The ride to the small port, from which we would take a boat to “stingray city” was short and uneventful. Our driver/tour guide positively glowed with his love for Antigua as he talked about the island having “365 beaches, one for each day of the year”, and stopped along the way for us to be able to enjoy views such as this one:
The views were excellent, but paled a bit in comparison to the rest of our island experience. Meeting the stingrays, who turned out to be adorable and quite friendly, was the clear highlight of the day. “Stingray city” turned out to be a shallow, enclosed area about 30 minutes from the beach, where they “lure” the sting rays with food for the regular touristy visits. The sting rays don’t actually live there, but have learned to hang out there sometimes for the grub. There were several guides who showed us how to hold them and even feed them, while warning us that the only possible way to hurt yourself is to step on one of their barbs. We were taught to shuffle our feet without lifting them in order to prevent this. Once we got used to the rays rubbing against us as they passed (instead of shrieking in fright), we were reminded of how cats do the same thing to say hi, and promptly became quite comfortable. The guide we were speaking to introduced us to his stingray bestie, whom he’d named Lulu. We spent most of our time chilling and hanging out with Lulu and her friend, and we were sad about having to leave.
We were offered unlimited amounts of frozen daiquiri at the end of the excursion, which lessened the “sting” of leaving the adorable rays. 😛
Completely happy and slightly tipsy, we were picked up again by our tour guide and dropped off at the port. At this point we were starving, and immediately took a cab to the lovely Sheer Rocks restaurant at Cocobay Resort. Aptly named, this restaurant is perched on top of some rocks overlooking Cocobay’s private beach.
Cocobay was quiet, with only a few other young couples lounging about the pools surrounding the restaurant when we got there. I don’t have enough words to describe how lovely the place was, so luckily I took a few photos :P. I found myself wishing we could stay the night, and have longed to go back there several times this year. There was nobody else at the restaurant, and our server perfectly walked the line between paying attention to us when we needed her and leaving us alone while we were eating and enjoying the lovely view.
We ordered truffle mac & cheese, arancini (rice balls), and… I think gumbo? These were obviously not quite “local flavor” but nevertheless were very good.
And then we hit the beach, because how could you not after seeing that view. The fact that it was completely empty was just icing on top of the cake.
Someday, I’d love to go back and explore more of Antigua’s 365 beaches. Until then, I’ll always have lovely memories of friendly locals, gorgeous views, and a stingray named Lulu.