I didn’t realize how much I needed one of THESE trips. You know, the ones where for just a little bit, you forget that the world has gone to hell. Those ones where you feel like it is pre-Covid and you are just a regular traveler enjoying your vacation with your gal pals.
This vacation was good for my well-being. I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but I promise you I am not. These five days in Antigua rekindled a certain level of joy in me that I hadn’t felt on a trip since a global pandemic made everything shitty. Me, my two best friends and an island with pristine beaches, nice people and amazing food.
As I write this, we are already plotting on our return to this incredible island. I will be back.
Before The Trip
Let me first get into the ‘before’ shenanigans for this trip. Testing. Testing. Stupid apps that make no sense, you know, the typical traveling during Covid nonsense.
We needed three tests for this trip: one PCR for Antigua, one rapid-antigen the day before we flew to USA (our layover) plus a test for returning to Canada that would suffice for both countries. I did a full breakdown of the costs of these tests and also the whole trip, that you can find here.
On the Antiguan tourism website it did say they accepted rapid as well, but it had a note that those who chose to do rapid MAY be required to take a PCR at the airport and wait on results. No thanks. We did not want any part of that so we took the PCR’s here in Canada.
Moving on to this nonsense that is VeriFly. We were flying with American Airlines for this trip and received no less than a dozen emails letting us know to use this app for entry into the United States. Fine. We downloaded and did everything requested on the app.
1) it wouldn’t verify any of our damn vaccines and we had to do it manually
2) it wouldn’t verify some of our tests results either and we had to do that manually as well
3) it is connected somehow to your AA trip, so unless you fill it out and it actually accepts all the pieces, you cannot check in and will have to wait until you are at the counter in the airport
4) it was literally only useful for the damn attestation requirement, so you don’t have to print 7-pages of stuff
Totally useless app. With Canada we have to use the ArriveCan app, but it is it’s own entity and not tied to our actual flight tickets. Such a nuisance the VeriFly. If you are someone who likes to check-in and choose your seats at the 24-hr mark before your flight, good luck!
Monday, February 21st
This was an early morning. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:14am from Pearson to Miami International airport so we had to be at the airport at around 4am.
The lineup wasn’t too bad at Pearson, compared to my trip to Aruba and Jamaica, this was actually the least amount of time I had spent in line. I will also take this moment to remind you to get your NEXUS AS SOON AS YOU CAN APPLY. I know they are currently not accepting applications, but having that card got me through to the USA and returning back from USA super quick! When you are able to apply, get on it.
Can’t say there was anything of special mention between flying from Toronto to Miami to Antigua, just regular airport things and trying to get through as quickly as possible.
Please do see the incredible photos I caught on the flight between Miami and Antigua though. These may have been the most picturesque views during a flight EVER, and that is saying a lot since I have flown over the Maldives before.
We arrived in Antigua at about 3:30pm their time (1hr time difference from Toronto).
I had found a driver prior to coming to the island who picked us up and drove us from the airport to the AirBnB in the Jolly Harbour area of Antigua. During the ride we agreed he would pick us up later in the day and we’d go get something to eat/go out.
Now, this AirBnB. Wow. All the WOW.
Jim was there to greet us when we arrived, and shout out to Jim as he is the owner of Roti King. Make sure you go visit him there and his lovely daughter that works there as well.
The AirBnB link is here, you can go look at it yourself and book it if you are able to. It’s spectacular. We had 2 bedrooms (3 beds) and 2.5 bathrooms to ourselves, a full kitchen, big living room (with two sofas) and dining room as well as a balcony in each bedroom and a huge patio with BBQ leading into the harbour.
I loved this AirBnB. The area was really great too as we had a beach that was only a 3-minute walk away, a supermarket nearby and I have to say the AirBnB was also really well stocked with items we may need. Extra sheets, blankets, towels, beach towels, toilet paper and kitchen supplies. It was also really funny watching everyone in the area get around on golf carts. What kind of bougie shenanigans did we just step into?
