With winter in full throttle and in desperate need of warmth, this month I travelled to the Caribbean Island of Antigua for some rays, relaxation and let’s face it, rum.
Antigua can be found in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. Meaning “ancient” in Spanish, the island was named in 1493 by Christopher Columbus after an icon in Seville Cathedral, Santa Maria de la Antigua — St. Mary of the Old Cathedral. Following settlements of Amerindian societies, the English then settled en-force 1632. This makes it a somewhat tropical home from home, as everyone speaks English and cars all drive on the left.
The lush islet is also known by ‘Wadadli’ by Antiguans. The term, meaning “our own”, originates from its indigenous inhabitants and is also the name of the local bottled beer.
So having touched to the blazing sun, cold drink in hand, I was ready to discover my very own Antigua.
What to do
The best way to see Antigua is by hiring a car, stopping at beaches for a quick swim or at a roadside seller for a piece of fresh pineapple.
One tip for lunch turned into an afternoon of cocktails lounging on day beds, gazing at an azure ocean at Sheer Rocks.
Stepping into this venue seems like one is entering a treehouse – the restaurant and bar are on different levels, with plunge pools on hand to keep guests cool, as they sip on pina coladas, daiquiris and margaritas. Listening to the Balearic background beat and watching yachts circle the bay, we felt like Kings and Queens of the West Indies, for at least a few hours.
After venturing out for the afternoon, stopping at several coves, we discovered another great Antiguan surprise – the Catamaran Hotel. Overlooking Green Bay, this relaxed, beachfront hotel is close to Pigeon Beach. A perfect pit stop for dinner before home, we dining on strip steak overlooking the ocean and the ginormous charter yachts of Nelson’s Dockyard in the South of the Island.
And thrill-seekers visiting the island should try out Antigua Rainforest Company. Located on Fig Tree Drive, Wallings, in the hills of the lush rainforest on the south-west coast of Antigua, this is an expertly-designed expansive zip line and rope challenge course. The adventure offers a total of thirteen zip lines, three aerial walk way bridges, two tree houses, two ‘Leap of Faith’ vertical descents, nine elements of challenge course and three unique combination tours.
Foodies also should book Nicole’s Table for hands-on Caribbean cooking classes in cook and teacher Nicole’s Antiguan home. Guests can sample a full lunch or dinner menu with recipes, Nicole’s Old Fashioned Rum Punch and the chance to appreciate the food they prepared.
And for all island excursions, contact Carib World Travel. This company can organise a full day tour of Antigua, or even an Eco-Tour of neighbouring Dominica or even a day trip to Montserrat to see a live volcano and modern-day Pompeii.
Where to stay
Avoiding the island’s larger resorts, I opted for the low-key family-run The Anchorage Inn located in the North of the Island – a perfect base from which to explore the island.
The charming, colourful, 40-room inn, stands impressively en -route to the main hotel belt “Dickenson Bay” in the North West, from Antigua’s capital St. John’s.
The family-owned inn offered us comfort in our air-conditioned suite – a large white vaulted space, with sea view, in-built kitchenettes and bathrooms. The Inn’s location is handy for getting about – at just five miles from the airport, and close to golf, restaurants, a large supermarket and the island’s best beaches. All rooms are named after different islands in the West Indies and the hotel’s quaint pool cooled us after long days trekking around.
How to get there
Find the best flights to Antigua using award-winning travel search site momondo.
Room rates at the Anchorage Inn start from around US$115 per night in low season for double occupancy. For enquiries about room rates and reservations please contact email@example.com or call the resort on +1 268 462-4065.
Gatwick Express is the non-stop direct service between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria, running every 15 minutes. Travellers can get 10% discount when they book online.