I’m seated on my verandah the sun is shining, the sky is blue and gentle breezes plant kisses on my face. Josh Groban sings to me about a girl who is now out of his life. Silly rabbit, if I were in Josh Groban’s life I’d never leave so as long as he kept singing to me :). I’m half way through a cup of Earl Grey so, simply put, this is the making of a perfect afternoon.
My stepfather and stepsister have just left for the beach and it’s got me thinking. One of the coolest things about living in Antigua is definitely sheer number of amazing beaches at your disposal. To be honest, eventually having a beach at basically the snap of your fingers gets to a point where you take it for granted.
During my months in Jamaica I curse myself for not having gone to the beach every day while I am at home. Of course when I finally get back I’ll head out to the beach infrequently – maybe six or seven times in three months. Then once I get back to Jamaica again the cycle begins again. Jamaica has its own set of beautiful beaches but they are pretty far away from Kingston. I think the nearest beach should be about an hour and a half from where I live. The only beaches that are a full hour and a half away from my house in Antigua are the ones I have to hike to. Needless to say I’ve only made to drive to get to a beach in Jamaica once… and it wasn’t for swimming purposes. Let’s just say it was for a large meeting of the minds of college students (read: an absolutely rocking beach party that made me miss my classes the next morning).
Despite taking for granted just how amazing it is to have so many beaches at my fingertips I’ve had some pretty good moments nestled in warm, turquoise waters and drawing silly messages in the sand. I’ve also had some not so amazing times like the time I nearly drowned in St. Thomas because I was silly enough (and young enough) to not realize that snorkeling gear and scuba diving gear are very, very different things.
Of course, you’ve never truly had completed a proper beach experience until you’ve had a 3:00 AM swim. There’s something amazing about swimming (or in my case not swimming) around in the dark, warm water with nothing but the moonlight high in the sky to offer light. Then still wet you’d lie back on the sand until you wake up the next morning to the salty ocean air, the purple pinkish hues of dawn and of course the sunrise. In those moments it’s pretty easy to forget that you are mostly likely damp, freezing and that sandflies were likely to have done a number on you while you slept.
My second favourite beach experiences involve those very isolated beaches which generally involve some sort of hiking to get to. In fact my favourite beach on the island, Rendevous Bay, can either be hiked to or driven to if you have a four wheel drive equipped for some seriously rugged terrain. The hike can be done from two directions. The first entails walking along that rugged road. It is sort of an upward climb and then a downward walk. It wouldn’t take more than twenty-five to thirty minutes of walking to get there. The second direction requires a drive to a village, Old Road, and then you take a steep climb up a hill and then follow the rest of the bushy path towards the beach. That direction is longer, puts you at risk for scratches and possible contact with Stinging Nettle (also known in local dialect as: Sting ‘a’ Nettle) which is one of the singular most unpleasant things in this world. However, this route is a lot more fun and a lot more rewarding. When you clear the last set of bushes and find yourself on that long (most likely deserted) stretch of beach with sand so white it glistens and turquoise water surrounded by green rolling hills it takes a while to get your breath back. Think I’m exaggerating? Let me show you.
Reflecting on this I feel a bit wistful. I probably should have headed out to the beach with my family after all. But you know the best thing about living on an island and being surrounded by beaches? There’s always tomorrow!
Check out a few photos of our amazing beaches!