How is it the second Thursday of the month (year!) already??? Time is flying by and that also means it’s almost my birthday (a day I usually am loathe to celebrate- sorry to you people who love your birthdays). But with it being near the MLK holiday in the US, usually I get a built-in long weekend and can escape my personal need to take stock of my life, avoid answering any annoying/prying questions about what I envision for the year ahead and instead chill out on a beach with an umbrella drink. Unfortunately this year, the long weekend falls a full week after my birthday, so getting away seemed less justifiable (not to mention my recent sojourn to Africa).
Rather than lamenting my current shut-in state, for this month’s post, I will reminisce about last year’s exciting trip to Antigua. If I close my eyes, I can recall the smell of the salt air, the warm breezes and the jellyfish that stung me multiple times…good thing there was plenty of rum to ease the pain!
We choose this Caribbean island because there were direct flights from NYC — perfect for a long weekend. Well that would have been the case if not for the reverse strike by customs who decided to check every bag in order to prove that they deserved a raise while the passengers waited for an hour in an area without a bathroom. Oh the joys of travel… Once we finally arrived at the hotel (a pick based on price/location), we were lucky enough to be given a free upgrade to an ocean view room. A nice surprise until we encountered some power issues with a smoking refrigerator. I can’t fully recommend the resort (terrible food) but will say that it was just down from Sandals, which you could easily crash if appropriately attired. [If you want further info, feel free to email me.] But since our goals were to chill out on the beach, engage in a few water activities off-resort and eat outside the hotel, it was perfect. Had we been more familiar with the island, renting a villa and a car would have been a great idea. And I’d urge you to do so on the first visit, particularly if you’re someone who likes a little adventure.
After a day of lounging on the beach, head into the capital of St. John’s for happy hour and some minor shopping opportunities. It’s also the spot to go for most dinner options. If you don’t want to sit on your bum all day, you can also go sailing, try kitesurfing, or check out the diving and snorkeling. Never one content to just sit for days on end, my foray into kitesurfing was totally awesome if almost perilous. (Apparently, I needed a bigger kite and/or less wind so as not to careen into the trees with my instructor attached to me as I attempted to learn how to maneuver the kite.) Will give it a try again at a place with more kite options and better equipment.
As exciting as that was, almost popping my eye out with a champagne cork capped off the day. Amazingly, I survived my birthday trip and can offer you a few suggestions should you visit this charming island.
In St. John’s, Papa Zouk (no website) serves a mean rum punch (limits on consumption for a reason) and great fresh fish. The menu lacks prices and though it’s not that expensive (certainly less than the resorts), it might still be more than you expect. Also in town is Hemingway’s, where the conch fritters are a little lacking in conch but the main dishes are large enough to share and the atmosphere is about the best you can find in town that isn’t looking at a giant cruise ship.
For breakfast near the resorts, Coconut Grove had good, hot food with large portions at decent prices. Not far down from there, Pepperz & Lime has the best fish cakes I’ve ever had (huge portion too).
If you venture away from the resorts or main town, Dennis’s Cocktail Bar & Restaurant has amazing BBQ, strong drinks and friendly service from Dennis himself. And definitely don’t miss the party at Shirley Heights Lookout where you can get a plate of BBQ, a coconut water and rum (great idea!) and dance the night away to live music in a great outdoor setting. Try to get there early for sunset.
This post may be a little light on content, but it’s a Caribbean island– sit back, relax, drink some rum and be glad you’re not freezing back home.
Next month: somewhere in France