After showering and getting settled in, our driver came to scoop us and we headed to — somewhere. We actually had no clue where we were going. Love that for us.
We ended up, I believe, driving to a more northern part of the island. Our driver had called ahead and ordered some fresh lobster to be made for us (and to think, I was saying the golf cart people were bougie).
Thirty Six 5 Beach Bar Grill was our destination.
Let me set the scene: it is pitch black outside, there is soca playing and a well-stocked bar with lobster on the menu. I don’t think I can think of a better Monday-night destination for myself.
The rare time for this trip I will say, the prices were actually fair (because this island is NOT cheap) – the lobster and the alcohol were very well worth the drive and the money spent. Also, Jafari, you make one HELL of a lobster dish. That was so damn delicious. Thank you for having us and treating us so nicely at your establishment.
I thought to myself in this moment that we were so lucky we had a chance to be out for our first night to enjoy dancing and eating good food – I had no idea our entire time in Antigua would be blessed like this.
Tuesday, February 22nd
Alright, our first FULL day here. Time to go explore.
We started the morning with a delicious breakfast from Sherry, love youuu. She walked over to the supermarket nearby to buy us sustenance to make it through the day. Behold, a complete breakfast.
After this marvelous meal, myself and Jummy went walking towards Jolly Beach to try and find chairs and an umbrella.
I will say everyone in our area, yes, the ones on golf carts, were really friendly walking through. There was always someone waving, saying hello and good morning. I think majority may have been retirees, and if so, you people have impeccable taste choosing Antigua OK?
We found beach chairs and an umbrella to settle in for the day. Jolly Beach was only a 3-minute walk from our AirBnB and it was beautiful and mostly empty, which is my favourite kind of beach. I hate crowded beaches, and here I think there may have been under 50 people total – for the WHOLE stretch of beach.
Remember that budget I had posted for this trip? Yeah so that ended up being a fail because I definitely went over the spending, but hear me out, seafood.
Antigua has some of the best seafood I have ever had. The range in items you can order that come from the sea and the spices they use to make them as well. How the hell was I supposed to stay within budget when there’s delicious food to be had and I want to drink as well? I am a mere mortal.
On Jolly Beach there’s this AWESOME beach bar called Sandra’s Beach Shop Bar and Grill. You can’t miss it as it has plenty of chairs to sit on and music blasting.
The liquor menu is extensive (get the rum punch) and so is the food menu. I went for the snapper and ooooooooooou it did not disappoint with a nice side of rice and potato salad. This moment was also when we learned Antiguans make some wicked good hot sauce. Every restaurant we ended up at during this trip had some different variation of a hot sauce and every single one knocked our sandals off.
After the meal we hung out some more on the beach, took no less than 3 naps as well.
I think the whole ‘golden hour’ time of day in Antigua is on a different level of beautiful. It doesn’t matter which beach you happen to be on at the time, I bet you’ll get the most incredible sunset.
So the beach day is done and more naps are taken before we decide to try and go out for the night. You know, get some food and go find a nice little party.
First, we knew we wanted to go visit Jim’s place in town tonight, Roti King. We needed to find a new driver that didn’t charge exorbitant prices, because we were going to beach, to restaurant and to parties. Always moving.
I was lucky to find Barry Taxi and Tour on TripAdvisor. Although we never got a chance to meet Barry himself, his drivers Nat and Devon? AWESOME. Their prices for transport were so much better and all I had to do was WhatsApp Barry and he would send someone to pick us up – always on time and always at a good price. If you go to Antigua and need a driver, this is definitely who you should be hitting up.
We were picked up and brought into St. John’s to go try out the roti we had heard such great reviews about. Sadly, because it was already 10pm some of the items we wanted were already out, but chicken roti was still daaaamn good. Also, the pepper sauce inside. Need.
