We are many-time repeat customers who have been going to Hawksbill for 20+ years. Nothing much has changed over the years, which is what we love about it. It still has the folksy feeling of an old-fashioned Caribbean resort – beautiful uncrowded beaches, friendly people, quiet and peaceful atmosphere, and pleasantly modest accommodations. Having returned so many times, the review details that follow are an update of my previous reviews, so please excuse me if you have read some of these comments before.
Hawksbill’s best feature is the four beautiful beaches (please see attached pictures). The beaches are never crowded, as the resort has only 111 rooms that share about 1.25km (0.8 miles) of beach. As you can see from my pictures, we had all four of the beaches pretty much to ourselves. The resort was about half-full while we were there, but even when it has been completely full we still have had no trouble finding a secluded section of beach for some peace and quiet. If you use Royal Palm (1st) Beach, Honeymoon Cove (3rd) beach, or the end part of Eden (4th) beach, you will likely have it all to yourself.
Sea Grapes (2nd) Beach is the center of Hawksbill activity- it is located near the beach bar and the open air restaurant where lunch is served. It also has the water sports shack (kayaks, sail boats, paddle boats, snorkel gear). Sea Grapes beach is the easiest beach for swimming and access, especially nice if you are elderly or have small children. Both Sea Grapes beach and Honeymoon Cove beach have reef protection and tend to be calmer than Royal Palm and Eden which are a little more exposed to wave action and have a few more rocks.
Eden beach is the clothing optional beach; the only one on Antigua. It is the most secluded of the four Hawksbill beaches and is also the longest. Eden is uncrowded and there is plenty of room to spread out. If you always wanted to try a nude beach but were afraid to, then this is the beach for you. For a private skinny dip you can easily find a stretch of sand where you can be by yourself. This beach is discretely separated from the other three beaches (the entrance is a short walk from the main resort area, past honeymoon cove, through a gate and around a small bend) – so if you don’t go looking for it, then you will never even be aware that it is there. If you do go there you will find it sparsely populated by well-behaved mostly middle-aged couples.
The guest rooms are spread out along the first three beaches. Our favorites are the “beach club” rooms, especially the cottages at Honeymoon Cove. Those at Honeymoon Cove are the newest rooms (built in the 1990s) and the most private. The Honeymoon Cove rooms are on a rock outcropping between Sea Grapes and Honeymoon Cove beaches (the view on HC side is of sunset but lacks afternoon shade; the view on sea grapes side is limited, but shady in the afternoon.) The other beach club rooms are on Royal Palm beach, which we also like. The Royal Palm beach rooms are duplex cabins spread out along the very quiet and beautiful Royal Palm beach. All of the beach club rooms (Royal Palm beach or Honeymoon Cove) have A/C, so choose these if you need A/C. All the rest of the room types have ceiling fans.
The other rooms are near Sea Grapes beach and are centrally located if you want to be near the beach bar, small pool, lunch, and water sports. These include a long two-story building (superior sea view) with about three dozen rooms (large rooms with louvers front and back for a good cross breeze) and the rest are cottages having 4 to 6 guest rooms each front and back (superior sea view bungalows and garden bungalows). The sea view bungalows are directly on Sea Grapes beach, just steps from the water. The garden bungalows are one row back (or on the back side of front row), but still very close to the beach.
There is also a great house (multiple bedrooms, wrap around porch) situated on the rock outcropping between Royal Palm and Sea Grapes beaches if you want to accommodate a large group, or just want the extra luxury.
Over the years we have stayed in all of the room types. We have stayed frequently in the beach club rooms on both Royal Palm beach and Honeymoon Cove. We have also stayed on previous visits in the superior sea view and bungalows on Sea Grapes beach, as well as the great house, and we were always happy with our rooms.
Meals (breakfast and dinner) are served in the main open-air dining room on the hill overlooking the Royal Palm and Sea Grapes beaches, and the old sugar mill. Lunch and tea are served at the beach side restaurant (and bar) on Sea Grapes beach.
The all-inclusive price includes a full breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner and all the drinks you can handle.
We have been very happy with the food. Do not expect haute cuisine - the menu is simple and unpretentious. But the food is well prepared, and uses a lot of fresh locally-grown ingredients. Breakfast includes eggs and omelets made to order while you watch. Lunch at the beach-side grill includes chicken, hamburger, and fish, with salads, soup, as well as a made to order menu of sandwiches, pasta, and other entrees. There is tea-time beach-side with little sandwiches and cakes. Dinner alternates between nice buffets and table service from a menu. Our favorite buffet had a carving station with delicious roast beef and horseradish-infused gravy. This was perfectly accompanied by Yorkshire pudding (i.e., pop-overs to Americans). The menu nights always have a nicely prepared meat or poultry, fish, and vegetarian selection plus soup, choice of appetizer, and dessert served by the very proficient Hawksbill waitresses. We had lamb, red snapper, and duck on various nights. Chef Sean also made some great soups; we especially loved the pumpkin soup, and the cream of chicken with orange and ginger.
