Antigua – the land of sea and sun

When it comes to Caribbean islands, I have visited Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Playa del Carmen in Mexico. Antigua is a bit less known but can easily match all famous Caribbean destinations. A beautiful and lush nature, stunning beaches, friendly and easy going people, very low crime rate and a diversity of vacation packages for different tastes and wallets, should make every wanderlust want to visit Antigua as soon as possible.

Fast facts

The country is officially named Antigua and Barbuda, after two major islands which are also the only ones inhabited (apart from around 50 smaller ones which surround them). The capital St John’s lies in Antigua and the country has an estimated population of around 90.000 inhabitants. Antigua and Barbuda was under the British rule until 1981, that’s why English is the official language, however understanding their local dialect is sometimes quite a challenge.

The official currency is East Caribbean Dollar, but US dollars are accepted almost everywhere. Of course, if you are willing to accept “daily mood” exchange rates 😉 The prices in more prestigious locations are sometimes crazy high but you can find some decent stores and places to eat as well. Imported products are expensive, and so is coffee. We never paid less than $4.5 for a small cappuccino (and by small, I mean really small, like Italian espresso).

Perfect climate year round

Antigua lies in the south-east part of Caribbean which makes it attractive to visit all year round. June, July and August are the hottest months, while the temperature in January falls down to an average of 25°C – so still warm enough for those who want to escape from cold continental winters. Winter months are the driest, but at the same time quite windy, which makes them attractive for kiters and surfers. If you want a crystal clear and waveless water, the locals recommend to visit Antigua in the spring, while the autumn months are more wet. And last but not the least, you will be happy to hear that the sea temperature never falls under 26°C 🙂

Getting there

If you arrive from Europe, the easiest answer to how to get to Antigua lies in finding direct flights from Frankfurt or London (probably those are not the only options, but I am from Slovenia so Frankfurt was the best choice). Don’t be surprised if you land in Dominican republic first, because airlines sometimes make small stopovers to pick up or drop down other passengers. The other option of visiting Antigua is on a cruise, which means you will anchor in St Jonh’s and get a few hours to spend on the island. In my opinion cruise is not a best option for getting to know Antigua – especially since St John’s isn’t much of a sight for sore eyes. If you are offered some trips by the ship staff – take them!

Where to stay

If you want a hassle free vacation, you can chose from quite a few all-inclusive hotels, but none of them are cheap. The closest “mid budget” option is Jolly Beach Resort & Spa – the biggest resort in Antigua, which is located on one of the most popular beaches in the West coast. We decided to rent a car for the whole vacation, so we were considering different options of accommodation, but in the end we chose Jolly Beach because of the convenient location and comfort. If your wallet is deep enough, you have some very fancy “adult only” options, but I advise you to check their locations first – they are not always directly on the beach and sometimes it will take you quite a share of walking to finally get that swim in the ocean.

If you are on a tight budget and don’t care so much for the comfort (after all you probably won’t come to Antigua to lie in a hotel room, right?), you can chose from reasonably priced and quite decent options for around $60 – 80 (price per double bedroom). You can search for the hotels and bungalows in Antigua on – click here to get a 15€ discount for your next booking. And if you want to make your own meals, you can visit the supermarket in Jolly Harbour marina – they have a very good offer of fresh and healthy foods, as well as some cosmetics, supplements and medicines. Other stores throughout the island are mostly stocked with cans and snacks – and can be quite pricey, depending on the location.

Getting around

The best way to see and feel the island is by hiring a car and taking it easy. And I mean really easy, because renting a car in Antigua is anything but a piece of cake. You will find most of the major car rental offices in the Airport, and the prices are not crazy high – although I do recommend you to book your car in advance, especially during peak periods in order to avoid any alst minute surprises.

The hard part comes after you get your car keys. First of all, they drive on the left (British rule, remember?) and if you are not an experienced driver, you should think twice about doing it… The second problem are the roads, which are pretty much all in a very bad shape. Sometimes the halls in them are so big that you can easily get a flat tire, lose your wheel cover… or the wheel itself.

