A beach for every day of the year!
In early July 2013 we took our honeymoon in Antigua and it was the most beautiful place. Antigua has 365 beaches, they say one for every day of the year! There was powder white sand on the 3 private beaches and the one public beach inside our resort, the bungalow overlooking the ocean and being able to fall asleep listening to the waves crashing, and seeing the ocean in colors of turquoise that I've never seen. It was an amazing experience.
It was my (Laurie) second time leaving the country but my first time on a Caribbean island. We woke up in the middle of the night and packed the car to head to the airport for our 5 AM flight. We arrived the standard 2 hours early for an international flight and got through security without issue. We hoped on our flight and headed for Miami and our connecting flight. We had 30 mins to get from one gate to the other and made it just in time. We boarded our final flight and I got in the window seat excited to see the beautiful island for the first time from the air.
I learned that international flights mostly have a view of the ocean for hours on end. I can't sleep on planes so it was 5 hours of being excited in a very small space. I was like a hamster in a ball, stuck in the corner. When I finally saw an island I got so happy that we were there, it was not the right island. We had at least another hour to go. Finally we reached Antigua and descended to land. The airport was small so they don't have a jet bridge for the planes. We got our bags and walked down a huge staircase to the ground. Just outside the airport was a lady with a table full of cups of red juice. I asked Dominic if the juice was ok to drink, I have heard stories about not drinking water in Mexico and the obvious "don't take food from strangers" that has been drilled into me my whole life. He assured me that it was fine. I took a cup, said thank you and drank an amazingly refreshing fruit juice after a full day of traveling. There was also a band playing steel drums next to the drink table. They played a wonderful song as everyone deplaned. It was such a great welcome.
We went through customs together and answered their questions and showed them our reservations at the resort. We hailed a cab outside to the resort and everything felt so new even though we really hadn't yet encountered anything too far off from how things are run at home in the states. The cab ride on the LEFT side of the road was interesting to me since I've never driven on that side before. Our driver told us that "the left is the right side of the road and the right side of the road is wrong." The roads were skinny and sometimes had farm animals like pigs blocking them! We arrived at the resort, walked down the outside stone stairs to the open-air reception area/breakfast and dinner restaurant, and checked in. We went down another 2 flights of outside stone steps to the beach level and walked the pathway to our bungalow. Halfway there we were stopped in our tracks by goats! They were mowing the lawn. We snapped a few pictures and found a big green lizard as well, just hanging out on a pole watching the goats with us. We got to our garden-view bungalow and unpacked.
That night we had a buffet-style dinner of local fish and dishes that had so much flavor that I just knew this trip was going to be even better than I had imagined. Every bite was more delicious than the last. We went to bed exhausted with full bellies and excited for what tomorrow would bring. We slept soundly, until 2 AM.
Hawksbill Resort in Antigua is on rented farmland. The farm is separated from the resort but not far away. We didn't know this until we got there. The rooster on the farm apparently has some owl in him as he started crowing at 2 AM and did not stop until after the sun was up. Being in the garden bungalow we could hear him very well, and some of the other animal too before everyone woke up and there was more noise to drown them out. The next morning on our way to breakfast we stopped at the front desk to ask if there were any other rooms available. We went in the off season so we practically had the resort to ourselves and we were able to upgrade to a beach front bungalow! We ate another amazing meal of fresh, local fruit, a pancake bar, cereal, bagels, and more. Then we headed back to the bungalow to pack and move to our new bungalow.
Our final bungalow was a huge improvement. The layout was basically the same but, we could see the ocean from our bedroom window and porch as well as being a few steps from the powder white sand beach. Inside was a king-size bed, two chairs with a small table, a mini-fridge, a dresser with a vanity, and a gorgeous tile bathroom. I had never seen a shower without a door or curtain before. I had no idea how the water would stay inside (spoiler alert, if you are a ducky and splash a lot it doesn't stay anywhere!). The water did get on a portion of the double sink vanity but most of our stuff stayed pretty dry. The shower was huge and each day we had a visitor, a little lizard who would hang out on the outside of the screen and drink the water that splashed there. There are no tvs in any of the rooms, because you are on beautiful island and you should be outside! There was also no phone in the rooms. The only phone was in the middle of all of the bungalows in a booth if you needed to reach the front desk. There was no wifi, though we would have been able to get cell service but we didn't want to pay for an international plan for our trip. We went there to escape from phones and tv and the internet. The front desk did have a desktop that you could rent by the hour with internet if you needed to check email.
We were privy to a beautiful sunset nightly at dinner from the restaurant on the hill and we heard the ocean waves crashing as we fell asleep in our bed. In the morning we awoke to tiny birds hanging out on our porch with the ocean in the background. This place was the stuff of travel magazines and I couldn't believe that I was getting to experience it firsthand and with the man that I had been dreaming of my whole life. I was overwhelmed with joy.
We spent time walking the beach looking for shells and hermit crabs, lay on the chairs with tropical drinks while soaking up the sun, snorkeling around the saddle-shaped coral reef in the little bay at the resort, and exploring the town of St. John's and its history. We found a tiny, green-shelled hermit crab and named him Kermit the Hermit Crab. Dominic wanted to take him home but I knew he wouldn't survive the flight and visions of customs nightmares flood my brain. We decided to leave him where he was born and with his family. Relaxing in the sun and listening to the turquoise waves was everything I had imagined. The tropical drinks were amazingly refreshing and the food was some of the best that I've ever had.
Snorkeling was my favorite activity on the island. I got to go at my own pace, see all of the areas that I wanted to see, and we even found a few sea creatures. Daily we saw a family of squid that liked to hang out in the same spot, one day they were joined by a lone Cuttlefish. We also got to see a little octopus and tons of sea urchins.
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