Written by Brodie Nero, as seen in Ocean Splash Magazine.
In the past 15 years or so, I’ve been to Antigua almost 30 times. My parents had their honeymoon there before I was born and 15 years later, they decided to go back as a family (our family is inclusive of my sister and me). Now, to be frank, I wasn’t as “consciously evolved”, or mature in those days. At the time, this trip was my chance to duck my parents, drink a lot, hang out, tan on my own, look at chicks and kick it with some locals on the beach during our stay at the all-inclusive Pineapple Beach resort.
We’re a Canadian-based family, and my parents have had ongoing success in their business since I was 15. Trips to Antigua went from all inclusive “Hot Deals” and timeshares in gated community villas to MASSIVE private homes in stunning areas like Tamarind Hills.
Only in the past three years have we been living luxuriously when we go there. The 6 to 8 years prior, we stayed in Jolly Harbour. It’s a unique place with a North and South “Finger”, as they like to call it. Most of the Villas are 2 story, 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom units. The exteriors of the units are usually consistent and obviously similar. However, depending on the owner, the interior can vary from outdated to extremely modern. Some of the units look like they imported the furniture from their Great Grandmother’s house while the nicer ones boast features such as sexy faucets, marble countertops and flat screens on the wall.
Jolly Harbour has everything you need for jet skiing, scuba diving and catamaran excursions. There’s also an internet café, small boutique resto’s (get the pizza from Melinis!) and a proper supermarket. It’s equipped like an all-inclusive, but you live like you’re at home. In some cases, people are at home. Lots of small businesses start up, but don’t last. However, despite its economic challenges, Jolly Harbour is undeniably beautiful. I still consider it a safe and charming place to visit.
Antigua is British Colonized. I’ve mostly seen people from England and Canada there. In between, you’ll find other Europeans. Often, I hear some Italian when I’m on the beach. The only time you really see Americans is when the cruise ships come in for the day. Oh, and when you spot a local of African descent, it doesn’t mean the person is Antiguan. There are also handfuls of Jamaicans, Trinidadians and Grenadines on the island.
One of the most unique (and incredible) facts about Antigua is that there are 365 beaches. You can head to a different beach every day of the year, but you can drive from one side of the island to the other in 45 minutes to an hour. I’m still trying to figure out how that one works myself!
When people ask me what I think of Antigua, I always say it’s a place to visit to feel the authentic Caribbean vibes, immerse yourself in Caribbean culture, and to have a more personal and privatized experience. There is nightlife, but you have to have keen desire to go right to it. To me, Antigua is a peaceful place. Even during high season, you can always find a remote pocket of beach to sprawl out and enjoy the warm, quiet sun.