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First time in Antigua!

Birmingham, United...
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First time in Antigua!

Hi,

We are flying from Gatwick to Antigua with Virgin for a week in Sept and wanted to know if anyone has stayed at Banana House, Harbour View Estate, Jolly Harbour, Typically Tropical Villas or if anyone has flown with Virgin over to Antigua? We have booked Banana house and cannot wait to go, can anybody give me any advice about things you did in Jolly Harbour? Any restarants I can look at online? We are keen to see what we can do in our week. As well as eat out we will be visiting the supermarket to cook at the villa. We are then flying from Antigua onto Barbados where we stay in another villa, has anybody done the small flights across to another Island?

Any advice about Antigua would be much appreciated we are trying to work out a budget for the week but just wanted to make sure we dont miss anything big and at the moment it looks like both Antigua and Barbados seem very quiet with not many trips going on and we are more than happy to chill for the week but if there is anything that we should look into visiting please let me know :)

Also has anybody been in September so I can ask you what the weather was like? We know there might be rain but im hoping if there is then its small showers and that it is still sunny in Sept.

Thanks

Tiffany

Bromsgrove, United...
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1. Re: First time in Antigua!

Tiff - I have been to both Barbados (twice) and Antigua (twice)

Trips I'd do in Antigua - Shirley Heights on a Sunday - get there for 5 - 5.30 pm,grab some cold beer and watch the sun go down. Then get some BBQ lobster and some more beer and wait for the bands to start - a great night.

If time permits - do a circumnavigation of Antigua - book it off a beach vendor - if you are unsure refuise to pay a cash deposit and pay it all on a credit card at Dickenson Bay before you get on the boat.Trust me don't do this trip with a hangover!

Similarly, book your taxis from beach vendors etc.

Now to Barbados - Not sure which part of the island you are staying at but....Book a meal at The Cliff Restaurant on the west coast - a truly fantastic if expensive meal. We went for our wedding anniversary. BUT BOOK IN PLENTY OF TIME IT IS VERY POPULAR - you may even see a celeb or two - we just missed Catherine Zeta Jones and her grandad (sorry husband)

Hire a car and go to the East coast and head for Crane Beach....one word.....wow.

The weather - September can be dodgy but Antigua is one of the driest caribbean islands. Barbados is not. That said Mama nature decides!

Enjoy

Edited: 02 May 2012, 20:31
UK/Antigua
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for St. John's, Antigua
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2. Re: First time in Antigua!

Banana House is a nice villa just outside the gates of Jolly Harbour - it's well furnished and has a small pool of its own. set on a good size patio/bbq area. My only problem with these is there's no screening on the main doors out, so you need to be careful about keeping doors closed after dark if you want to keep bugs out of the villa.

Typically Tropical are a really excellent management co, run by a fab mother and daughter team, who live in Jolly themselves and are always incredibly helpful.

You don't need to go over to Dickenson to take any trips - most originate from Jolly Harbour - right on your doorstep. I'd happily recommend www.adventureantigua.com for tours - these can be booked online for a decent discount.

As for eating etc, within Jolly Harbour, as well as the very well stocked supermarket, pharmacy and some small shops, you have a number of places to eat and drink. The Crows Nest (by the main pool) is recently under new management, and I believe has improved a lot - with some entertainment and grill style food. Then, working along from that end of the complex, you have Mellinis for good everyday Italian - we like their pastas and catch of the day, West Point bar right on the marina frontage - good for Happy Hour, Peters Steakhouse - can't comment on this one as I was barred for years and haven't heard anything to make me bother going back. Starfish coffee bar does great breakfast and lunchtime snacks. Then the Dogwatch tavern, which is popular in the evening, especially with expats, and around the corner, heading into the Jolly Harbour North Finger, there's Al Porto - good pizzas with a two for one offer once a week, and other regular offers and events.

Just outside the main complex is the Greek restaurant at the old Castle hotel, which is supposed to be good. Outside the main Jolly gates is Miracles - local restaurant with good prices. Across the road and a few yards down is Sugar Ridge - two restaurants there - the Sugar Club, which does very good lunch and has excellent tapas and sushi in the evenings, with Ibiza style music - it's a cool spot. Up on the hill is their more expensive restaurant Carmichaels, with a fantastic view across the marina.

Heading south - and it's worth having a car for a few days - you come to Dennis restuarant and bar at Ffryes beach (both lunch and dinner), then for daytime, the local beach bar at Darkwood, followed by Gibsons (decent food), OJ's (also good) and Keyonna Beach Club (very good food). Further along the coast, but still before you reach Fig Tree drive and the 'rain forest' you pass Curtain Bluff, and reach Carlisle Bay, with two more very good restaurants - Indigo on the beach (grill) and East (Asian fusion).

The chain of beaches along this stretch of coast are just stunning. That said, Jolly Beach itself is one of the prettiest you could ask for - mile long stretch of wide beach with fantastic water colour - straight from a picture postcard.

If you're there on a Sunday, Shirley Heights is fun - especially if you combine it with a bit of sightseeing down at English Harbour - Nelson's Dockyard is well worth seeing, and there are a couple of gorgeous beaches with restaurants down there too.

Who are you flying down to Barbados with? Some of the local flights do stop at a couple of other islands on the way, but not always. It's certainly not a quick hop down, but is fun in its own way.

Hope that's covered a few things - feel free to ask anything else you like!

Celle, Germany
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3. Re: First time in Antigua!