It was the first time in my life I actually used a knife and fork to eat roti – please don’t judge me, I had a white shirt on and I was planning to go to a nightclub after. Some leniency, because I 10000% would have messed up my shirt.
Now, here are the fun parts I especially couldn’t wait to share about this trip.
At around 11pm we made our way to a bar we had seen the night before when we were driving home – called Dre Bar & Restaurant.
I don’t have any photos of this night, and I think you’ll understand after I tell you how this all unfolded as to why I have no photos.
This bar was fun as heck. On a Tuesday night? By midnight there was a nice crowd coming through. The drinks were well priced and they actually were checking everyone’s vaccination status as they entered. I loved it.
It wasn’t inside, it was more of an open-air establishment with chairs, tables and a centrally-located bar. So we were having an awesome time, drinking and dancing – suddenly a 60-year old American man approaches us and asks us if he can buy drinks. Sure, why not.
Long story short, this man (I won’t name him, because you never know who has a wife back home) ends up paying for most of our drinks and gets us a hookah as well. We found out he likes to visit Antigua frequently and that he works for Merrill Lynch. Yes, he is one of those Wall Street crook mans. I mean, I don’t know if HE actually is, but the second I heard Merrill Lynch I said oh yeah, you are one of those Wall Street bailout guys, we definitely should spend all your money.
During this time we made friends with a couple of locals as well, one of them ended up being a great guy named Josh. We love Josh! I hope he reads this and knows he was a great part of why this week was lovely as well. We would end up being out with him for the remainder of the time we were in Antigua – when we return he will likely be one of the first people we hit up. Great human being.
I think we finally left Dre’s at about 3am…….a great time was had. Met some amazing people and the story of Antigua really did end up being about how many amazing people we did meet. Incredibly nice locals that I know all three of us hope to be friends with for a very long time.
Perfect nights of partying? 2/2
Oh yeah, I got sunburned my first day on the beach (no surprise) so while slightly intoxicated Sherry grabbed something akin to a small machete and went to cut a piece of aloe for me from our neighbours front yard and then to rub on my skin. If that isn’t love I’m not sure I know what love is.
Wednesday, February 23rd
You know those people who say if you don’t wake up at 7am on vacation you’re missing out?
Well those people can go to hell. Because when you drink a lot and come home at 3:30am, there’s no way I’d be up at 7am (unless it is Carnival, or a flight to catch of course).
When we did finally decide to wake up, we called Barry and arranged to be driven to Ffryes Beach – pronounced FRIES.
There was so many beautiful pictures of this beach and do note there is a big Ffryes and a small Ffryes. We went to the bigger one.
Again, gorgeous and empty. I imagine an island with 365 beaches probably has people traveling to a new one daily as you want to see as many as you can.
We rented some beach chairs and an umbrella to relax for the day and got our hands on some coconuts as well for refreshment.
Like Jolly Beach, there was a great beach bar on Ffryes as well. I have seen it called two different names – Ffryes Beach Bar / Dennis Restaurant.
I don’t think you can even fathom what the lunch-time view from this place was like. Look at this.
This was our view from the restaurant. Spectacular.
And when you think it can’t possibly get any better – you see the words ‘curry conch’ on the menu.
We had been soooo excited to have some conch on this trip, and now we could have it curried, and overlooking Ffryes beach. This was literally heaven. Also, Dennis hot sauce? Oh my goodness. Make sure you have some with your food.
Following the meal we went back to relax on the beach. We had told our driver to come get us at 6:30pm because we wanted to be there for the sunset and it did not disappoint. Truly, nothing on this island disappointed. It just kept getting better, I don’t understand.
Same process as the day before, we went back to the AirBnB and took our respective naps before another night out. We had some idea of where we wanted to go party this evening, but nothing was set in stone. We did know that we wanted to take a walk up the street to a restaurant we had heard about called Miracles.
You can’t miss this place because it is super lit up at night!
