the PM and his government know that it's illegal for citizens like myslef to put solar panels or a wind turbine up in order to try to make use of this lovely wind and lovely sun. He knows it yet he makes empty speeches that can only have the goal of fooling uneducated people who don't know what's going on into thinking that the PM and this government actually care about the things he's speaking about. I'm sorry to be so upset about this but we have been speaking about this for years. In fact, after I wrote the article on the massive government oil spill and slick which still oozes oil into the water each day (click here) I was invited to The Prime Minister's office where THE ENERGY DESK was due to speak on their progress.

The large panel of both governmental and non governmental pundits had a task to help Antigua consume less imported oil and to move to more renewable energy. While there I asked them all what was the point of sitting there speaking of all the smart things we could do if it was still illegal for people to use alternative energy methods on their own. There was no answer. Anyway, I am happy to see that others are just as frustrated. In a follow up article in the Daily Observer newspaper the former hear of National Energy Task Force, Edward Baines, is quoted as saying:
"I am still not certain that too much is going on. There is a lot of talk that is going on, but in terms of the action…. (the prime minister’s speech) it’s very vague.”
He went on to say the same thing about the legistlation:
“Almost everyone said one of the first things that needed to be done is for the APUA Act of 1973 to be revised, especially the part that says APUA has the sole responsibility for generating electricity. That has not changed in law as yet. Everyone in that task force said this is the first thing that needs to be done."
You maybe can understand after reading all of the above why I would like to know who Mr. Spencer is speaking to. It just doesn't make any sense. It would be so easy for him to really "act with a common purpose" as he says in his speech. Get the legistlation changed Mr. Spencer. I agree with you in your Observer quoted speech that: "There is no time for delay.”

As a side note: Antigua and Barbuda uses more imported fuel oil than any other OECS country. We import a staggering 1.6 million barrels of fuel a year. According to The Daily Observer's article: ".......the nation consumes 400 per cent more petroleum than Dominica, 250 per cent more than St Kitts, Grenada and St Vincent and 50 per cent more than St Lucia."
I am going to build my first home over the next year and I would like to use alternative energy to power it. I would love to do this legally Mr. Prime Minister.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be careful who you take advice from

"hell's gate"

I started Adventure Antigua using a tiny locally built boat back in December 1999 taking a max of about 4 guests snorkeling and sightseeing. Together with my team we have managed to grow this company to the point that on a maxed out day we could take over 100 guests. The way we were able to do this with very little help from the uncooperative banks here was by simply making sure that all of our team mates loved working on the boats and that we all had the ultimate goal of making sure that our guests' day with us was the best day of their holiday. Anyway, of course there's plenty more to it than just that, but if you judge us by our reputation especially as seen on sites like tripadvisor then I think you will see that we have been very successful. "Word of mouth" is how we get almost all of our business and we are always acutely aware that our performance on the boats will be judged and will be talked about back at the hotel, on the cruise ship, back home and also on the internet.
When people do internet research about our company they usually enjoy the tour even more because they end up getting exactly what they expected. Thankfully more and more people are doing this type of research before the come on holiday and we are getting more and more satisfied customers.
Every now and then people arrive here who didn't have a chance to do any research at all and have to ask for advice on what to do while here on the island.
We get bookings from almost all the hotels, guest houses, villas and other types of accommodation because after over ten years we are well known locally. That being said there are several resorts here that have such high front desk turnover that their staff are often unaware of what's on offer. Unfortunately many of these front desk people are not encouraged to learn about the various tours on the island and despite our best efforts confuse other tour companies with ours and vise versa. There is one hotel I can think of which happens to be one of the most expensive of all here in Antigua that asks us at least two or three times each year what time our kayaking tour starts. We gently remind them that we don't do kayaking or deep sea fishing, telling them our tours consist of.
Hotels are on such a tight budget that they front desk staff often are doing way too many jobs and can't possibly do a good job of being tour reps as well. Tours are booked and or are booked and canceled without us every knowing. Funny enough most of the cancellations that we are not notified about come from the most expensive three hotels on the island.
Another problem with waiting until you get here to find out what's good is that there are many people employed on the beach and even within the hotels by certain tour companies to only sell for them and not to reccomend any others. This means that you don't always get a balanced opinion of what's on offer.
Anyway, my point in all of this is that I think that if you are coming to Antigua on holiday you are often far better off doing research on tripadvisor or Antigua Forums than waiting until you get here to find out what's good and what's a "must do".  If there any hotel managers reading this, then I urge you to have your front desk staff monitor those sites above. Google search a company to find out more if you would like to send your guests out with them. While you are at it check what people have been saying about our company recently. Click here and tell your staff. Your guests will enjoy their holiday that much more.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Our Facebook Eco Tour Photos

Don't forget to check out our Facebook page. If you are going or have been on our famous Eco Tour your photo may end up on the page. Click here for a direct link and remember to "like" the page. Here is out latest crew photo taken right at the end of the tour.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Opening a coconut with your bare hands.

This blog was fun to write. I originally posted in March 9th 2007 and think it's a good one to repost. Feel free to share this one around as some people may find it useful. 

