> Destinations > Antigua and Barbuda > Trip Reports > Trip Report
We flew from Gatwick with Virgin, staying overnight at the airport and taking advantage of the Twilight Check-in. This cut out the cattle market check-in in the morning and made the whole trip more civilised. You can't beat walking straight past the check-in queue.
After a flight of about seven hours, there was the usual wait at Immigration, not what you want after a long flight, but unavoidable so just grin and bear it. Once through it's a short step to baggage reclaim, and outside to be directed to a taxi by the Virgin reps.
The taxi ride takes about around twenty minutes, skirting the capital St Johns for a glimpse of island life. On arrival at Cocos we were warmly greeted by the manager, Renato and the staff. While we drank our first cocktails and discussed the cricket our bags were taken to our room.
It was soon apparent that the whole resort had been gently updated since our last trip in 2002. There are a lot of new chairs in the open air restaurant, more sun beds with cushions on the beach and around the pool. Everything had a fresh and clean feel to it. We also discovered that three new rooms have just been completed, bringing the total to seventeen.
As before, having asked in advance, we were put in Room 11. Each room has an individual character but we like the feel of room 11 because it is up on the hill, set back among the trees and overlooks the beach. All rooms have a veranda with two wooden recliner chairs and a hammock, which we noticed was brand new. There is a "wet room" style shower room with al fresco facilities for the daring.
We were eager to compare the quality of food at dinner with that of previous visits and were pleased to find that it was faultless, with a good choice of courses on the all-inclusive package, all freshly prepared and not a buffet in sight! Typical main courses were fish (grouper, snapper and wonderful tuna), duck and steak, with spicy sauces reflecting the Caribbean location, jerk, Creole, Cajun and curry.
Being four hours adrift because of the time zone difference, after another cocktail or two (you can ask for anything you like involving local spirits and there is a nightly "special") we retired early, not to tree frogs, which were noticeably quiet this year, but the sound of waves breaking. I would call the rooms simple rather than basic, with a huge bed under a mosquito net and a ceiling fan which keeps the room from getting too warm and is a lot quieter than many air conditioning units. There is a refrigerator, coffee maker and a wall safe for your valuables.
We were up early and ready for breakfast at 7:30, a choice of fruit, cereal and pastries, followed by a cooked breakfast made to order. Then it was down to the pool and beach to soak up some rays. The pool is not huge, but very pretty and you usually get it to yourself. A few paces through the palm trees there is the sea, warm but as always, cloudy, like turquoise milk, great for swimming but hopeless for snorkelling. The jet ski operation still gets going at about 11 o'clock. They launch from the Cocos end of the beach and can be quite a disturbance, but they soon move off to hunt for custom further along Jolly Beach, which is huge and never crowded.
We had already booked Eli's Eco-Tour on line (you get a 10% discount this way) even though we had done it before. It's like a day out with the family, even though his new boat takes up to twenty five people. At lunch time, when the Virgin rep came, we took advantage of the current excellent exchange rate to get a good price on the helicopter tour of Monserrat, beautiful on a clear blue day, but sobering when you remember the devastation and death brought to so many families.
The weather was great throughout our stay, with rain restricted to a couple of ten minute showers. Sunbathing was good until about four or five o'clock, when we found it best to shower and change into long sleeved shirts and trousers, applying insect repellent. As a result, we stayed bite free, although there didn't seem to be the same number of mosquitoes in March that we'd seen in December. At six thirty, it was on to the veranda for the light show as the sun went down, turning the clouds a deep red. Then to complete the daily cycle, it was back to the bar for cocktails under a starry sky before dinner.
Cocos main attraction to us is its size. We quickly reacquainted ourselves with the staff and made good friends among the guests. The atmosphere is more like a house party than a hotel. After ten days of pampering by the truly caring staff, our time was up and reluctantly we headed back to the airport.
Unfortunately, due to increased security provisions, Cocos no longer benefits from the Virgin "Check in Chill out" service, so we had to leave a little earlier and check our bags in at the airport, before the long sleepless night flight home.
Thanks to Steve & Avril for this trip report ...