The house wine served with dinner is enjoyable; our favorite was an excellent Merlot from Argentina. The servers won’t let your glass dry out unless you insist. Barkeepers Jeremine, Millie, and Christabelle also have a wide selection of tropical drinks in their repertoire. Premium cocktails are included in the all-inclusive price. You only pay extra if you want something special such as a vintage wine or something from the ala cart menu (e.g., lobster or crepes suzette).
There is low-key entertainment some nights at dinner. We enjoyed Omar and the Axis Band, who sang old favorites and had everybody dancing. The Halcyon steel band came one night and also had everyone up dancing. Then there is the Rio band, which is a special treat – these are a group of old men that wander from table to table playing homemade Antiguan instruments. There are also nightclubs and casinos in town, a short taxi ride away, if you need more action.
The staff at Hawksbill is the wonderful. Everyone is very friendly. From our very first visit to our many return visits, they have always worked very hard to make sure that we were happy. If you have any issues, please talk to the duty manager at reception and they will bend over backwards to fix it. It may seem obvious, but make sure to say please and thank you, and treat the staff politely, and you will get great service. But hey, if you like being ignored, then go ahead and order the staff around like their colonialist masters of yesteryear, and see what happens.
Some reviewers have talked about the Hawksbill resort being “tired” or in “need of renovation.” Here is the story on that. The resort is well maintained and it has beautiful beaches and landscaping. The rooms are basic, but they are comfortable and clean. However, Rex has not put a lot of money into remodeling or new building lately. The reason for this is that the Hawksbill’s 50-year lease expired in 2010. Rex has a renewal option, but the negotiations with the Antiguan family that owns the property have dragged out for a while longer than expected. While this results in uncertainty for Rex Resorts and the Hawksbill employees, it is good news for the guests in the sense that nothing changes, and the resort’s old fashioned Caribbean charm has been preserved. There are not many more rooms than what Hawksbill had 50 years ago. Hence, there’s an uncommonly low density of rooms per unit of beach–which is why you can always find a remote section of beach for yourself.
Because of these factors and the economy, the prices at Hawksbill have been a bargain in recent years. If you don’t believe me then get on Expedia and check out the resort right next door, Galley Bay, which was rebuilt after the 1998 hurricane and where the rooms go for twice the rate at Hawksbill. For our money we love the folksy downhome feel of the Hawksbill, and the beaches are the best on the island. In recent years we have been going twice a year to take advantage of the low prices, while they last. The scuttlebutt is that the lease issues will be resolved within the next year, so get the bargain prices while you can.
Once we arrive we spend very little extra money except for a few tee-shirts, sun dresses, or shell jewelry, which we buy from Aloma and Sharon, who set up shop outside breakfast. There's also a small shop with nice merchandise in the ruins of the old sugar mill. You will never be bothered by vendors on the beach at Hawksbill. For extra cost, you can book day trips and excursions via the Hawksbill activity coordinator. Over the years my family has tried the sunset horseback rides, catamaran tours, snorkel trips, and island taxi tour. US dollars are taken everywhere on the island.
Tipping- you will never be solicited for a tip. With all inclusive pricing it is not expected. However, we think that giving some small tips to the servers and maid as you go are well worth it, especially since you will likely be the exception.
Guest ages range from young honeymooners to old married couples. The average guest age leans towards an older crowd because many are long-time repeat customers. Although mostly couples, there are always some solo travelers and families as well. Most guests are from the UK, with a few Europeans, and Americans (US and Canada) mixed in to keep it interesting. Wherever you come from, you will meet friendly people and make new friends, as we have.
Children are welcome here, but are not abundant. The times that we have brought small children, they kept entertained catching the small lizards and finding hermit crabs, when they weren’t playing on the beach. There is a small pool that is perfect for the kids right next to the beach bar and lunch area.
There is only one TV on the property (with satellite feed - so you can catch up on the news or sporting events). There is wireless internet in the lobby and it reaches some of the rooms that are not too far away. There is also a pay-per use internet terminal.
Other reviewers sometimes have complained of mosquitoes and sandflies; however, they did not bother us. We have learned to stay off of the grass or sand at sunset, which is when they are active. But some people seem to be more sensitive, so to be safe, pack some repellant for your legs. We usually leave the beach right before sunset and catch the sunset from the beach bar or from our porch. Also keep your room door closed during these times, and you will be fine. The bugs also seem to vary depending on how wet the weather has been prior to your arrival. They do fog the grass several times per week. Vitamin B1 also seems to work – we take 50mg per day starting one week before arrival.
We usually go to Hawksbill in June and again in November/December. In June the water was very calm. November and December there’s always rolling waves. Days are a little longer and a little warmer in June. Other than that, the resort is much the same either time. The weather has been kind to us on almost all of our trips whether it be June or November. This time it was sunny all week. But even the few trips when it was a little rainy, it usually passed quickly.
Feel free to Email me if you have questions. I have an aerial view photo that the management once gave me, which shows the layout of the grounds. I can’t post it because it is a commercial photo. But if you are interested send me your direct email address and I will email it back to you.
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- Also Known As:
- Hawksbill By Rex Hotel St. John`s
- Hawksbill Antigua
- Hawksbill By Rex Antigua
- Hawksbill Hotel Antigua
- Hawksbill Beach Resort
- Hawksbill Resort Antigua
- Hawksbill By Rex Resorts Antigua/Saint John Parish