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Every Sunday night in Antigua’s English Harbor, where hundreds of boats are scattered but docked, the steel pan drums lead the way; soundtracking the winding, and intense hike along the cliffs and coastlines of island’s southernmost point. Choreographed equally by the setting sun and a team of super hikers from the Wadadli Trailblazers, the island’s history, present and future dominates the conversations, along with the requisite comparisons to other anglophone atolls. Indeed, close your eyes and you could be anywhere in Grenada or even Jamaica; but somehow, Antigua and its sister island Barbuda hold their own, quietly … mightily. At the top of the hill – lights, drums and music, pulsate like beacons in the dusk, getting louder with the approach. There — liming and bashment ensue — to use Caribbean colloquialisms.
It was equal parts introduction and invitation: To do as Antiguans do and eat what Antiguans eat – like fungee and Pepperpot — on any given Sunday as they have been doing ritualistically at the Shirley Heights Lookout for decades.
Rituals are the most comfortable points of departure, at times, so start here. The rest will come easy. There are 365 beaches; one for every day of the year. Yes, that kind of easy.
On a stretch of them, on the northernmost corner of the island, roughly a 30-minute drive on “good road” — a Caribbean premium — through the islands’ center, and bypassing the capital city St. Johns, the Blue Waters Resort and Spa Antigua sits, geographically, like the island’s tilted crown.
Like the island itself and its people, Blue Waters is utterly uninterested in the requisite clichés and motifs you might expect of a Caribbean gem, and opts instead to draw from its intrinsic value — its naturally occurring one-ups that do all the work: the cradle of blue water that lends itself the resort’s namesake; the lush, 17-acre flora and fauna that wrap around three secluded beach coves and freshwater pools, three of them fronting newly refreshed Cove Suites, impeccably kept, as a matter of standard not show.
Four restaurants and bars with a range of locally sourced fare and vibes — from resort-chic dinners to casual poolside alfresco dining — are there so that no two evenings and culinary experiences resemble each other.
A recently completed multi-million dollar reimagining made space for even more refinement and attention to detail including bringing on the ila spa as an on-site destination for intention-setting. Here, hugged by the elements — earth, sound, water — its organic skin and heart care offerings mirror its creation: All products are hand-made by practitioners who are in a meditative state and surrounded by positive energy. The founder’s vision was to create a range of highly potent products using the most purest sources of energy — plants, flowers and herbs. The treatments comprise a selection of carefully curated soul nurturing therapies that go way beyond the surface of the skin — no quick fixes. Time spent here is about savoring the moment and truly slowing down.
Naturally, this is the part where you start questioning your life decisions including about where you might spend the rest of your days.
The currency here, after all, is effortless elegance; the kind with nothing to prove.