For those who are not so adventurous, the safest and easiest way to explore the island is to book a trip in your hotel or with some local agency. You probably won’t see as much as you would if you were your own boss, nevertheless I strongly advise you to get your butt off that sunbed and experience life beyond your beer-beach routine 😉

Exploring Antigua

The total area of Antigua is about 280 square kilometers, with about 21 km distance from west to east coast, which makes the island perfect to explore within a few days. You will soon discover that Antigua offers so much more than “just” fabulous beaches!

First of all, Antigua is full of small forts and lookouts, which were once used by the British military to defend the island in the event of attacks (though none of them ever really happened). Today these forts are more or less in ruins, however they make great attractions to visit – especially since most of them are free to see. Fort Barrington was my favorite, together with Shirley Heights lookout, which is a must for everyone who wants to see the picture postcard view of Antigua.

If you are into hiking, Antigua offers some nice trails, with the Lookout Trail being one of the most popular ones. It can either be approached from the top of Shirley Heights lookout, or from the bottom – just up the road from Freeman’s Bay, which is a bit more challenging. If you are thinking of visiting the island’s highest point Mount Obama, I suggest you read my post about 5 things you shouldn’t do in Antigua, and decide for yourself if you want to do it or not.

The capital St John’s is not so typical Caribbean town – I don’t know exactly why but I didn’t like it at all. Maybe because we couldn’t find any decent coffee spot (which in my book means Italian cappuccino with a sea view) or perhaps because there simply aren’t many things to see there in terms of architecture or history. St John’s cathedral is a beauty, but that’s about it. If you want to shop some souvenirs or feel the capital’s pulse, take a few hours and enjoy the tranquility, but if you are an experienced traveler, you might as well skip it, as there are many other more interesting spots waiting for you. To see my proposal of 5 things to see in Antigua, click here

I saved the beach part for last as this is something that deserves its own chapter. Antigua has 365 beaches, one for each day in the year. And don’t worry, not all of them are the same – there is something for every taste. If you are, like me, fond of white sandy beaches and turquoise ocean, you definitely need to visit Valley Church beach and Darkwood beach, which are very close to the already mentioned Jolly beach. Then there is a very popular and thus a bit more crowded (if the word crowd can at all be used in Antigua) Long Bay beach with colorful wooden cottages, used by beach vendors for selling souvenirs and drinks.

If you want more privacy you can escape to Hermitage bay, Hawksbill bay or Galley bay (they are all semi-private, or at least parts of them are for hotel guests only), and if you want to enjoy the long walks along the ocean, go for Halfmoon or Rendezvous bay. Kiters and surfers will find their waves on Jabberwock beach, while yachts and boat lovers will enjoy the views in Galleon and Pigeon beach in English Harbour.

Antigua is indeed a perfect little paradise, with very reasonable prices for travelers who are ready to do some homework, and on the other hand a luxury retreat for those who want to enjoy private Caribbean vacation in exclusive places. If you are still not convinced of its beauty, check my Facebook photo album. For me it was love at first sight. And I just might visit Antigua again soon!

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5 things to see in Antigua

Despite the fact that this lovely Caribbean island is relatively small and is mostly known for its gorgeous beaches, Antigua offers much more – thanks to its history and diversity of the area. Even if you are visiting the island for only a week, I suggest you take one of the trips, offered by local agencies, or – even better – hire a car and explore the island by yourself. Besides the beaches, I can suggest you these 5 things to see in Antigua:

  • Fort Barrington

This small fort is located on the top of the hill, rising above the beautiful Deep bay. You can only access it on foot and it will take you about 20 minutes of average walk in flip flops to reach the top. For an easier hike rather wear some sneakers, as it does get slippery from time to time. On the top of you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views: from white sandy Deep bay beach and 50 shades of blue Caribbean sea, across lush valleys and hills, all the way to the capital St John’s which you will recognize by large cruise ships, anchored in the marina. Don’t forget a bottle of water!

  • Shirley Heights

The most typical picture postcard from Antigua is taken from Shirley Heights, overlooking the English Harbour – a beautiful bay full of white boats and yachts, surrounded with small bays and sandy beaches. For this view you’ll need to drive to the Shirley Heights National park (8$ per person entrance fee), which is well worth visiting. The park itself is actually a plateau with an old fort which also offers some great south-coast views, ending with Shirley Heights Lookout on the west side. Just before the lookout you will find a small property where you can see a 15-minute movie about Antigua’s history (they play it in a complete dark and in a very chilled space, which is quite refreshing) – the movie is included in the fee, and so is the entrance to a smaller park called Nelson’s Dockyard, which lies in the bay below.

