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A haven for boaters, Antigua’s Jolly Harbor is the ideal holiday destination complete with swaying palm trees, a stunning beach, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and plenty of other amenities. This 500 acre community was built for tourists and yachtsmen, and sits on the west coast of the island, near the community of Bolands. It is a small town that can be explored on foot, but car rental in Jolly Harbor is the best way to get out of the community and take daytrips to other parts of the picturesque island.
Who to Book With
International supplier Hertz and local outfitters Pineapple and Jonas Rent-A-Car provide car hire in Jolly Harbor as well as at the airport. Thrifty, Dollar, Budget and National have counters at the airport along with a handful of local rental companies.
Best Time to Go
The climate here is hot and sunny, as one would expect of a Caribbean island. The temperature throughout the year ranges from 23°C to 30°C, with December, January and February the coolest months. Still, these months remain busy with European and North American tourists escaping the cold winter weather back home, making them the most expensive times to visit. The sunny summer months of July and August are also busy, while the rainy months of September, October and November see fewer visitors.
Need to Know Essentials
When you collect your vehicle, you must bring along the following documents:
- An International Driving Permit along with a UK driver’s licence
- A valid credit card in the driver’s name
- An additional piece of identification
- Booking confirmation
Driving in Jolly Harbor is straighforward though unnecessary. All villas and resorts provide secure parking for their guests, with self-drive the only reliable form of transportation for getting here. Valley Road provides access to the town from the rest of the island, and traffic is rarely a problem.
Have a look at our guide to Antigua for more details on driving here.
There is little in the way of transport here, but Jolly Harbor is small enough to walk around. Golf carts are often seen zipping along the streets, while some visitors get around by car. Alternatively, visitors can use the unreliable local bus service to get from Jolly Harbor to other destinations on the island. Taxis are available but expensive.
Local buses run between here and the capital city of Saint John’s, with the bus stop located at the corner of Valley Road. These buses are usually mini-vans that seat up to 15 people and are clearly marked ‘BUS’. Buses operate between 05:30 and 18:00, and although they have a set schedule, it is often not followed.
Taxis here are regulated and work on a fixed rate that has been set by the government. Taxi drivers can act as tour guides for visitors who do not wish to self-drive. Rates are steep, with the journey from the airport to Jolly Harbor costing as much as £20.
Jolly Harbor’s location along the west coast makes it easily accessible to the rest of the island. The stunning beaches along the southwest coast of Antigua are known for their tranquillity and can easily be accessed in less than 10 minutes by car, or drive north along the coast to the capital city of Saint John’s to mingle with the locals. In fact, no point on the island is more than a 40-minute drive from Jolly Harbor.
Fig Tree Drive – This picturesque drive leaves the coast and travel up into the volcanic hills, passing through rainforest, coconut groves and lush vegetation before arriving to Fig Tree Hill. You will not see any figs here but instead you will be surrounded by banana trees, as locals refer to bananas as figs. Fig Tree Drive can be accessed from Jolly Harbor by heading south along Valley Road. At Carlisle Bay, it turns into this stunning road.
Indian Town National Park – Located on the eastern extremity of Antigua, around a 40-minute drive from Jolly Harbor, Indian Town National Park is one of the island’s true natural sites. The limestone arch Devil’s Bridge is the main attraction here thanks to the natural geysers that are produced when waves hit the arch, making water shoot up through the boreholes of the rock formation.
Nelson’s Dockyard – The historical heart of the island lies at Nelson’s Dockyard, which today is a national park. It houses one of the Caribbean’s finest natural harbours and was used by the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars. The dockyard has been restored and today is the only Georgian dockyard on the planet, while its streets are lined with charming restaurants and bars. From here, hike along Lookout Trail to Shirley Heights and catch the stunning views over the dockyard.