As we were seated, we made another new friend, Mitchell. WE ALSO LOVE MITCHELL! He was the bartender and we got to talking with him and saying we were on vacation and he asked if we had plans and wanted to go out that night. Absolutely. New friend made again. Nice.
If you go to Miracles, you have to order the Macaroni Pie. I don’t care what else you get from the menu, that was some of the best macaroni pie I had ever tasted. Wow. This is a big deal, as my main course was a damn lobster roti okay? Who has ever heard of lobster roti? Not me. But I had it and it was really good, but damn, that mac pie. Glorious. Must have.
The meal was finished up and we hopped in the car with Mitchell and his friend and made our way to a sound clash. I did not see that coming.
It was one DJ vs another DJ in a place called Barefoot Restaurant Grill. I think it was super dark outside because I was convinced I was in a barn. Still can’t convince me otherwise.
This was my kind of party because I love dancehall music and they were clashing using that genre specifically. Also, whatever this Cocomania thing is? I think that was the name of the drink – I sure had a lot of that over the next two nights.
Our friend Josh also joined us at the sound clash and afterwards we all went back to Dre Bar again. This evening it wasn’t as busy so we walked down the street to a club that kind of just looked like a regular house but had really good soca music inside. Stayed there for a couple of minutes and then we all decided to go over to a place called The G Spot. We heard it was a strip club, and we all sure do love going to strip clubs.
It wasn’t exactly the best strip club I’ve ever been to, but the one girl on stage was trying her hardest. Kudos to her.
That was enough shenanigans for this evening, about 3am it was time to go home.
Party nights? 3/3
Thursday, February 24th
Here it was – the final day.
I knew today would be the best day because I told you it just kept getting better, so I believed this night would be a wicked finish.
First things first though, we had to do our Lamp Test Kits this morning. We had brought these with us from Canada so we could test Thursday and it would be OK for both our USA layover and arrival in Canada. We did it in the morning and it took about maybe 15 minutes total between logging on to the Switch website, getting a healthcare professional and administering the test to ourselves. After that it was just a matter of waiting 30 minutes to receive the e-mail saying you were negative.
All negative, wonderful news.
We had our driver come get us and take us to Dickenson Bay today. On arrival there we walked through some closed off areas that looked like they may be private property, and ended up at the Siboney Beach Club.
This place was NICEEEE. We immediately rented a cabana instead of beach chairs and set up shop for the day. The beach club and the beach itself were awesome. There was this random phone booth for photos, there was a bar and restaurant and really nice staff available for anything you might need.
In the distance – we did see something we really wanted to do today. A floating tiki bar! This was the Kon Tiki Bar and Grill and our goal for the day was to make our way over there for a drink. We did not want to take the canoe over, we wanted to swim over to it. I had brought my waterproof bag just for this moment, so I could bring my phone and some money to the bar.
We swam it. We did that shit. It was awesome.
I loved the floating bar and the experience is something I’d recommend all of you doing. Sherry and I swam there and back, but I’m going to throw slight shade at Jummy for taking the canoe back. However, safety first. If you can’t do the swim, just take the canoe.
Naturally, all that swimming and drinking made us hungry so we ordered some food from the bar at Siboney Beach Club and listen, the fish tacos and calamari? Make sure you get those and a side of hot sauce to dip your fries in. Great relaxing-on-the-beach food.
There was a lot of selfies and photos taken on this day – especially because of that phone booth in front of our cabana. But for me, personally, it was the photos as the sun set on Dickenson Bay that were my favourite. As I mentioned earlier, any part of this island at ‘golden hour’ was magical.
Beach day done. Said goodbye to the nice white sand and went back to the AirBnB to relax before our final night out.
We agreed to meet Mitchell and Josh, they both said Thursday evenings were the beginning to the weekend so I knew tonight we would be partying plenty.
