Nonsuch Bay: escaping the crowds on Antigua

Will Bruton finds a protected quiet haven far from the madding crowd on Antigua’s east coast

Finding an anchorage to yourself in Antigua might sound an insurmountable challenge, but somehow, we managed it at Nonsuch Bay.

Furthermore, for a couple of hours we even had not one, but two beaches all to ourselves, save for a lone cockerel.

Nonsuch Bay and nearby Green Island on Antigua’s eastern coast are no secret.

Protected by a vast reef, it has long been a popular spot for skippers happy to navigate the unbuoyed entrance, which has claimed its fair share of casualties over the years.

Yachts anchored in a bay in Antigua

Nonsuch Bay is best approached from the south. Credit: Will Bruton

But, if you’re not too fussed about a dinghy ride to shore, there is plenty of space to anchor in this large expanse of protected water once you get inside the bay.

The best approach to Nonsuch Bay is from the south.

Make sure you stay well offshore until east of York Island.

It is not advisable to sail to Nonsuch Bay if there is any heavy swell as this makes the passage over York Bank dangerous.

Keep York Island and Neck of Land to port, making sure to look out for the reef off Ricketts Harbour, which stretches south of Green Island.

As yachts big and small jostled for position near the entrance off Green Island, we headed further in, picking up the channel and keeping our speed at the 5-knot limit.

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We dropped the hook in thick mud in 10 metres of water some distance off the Nonsuch Bay Resort; a water sports-focused hotel that welcomes visitors by dinghy wanting to learn to kite surf or eat in the restaurant.

Taking the tender to the beach on Green Island, we found the last day trip boat leaving at one end and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger’s yacht crew packing away the world’s most elaborate barbecue, which included two gas grills, two gazebos, steamer chairs and a vast bar, at the other end of the island.

Landing nearby we somehow resisted the temptation to help ourselves to some of Tommy’s leftovers.

A chart for Nonsuch Bay, Antigua

Credit: Maxine Heath

The sight and setting though were too incongruous not to provide entertainment.

As our feet sank into the white sand, five immaculately uniformed crew struggled valiantly stacking a RIB precariously high with kit.

The rag and bone men of paradise dressed head to toe in Hilfiger.

Within a few minutes though, we were alone. Coconut trees, perfect white sand, gin-clear water; Green Island was a paradise.

green Island at Nonsuch Bay, Antigua

Green Island was largely deserted. Credit: Will Bruton

With further exploring we found a hammock, a shelter used by the nearby kite surfing school and met a cockerel who seemed to be the island’s only resident.

After two hours, another tender landed on the beach and, having had our dose of island idyll, we left them to enjoy it.

To our surprise not one yacht had joined us at our end of the bay.

As dusk fell, we ate up on deck; there was barely any wind and we drifted gently around, enjoying our isolated splendour.


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Source: Yachting Monthly

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