Travelling Article - Caribbean Christmas- Antigua

 The festive season is upon us, the countdown began the moment the first synthetic advent chocolate was consumed before 9am in The Actuarial Post Offices. All hell will be let loose now, the flood gates have been opened and it seems that they were only held together with mulled wine and mince pies in the first place. Travelling Actuary, Eve Hartridge, is no where to be seen - she has boarded a jet plane to Antigua with what looks suspiciously like a tin of "Quality Street" under her arm.
 The last three years have confirmed one thing for me, I will never dream of a white Christmas ever again. Bing Crosby may have crooned this nostalgic number one too many times for me and I have since made up my own version with new lyrics that I doubt will catch on. "I'm dreaming of a severe weather warning Christmas, insurance claim handlers listen, black ice glistens etc"- you get the idea. In November, I escaped one venue playing a certain festive favourite by Wham and sort solace in a coffee shop on Lombard Street. Imagine my horror when I was asked if I would like some "Eggnog" flavouring in my latte or even a mince pie? I do not seek out either of these ghastly items at any time of the year, so why now?
 Statistically speaking, the month of December has the least sunshine hours, including the shortest day of the year and an average temperature of 5 degrees celsius. If it wasn't for the holidays and the parties, I think most people would choose to escape this month, but tradition tells us otherwise. So, just once, I said "Bah Humbug" to Britain and headed to Antigua.
 Antigua is 14 miles long, 11 miles wide and has a beach for every day of the year, unless it's a leap year, then you'd need to return to your favourite. The nearby Island of Barbuda is around 30 miles away and there is a much smaller Island, Redondo which is a nature reserve. Rest and relaxation is what Antigua is all about, from the white sandy beaches, brilliant blue sea, rum cocktails, week long cricket tests and year round sunshine. There are plenty of palm trees swaying in the warm breeze and, thankfully, not a Christmas tree in sight.
 As seen in the December issue of Actuarial Post Magazine
 Where to stay
 Cocobay is an all inclusive resort consisting of 59 pastel coloured luxury cottages and four plantation houses. The resort has two blissful sandy beaches, resort pool, restaurant, shop and tranquil lounge area. All cottages feature private verandas with hammock and chairs, king size, Egyptian cotton clad beds, minibar, safe, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities and fantastic views of the surroundings. I would recommend booking a sea view pool cottage which includes a few extra details such as complimentary bath robes and additional cosmetics. The main draws of these cottages are the private plunge pools and stunning views of the sea, they are ideal if you want complete relaxation and privacy. There is no real need to leave Cocobay, however, book a sea view cottage and you don't actually need to see another soul! In keeping with the laid back vibe of Cocobay, none of the cottages have televisions or radios so pack plenty of books, or alternatively head to the resort lounge where a television is to be found along with a selection of world newspapers.
 Where to eat
 Cocobay is all inclusive and the food is extremely good. Breakfasts are superb with traditional English and Continental offerings along with lots of mouth watering fresh fruit. The lunch options vary from light bites including fresh salad and soup to more substantial meals with dessert choices. Dinner is three courses, the house wine is quite acceptable and for a small premium you are able to up-grade to the a la carte menu which includes fillet steak and whole lobster. The bar staff are full of jovial good humour, and, more importantly, they mix a fantastic pineapple daiquiri.
 If you head out of the resort be sure to book a table at Hamilton's Wine Bar and Bistro, located in Nelson's Dockyard in the English Harbour. Cuisine is traditional English gastropub, so a perfect pit-stop if you're missing a traditional festive roast. If you enjoy real Caribbean fayre, be sure to visit Hemingway's Caribbean Cafe, centrally located in St John's. Food is delicious, fresh and spicy, tuck into goat curry, salt-fish and other yummy local delights. If you are celebrating a special occasion, "Le Bistro" in Hodges Bay for arguably the island's best fine dining experience.
 What to do
 Antigua is the the perfect spot to re-stock on vitamin D and catch up on the pile of bedside books that you've been planning to read for ages. For a change of scenery enjoy a days shopping in St John's, where diamonds are incredibly good value and most stores offer a duty free option. The clear turquoise bays are perfect for snorkelling as the island is almost surrounded by coral reef which means that within a few feet of water colourful fish can be seen. It's worth booking a boat trip of some sort during your stay. A classic sailing yacht experience is perfect if you're hoping to see sea turtles or would like to learn the basics of sailing.
 Shirley Heights lookout is an old military base overlooking the English Harbour and the highest point on the Island. Every Sunday afternoon until late there is an unofficial party where locals and tourists gather for sundowners. This is such a fun event to attend, the barbecues and caribbean music create such a great atmosphere and the views of the harbour lit up at night-time are stunning. Most resorts publicise and offer transport to Shirley Heights on a Sunday. Cricket fans should visit the "Sir Viv Richards"ground, however, I was surprised how modest the Antiguans are about their greatest and arguably cricket's greatest one day international batsman of all time.
 Getting there
 Fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from Gatwick. The flight time is long and can be bumpy, you should also expect to touch down in Barbados for around an hour there and back. There was a slight delay on my flight out of the UK, however, with the fantastic Virgin Club House, I wouldn't have minded a delay of a few hours. The food, service and facilities at the club house are the perfect ingredients for a dream airport lounge.
 Follow Travelling Actuary Eve on Twitter! @AllaboutEvie

Back to Index

Similar News to this Story

Cheers to Boston
This month's Travelling Actuary takes us to the iconic Boston to experience New England at it’s very best.
Bourne to be wild
This month travelling Actuary Eve Hartridge gives us the lowdown on what is unmissable in Melbourne. Follow Eve on Twitter @allaboutevie
The Best of British
By Eve Hartridge connect with Eve at The last couple of years have certainly put the "great" into Great Britain.

Site Search

Exact   Any  

Latest Actuarial Jobs

Actuarial Login

 Jobseeker    Client
Reminder Logon

APA Sponsors

Actuarial Jobs & News Feeds

Jobs RSS News RSS


Be the first to contribute to our definitive actuarial reference forum. Built by actuaries for actuaries.