Exploring Antigua & Barbuda

Well, this was a great gig to be a part of. HUGE thanks to Traverse Events, Brighter PR and the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Board. I’ve been fortunate to have visited Antigua once before, but, only for a day. To get to spend a whole week here was very special.

Virgin Atlantic

My flight was from Gatwick and a very early flight. Thank you, wife, and kids for dropping me off xXx. I was looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the team before we flew to Antigua & Barbuda with Virgin Atlantic.

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Just some of the team before check-in.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I love watching movies on a flight especially when they’re long flights. In this case roughly about 8hours 40mins. However, while waiting for the plane doors to close. We got the shocking announcement that the entertainment system is not working and they’ve made the decision to carry on with the journey without it. That’s No Movies, No WiFi, No Music and No TV Programmes.

I’ve never flown with Virgin before, this indeed wasn’t a good start. The thought of travelling all that way with nothing but a phone, which was limited due to no internet, was unbearable (first world problems). This means we might actually have to interact with people for that long!!!! Let me just say now, this Virgin Atlantic flight was probably the BEST flight I’ve ever been on. The staff were super helpful and very accommodating. We had such a laugh with them. The flight journey was halved because we had such a great time socialising. We even got to meet up with a lot of the staff the following day at Shirley Heights. It was great to meet up with them again.

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Flying into Antigua

Verandah Hotel Resort & Spa

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Verandah Hotel Resort & Spa.

My digs for the week on the island was Verandah Hotel Resort & Spa from Elite Island Resorts. This resort was a family resort,  I know straight away my wife and kids would LOVE it here. It’s quite a large resort, so, to make it easy to get around, there are “golf karts” to taxi you about. You can walk, and it is a lovely walk.

As you would expect from a resort like this. The staff are super friendly, the food is delicious with such a huge variation. There is a main restaurant in the middle of the resort, there is also more restaurants which I’ve heard good things about. Unfortunately, I never got the time to visit them all. Verandah also has two beautiful white sandy beaches along with the largest free-form pool on the island.

The good thing about jet-lag is that we were waking up for sunrise. So me and Kim took advantage of that and went out on our first morning to explore the beach & resort. Of course, the drone came with me 😉

Stingray City & ZipLining.

We were lucky to participate in 2 activities. Snorkelling with Stingrays at Stingray City and Ziplining in the Rain Forest with Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours. When we were first offered to snorkel with stingrays, I must admit, I was slightly apprehensive, especially after the freak accident with Steve Irwin in 2006. However, after being in the water with them for more than a few seconds, you soon realise they may be large (the females) and very pushy, but super friendly and adorable.

We spent about an hour with them in this stunning location where the turquoise water is waist high. You can hold out your arms, they will approach you and swim on top of your arms for a cuddle. You can also hold squid in your fist, they’ll glide over the top and suck the squid from your hand. This experience is up there with one of the best experiences I’ve had to date.

Me Ziplining
Me Ziplining at Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tours.

I’ve been lucky to zipline before in Wales, I loved it. To have the chance to do it again but this time in a RainForest, yet I couldn’t say no. 13 zip lines were varying from short to long and high to low. A great experience and now I can say I’ve ziplined in a rainforest.

Shirley Heights

Without a doubt the best view on Antigua island. The week we went was during there famous “Chase The Race” sailing event which was on all week. They had a great sounding Steel Band along with a delicious barbecue. As I said earlier, we also got to meet up with the Virgin Atlantic Crew.

There is something quite magical and yet emotional when you’re witnessing a gorgeous sunset with a view like this. It was proper Caribbean Style with the Steel Band and that unique sound, Jerk Chicken sizzling on the barbecue and excellent company, perfect.

Road Trip

I was happy to be spending this time with a few people that wanted to hire a car and explore the Island. After an early start, we were out looking for places to shoot. Below are a few destinations that reached our expectations and more, to be honest, most of them were from Carlisle Bay.

We spent 2 days road tripping, you can do a lot in just one day, however, two days is perfect. We got to see some AMAZING views. Typically paradise looking. If I have to think of one location that completely blew me away, then it would have to be Jolly Harbour. The area is beautiful, and the beach is quite large. The water was the most stunning I’ve ever seen. The turquoise was piercing in colour, it looked like we were viewing a scene that had been photoshopped before our eyes.

and Finally the Choir

I can’t leave this post without letting you know about the choir “No Direction”. A large number of the group I had been here with have been getting lessons from a Vocal Coach all week to sing at the end of our week with a few songs. I have to be honest, I had low expectations, especially after hearing a few in the week talking about it. The night had finally arrived, the scene was set at the “Outhouse” in “Pineapple Club Resort”. The nerves from the choir were tangible. They stood there waiting for it to begin and within the first few notes, I had goosebumps. I was completely BLOWN AWAY!! This did not stop throughout all of the songs they sang.

It’s hard to write into words on how exciting this evening was. The nervous energy coming from the choir added such drama to the evening, and it exploded with such joy, pride, accomplishment and no doubt, relief. Huge congratulations to all that attended and massive respect to Mike King, the vocal coach who spent only 6 hours to get these guys and girls singing in fantastic harmony.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, Antigua is pure paradise, it’s the Caribbean. You can make your holiday anything you want, from a chilled out holiday where you stay on the resort relaxing in the spa, topping up your tan or swimming in the pool. Or you can make it more adventurous with the water sports that they have everywhere on the island or hire a car and visit the whole area. Indulge in the local cuisine and roam around the vibrant streets in the city St. Johns. I wasn’t sure if I was going to find things to do to last a week, I’ve come away thinking I needed at least 2 weeks there to do everything I wanted.

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The Antigua Group.

I know what else made it special, the group of people I was with. Some I had met before, but, many were for the first time. This was a special bunch, we all connected on so many levels. Many of these guys & girls will be my friends forever.

Thank you again to Traverse EventsBrighter PRElite Island Resorts and The Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Board.

Until we meet again!

THE ANTIGUA GANG
LOVE THESE GUYS!

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Byrne Photography

Hello my name is Sean Byrne, I'm a passionate landscape/travel photographer and social media influencer from the UK. I have a passion for taking photos of the great outdoors, whether that's in the UK or around the world. I've been a photographer for over 4 years now. I'm also self taught after becoming addicted to photography on Instagram. Now more than 4 years on I have collaborated with National Geographic, Waitrose, Travel Alberta, Visit England, Swiss Air, Iceland Air, Austria Tourism, Enterprise, Sony Xperia and many, many more. I've also been a speaker at Blog Stock, Brit Mums and Inflow Travel Summit. Thank you for taking the time to read this bio, I hope you enjoy my blog and all my past adventures. May this journey continue ...

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