  • Stingray City

Stingray City is a property which offers boat trips to the ocean, where you can swim with stingrays. It is quite popular tourist activity so I recommend you to book it in advance (they only do 3 trips per day) and ask if they are expecting any crowds (cruise ships can bring masses of people, which is really a pain in the ass). The trip costs 50$ per person and it includes a welcome drink, short educative introduction and snorkeling mask. Try not to bring too much stuff with you as you will have to leave it in the car (take only a camera and perhaps a towel). The boat ride takes about 10 minutes, and it stops in the middle of the ocean, above a small turquoise surface where stingrays hang out. You will be escorted by the trained guides who catch them and offer you opportunities to take pictures. It is quite nice, but not as adrenaline as you might think from the tourist reviews 😉

  • Devil’s Bridge

Thousands of years of angry ocean hitting the rocky coast of eastern Antigua have made this natural bridge an exciting sightseeing spot. Devil’s Bridge is located near Indian Town Point, east of Willikies. The area around the arch features several naturally made  blowholes  which shoot up water with the help of the waves from Atlantic Ocean. The bridge itself doesn’t have any real function, but it does offer quite an adrenalin walk, with high chances of getting you wet.

  • Jolly Harbour

Jolly Harbour is a very popular place because of it’s long white sandy beach and the biggest all-inclusive resort in Antigua. Jolly Harbour marina offers some very fine places for dining, shopping and watching sunsets. If you are craving for some fresh groceries, you will be happy to hear that marina includes a quite large supermarket (I believe it is the only one in the island), called Epicurean Fine Foods & Pharmacy, which offers a variety of junk and healthy foods, dairy products, as well as some basic medicines and cosmetics. Very handy if you are visiting Antigua on a budget!

Click here for more information about my Antigua experience, check my Facebook photo album and some tips, about what you shouldn’t do in there 😉

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Hotel Review: Tor Hotel Geneve (Geneva, Switzerland)

I have visited Geneva for the third year in a row due to Vitafoods food supplements and ingredients trade show where our company regularly exhibits. The accommodations in Geneva are expensive as hell so we usually stayed in France, which is actually just a few miles away across the border. This year we decided it was about time we saw Geneva lake so I booked Tor Hotel Geneve, which was kind of reasonably priced and very well rated.


Tor Hotel Geneve is located in the very heart of the city, just 5 minutes’ walk away from Cornavin railway station and Geneva lake is just around the corner. Since all the streets in the near vicinity look alike the easiest way to find it from a distance is to spot the English Church of the Holy Trinity which is located literally across the street from the hotel.

As a hotel guest you are entitled to receive a complimentary Geneva Transport Card, which allows you to use the whole public transportation system of Geneva for free. The card includes buses, trams, trains and yellow taxi-boats. This is actually the only thing I like about Geneva.


Tor Hotel Geneve is situated in an old building, and the whole interior kind of fits in this oldish atmosphere. Rooms are quite spacious – I stayed in a double room with a nice view facing the church. I was never bothered by the noise from street or the church bell (I am not sure if it ever rings), however my room was opposite of the kitchen so I was woken up every morning by a strong smell of coffee. Unfortunately the coffee doesn’t cook itself so I had to cover my ears with a pillow in order to avoid the noise from the kitchen. If I wasn’t so tired, I would have definitely asked to be transferred to another room but the pillow somehow provided a good solution to get me back to sleep. Speaking of sleeping, the bed was very good and pillows were the softest ever. Honestly, this was the first time I actually considered stealing one.

Bathroom was very basic, but again just what you need for a short stay. TV was working perfect and I got to watch Real Madrid entering the finals of Champions League against Atletico. That was probably one of the reasons I didn’t complain about the noise from the kitchen in the morning 😉 Wi-fi was on the contrary not working very well – it completely failed one night but they somehow fixed it next day. Not sure if that was accidentally or comes as a common practice…

Reception and staff

Reception is located on the 3rd floor, which is kind of unusual and inconvenient, especially since you don’t know that in the beginning. I mean is it really so hard to put a sign “reception in the 3rd floor” to avoid the confusion?

