My girlfriend and I visited Hawksbill from the 1st to 14th of November this year. It was our first experience of the Caribbean, so we didn't know quite what to expect. I'd read the reviews on tripadvisor, and so had a few ideas, but kept an open mind.
When we arrived at the taxi drop-off at Hawksbill, two staff members who were chatting in the lobby came out and helped us carry our bags down the steps. They weren't porters, just cooks and cleaners I think, but it was greatly appreciated as it was pouring with rain and had been a long day!
We were greeted by a very friendly receptionist, given a welcome drink and cool damp flannel, and taken to our room, a Garden Bungalow near the far end of the resort.
To be honest, our very first thoughts on our room were along the lines of "oh". The bed was massive, but everything else was pretty basic. To sum up the room in one sentence, it was like living in a beach hut for two weeks!
This feeling though soon left us, and by our second day we were quite at home. Having visited St. Johns and seen other bits of the island, it felt very genuine. The room was cleaned daily, to quite a high standard.
At this point I feel I should mention that we were in Antigua for my sisters wedding, and had a 1 night stay in the Cove Suites at Blue Waters hotel, on the day of the wedding. We enjoyed our stay at Blue waters, but were ever so glad to be back at Hawksbill the next day!
The $700 a night suite at Blue Waters was very luxurious, but the whole resort felt like it could have been a 5* resort anywhere in the world, not just the Caribbean. Hawksbill on the other hand is a lot more spacious (I felt a little claustrophobic at Blue waters as everything is packed in), and more "Caribbean".
Another point is AirCon. Our suite had airconditioning. We found it was actually a lot more comfortable in our Garden Bungalow with the ceiling fan, as going from an air-con room to "outside Antigua" was pretty uncomfortable. My advice would be to avoid Air-con if you can and to just acclimatise with the environment. It makes going out in the day so much more bearable!
It was also very quiet when we first arrived, though the resort got a little busier (not much) towards the end of our visit (Mid-November). We liked this, it was quite nice that with so few guests around, you got to know other guests, if you wanted to. This worked in our favour when we ended up sharing a taxi with another couple for a tour of the island, saving about 75%!!!
FOOD AND DRINK
The food may not be fine dining at Hawksbill, but to be fair, it wasn't that much different than that offered at Blue Waters, except there was more choice. We both absolutely loved everything we were served, and portions were more than adequate. For most meals it was a buffet so you could eat as much as you liked.
The drinks were good, and on-par with Blue waters again. The only difference being that you got a cherry in the top of your Pina-colada at Blue Waters! On a few occasions the lunch-time bar ran out of one or two spirits, meaning a few cocktails were off the menu, but as there was so much to choose from, we were both very happy to use the opportunity to try something new.
We only really swam and snorkelled in the main beach (Seagrapes?) where the watersports are. The first beach as you get to the hotel looks nice, but is some distance from where we were staying. It is also very popular with the residents of the Five Islands town, and often had locals swimming at the end of the beach.
Seagrapes was an excellent beach. Nice and long, not very rocky on the shore. It does drop off quite quickly to about 1-1.5m depth so be warned if you're short, have children, or can't swim. One thing to note is that the visibility in the water can vary quite a lot from day to day, depending on the waves/wind. On the last few days of our trip I think it might have almost been crystal clear. However for about 1 week the waves were breaking on the beach and reefs, and you could only see about 1-2m in front of you. My advice, if you want to snorkel, is to take a dip every day and see what the conditions are like, and if it's clear, snorkel as much as you can as it might be rubbish the next day! There is plenty to see in the bay, I saw a Moray eel, large flounder, and an Octopus, you just have to hunt around a bit, as largely the reef is badly damaged by the hurricanes.
Next you have the Honeymoon cove beach, which is quite small and secluded, we only walked past this to get to the "Clothing optional" Eden beach, which is by far the nicest beach. It's a shame that it's clothing optional, as it both restricts being able to photograph such a beautiful location, as well as potentially putting some people off visiting the beach. It's very quiet, very long, and I wished we'd snorkelled along it if we had had the time and conditions allowed.
All I can say is that pretty much all the staff were as friendly as humanly possible. At first it felt a bit weird, as it's rare to find such friendly people in the UK. However having toured around the island, and been greeted by absolute strangers, we realised it's just Antigua in general, where everyone is happy and friendly!
Make sure you get "Off", or "Go" insect repellant. Use the "Vape" electronic repellent provided in your room. Having read the instructions in the supermarket (The one in our room had no information on what it did or how to use it, so we had to use our brains), these are best used with windows etc closed, fans off, for 10 mins (so the vapour can circulate without being blown out the windows).
Watersports. Sean, the main watersports guy, is really nice. However he can be a bit pushy to try and get you to agree, and then pay for, one of the non-free watersports. In our case we got slightly pressured into being taken out to a local wreck. My advice is to try and avoid paying up front for anything, and agree to pay on the day if you can. We paid, but agreed to a slot later in the week when he was running behind. Sadly later in the week the conditions were worse. If we could have paid on the day, we could have chosen not to do the trip, as money is non-refundable.
Overall I can't recommend Hawksbill enough. It was very quiet and had a lovely atmosphere. We were there two weeks, which was quite long as there's not that much to do, but for just chilling out, it's an ideal spot.
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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