Antigua

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  1. snagel says:

    Trip Report – Sandals Grande Antigua – Jan/Feb 2012
    Original Post by John Yaskowich on ScubaToys

    My wife and I just returned from 11 days at Sandals in Antigua.

    Executive Summary: Great resort, not so good diving

    Details: This was our third Sandals trip (St Lucia Grande, Jamaica Whitehouse, Antigua Grande). This was a very nice place, better than Whitehouse and almost as good as St Lucia. The food was very good, lots of things to do and see around the resort, comfortable room, lots to drink (both “virgin” and “with character”), nice beach to walk, and great people working there. The resort is about 20 mins from the airport so you don’t have the hours long bus ride you sometimes get on other islands. We were also about 15 mins from St John’s, the local town (and cruise ship port) so we made a trip in by taxi one afternoon for some shopping.

    The resort is really 2 resorts in one – the older “Caribbean Grove” side and the “Mediterranean Village” side. The Carib side is low rise buildings of 1 or 2 stories, the Med side is a larger building of about 7 stories. We were on the Carib side (room 508) and had all the conveniences close to hand. We were feet away from a small pool; 30 seconds walk from the nearest bar, the closest restaurant, and the beach; and about 4 mins walk to the main pool, the shopping area and most of the restaurants and the watersports office.

    There are 7 restaurants on the resort and we hit them all over the course of our vacation. The food was mostly very good (and lots of it – I gained about 4lbs!). A couple of the restaurants are buffet style but most are menu driven. Our favourites were Eleanor’s for Caribbean Cuisine and Barefoot By The Sea for seafood. The fish and chips at the “English” pub Cricketer’s Arms was wonderful (and they carry Guinness!). The Tex-Mex at OK Corral was so-so.

    Diving: If this had been a diving vacation I would be very disappointed! It was definitely geared towards people who dive once a year on vacation. First off, even though they have big PADI signs all over the place that state “your certification accepted world-wide” they insist that you do a skills check and a shallow dive before being cleared to go on the regular trips (first time a Sandals wanted this sort of check). So that consumed a day (on the other hand, one of the people in my check-out group had trouble with the mask clearing exercise, so maybe some people DO need it. I made some suggestions of what helped me, she went and practiced in the pool and passed the next day.) Visibility was about 25 to 40 feet, a big difference from the 90-100+ft of other Caribbean locations I’ve been to. And the dives were time controlled instead of diving your air. Each dive was 30-35 minutes and max depths in the 40 ft range. I only did 4 dives and never came up with less than 1500psi left in the tank. The capping touch was the boat they used for the hour+ trip to the sites: They had 2 boats – a 42ft with a cabin and an open 30ft’er. Guess which one we got to use. No place to get out of the wind and spray in either direction. The trips were unpleasant, which meant I was cold and in a bad mood by the time we got to the site. After a couple of days I just said “screw-it” and dried out my gear. I have a trip to Cozumel happening in May so I will get my “fix” then. There was enough else going on at the resort that I would rather have fun with my wife (non-diver) than make some mediocre dives. (I know, shows I am not a “real” diver – so shoot me. It made my wife happy that I spent more time doing things with her. Happy wife = happy life.)

    One final point for anyone thinking of a Sandals vacation – if you are (US or Canadian) current or ex- military, civilian employee, firefighter or EMS, many of the resorts offer an additional 10% discount over and above the “usual” discounts available. You can save some serious coin.

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