After the long winter I was longing for a relaxing break. I hadn't planned on doing very much at all, just completely chilling out and recharging my batteries, this I did!
With a flight from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic of course (for those of you know me you will know that I am a little passionate about Virgin to say the least) 2 good films and 2 documentaries later we arrive. in Antigua, located in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. It is 9 miles by 12 miles across with a coastline scattered with numerous coves and beaches - 356 beaches to be precise, a beach for every day of the year! This was my first visit to the island and I wasn't disappointed. My partner and I stayed at Sandals Antigua and having been fortunate enough in the past to have stayed at quite a few of the Sandals to this one had a lot to live up to...after a lovely short drive along the coastal road with the sea on our right hand side lapping against the shore, we were greated with a very warm welcome and a very chilled glass of champagne. With our bags been taken promptly to our room, it wasn't long before we were lying by the pool with another cocktail in hand.
The resort hosts prime position on Dickenson Bay. There are two worlds within the resort, the tropical Caribbean Village and the Mediterranean Village. The Caribbean hosts grotto pools and stylish restaurants and the Mediterranean side has a more Continental feel to it with a piazza, the Cafe de Paris and a great Pizzeria.
We stayed in the original Caribbean side at Sunset Bluff in a lovely room with a veranda hosting spectacular views across the gardens looking out to sea. I would say that this is most definitely the quieter side which suited us fine.
So now we had a big decision to make...Where were we going to eat dinner?! Spoilt for choice, we had 12 different dining options. Bayside - French Brasserie, Mario's - Italian a la carte, Elenors - Caribbean style, The Drunken Duck - British Gastro pub, Barefoot by the sea - Seafood, Ok Corral - South Western cuisine, Kimonos's - Japanese Teppanyaki, Soy - Sushi, Bella Napoli - Pizza's, The Courtyard Bistro - grab n go! The Cafe de Paris and last but not least the Hot Dog cart!
We chose Bayside, the Chateaubriand just melted....
The next day we enjoyed breakfast served on our balcony, we then headed down to the beach to get a feel for where we were, we found the most beautiful white sandy beach. There were so many beach activities to take part in, you could learn to dive, learn to paddle board, jet ski, swim - obviously as the waters are very calm. You can have sailing lessons and learn to sail a Hobbi Cat... the least said about that the better! Although I think I did mention when I first came back I would share that experience with you. So after a morning of canoeing and learning to paddle board it was time for some sailing lessons.. Probably not the best of ideas after a liquid lunch. I didn't realise it was so technical! You had to gage the wind direction and learn to be patient. It wasn't long before I had the hang of it - UNTIL a gust of wind came along and before I knew it I was heading straight for another boat... HELP! Jeez scary moment only to be saved by my partner at the very last second!
The Island isn't that big and you can easily hire a car and drive around at your leisure. I felt safe on the Island, more so than I have on a lot of other Caribbean Islands that I have visited.
A must would be a visit to English Harbour. You can walk along the Western peninsular that protects English Harbour to Fort Berkeley, the fort is the best place to view the Pillars of Hercules - the entrance to the harbour which weather erosion has made amazing formations due to the soft rock.
A visit to Antigua wouldn't be complete without a visit to Shirley Heights and it's Sunset party! It is the place to be as the sun slowly sinks into the horizon. It has the most amazing sunset. It is at the most southerly tip of the Island and used to be a Military complex (150m above sea level). The whole complex housed a guard house, a magazine store, kitchen and officers quarters, a hospital canteen and cemetery!
As you meander up towards Shirley Heights you can stop and great some great photos of the coastline including Englsih Harbour and Eric Claptons cliff edge hideaway....
Once you have arrived and paid your $8 entrance fee you can mingle amongst the locals and see the ladies making and selling their jewellery and trinkets, then you must head for the bar and order your rum punch (or two) You can eat the local delicious Caribbean dishes then dance the night away to the steel bands pulsating rhythms......
I could continue on and on about my holiday but if you would like to know a bit more about the Island or Sandals Antigua, please get in touch with me at the South Molton branch 01769 572841.
Adios! Suzie x