Staff at the reception is kind and speaks rather good English (I have to say that since Geneva lies in the French speaking part of Switzerland… and you know how French people are with foreign languages 😛 ). The space is comfy with red sofas and almost makes you feel like you are in someone’s living room.

What is also kind of strange is the fact that they serve breakfast in your room. You just tell the receptionist what you’d like to have at the check in and when you’d like it. But having breakfast served in your room is actually very convenient since you don’t have to get dressed and put your face on until you are completely ready. The choice is very basic (boiled egg (one!), banana, yogurt, 2 toasts, croissant, marmalade and a small slice of cheese, accompanied with coffee/tea and an orange juice). If you order everything you will be fine.

Anda’s rate: 7 of 10

Bottom line: If you consider the cost of accommodation in Geneva, especially in peak periods, Tor Hotel Geneve is a very reasonable pick. You can reach Palexpo (the exhibition venue at the Airport) with the bus in about 20 minutes – for free. However, for this price (we paid over 200€ per night!) I could get an all inclusive room in a 4 star hotel with sea view in almost any of Caribbean destinations. But this is Switzerland and for some strange reason people are still paying the big bucks to stay there.

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5 things you shouldn’t do in Antigua

This lovely Caribbean island has stolen my heart and it will stay in my memory forever. Especially since it was one of those spontaneous vacations, where we decided to hire a car and just go with the flow. The island is so small that you don’t need any special preparations, however if you have limited time for exploring, these tips will help you save some time and money. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t do in Antigua:

1. Don’t hire a car in Antigua if you are not an experienced driver

I am not kidding, driving on Antigua’s roads is far from normal. First of all they drive on the left side (British legacy), which can be quite challenging in those few roundabouts… or anywhere else for that matter, if you haven’t done it before. Secondly, the roads are in a very bad shape throughout the entire island and somewhere the holes are so big (and unmarked!), you can easily get a flat tire or loose a wheel cap. Been there, done that 😀 So if you are a driving rookie, perhaps you should consider taking a trip with some local agency.

2. Don’t go to Mount Obama

Antigua offers much more than “just” great beaches, white sand and crystal clear waters. The island is quite diverse and most of its hills offer great views of turquoise waters and green landscape. There is however one hill which is not worth climbing at all. Mount Obama (402 meters) is the highest point of Antigua and we thought it would be a good opportunity to move our butts and make some fantastic photos. It turned out that the road which leads to the top is not only in a very bad shape, but can actually be quite dangerous. It is pretty steep and we almost crashed into a local, coming down the road with his SUV full of crops. We parked our car somewhere in the middle and walked up for about 30 minutes. And guess what?

There is literally nothing to see when you come to the top. Just some kind of transmitter, surrounded by a closed fence and high trees. I was totally wet (humidity up there is very high) and exhausted, so you can imagine I did my share of cursing. We did find a very narrow path along the fence, hoping it would lead to a place with a view. Again, nothing. Just dirty shoes and a lot of scratched legs from the thorns. Ok, there was a glimpse of the coast between the trees, but it wasn’t even close to what we had hoped for. So until someone decides to give this point a bit of humanity (the name itself is not enough), I advise you to skip it.

3. Don’t try to find a free parking space in St John’s

If you hired a car, you will probably want to see St John’s, the island’s capital. Just do yourself a favor and find a paid parking space. There are quite a few and the best option is to find one which offers a fixed day rate (around 10$-12$ for the whole day). The roads are poor and narrow, and you will only end up cruising around, wasting time and money. If you think your time is free, the gas is definitely not 😉

4. Don’t search for a cheap coffee

Coffee in Antigua is for some reason considered as gold. And the saddest part is that we couldn’t find any place with decent European cappuccino… you know that creamy milk foam which keeps your spoon standing up? I mean I don’t mind paying extra money for a good coffee in a unique location but it really pisses me off when I receive brown hot water with some sorry excuse for a foam. The closest we got was somewhere in Antigua Yacht Club Marina where they served Julius Meinl. The price was 5 $ per cup, but at least they had free wi-fi. Which pretty much makes up for anything, at least in my book 🙂

