We traveled from 3/21-3/29 with our 2 kids (9&8) from Los Angeles.
I have traveled to Caribbean on average of 2-3/year for past 30 years. I don't why it took so long going back to Antigua. Our trip was originally planned for last year at the same time frame, but I had to cancel at the last moment, since my dad passed away as I was leaving for the airport.
Overall we had a good time and the kids were happy.
AA manage to delay us both ways. Thus we ended up behind tons of planes on Saturday afternoon. I found the people much more friendly that my last visit. :-) especially the immigration lady that helped us with our exhausted kids.
We do not like all inclusive places, and usually stay at the higher end resorts. We have always rented a car, explore the islands, try all different beaches. We usually eat breakfast at our own resort, lunches at different beach bars and try to eat dinner at the 7-8 nicest restaurants around the island. ( we are foodies).
When I was organizing our trip, I had a hard time finding a place for our liking. They were either adults only, extremely remote, all inclusive or all inclusive during the high season or not on the beach. The first resort that caught my eye was Carlisle Bay, but they were only offering all inclusive at the time for this time of year. I finally came across Tamarind Hills where we ended up staying on a 3 BR beach front town home with its own dip in swimming pool with views of sunset and Montserrat. This is the new development between the Ffryes and Darkwood beach. They have 6 beach front units completed and working on the rest of the resort. I looked at their plans while I was there, it would be a great place when all completed ( I have stayed at Cap Maison , the property he developed in St. Lucia and is very nice). However the pace seemed very slow, probably because they need more injection of investor cash. The units very gorgeous but they were few hiccups with property management. I think this is because currently they have only few units and they are not fully dedicated to the rental management. ( washer never worked, No hot water first 3 days and after that never got hot water on the master Loft, Lack of TVs in any of the bedroom. We hardly watch any TV, but huge Plasma installation brackets was attached to the wall without any TV. There was a TV in Family room). Overall accommodation was very nice, near the best beaches. However the area was pretty dead and nothing to do.
The west coast beaches were great. We played on JH, Vally church, Ffryes , Darkwood and Turner beaches. We liked our lunch at Jacqui O the best. The kids also liked the pizza at the Nest and I liked the goat curry at Dennis. I was very surprise at lack of visibility at the JH and Vally church beaches. (less than 3 inches. Make sure you don't loose anything, because you will never find it. My daughter lost her mask. And while standing at the same spot, I searched for it for an hour using my own mask without any lock. People have said it is 2/2 fine sand, but I don't buy that. Many places such as Grace Bay have finer sands and still the visibility is 6-10 feet without any goggles. Even Palm beach in Aruba with tons of motor sports has better visibility. It is still a mystery to me.)
We found the island not as build up as some the other Caribbean islands. We shopped at Epicurean location at JH and the main one. We found the main one had much better selection.
The weather was nice the first 6 days. But apparently there was a front going through the Caribbean starting Thursday 3/27 and the last 2 days were very windy with high surf and scattered rain
What we did not like about the island was mainly the road system. The roads were not bad, no big pothole or scary drives. Majority of islands have a road the circumnavigates the island and few that crisscross. I found in Antigua I was not able to keep driving around the coast with the exception of the corridor between Darkwood and Carlisle Bay. You had to keep going to the interior and the tracking back down. The second day we tried going all the way around the island. It took us a long time going from Darkwood to English Harbor and then to Half moon, at which time since we have spent a good chunk of the day, we gave up exploring and deiced to keep the west side corridor for the rest of our trip. Even going from Darkwood to Dickinson's Bay you somewhat have to go to the interior through St John and then to Dickinson's Bay. ( we did not care for downtown St. John at all.). What also made it worse was the political rallies that they had on the street at night time ( I think there is election coming up soon.). It took us 90 minutes to get from Carlisle Bay to Darkwood. Retrospectively it now make sense to why the island has become mainly all inclusive. It takes a long time driving in the evening trying to get to nice dining establishments.
We ended up have dinner at Indigo twice ( regular night and Sunday Caribbean BBQ night), East, Sheer Rocks, Carmichael's, La Bussola and Melini's . We had originally wanted to go to Cathrine's Cafe and Hideout instead of Melini's and the second visit to Indigo, but we ended deciding against it because of the drive. Sheer Rock was every one favorite. The kids also loved the pizza at La Bussola ( so did we). Overall we found the food in Antigua good, but not great. But that might be because we missed some of the better places 2/2 to the drive. I will write separate reviews of restaurants and Tamarind Hills.
We had rented from Avis, Because I found the best rate. ( Discounted rate from AA). The car was an older slightly beat up Nissan compact SUV, which worked well and served it purpose. Although they have an office at the airport. we and another couple had to wait 40 minutes after our paper work was then for them to bring the car. That was the last thing I wanted to do after a long trip. At checkout they took the key to check the car and then came back and said everything is fine and handed me copies of our portfolio. I then notice that they had charged me more. I went to their office, no one was there and called them from their phone. They gave me a story that they have charged me their standard rate, but when the charges goes through , I should see the reflected AA discount. I still have not seen their charges come through my CC, so I can not comment on their truthfulness.
In summary, we enjoyed our holiday. We found people friendly and the beaches and Tamarind hills very nice. But retrospectively because of the setup, I wish we had stayed at Carlisle Bay, since we ended eating 3/7 dinners there and was much more happening. We probably wont be back for a while, because of the setup mainly the long drives for explorations and to nice restaurants, which does not suit us well.Edited: 06 April 2014, 04:37