If I were to pick a place to come back to in the Caribbean at some point for a long, relaxing stay, it would probably be Antigua (pronounced an-tee-ga by most of the natives we ran into). At this point on our cruise, we’d already had an amazing few days, and we weren’t expecting to be that much more wowed by anything else. So it was a complete surprise that Antigua turned out to be our favorite stop. In fact, I couldn’t help but think about this excursion in trepidation beforehand. We’d booked the “stingray sensation” excursion for Antigua, and, not being as comfortable in nature (especially in the ocean) as I’d like to be, I was a bit scared of being in close contact with these strange denizens of the sea. But, I’d had a wonderful time stand up paddleboarding despite my earlier hesitation, so I wasn’t about to rob myself of another interesting experience. And, as I expected, I didn’t regret having the courage and resolve to push through with it.


*Boring photography note you can skip: I’m going to go ahead and make the same observation as you probably would after reading this entry: my pictures look overly-saturated to the point of being cartoonish. It’s a combination of having only my GoPro and iPhone at hand, being in a hurry to take photos so as not to cut too much into my “fun time”, and having a different “style guide” (as web designers would say) for posting on Instagram, which many of these photos were created for. I considered re-processing all of them, but I think they’re representative of how I felt this entire cruise experience was: vivid, colorful, and exciting.

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. đŸ˜›

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.


Sheer Rocks Restaurant

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.



Facebook Comments