COVID-19 has impacted all our lives and many of us have been stuck at home for months.
So, if you are looking for a nice and safe getaway to help cure “cabin fever,” then Antigua is a place you need to visit once life gets back to normal, which is soon… real soon.
This scenic island in the Caribbean offers the perfect antidotes to the “pandemic blues” and has tons of beaches that are perfect for social distancing.
Lorraine Simpson, who is the Cityline TV Travel Expert, recently traveled to the island and adores its culture and beach vibes.
“As a travel consultant I get to visit some pretty spectacular places and I always enjoy sharing my experiences with clients,” explains Simpson, who is a world-renowned travel guru.
Antigua: Love at first sight
“When I visited Antigua, it was love at first sight. I was blown away by the translucent waters of turquoise and azure that look photoshopped, miles of soft white sand, and all the rum punches, daiquiris, and pina coladas you can drink. Visitors get all this and more when traveling to Antigua – 108 square miles of tropical beauty and it’s only about a four-and half hour flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport. There are a number of direct flights a week, and you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank on airfare as prices are very affordable.”
As we all know, the Caribbean was slammed with several hurricanes in the past few years and Antigua was narrowly avoided, leaving it in perfect shape to welcome visitors searching for Caribbean sunshine and vitamin SEA!
“This is not the kind of island where you have to fight for towel space with partying college students and social distancing is an easy task. For one thing, there are 365 beaches here, which means there are plenty of places to chill for everyone. This beautiful island specializes in laid-back luxury and honeymoon-worthy resorts, attracting travelers who like their tropical vacations to have a refined vibe,” says Simpson.
“Antigua is a land of sea and sun, and there are lots of fun ways to take full advantage of both. Spend time on the water: snorkel to see the colourful fish and inhabitants of the reefs, sail or go deep sea fishing.
Beach time should also be high on your to-do list as it is balm for the soul, especially after we have all experienced living in a pandemic. Go ahead, play in the sand, splash in the water, and soak up the sunshine.
History, culture, yachts, and more!
Antigua is just 9 miles by 12 but feels larger, and one place not to miss is English Harbour. This was awarded World Heritage List status last year for its Georgian-era naval dockyards, and you can admire the massive stone pillars that survived from its great sail loft built in 1797. Nelson was based here, and it is a charming place to visit that combines a national park with a lively harbour reflecting Antigua’s role as the winter capital of the yachting world. Today, the Georgian buildings have been restored and some are still used for maritime purposes, like sail making. Visitors can see those as well as modern-day yachts anchored in the harbour and the juxtaposition of past and present is striking. The tour and museum are well done and also brief enough to keep kids interested.
“Messing about on the water is an essential activity here, whether it’s stand-up paddle-boarding or an exhilarating day trip to feel what it’s like to be part of a crew racing a 40ft yacht,” smiles Simpson. “Most resorts offer complimentary non-motorised watersports, while memorable excursions include a catamaran cruise with snorkeling at the beautiful Cades Reef and a trip to Stingray City Antigua to get in the water with these gracefully flapping creatures.”
“Inland there’s hiking and biking and zip-lining, while on Sunday afternoon everyone heads to the panoramic Shirley Heights Lookout for a barbecue with steel pan music. This is a very sociable, family-friendly island where people will happily talk cricket all day and are masters at showing visitors a good time. Take full advantage of nature in Antigua. Check out Indian Town National Park which features Devil’s Bridge, a limestone arch that has been created by centuries of pounding by ocean waves; and hike through the rainforest.”
How to get there
Flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Where to stay
Simpson’s favourite is the Adults Only Cocos. It really is a wonderfully romantic spot. The beautiful couples-only resort is perched on a secluded ocean bluff – meaning there are spectacular, Instagram-worthy views everywhere you turn.
The vibe of the charming, family-run hotel is very much down-to-earth. There are 30 rustic wooden cottages in total, each with its own private veranda, large bathroom with his’n’hers sinks, and an outdoor shower. All of them are clean, comfortable and feature dark wooden floors, crisp white linens and a well-stocked fridge. But if it’s a special occasion, Simpson recommends splashing out – and splashing around – in the signature Sunset Plunge Pool Cottage, where there’s a private infinity pool.
Then there is the all-inclusive Blue Waters Resort in Soldiers Bay that just underwent a $2 million makeover. It is located on 17 acres of tropical gardens with a spa and kids’ club, plus an 18-hole golf course that’s only five minutes away.
This beautifully designed resort with 116 rooms and suites feels so much more intimate. The rooms are charming and well-appointed, the pool and beach sublime and the food superb. But the best part is the feel, with an ambience that takes you back to a Caribbean that’s very hard to find nowadays.
The Verandah is a firm favourite on the island, according to Simpson. An oasis of tranquility and amenity located on 30 beachfront acres. The Verandah is the perfect place for a romantic wedding, honeymoon, or family getaway. Situated amongst a backdrop of lush green gardens, stunning tropical views and a shimmering turquoise sea, the incredible All-Inclusive blend of engaging activities, delectable cuisine and entertaining nightlife allows you the luxury to do it all, or nothing at all.
“When I was there doing a tour, they even had my favourite roast suckling pig at lunch! The food and entertainment is amazing, and you wont be disappointed,” adds Simpson.
Planning a trip? Need help with your destination wedding? Want to go somewhere amazing that’s off the beaten path? Then reach out to Lorraine Simpson today, she will help with all your travel needs!