Tropical drinks, spacious suites, and private pools overlooking the azure waters of Antigua were just what I needed to escape winter storm Jonas. A quick flight on JetBlue delivered us to the paradise that is Antigua, boasting 365 stunning beaches and lush vistas. At Blue Waters Resort, an all-inclusive, luxury resort located on 17 acres in the northernmost part of the island, my friends and I enjoyed a week of sunshine and exceptional service. The sprawling resort spans modern Caribbean-infused single rooms to villas catering to groups and wedding parties.
On the day we arrived, we learned we’d be staying at the Rock Cottage, a secluded villa of the resort that stood on an outcropping jutting into Soldiers Bay. We selected our spacious rooms without realizing we were vacationing in the very same spaces where the likes of Stephen Colbert and Lionel Richie called home during their vacations. The 360 degree views from the cottage were simply incredible. Pelicans perched patiently atop trees hovering above tranquil beach coves and diving in to swoop their meals; gentle waves rolled onto buttery sand as the palms swayed in the wind. The famous “Hugo” tree, a distinctive palm tree bent during Hurricane Hugo, stretched horizontally towards the sea.
Upon entering the lobby’s Pelican Bar, there was a sense of serenity that washed over us, with a cool breeze from the glittering sea and blue skies that peeked through rounded arches. Winding paths through verdant gardens draped with bougainvillea and hibiscus beckoned to onsite dining, recreation, and accommodations. In the bar, the white décor accentuated by warm wood furnishings was both soothing and elegant. We were immediately drawn to the giant floor-to-ceiling mahogany bar, with shelves brimming full of premium liquor and sparkling glasses; we weren’t disappointed to make this our first stop.
At Blue Waters, they take their drinks seriously, crafting a unique cocktail for every meal. Whether it’s a Rumtini alongside brunch or Coconut Crush splashed with local rum paired with dinner, you’re sure to indulge in some of the best tropical drinks, made with fresh fruit and meticulous attention. The rest of the bars sprinkled around the property are named after popular bartenders like Carolyn, whose specialty Mango Martini served at Carolyn’s Beach Bar is so delicious, you may never want to leave the resort!
After a refreshing drink, we headed to lunch at the open air Palm Restaurant to fill our bellies and start our day. The buffet is superbly curated by Head Chef Ed Boncich, who presents everything from fresh fish and Mexican specialties to American favorites to appeal to your desires. Boncich hand selects the groceries at the farmers market and utilizes the freshest ingredients in cuisine served at the three on-site gourmet restaurants.
At the sophisticated Cove Restaurant, nestled away from the main resort, you’ll find the best of both Caribbean and French cuisine. Sitting atop a cliff overlooking the aqua-green waters, the candle-lit hall was simply divine. Once inside, we were enthralled by the sea views and the enchanting atmosphere. The first-class service was second only to the delectable dinner. My personal favorites were the butternut arancini, fried risotto cakes, and the Cove’s signature mahi-mahi, topped off with tiramisu crepes a la mode, featuring coconut ice cream.
Being surrounded by water is a surefire way to get you motivated to try some sports. A few of my friends opted to swim in the warm sea, while two of us rented kayaks. At Blue Waters, only non-motorized boats are allowed, avoiding unnecessary noise pollution. Together, we rowed with glee over tranquil waters, savoring the scenic beauty of the coves that hug the resort. As the sunshine turned the water a beautiful shade of jade, and we glided gently over the calm sea, we knew we’d be getting on the kayak again. In the distance, the resort’s wedding crew prepared for a private celebration at the gazebo on the water, where a happy couple would later exchange vows amidst the stunning vistas of sea, sand, and swaying palms.
That afternoon, we hired the resort’s Monterey Blue boat to take us to Bird Island, a tiny islet home to endangered species such as brown pelicans, West Indian whistling ducks, red-billed tropicbirds, and the Antiguan racer snake. The two and a half hour trip, led by Captain Owen and his buddy Dave, was worth it from the second we stepped onboard the boat from Rock Cottage. With gusting winds and waves crashing as the boat sped, we felt energized for our little adventure. As we slowed down and anchored the vessel, we were presented with clear waters and gentle waves rolling onto a powdery-soft beach. The birds hid in the trees and the snakes were nowhere to be found, but there was plenty of natural beauty. As we went on a short walk, Dave prepared a picnic on the shore, with yucca nachos, avocado dip, and fortifying drinks. On the voyage back, we sipped champagne and watched the sunset, content after a lovely day amongst nature.
The next morning, we ventured off property with the help of Tropical Adventures. The half-day jeep safari brought us to some of the popular sights of the island, including Nelson’s Dockyard (English Harbor) and the Shirley Heights lookout for a quintessential Antigua panorama of sailboats, sea and rolling hills. Later, we headed past the village of Willikies on the Atlantic side to admire the stunning Devil’s Bridge, a limestone arch at the head of Indian Creek, with blow-holes and spouting surf. We ended our trip with an outdoor lunch at Betty’s Hope, one of the earliest sugar plantations on the island. The government now uses it as an open air museum, and visitors can witness the two stone sugar mills and walk the grounds. On the way back to the resort, we passed some of the 112 sugar mill towers that still dot the countryside.
Spa treatments were just what we needed later that day. A short walk from the Pelican Bar led us to the bougainvillea covered roof of the entrance to the Spa. The deep blue of the ocean seemed more vibrant in contrast to the splash of pink from the blooming flowers. A gentle wind provided a soothing lullaby, but soon we were whisked into private rooms for our treatments. While some received rejuvenating massages, other opted for body therapies, including the exotic coconut rub and milk wrap, which uses a warmed Elemis skin nourishing milk bath.
The Rock Cottage buzzed that night with servers dressed as cowboys and cowgirls as a steel band livened up the crowd. Beach themed decor was accented with cutouts of tipis, torches were lit along the paths, tropical drinks were overflowing, and a buffet dinner of sizzling lobster fajitas specially made by the head chef were served. On our last night, we wanted to go all out with a big party. Then, we heard our flight was cancelled due to the storm back home. Our initial disappointment was short-lived. Seeing the full moon shine on the tranquil waters with a rum drink in my hand, I was comforted by the chance to spend a few more days in paradise.
To book your stay, visit www.bluewaters.net.