5. Don’t go to Jacqui O’s

At first I wanted to write just “don’t go to Jacqui O’s for coffee”. But after I received the owner’s comment to my review on Tripadvisor I decided to publish it and let you decide where you spend your money:

My review: “We stopped at Jacqui O’s because of the “Tripadvisor badge” sign, and the attractive location on the beach. We asked the waiter if they can make a decent cappuchino, when the owner came and ensured us they can. What we got was a disgusting piece of dark water and a spit of milk. For 12$. We felt robbed, but we didn’t want to complain, we just paid and left after 5 minutes. The beach is great though and probably coca cola and vodka do taste normally… *sarcasm on* (ok I admit, this was a bit nasty from my side 🙂 )

The owner’s response: “Your coffee was $4.47USD. We are not a Starbucks. Our coffee is made by a machine supplied by Nespresso, ‘What else?’ George Clooney likes it. Complaints to Nestle, Lausanne. Switzerland. Furthermore, your bullying question, directed at Ophia, one of the sweetest members of my staff, infuriated me. You are lucky I didn’t make your Cappuccino (that is the correct spelling by the way). FYI, sarcasm is considered by an idiom as defining ‘the lowest form of wit’”

Oh, Lance… you should know better. And by the way, we never talked to Ophia – we were served by a guy.

Anyway, if you read this post carefully, you probably figured out there isn’t much to worry about in Antigua. If I couldn’t find anything more to complain about, except from bad coffee and free parking space… I guess you can let your hair down and just enjoy this Carribean pearl.

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Hotel review: Daios Luxury Living (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Business, weekend or vacation – Greece is always a good idea. I visited Thessaloniki on business in the end of April for two days and I had a pleasure of staying at Daios Luxury Living hotel. A perfect mix of sunny weather, great food and good company will keep this visit in my very pleasant memory for a long time. And perhaps this hotel review will help you to put Thessaloniki on your bucket list.


Daios Luxury Living is a 5 star hotel in the heart of Thessaloniki. It is located on the coastal road with a direct access to the sea promenade, between the famous White Tower and Aristotelous Square. The hotel has a parking garage, which is very convenient since parking in Thessaloniki can be a headache.

Numerous restaurants and bars are literally steps away, while shops with clothes from luxury to mid-budget brands are just around the corner. Shopping addicts will be happy to hear that hotel guest are entitled to exclusive discounts at various premium outlets and the hotel also offers transfers to some attractive shopping destinations. The transfer from Makedonia Airport takes around 20 minutes by car.


I had a privilege of staying in the executive seaview room on the 4th floor . The room was very spacious, furnished in the combination of modern and rustic style. It had everything I needed for my comfort, even a complimentary minibar, which was a pitty since I was there alone. I mean who wants to get drunk before going to bed, right? 😉

The bathroom was very stylish, partly decorated in wood, with separated bathtub and shower. The only thing I resent is that they put a scales inside it, which is really not fair considering all that delicious Greek food hunting you down around every corner, every minute of the day.

The ultimate luxury of Daios Luxury Living is the balcony which offers a fantastic view of the dark blue sea with ships sailing around the Thessaloniki port. The fact that the hotel is facing the South West side of Thessaloniki makes it even better because you get to enjoy the breathtaking Greek sunsets over and over again. You also get to watch people walking along the promenade, all the way to the White Tower which glows in different sunlight effects throughout the day.


Daios Luxury Living hotel offers 2 restaurants – Vitrina restaurant is for hotel guests only, while Daios Bar & Restaurant is facing the promenade and serves fine Mediterranean food. As a huge fan of room service I ordered my dinner there once and it was beyond delicious. As was the cappuccino they serve in the bar. Compliments to the chef and the barman!

Anda’s rate: 9 from 10

Bottom line: Perhaps I am too much under the impression of the fantastic sea view and hotel food, so take this review with a small reservation – but I can honestly say that my stay in Daios Luxury Living was a perfect 10. So why am I giving it a 9? Because I believe a 5 star hotel deserves a fitness and a rooftop pool, especially in Thessaloniki city center where there are no spots for swimming. Nevertheless if you are in town for business and can afford to be spoiled by your wallet, make sure you stay here because I hardly doubt there is any better option on such a fantastic location.

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