Planned this birthday trip a few months back. All our travel had been cancelled due to Covid, so felt like going all out on a Caribbean destination. Picked a resort type place, in case we were stuck staying at one location for the entire time. Settled on Hodges Bay Antigua for a week. With direct flights out of JFK, strict COVID protocols, and an isolated resort destination, figured this was a sound travel plan in these times.
Sunday November 29
Got a little stressed out when our direct flight to Antigua out of JFK was cancelled for the second time. Originally we had booked direct with Jetblue but that got cancelled. We knew we'd have some juggling to do with COVID travel, but we didn't think our second American flight would get shut down. We were able to get rebooked on a 6am flight to Miami, then a second flight to Antigua, however 6am out of JFK is never easy. Rather than scramble to find an Uber at 4 am, we got a room Sunday night at the TWA hotel, with plans to just wake up early and walk over to the gate.
Hoping for a leisurely day slowly making our way over to the hotel for the evening, we got our heart rates going by looking for a missing engagement ring. Once found and the panic settled, we looked forward to a drink during Covid times at the hotel. Armed with our Covid tests and passports, vacation started once we grabbed our seats on the A train.
TWA hotel was empty, but the way to go if you stress about getting to the gate early for a 6 am flight.
Monday November 30th
Judging by our previous Caribbean trip pre-Covid this year, we assumed that JFK at 6am during COVID would be relatively empty, so we slowly made our way from the hotel to the terminal at 5 am for a 6 am flight. Turned out to be very busy, and after getting stuck at security with a camera gear check, I almost missed the flight. Ran over to the gate as they were boarding group 7. Nevertheless once we took off on time and I was sure we would make our connection, I started to relax.
Antigua airport was organized. Went through a Covid temperature check and presented our negative tests. Got a call from the hotel about a week before saying they couldn’t pick us up anymore due to the new contact tracing airport requirements, so we grabbed a cab over to the place once we got through customs.
It was a little cloudier than expected as a rain shower had just passed through. Got set up in an oceanfront room with a balcony overlooking the beach and water. Grabbed dinner at the beachfront restaurant, White Sands, and called it a night.
Tuesday December 1st
Birthday day! Started off with the traditional coffee on the balcony. Any time I'm in a hotel, I end up using the in-room coffee situation.
Followed up with breakfast outside, then picked the oceanfront pool with the swim-up bar for the day.
Flowers and champagne delivered to the room for the birthday girl. Then a private beach dinner.
Wednesday December 2nd
After another unhealthy breakfast, we decided to motivate and grabbed a tandem kayak out to Prickly Pear island, right off the beach from our hotel. Packed our snorkels and camera, towels, and paddled our way out to our own private island.
Once we got there, we immediately regretted not bringing any water, but after hanging around for the morning one of the hotel workers ended up coming out with another couple and dropped off some beers and waters. The island was surrounded by a reef that had the best snorkeling of the trip. Under normal circumstances, this tiny place would draw a crowd of beach loungers and visitors.
For dinner we decided to venture out a little, seeing as how the island wasn’t under full lockdown as we thought it might be, and got dinner at a small French restaurant, Le Bistro, within walking distance of our hotel. One of the best meals I had on the island. And decorated for Christmas to boot.
Thursday December 3rd
Excursion day. While the plan for this whole trip was a COVID-type-stay-at-the-resort-the-whole-time plan, we were getting a little antsy to “get out”, being practically alone at our huge resort. Decided to check out the southern end of the island; the English Harbor, and the larger Falmouth Harbor. About a 40 minute drive through the island, it had a good mix of local shops, restaurants, and contrasting mansions and super yachts.
Galleon Beach was our first stop. Did some snorkeling along the shallow reef along the coastline. Didn't see any turtles, but some great sights with the shallow reef right next to the beach.
Lunchtime we made our way back to the harbor and picked up a quick sandwich at Skullduggery’s Cafe. The yachts parked in the Falmouth harbor were impressive. Had never seen anything this big before. Looked up the “Grace” as that was the largest motorized one sitting in front of us.
Walked over from the harbor to Pigeon Point beach, perfect for lounging and watching the sunset. Boats were coming and going, but it didn’t feel like a harbor at all since the natural beach and reefs were so nice. Saw some giant starfish near the reefs. This was probably our favorite beach after the ones at Hodges Bay. Super laid back and populated with yacht workers during their off hours. Picked up some great frozen drinks at Bumpkins beach bar for the sunset.
Grabbed another beer at Skullduggery’s before we grabbed dinner at a local chicken spot, Flatties Flame Grill. Checked out the boats at night, then headed home.
Friday December 4th
Beach morning with a rainbow, pool day, then a massage in the afternoon. What more can I say. Finished some books and drank more Antiguan rum. Final birthday dinner at an empty NaCl (the restaurant at Hodges Bay), but still an excellent meal.
Saturday December 5th
Already starting to miss the beach, so we spent the whole morning taking it all in before sadly making our way to the airport. All in all a great trip in these crazy COVID times. Looking forward to 2021 travel planning.