Has anyone caught Ainsley Harriot’s new cookery show? If not, let me fill you in. Each week, Uncle Ainsley island-hops around the Caribbean cooking dishes inspired by the countries most popular delicacies. Last week he visited Antigua, and he had me reminiscing about our last holiday to the island that boasts 365 beaches.
I’ve only ever been to two countries in the Caribbean; Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua. Technically that’s three islands, but two countries because Trinidad and Tobago are separate islands. Either way, those are the only Caribbean countries I have visited, although, I do have a few others on my bucket list.
I was about six or seven during my first trip to the Caribbean. I was lucky enough to go with my grandmother as we went to visit her mother and family. My grandmother was born in Antigua, however, her family moved to Trinidad. Her parents settled there and had more children, and so my grandmothers’ siblings have Trinidadian nationality, along with my mother.
My Grandparents moved to England with my mum, worked, saved up, and bought a house. My aunt and uncle were born here, and the rest is history. Since retiring, my grandmother bought a house in Antigua and has the pleasure of avoiding the UK winter months by living in Antigua for half of the year, every year.
Flights are pretty expensive during the school holidays, so we’ve only taken the boys a couple of times. To feel as though we’ve got our money’s worth, we’ve gone during the six weeks holidays and stayed the majority of the time. Of course, my grandparents don’t mind extending their stay if we’re coming to visit.
2020 marks our 10th wedding anniversary and my grandmothers 80th birthday, and so I have proposed a double celebration. Where better to celebrate than in Antigua? Not only is it a great excuse, but we would love a do-over. The last time we visited, Zigs was little so he doesn’t remember a thing and we didn’t hire a car as we were being money conscious (read: broke). This time around I would like an epic luxury experience and possibly stay in a resort – I need air conditioning! We definitely need to hire a car, as this time around I want to be able to see more of the island.
While I ask the universe to acknowledge my request and give gratitude for the times we have spent in Antigua so far, I’m going to share my favourite Antiguan hotspots.
Out of all 365 beaches, Turner’s Beach is my no.1. I’m probably biased since the Turners are my grandmothers cousins, so we’re related! Either way, it’s a beautiful beach and the bar serves the best food and Rum Punch.
Sugar Ridge Resort Antigua
I’ve had the pleasure of dining at this luxury hotel for the evening, yes, you can book tables without having to stay at the resort! We chose to dine at Carmichael’s, which sits at the highest point in Sugar Ridge. To get there, you’ll be escorted by a driver in a golf cart to get you to the top. Beware, although the view is absolutely breathtaking, it is very high and not for the faint-hearted. “Sunday Chill” is a unique poolside dining experience pairing music with fine dining. Ask for a private gazebo and you can get in the mood and enjoy a candlelit dinner.
Annual Seafood Festival
A family event which started back in 2009, hosting live music, competitions and of course great-tasting seafood. Urlings’ locals get together and cook a plethora of West Indian cuisine including fresh crabs, conches, fish and lobsters. If you love seafood, this isn’t one to be missed. The festival is in August, for dates, keep an eye out on Antigua-Barbuda.com.
Antigua Carnival is a yearly celebration of music and dance which starts at the end of July to the first Tuesday in August. The most important day is j’ouvert, which kicks starts the occasion in the early hours of the morning. Whether you catch it on your way home after a night out, or my personal choice, an early rise followed with a 3am Rum Punch, it’s not one to be missed. Brass and steel pans perform while revellers dance in brightly-adorned costumes. Day time proceedings are child-friendly and extremely popular.
There are so many more things to do and see in Antigua, and I feel like 2020 could be the one.