Do I need to really tell you why you should go the Caribbean? Probably not because you already know it’s amazing! However, when you look at the Caribbean as a whole it can often be confusing about where to go – there are so many islands it’s mind-boggling! However, each island has its own piece of history and local flavour so it’s well worth checking out several.
However, one island that has recently stolen my heart is Antigua. I mean 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – says it all, really. I recently took a trip to Antigua with Virgin Holidays and was lucky enough to split my time there by staying in two different resorts – the St. James Club and The Verandah Resort & Spa.
The great thing about staying at a resort while you are in Antigua is that you can personalise your own holiday. And by all means just because you stay at an all-inclusive resort it doesn’t mean that you can’t leave the resort to explore more of the island. I did just that – balancing my time between relaxing at the resorts and taking some time to explore what was outside the resorts in Antigua. For me this was the perfect balance between active and relaxation, which is exactly how I like to spend my holidays.
One of my favourite days out was with the Pink Panther Safari while in Antigua that I booked while I was at The Verandah Resort & Spa. The Pink Panther Safari is an all-female crew who take you around all the island’s hot spots in one day. Antigua is quite small so it is actually very doable to see all the major sites in one day.
Our first stop of the day was Devil’s Bridge, a natural rock arch, which is actually about a 10-minute walk from The Verandah Resort & Spa so if you are staying there you can easily walk there yourself. It’s quite a site actually with natural blowholes – the ocean spray is powered by the Atlantic and shoots straight up into the air. It’s called the Devil’s Bridge because back in the day slaves from neighboring estates used to go there and throw themselves overboard. Unfortunately, because the waters are so rough anyone who went under the bridge never came back up. Despite its dark history, the scenery is beautiful and it just reminds you how powerful Mother Nature really is.
We then hopped into the Land Rover and headed to Betty’s Hope to learn about the life of slaves on the plantation. Betty’s Hope used to be a sugarcane plantation and it was insightful to peruse the museum there to learn more about the miserable conditions that the slaves had to endure. A definite dark period in history but key to learn about. This was an important stop on our journey.
We next moved onto the stunning Shirley Heights for absolutely sweeping and stunning views of the island. If you are looking for your postcard moment then this for sure is the one. There is actually no way you can take a bad picture here, it’s just not possible. This is a MUST-SEE while you are in Antigua, do not miss it! The view goes up to 490 feet and you can see the entirety of English and Falmouth Harbours at the top. Really – just don’t miss it!
You also can’t go to Antigua without visiting Nelson’s Dockyard which was the next stop on the tour. Antigua was a British colony so after England acquired it in 1632, English Harbour became the destination to establish a naval base, hence construction on Nelson’s Dockyard began. This is a historic British colonial naval base so therefore the buildings and architecture are all very colonial which is interesting. It’s certainly worth a visit and a wander around! There is also a bakery on site that makes traditional Antiguan baked goods so you must stop in and try.
After a full morning of sightseeing on the Pink Panther Safari tour, we stopped for lunch where I had fish and chips. Maybe it was all that British colonial history I had taken in but I had a strong craving for it and it was delicious!
After lunch we headed to the beach for the afternoon on what is probably one of Antigua’s top beaches which is Turner’s Beach. Soaking in the sun with a Wadadli (Antiguan local beer) and having a dip in the crystal clear blue waters just cannot be beat.
On the way back to The Verandah Resort & Spa we drove down Fig Tree Drive through the Antiguan Rain Forest occasionally passing by stands where people were selling fruit and corn on the cob. We also drove through St. John’s, the capital of Antigua with its colourful buildings. It was nice to just look out the window to see people going about their daily lives.
Another day out I would HIGHLY recommend (that I booked when staying at the St. James Club) is a day out on the catamaran with snorkeling at Green Island, a small island off the coast of Antigua. This is called the Calypso Cat Cruise and it’s fabulous with lots of drinks (if you choose to drink), music and snorkeling in clear waters. I love being out on the water, it’s so much fun and this was a day out that I really enjoyed – with sun, sea and sand you simply cannot go wrong. The cruise is a ½ day and you go out in the morning and come back around lunchtime but there are lots of snacks onboard. You just simply cannot go hungry while in Antigua!
Another activity that I really enjoyed was the Float Fit class at St. James Club. Float Fit is like a pilates on floating boards in the ocean just by the shoreline. It really tests your balance and core strength and in regards to exercise and activities at the resorts you just cannot be bored. EVER!
One thing I didn’t get to do but really wanted to in Antigua was visit the Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary. There are quite a few wild donkeys roaming the island and the shelter houses donkeys at risk. They are super cute as well and I can never resist a visit where there are animals involved.
In regards to food, I would highly recommend trying the local specialties of saltfish, conch soup, creole fish, chop-up, Caribbean-style rice and fungie. And of course, you can’t go wrong with jerk pork or chicken, inspired by Jamaica. St. James had an amazing Caribbean BBQ on the beach one night that was fabulous and I got to try all the local specialties – YUM!
In regards to where to stay I’ve written about my stays at St. James Club and also The Verandah Resort & Spa (read my full review HERE) but there is also the Pineapple Beach Club* that is certainly worth looking into!
Until next time Antigua <insert kisses>.
*7 nights in Antigua from £1,299 pp with Virgin Holidays including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick to Antigua, all-inclusive accommodation at Pineapple Beach Club with transfers included. Price is per person based on two adults travelling and sharing a pool terrace view room, including all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on June 05 2018. To book: visit www.virginholidays.co.uk, call the Hotline 0344 557 3870 or visit one of our stores in Debenhams, House of Fraser, Tesco, Sainsbury’s or V-Room stores nationwide.