Antigua, on the Eastern side of the Caribbean, is completely delightful. Not only do they have some of the friendliest people we have met on our travels, but they have 365 beaches; one for every day of the year. I guess I would be pretty friendly too if I had that many places to relax and recoup. For our recent trip, we had just one beach for three days, and it was called Galley Bay. Galley Bay Resort and Spa, the hotel that runs along it’s edge was our home.
Galley Bay Resort and Spa in nestled in it’s own cove on Antigua’s west coast, it’s beach lapped by the Caribbean Sea. Looking out west you can’t help but be captivated by the sunsets here. It is just a short bus ride from Antigua’s capital, St John’s, from where you can connect on to buses that travel the whole island. We jumped on a couple and went all the way down to English Harbour.
Reception came as something of a surprise as we couldn’t see the rest of the resort. All we could see was a large pavilion with the reception desk and a selection of chairs. We filled out the paperwork and were given a sheet of paper listing the activities, the restaurant times and lots of other useful information. Just as the heat really set in (as the last remnants of the taxis air-conditioning wore off) they gave us both a glass of champagne. What a good start! We took a sip and then jumped aboard the waiting golf cart. We were whisked away on a whistle stop tour of the resort before being driven to our room. It was a great way to orientate ourselves and boy, did we feel fancy!
Our room was bigger than I was expecting, I think it was one of the Premium Beachfront Suites. We had our own little lounge area as well as the normal bedroom area. The King size bed seemed huge and the mattress was deep and comfortable. We each had two pillows, one soft and one hard. This suited us brilliantly as we have very different ideas of what makes a good pillow. I like mine bouncy and Karl likes his soft. Every night, we were left a cute little note during the turn-down service. They were quite interesting and sparked a little conversation.
We had a super welcome gift of snacks and a bottle of bubbles. They really know how to make a good first impression at Galley Bay Resort and Spa! With these were the normal tea and coffee making facilities. I adore American style coffee machines, I don’t have one at home so it is a real treat for me. Along with these bits were two plastic flasks. These could be used throughout the stay and taken home afterwards. All the water in the resort comes from their own desalinisation plant and so you can top up at your sink, or at the water and ice stations. We couldn’t help but notice some of the other guests using them at the bar for their favourite cocktail.
In the wardrobe, along with the usual safe, laundry bag and hangars were two things that made me smile. The first was an iron and ironing board. Now I know you can get hold of one in most hotels, but not having to call housekeeping and wait for it seems like luxury to me! The other thing was a scuba mask and snorkel for each of us. Again, negating the need to make any extra effort to get hold of one of these is luxury. This way, guests can grab their own masks and walk straight down the beach into the sea to explore the underwater world.
Everything in the room was blue and white, giving it a real nautical feel. Given that it had direct beach access, it was pretty apt. Sitting on our sofas, we could see right down to the surf. We had a terrace with our very own sunbeds, and even our very own sand shower.
The bathroom was bigger than the seating area. It was very bright and spacious with two showers opposite each other. One was lower, for quick body showers, and the other higher for your hair. Better than both of those, however, was the gigantic corner bath. I simply HAD to treat myself to an indulgent bubble bath, especially after the flight down from the USA. An absolute must for for any nice hotel is a large counter top with his and hers sinks. Happily there was a nice set here with a great big mirror.
A Look Around the Property
Galley Bay Resort and Spa has a nice variety of activities to spend your time on. To our relief, none of them were super cringe-worthy. There was no entertainment team to drag you into an embarrassing game or make you jump in the pool when your are trying to keep your hair dry. Instead, this place takes things at a leisurely pace and it is entirely up to you how much you throw yourself into.
Galley Bay has just one beach, it is 3/4 mile of soft, yellow sand with rocky outcrops at each end. In the sea, the beach is quite steep once you hit knee level which makes it great for snorkelling. It was quite wavy whilst we were there so we didn’t get to try everything we wanted to.
Water sports & Yoga Centre
Right on the sand is the water sports centre. At Galley Bay Resort non-motorised water sports are included. They have Hobie cats, kayaks and paddle-boards. I really wanted to take a boat out and snorkel but it was a little too rough and we had to leave the following day. Time really does fly when you are having fun! It was a shame because there is a shipwreck just offshore that you can explore. We did have a quick snorkel just off the beach and we met lots of curious white fish. One became my Disney-style sidekick. I must be a mermaid after all!
On the first floor of the water sports centre, is the large open pavilion; the spot for morning yoga. During our visit, there was a group of ladies on a yoga retreat and they were up there first thing in the morning, and as the sun set. The view must have been spectacular over the sea. I wonder if the lapping of the waves added rhythm to their practice. We just did a lot of shavasana by the pool…a little yoga joke there.
The facility we always forget to to pack for! If you are planning to use the gym, remember to bring your running shoes. In fact, there is also an outdoor running track that goes around the lagoon so there is even more reason to bring them. In the gym itself, you will find a good selection of machines and a free weights area. It is well air-conditioned but you can still see all that fantastic sunlight through the large windows.
If you are more into team sports, or competitive games, you will find lots dotted around the resort. You could indulge in a spot of beach volleyball, a tennis match, a round of pool, or a little table tennis. They even have a croquet lawn and I have it on a good authority that hipsters are making croquet cool again. Get some practice in here and be ahead of the curve!
Set behind the resort is the salty, serene lagoon. Here, you can try your hand at fishing in the lagoon. It is a strictly a catch and release program so if you want something to eat, you’ll have to join a deep-sea fishing excursion. You can also do a spot of bird-watching. We saw pretty wading birds, and even some crabs. Grab a bicycle from the guest services and you can go all the way around the lagoon.
