Just returned from 3 weeks in 1 of the villas where, for the 1st week, I was on my own, the 2nd joined by Dorothy, a friend of mine, who returned to England to work after a week and, in turn, a further friend Ron flew out for the final week.
I always think the villas at JH represent excellent value for money, 2 bed 2 bathroom at a decent price and with excellent access to a good beach, particularly if you book a South Finger property.
For the first 2 days didn't do much except rent a bike from Paradise Rentals in JH and use this to travel between the beaches on the southwest, Jolly Beach, Valley Church, Ffryes, Darkwood & Turners. An easy way to see them and you feel as though you are getting some exercise in between the beach bars!
Then on the Thursday I was up early to catch the 6.30am LIAT flight to Dominica. All on time until the Captain announced 'We have a light on that should be off' and we had to troop back into VC Bird whilst they prepared another plane. Eventually left about 45 minutes left for the flight over via Guadeloupe. I was picked up at Melville Hall airport and driven across the island to Laudat, the drive alone is worthwhile for the spectacular scenery. At Laudat I was met by Naghie (not sure about the spelling) who was to guide me on the hike to the Boiling Lake. This was strenuous, particularly as Naghie said we're late, lets push on. I realised he was about half my age, then found out he does this 5 to 6 hour round trip 3 or 4 times a week and, when he's on his own, sometimes runs it back in less than an hour. We quickly reverted to my pace! It's a fantastic hike and well worth doing. It's also very strange when you start to see what looks like mist in the distance but, in reality, is the steam rising from the lake. I hadn't quite known what to expect when I saw the lake but amazed to see the centre bubbling away like a saucepan on the boil. Then the hike back to Titou gorge where I was met by Iris from Cocoa Cottages, where I was due to stay overnight. Many thanks to Naghie who was an excellent, and patient, guide. Back at the Cottages it was straight to bed until breakfast the next morning! Then lounged around for a couple of hours until being driven back to Melville Hall for the afternoon flight back to Antigua.
The next couple of days were also quiet whilst I allowed my legs to recover. Then, on the Sunday, Dorothy flew out for her first visit to the Caribbean and a pretty busy week. Again hired bikes and, on the Monday, cycled down to Curtain Bluff stopping at the Capriahni (spelling wrong I'm sure) bar for a drink and great view. Then returned to Jolly stopping off at Turners and Valley Church for views and photographs. Left the bikes at the villa and took a taxi into town where we people watched from Hemingways before going up to Dickenson and then spending the evening at La Bussola, where I have always found the food to be consistently excellent. On the Wednesday we were on the Extreme, and had a fantastic day out, many thanks to Ross, Trevor & Jordaine. As the 1st pick up we had a private trip until we got to Coconut Beach, further pick ups in St Johns and Dickenson before speeding round the north of the island to Stingray City. Then to 1 of the islands for lunch before heading down to English Harbour for a slow cruise around Nelsons Dockyard followed by snorkelling off the Pillars of Hercules. The journey to English Harbour was, according to the guys, as rough as they had seen it for sometime but the more fun for it, it's not called Extreme for nothing! Then on to Rendezvous beach for a swim and rum punch before heading up the west coast to drop off in reverse order to before so, once again, we had a private trip back to Jolly. Having been on this round the island tour I can't understand why anyone would want to take 1 of the Catamaran tours.
Thursday morning we caught the bus into town, mainly for some souvenir buying. Then out by taxi to Deep Bay. The Security Guard at the Royal Antiguan refused to let us in so we went up to the end of the lagoon, crossed the footbridge and walked down the beach to have lunch at Andes, although the food was poor. The Royal Antiguan is weird, it always seems to be open but they never have any guests. The only people on the beach, which I think is fantastic, were off boats moored in the bay. Another Security Guard was waiting to make sure we didn't try to sneak in the hotel via the pool area! It does make you wonder what is going on there as I find it difficult to understand how they can be running a legitimate hotel business. I was also told the Security staff are not Antiguan. Anyway, after lunch up to Fort Barrington for the excellent both ways along the coast from there. Then back to Jolly for some sunbathing before an evening meal at Denis Cocktail bar and restaurant, excellent food topped off by his superb bread pudding.
Friday saw us cycling down to South Coast Horizons to spend the morning kayaking through the mangroves to their secluded beach before being taken out to Cades Reef for an hours snorkelling. With lunch included I think this is excellent value for USD45, particularly as there were only 3 of us on the tour. In the afternoon back to Jolly for lazing on the beach and some jetskiing.
Next day we were up early for the helicopter trip to Montserrat, I've done the round island trip before but not the trip to Montserrat, which was excellent and we spent more time circling the island than I expected. The afternoon saw us on a sightseeing half day with our 4 wheel taxi driver Lennox, started off with some of the beaches on 5 islands looking towards the Hermitage before heading to Bettys Hope, Devils Bridge, Long Bay, lunch at Mama Pastas, very good, and then to Half Moon Bay. I know most people like this but it's not 1 of my favourite beaches on Antigua. Following that past Potworks and then down Fig Tree Drive and along the south and west coasts home. Dinner at Mellinis, which got Dorothys seal of approval so must be good!
Sunday morning Lennox drove us down to the Zipline for the full tour, great fun but they have taken the Leap of Faith out of the tour, you need to ask for it (and pay an extra USD10), which we were unaware of until we had finished. Then back to Carmichaels for a good lunch followed off by a dip in their plunge pool before returning to Jolly for some final jetskiing before Dorothy took the BA flight home, and I took a rest!
Ron then flew out on the Monday and a more relaxed time was had, although we did, on the Sunday, have an excellent, relaxed day on Adventure Antiguas Classic Yacht. Again, many thanks to JD, Noel & Trevor (again) for looking after us. A much more sedate trip then the Extreme but, in its way, equally enjoyable. There were only 4 of us on the trip and we motored down from Jolly to Cades for some snorkelling before travelling on to Carlisle Bay where we anchored for a swim and lunch. After lunch the sails were raised and we set out towards Montserrat for about 40 minutes to get beyond the reef before heading back up the coast and past all the beaches on the west coast. Finally ended up at Pinchin(?) beach for a final swim before heading back into Jolly.
Ate a couple of times at OJs, which I think is consistently good, and also had lunch at Keyonnas. The setting they have on their decking beneath the trees and overlooking Montserrat is superb and, in my opinion, Pam is one of the best Chefs on the island.
During the 3rd week I also booked a day pass to use Jolly Beach, primarily to use their sailboards, but at USD60 this represents good value as you get to use all their facilities, including light breakfast, lunch and drinks between 10.15am and 5pm.
Anyway, even 3 weeks can go too soon and am now back in England where the temperature is considerably lower than what I have got used too!