Since i was a kid i have been intrigued with coconut trees and coconuts in general. My earliest memories are of "tyrone" coming to my grandparents’ hotel in an old dilapidated pickup with a bunch of young scruffy guys to "clean the trees". My grandfather's property had loads and loads of coconut trees on it and the danger of a coconut falling and causing injury was always a problem. Instead of paying someone to come and cut down old branches and take down ripe nuts, he would call tyrone. Tyrone's business wasn't cleaning trees at all, but was really selling coconuts and coconut water. When my cousins and i were little there were two important occasions when we would all gather around. The most important was when the lobster man came....we would wait around while 20 or 30 lobster were boiled in a big pot so that we could get the legs that dropped off. Yum yum....we could never get enough freshly boiled lobster legs. I still think they are the best thing on a lobster. Of course the other time was when tyrone and his men came to clean the trees. Those guys seemed to just walk up the 40 foot tall coconut tree like it was on level ground. In those days they just had a rope and a machete and they would climb up and pull themselves into the branches. Once up there they would tie one end of the rope onto a bunch of coconuts, cut the stalk and then lower it down to be untied by someone below. Usually trees would have several bunches. Once all the nuts were collected and taken back to the truck it was our turn to feast. Tyrone could open a "jelly" in about 3 seconds, chopping away the bottom of the nut in a blur. Now it was nearly impossible for a kid under 10 to drink all the water out of a jelly nut, but we would try every time. Once you gave up or miraculously finished it, you would hand it back to him. Tyrone would then cut a "spoon" from the side of the nut and then chop it in half. These guys never wore gloves or shoes, we would marvel at how skillful they were. Now i guess i should clarify what a "jelly" is before i go on. A jelly is a green or young coconut that hardly has any "meat" inside of it. The meat is very thin and delicious with a soft consistency kinda like jellow or jelly. None of us would ever dream of eating hard coconut.....yuk.
Anyway, when i was about 6 years old my parents split up and my mom took us off to England. One of the things i remember is seeing old hard coconuts without the "husk" on them in the markets there. Mom got one once so that we wouldn't forget what they were like, but the meat inside the old coconut was about half of an inch thick and dry as hell. That was good for cooking with bit not fit for eating just like that. Man i missed those green jelly nuts. Anyway, my mom realized this a few years later and we move back home thank god.

Anyway, since then i have always chuckled under by breath whenever i have seen tourists try to open coconuts. One great one is when they find an ancient brown coconut that has been on the ground for months and think that they are going to find something delicious inside. The pain and suffering that unfolds next while this unfortunate soul frustratingly tries in vain to open the thing is comical in an evil kinda way. I am sorry but it’s true. Another good one is when a proud dad tries to do some father son bonding when he finds a big fully mature coconut on the beach. He nods to his son as if to say "look what your dad is gonna do are gonna love this". After 15 minutes of bruised fingers, sweat carrying sunscreen into his eyes, and a few curse words thrown in for good measure..the dad finally says, "son this one isn’t any good".

Now that is even sadder than the first one so the purpose of this blog is to help all the dads out there make their son's proud. If you come across a coconut in the future you will be able to open it with your bare hands after reading the rest of this. I am even gonna throw in pics too.

As a single guy, who doesn't have kids i still happen to know what it feels like to open a coconut for loved ones as you will see below. I am going to use my "kids", Sparky and Lila in this guide. They both worship coconuts and have done since they were little pups. This pic is of them bringing their dad the nut they have found:

You don't want to have a coconut that is too dark. The darker and older looking it is, the more hard the coconut meat is going to be, and if it’s too dark or even brown the nut can be sour. Green ones have the jelly and with a little yellow or even orange in it they are gonna have some good meat inside the nut. Once you have the nut you want to find a rock, a pavement or a bit of concrete. Just so you know, it will stain the ground so don't get the hotel upset if you are using their nice walkway. haha

Ok, hold it firmly in your hand with the top of the nut facing up. The top is the side that was once attached to the tree. This first photo is of the bottom and it’s the side that will be facing down, and is also the side you will be hitting directly onto the rock or walkway.

Hold it tight and hit that end down hard being careful to hit it "plum" right on the bottom, and don't let it go. After one good hit you may see vertical cracks appear, but you must keep hitting it a few more times sometimes. Anyway, the worst thing to do is to try to pull off a section before they are all ready to come off. You see, the nut will almost always split into thirds and you want to keep them together until all are ready to separate. Sometimes they don't all come free at the same time, so keep hitting it on the bottom and eventually it will open up like this (this is the top and not the end you are hitting against the rock):

From here you should be able to start pulling of the outer skin. You will be left with a very furry looking thing like this:

Throughout the opening process you must always remember which side is top and which side is bottom. Now you have to hit the opposite side or the top side in order to free up the thickest part of the fuzzy "husk". After a few decent hits you should be able to just peel it all away like this:

Keep peeling and you will end up with a nut that is clean and ready to be opened. At this point your onlookers with be intently looking on with anticipation and watering mouths (like this:)

Without tools this is tricky if you want to drink the coconut water. You now have to tap around the bottom of the nut moving it each time you tap it so as to try to create cracks around the edges. You should end up with something like this or better:

If you are lucky you will be able to take some of the shell out and drink the water. This takes some skill and luck. If it doesn't go well and the water leaks all over the place all you need to do is hit the nut a few more times and start sharing the bounty. I can open a coconut this way in about 3 minutes in a rush. It can be a bit more difficult taking the older and harder coconut meat off the shell once its open, but you can just let them gnaw at is which is what lila loves to do anyway. Hope you had a laugh and will use this guide some day. If you have any questions please use the comment section and i or some other coconute expert will answer.