There is just one pool at Galley Bay Resort. It is a free-form beauty with a waterfall to squeal under. Surrounding the pool is a collection of sun loungers set in pairs, each under their own umbrella. Most of them have little tables on which to pop your drinks, and the best thing about lying by pool is that they will bring your drinks right to you. We had a fair few strawberry smoothies and even some bubbles as we caught the sun here.
Oh the Indulge Spa! It was ridiculously lovely. In fact, I started writing and realised that it was too much to include here. I ended up writing a whole separate review.
The Sea Grape is the main restaurant at Galley Bay Resort, and unlike most all-inclusive resorts, it is mainly à la carte. I honestly thought that this would mean eating less and not putting on those holiday pounds…oh how wrong I was! The food was so good that I ate several courses at every meal.
I am not normally one for a big breakfast but I made an exception here. Breakfast at the Sea Grape starts with a small buffet. There is fresh fruit, pastries, and cheese and ham for those who like a continental breakfast. Then there is a great selection of bread options (mmm, English muffins!) and a small selection of hot bits. Whatever, you do, don’t fill up on this. The Sea Grape’s breakfast menu is interesting and delicious. We tried lots of the à la carte options and enjoyed all of them. Check out the creole eggs in the gallery, they are seriously tasty!
Lunch and Dinner
Come for the view, stay for the food. At every lunch and dinner there is a three course menu to pick from. I don’t know how often the selection is repeated but there are so many options that you need not have the same thing twice. The chefs here use fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs from the resort’s very own kitchen garden. You will find a varied menu with dishes from all over the world. I was genuinely impressed and excited to check the menu posted by guest services every day.
Right on the beach is the Barefoot Grill, open for lunch only. This is a very casual place to eat with a sandy floor and plastic baskets. It is your ideal beach cafe, not just because the sandwiches are gooey with cheese, or the chips crispy and salty, but they have ducks. That isn’t a typo. They actually have ducks!
Here you find a selection of burgers, pressed sandwiches & other grilled delights. You can wear your swimwear here. The other restaurants require swim wear to be dry and covered so this is your post-dip option. Is there anything nicer when you’ve been swimming in the sea than coming out and enjoying an ice-cold drink and a portion of nice hot chips?
The Guaguin is open for lunch and reservation only for dinner. It is the place to come if you want a little more privacy or food that is a tiny bit more special. Each table here gets its very own pagoda. It is the tropical dream. Looking down the menu, you will find a more Caribbean flavour to the dishes, but it is definitely fusion. I had spring rolls, an amazingly tender goat curry and a scrummy tart for dessert. There was also a wide wine list to pick from which you wont find at Sea Grape.
The Coffee Shop
If you’re peckish between meals, need a caffeine fix or just love air-conditioning then spend a few minutes in the coffee shop. Here they set out afternoon tea so you can grab a little cake or three. There’s tea and coffee all day and a selection of books to relax with. I found it too cold but Mr Fluskey loved it!
The tipi bar is the main bar on campus. It is the best spot to get a drink from if you’re at the beach, the barefoot grill or the pool. There is a great selection of spirits, cocktails and sparkling wine (which seemed to be the favourite of lots of guests). We discovered that their smoothies were seriously delicious and so started having them with a little rum thrown in. Top marks to the bar staff who were totally accommodating and good humoured throughout our stay.
We enjoyed grabbing a drink here and taking it into the restaurants or out onto the deck. The deck is great place to relax and watch the sunset as it faces over the ocean and towards the west.
The Rum Shack
So we spent three nights at Galley Bay Resort and on each of those, we found our way to the Rum Shack. Along with the most wonderful staff behind the bar, you will find two shelves. The top shelf is full of sipping rums, and the lower for mixing. Everything is included in the all-inclusive price and so you can travel the Caribbean through it’s greatest export. The person behind the bar will walk you through a tasting and you may just end up discovering that the $80 bottle is just your cup of tea.
Manager’s Cocktail Party
Once a week, down by the rum shack, the managers throw a little soiree. When we went, they had a great selection of canapes and some tasty cocktails. The folk band was hilarious and it was such a wonderful way to meet both the staff and the other guests. They even had giveaways from the diamond shop and for a whole week’s stay at the resort! It is definitely worth a stop.
Flora and Forna
Around the resort, you will see nature at every turn. From the ducks at the Barefoot Grill (yes, I am STILL excited by the ducks) to the huge varieties of flowers and the large crabs that live in the lagoon, there is lots to spot. Our favourites were the tortoises that live on site. They have a protective area that would be easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention. We hung out with them for a while until the big male decided it was time for us to leave.
If we have tempted you to visit Galley Bay Resort and Spa then here’s a few things you might like to know.
- You can book directly through the Galley Bay Resort and Spa website.
- Galley Bay Resort and Spa is an adults-only resort so it is not one for the whole family.
- Antigua has direct flights from London with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. You can fly direct from the USA from Atlanta, Miami and New York.
- It costs $20 USD in a taxi from the airport.
- Antigua uses both the United States Dollar and East Caribbean Dollar. There is no ATM at the resort but there are at the airport and in St Johns.
- Antigua uses 110volts in their plugs, just like the USA.
Our time at Galley Bay Resort and Spa was really special. We found ourselves totally able to relax which is quite unusual for us. We ended up going at such a chilled out pace that we could have done with another week to work our way through everything. Plus, I would have liked to try so many more dishes from the menu! We hope to return one day, or even visit their sister resort, the Palm Island Resort in The Grenadines. If we do, we will keep you posted!