The circumnavigation tour through http://www.adventureantigua.com is brilliant we did it in November, and will do it again when we go back (not sure when that will be but we will be going back)

We also did Shirley Heights, very enjoyable.

We also did a Helicoptor tour to Montserrat, which was amazing, and that left from Jolly Harbour.

The Canopy tour was brilliant fun, if your a little adventurous this is a must, something we would do again.

In fact all the trips we did were that good that we would do them all again.

You will have a fab time.

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: First time in Antigua!

As far as I'm concerned, Virgin are the best airline to fly to the Caribbean from the UK.

We almost always fly Virgin but recently flew to the states with BA - they weren't a patch on Virgin and so are back with them when we return to Antigua in December.

Try the Virgin Ahoy (Excellence boat) cruise - probably the best island navigation I have ever done. Stingray City is also good and Shirley Heights is a must.

Returned from Barbados in November - prefer Antigua but as above, if your budget allows, try The Cliff. Book now though if you want a waterside table.

The Cliff was recently voted as one of the top ten restraunts in the World and it's number obe as far as we're concerned. Amazing experience.

Edited: 04 May 2012, 09:19
Richmond, Virginia
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5. Re: First time in Antigua!

has anyone stayed at sandals in Antigua? If so what are the best rooms for the ocean view?

UK/Antigua
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6. Re: First time in Antigua!

Summie - you might be better off starting a new topic for this - it's liable to be missed by the sandals regulars hidden away in here.

Jersey City, New...
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7. Re: First time in Antigua!

Hi Tiffany,

Since you're coming such a long way, and even if you were traveling from Southern Florida, I'd recommend a day trip to Barbuda. It was the highlight of our trip to Antigua. Barbuda, Antigua's sister island has some of the most pristine, stunning beaches in the entire Caribbean and I've been on quite a few of them. The lovely late Princess Diana vacationed there at least 4 times and my favorite beach on Barbuda was named in her honor last year.

Here's the day trip I'd recommend:

http://www.tropicalad.com/excellence.html

In Barbados, I recommend spending at least part of a day in Bathsheba at Crane's beach. The beaches in St. James are also beautiful with much calmer water.

Happy Planning!

Birmingham, United...
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8. Re: First time in Antigua!

Hi Guys,

Thank you all for the great responses! So much good advice to look through :)

We will be arriving on a Saturday early afternoon so I am definitely hoping to make it over to Shirley Heights on the Sunday as we have read a lot about it and we should be settled in and ready to explore it sounds like a fantastic way to spend a Sunday!

We have been looking at the helicopter tours around the island and to monserrat as well as the trips to Barbuda but were undecided at the moment but I will be sifting through all of the information above and hopefully make a decision and get booking the trips soon :)

I read online that we could get a ferry to Barbuda from St. Johns when I read the following:

Travelling to Barbuda

The Antigua to Barbuda Ferry takes 1hr 30mins (check-in 1hr prior to departure) and costs EC$135 (approximately £28) return. The ferry departs at 8:30am on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from Heritage Quay, St. Johns and arrives at River Dock, Barbuda. The return service from Barbuda departs at 3:15pm. On Tuesdays and Fridays the service departs Antigua at 4:45pm and returns the following day from Barbuda at 6:30pm. Reservations can be made through Super Dave of D&J Forwarders 0n (001 268 464 9453)

It is a lot cheaper than I imagined, has anybody in the conversation visited Barbuda in this way?

We are flying with Liat over to Barbados but we made sure we booked a direct flight over because we saw that some of the flights stopped at other islands on the way, I think the flight time is around 1.5hrs which is fine and hopefully we wont be in the terminals too long.

In Barbados we are on the west coast, I think the area is paynes bay, ive been eyeing up the cliff restaurant so thanks for letting me know about that especially as its on the west coast so shouldnt be too far from us.

I am so excited even though we still have months to wait!

Thanks again for the advice!

Im sure I will be asking lots of questions in the next few months.

Birmingham, United...
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9. Re: First time in Antigua!

Hi, im back again and we have just received our keys for the villa and we leave in a week and a half so I am very excited!

We have booked The Luxury Safari Tour with Elmo during the start of our stay so hopefully this will help us decide where we want to visit the rest of the week.

Barbuda is on our list for one of our days but we haven't booked it yet, we figure that there will be plenty of chance to book this druing the week *fingers crossed*

Im looking forward to trying out all of the bars and restaurants and have been looking The Crows Nest, The Dogwatch Tavern and Al Porto which all look great.

I have a couple of questions about Sugar Ridge because this looks close to us. Do they have some sort of day pass for non-guests or can we just go in for lunch? I would love to use the facilities like the pool and wifi or go for lunch at sugar club because the view from the infinity pool looks stunning.

We are looking forward to finding Ffryes beach, Darkwood beach and Turners Beach, I dont think we will be hiring a car so we will be mainly relying on Taxis but have thought that these beaches might be walking distance, or wondered if you can walk along the beaches until you get to the next one but I guess I wont know until we get there.

Does anybody know how much a taxi to Shirley Heights will be from the Jolly Harbour area? We have a number to call for a taxi to get us from the airport so we will ask if he could possible take us to shirley heights bbq on Sunday too.

We are taking US$ as our spending money but may change some into EC when we are there but I thought we might be ok with just US because it seems to be accepted everywhere.

Is the weather bad at the moment? all im seeing online is rain/thunder/wind but can't imagine it being that awful..at least im hoping its not.

Birmingham, United...
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10. Re: First time in Antigua!

As well as taxis we dont mind getting buses. are there buses to the popular destinations on the island?