> Destinations > Antigua and Barbuda > Trip Reports > Trip Report
Booked the holiday with Virgin Holidays in the UK last November. I looked at all the options & couldn't do it a cheaper way.
Pretty standard Virgin Atlantic flight but less impressive than flying with them to Orlando in 2000, cost cutting big time but that's life. Arrival at Antigua International Airport, it's a tarmac strip and a conveyor belt!!!!!!!!!!!!! Same as Minorca (Spain) 20 years ago??? We were at the rear of the plane and thus last off. Two & a half hours later we were through immigration, others have had better times and some as bad; seems to be potluck! But this is Antigua, their time, their pace – adjust!!
The taxi situation at the airport seems to be very Caribbean, stack them high and pile them in! Seems to be total poverty on the way to Cocobay but when you do arrive – WOW!
Left UK at 13:00 (UK time), arrived 19:15 Antigua time. You work it out, a long time!
You walk in and it is total heaven, Rum Punch is almost the first thing that happens – bit of a kick but much appreciated. Book in later; cases taken to the cottage/hut; believe me it is absolutely wonderful. Time for a shower, before dinner at 21:00!
With AI you get breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea (why?) and dinner. All except dinner are buffet style. Breakfast, (7:30 till 10:30) gives you a choice of cereals, fresh fruit, meats and cheeses, freshly cooked eggs in any style you choose and sausages or bacon, beans, toast with a plentiful supply of fruit juice and coffee. All served by some of the friendliest people I have ever met. The view from the restaurant is wonderful, a beach and sea so blue it's untrue.
Lunch, (13:00 till god knows), usually consists of soup, fish, meat, salad, pasta, rice, potatoes plus a sweet. All cooked to an excellent standard and as much as you desire. No complaints from us!! On Saturday, lunch was hamburger, plus another choice (not very great) – seemed to be a great saviour for some of the younger Brits but not really what I wanted; nothing is perfect I suppose!
Dinner (19:30 – 21:30 but you need to book the time of your dinner at Reception, we did it on the way to breakfast cause it is very easy to forget!), this is table service with an excellent choice; see the Cocobay Resort website for a typical menu (www.cocobayresort.com/newsite/pages/SampleMenusPage.htm); it is that good and better, believe me. There are a couple of extra choices that you can pay an additional charge for, we did it on our last night and were not disappointed! Scallops & lobster followed by Barbuda Spiny Lobster; too much for both of us and only about US$ 24 each – great! Steak was available as an extra charge option and by reports from others was great.
The cottages are more than good enough with a king size double bed – I lost my wife one night but she was only on the other side of the bed!!!!!!!! Yes, that big! We had a superior cottage, Room 19, on the row above the seafront cottages. Brilliant view but the best bit was the shower – open the doors and shower overlooking at Caribbean – so well designed that you cannot be seen! Unbelievable! For some excellent panoramas of Cocobay see www.travelhop.com/new/hotel.asp?hotelId=173.
A range of beaches is available, five within easy reach, two large with the others being small to tiny. The main Cocobay beach, visible from the restaurant, with loungers and beach hut things, was great. At it's busiest had 24 people on it; that was in August!!!!!!!!
The snorkeling was reasonable with many fish and a few of stingrays. There were beach sellers but they were not a problem and became quite friendly once they had seen you a couple of times. Note that all the beaches in Antigua are public, so expect to seem some Antiguans from time to time. Most of them don't seem to be able to swim and love to stand in a circle in the water and chat. At least it is some local flavour but on public holidays (we were there during Carnival) they can take over.
Jolly Bay the next resort round passed Coco's is walkable, even for me, just to see how the other half live – coming back was like returning to SANCTUARY, at least in our view!
Spread of ages at the resort was wide from old marrieds like us, 28 years wed (there were another two couples married the same length of time), newly weds to those getting married and even unmarrieds. Nationalities varied from Brits, Yanks, Italians, French & German but there may have been more. There was even a couple who got married at the resort – so you see and talk to them all.
Staff, without exception, were GREAT! It seems unfair to us, to single them out because all even those you do not see contribute to the whole experience; thanks to them all. This is from the general Manager, O'Neal Richards to the cleaning ladies – watch out for them in the mornings, there are the one's with new trainers that are usually three sizes too big – morning ladies!!
If you are planning to get around it is worth cultivating the resort taxi service – Benji (the main man) – does what he says and never writes anything down – watch out for the dripping gold! But hay, he's OK. We went into St John's on a Friday, for the market, it is US$10 each if there is four or more in the taxi – Friday & Saturday are market days. We went to the Fruit & Veg Market and were the only white people in there – a strange feeling but an intriguing experience.
As many, many others have reported if you do trip – please, please, please consider Eli's Eco Tour (Info at www.antiguaadventures.com), as everyone say's it's a great day out from a brilliant guy. Say no more – DO IT! – you will not regret it, believe me. Thanks Eli and Francis – great day – see you next year!
I could go on and on but this report is already quite long, so I'll wrap it up with some quick answers to some of the questions that have been on the board recently.
Mosquitoes: Did worry a bit about this one as Helen gets bitten even when nothing is biting! But to be totally honest there was not really a problem, most of the time we used the coils available free at Reception. If you need an insect repellent I would use Mosi-guard, it's natural and recommended by the London School of Tropical Medicine. Overall we had no problems.
Currency: We took US$ and these are accepted everywhere, shops, taxis, street traders, market stalls, with no problems. Also remember that almost the only source of foreign currency income in Antigua is tourism; spend some US$; the people deserve it, they really do!
Luggage: Have heard about luggage searches but we had no problems going into Antigua. Fortunately we were with Virgin and they operate a wonderful "Check-in, chill-out" service on the way home. The cases are checked in at your resort on the morning of your departure and you get boarding cards there and then. The next time you see your cases – you're back in the UK! Well done, Richard Branson!
Thanks to Mel for this trip report ...