St. Mary’s, Antigua

Photo: Carlisle Bay Resort
Photo: Carlisle Bay Resort

Is it time for your spring break yet? Over the last month, your colleagues have taken time off for their children’s school vacations, your intern went away with her roommates after midterms, while your younger sister seems to be living on the islands between all the bachelorette parties she has to attend. It’s your turn for some sunshine.

Luckily, Antigua is just a quick—and nonstop—flight from New York. The early wake-up call is worth it when you land outside of St. John’s before noon. After walking across the tarmac, move swiftly through the immigration line, bypass the luggage carousel since you managed to pack everything in your carry-on bag, get waved through customs, and grab a taxi outside of the arrival area. The car moves through narrow streets and by candy colored houses as it heads south toward St. Mary’s. Catch glimpses of sheltered bays and the azure water out the right-hand window. Then arrive at Carlisle Bay in time for a late lunch.

The resort is stunning. Hammocks hang between palm trees. Wooden tables and chairs sit in the sand. Sun loungers are strategically placed around partly shaded areas. Low gray-and-white buildings with plantation-style shutters hug a white-sand beach. Fuchsia bougainvillea tumbles off their balconies. While everything faces the calm Caribbean Sea, of course.

Photo: Carlisle Bay Resort
Photo: Carlisle Bay Resort

Despite wanting to head directly to the beach, you’re starving, so stop for a quick Italian lunch at Ottimo! by the pool. A shared antipasti platter and a pizza from the wood-burning oven make up for missing breakfast earlier. It gives you time to decompress and get your bearings. You decide to claim a spot near the jetty on the far side of the beach, where it seems quieter, when you finish eating. Not that the resort is noisy or crazy by any means. A few couples are strolling hand-in-hand along the beach. More sit at the Coconut Grove with cocktails in their hands. While a single guy, whose wife is probably getting a pedicure at the Salon, is pulling a paddleboard into the water. This is the perfect place to relax.

After spending the rest of the afternoon swimming, reading, and even napping, you realize you’re the last ones on the beach. You probably would be even if it weren’t your first day, since you want to soak up every moment of sunshine possible. Move to the Jetty Bar for a fruity cocktail, watch a solitary yacht glide across the water, and gaze at a nearly perfect sunset. Return to your ocean suite to soak in your oversized bathtub. Follow the wonderful smells to East, one of the best restaurants on the entire island. The sexy dining room has tall carved doors, dark wood, and magenta chairs. It’s hard to choose between the Japanese, Thai, and Indonesian dishes. Ultimately, you decide on a soft-shell crab maki roll, fish cakes with homemade chili jam, and ikan sambal ulek (a grilled mahi-mahi dish). Then end the evening with one more cocktail at the elegant Pavilion Bar. You are on spring break, after all.

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