The girls and I got ready and walked over to a pub called De Underdog. Now, I know it doesn’t look like much, but if you need cheap and simple food that also tastes delicious? You should make your way here as well. I don’t know what they use to make the chicken wrap I had but wow! Also, Jummy said her quesadilla was delicious and Sherry’s pasta dish was as well. Simple, not pricey and yummy. Can’t lose.
Mitchell came to pick us up and we went to destination #1 for the evening: Creek City.
WHAT A VIBEEEEE. I really liked this place as the music was awesome and everyone was dancing. The drinks were well priced and the place was huge. Lots of space to dance and move around.
After this we went back to Dre Bar again, can you tell we really liked this place? Yeah this time it was PACKED. I think it may have been 1am at the time and there was no space to move around, the party was in full swing.
For our final destination of the night we went to a place called Diamond Edge. This place had barely anyone in it, but the music and drinks? Yes. All yes.
Myself, Jummy, Sherry, Mitchell and Josh (along with some other friends we made) were having the most fun in this place. It was the perfect ending to this wonderful week.
Thank you again, to Mitchell and Josh for also driving us home in the crazy ass rain that began at 5am. The roads in Antigua are pretty tight and are kind of like Dufferin St. here in Toronto for the texture of road. (if you live here, you know exactly what I mean) I don’t know what kind of brave souls rent cars there, but I am grateful that we knew locals who knew their way around to drive us home and get us there safely.
Friday, February 25th
Yeah so we got back to our AirBnB as the sun began coming up on the island. Hell of a night.
We said our goodbye’s to the guys and told them we’d 100% be coming back again one day.
This was time for a nice quick nap before the flight and then we also finished packing our bags. Our flight wasn’t until 3pm so we had lots of time. The experience at Antigua’s airport on arrival and departure was very smooth I must say. The staff there are efficient and I felt the process went quickly. Unfortunately the damn American Airlines VeriFly nonsense was failing us again so the checking-in was a bit of a pain in the ass. But, I guess not everything could be perfect.
Mitchell ended up surprising us at the airport with some jerk pork and jerk chicken to take with us on the plane, again, amazed at the hospitality and kindness here. Felt even more blessed at this moment.
I raided the duty free of course, making sure I’d take some rum home with me as well as some snacks. If you like Johnnie Walker, I should mention here that the airport in Antigua has a really nice bar for you.
Our flight from Antigua to Miami was on time and everything went well. We had a 3hr layover in Miami and ate some food before hopping on the plane home. Of course, when we landed we just HAD TO BE the randomly chosen people for the additional arrival testing at Pearson. We all tested negative. But it’s still a pain in the ass and I am happy that starting Feb 28th this may ease up a little bit.
I really hope to return to Antigua. I will return to Antigua.
Although I did have a wonderful experience in Aruba and Jamaica – at one of those dancing wasn’t allowed yet and the second one there was a 10pm curfew.
This trip to Antigua was the first time since Covid began that I felt like normal travel had resumed. We got to meet new people, eat at restaurants, party, party and more party. I think it’s a real testament to how good the vaccination numbers are on the island and the precautions they take (checking for proof of vaccine at some parties, asking for you to wash hands / sanitize as you enter etc.) and also with us three all having our booster shots. I mean over the five days we were in multiple parties where masks weren’t worn by everyone and there was tight spaces and we all tested negative TWICE.
That’s really amazing.
One final thank you to Jafari, Jim, Devon, Nat, Barry, Mitchell and Josh. I think the best trips I’ve ever been on have always had something to do with how my experiences were with the locals. It wasn’t just these gentlemen that made Antigua awesome, it was really damn near every person we met there.
For me, Antigua joins the ranks of Aruba, Cuba, Turkey and St. Maarten for having the nicest locals I’ve had the pleasure to meet. This island is amazing and I think if you can get the money together to go visit it, go visit.
Thank you for having us Antigua.
*(If you’d like to see videos from the trip, make your way over to my Instagram and click on the Antigua highlights!)*
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