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Picture Perfect in Antigua

‘No filter needed’ is often the words you find hashtagged on an instagram picture depicting blue skies, turquoise seas and swathes of white sand, an idyllic place that you put on your bucket list – yet when you finally find yourself visiting you realise the #nofilterneeded was maybe a slight stretch from the truth – But at COCOS Hotel on the Caribbean island of Antigua these words can be used on every picture you post, it truly is an idyllic hideaway, perched on a lush green hillside, encircled by miles of heavenly blue sea and sandwiched between two gorgeous white sand beaches. Located on the sunset side of the island, this is the kind of paradise you usually only dream about.

As soon as you arrive at COCOS the views are everywhere and simply take your breath away (it takes you longer getting from one place to the other as the photo opportunities just never stop). The staff are warm and friendly and nothing is too much trouble. Before we’d even checked in we found ourselves enjoying a cool Pina Colada, whilst lounging in the open air reception area just taking it all in – we’d found paradise.

Once we’d made our way up the hill to our cottage (a premium view) that was perched on the edge of the cliff amongst pretty foliage and stones, we were able to truly marvel at the views and why this hotel was so sought after. The turquoise blue waters sparkled under the suns rays and the white sand looked almost surreal from so far up.

The room itself was large and spacious with rustic chic decor, dark wood floors and a 4-poster bed draped with mosquito netting, a well stocked mini fridge and tea and coffee making facilities and, if like us, you are a little tired after the climb up the hill, you can always take a rest in the hammock that hangs outside. Talking of outside, that’s where the shower is, another chance to take in the paradise around you (it’s like being in your own little outdoor jungle – in a luxurious kind of way). And if you wish to truly indulge why not opt for the Sunset Plunge Pool Cottage, where there’s your own private infinity pool

The ambience of this resort is very much laid back, you’ll find yourself leaving the more dressy items of clothing in your suitcase, – definitely don’t attempt the hill climb or descent in a pair of heels!

Meals at COCOS are served in the multi-tiered open-air restaurant (that has, on more than one occasion, been named the most romantic restaurant in Antigua and I can see why) – set on the cliff side with even more amazing views. Although it’s an all-inclusive resort, it is nothing like an eat all you like buffet.

All meals are served a-la-carte style with waitered table service, with daily specials for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The atmosphere is tranquil and intimate, with tables placed strategically looking out over the ocean, sipping champagne and watching the sun go down are memories that will stay with you forever. The menu itself offers a contemporary mix of international cuisine with strong Island influences, sourced locally from nearby farmers and fishermen. Each dish, whether it’s fish, vegetables or meat is presented perfectly and is full of delicious flavours that excite the tastebuds, leaving you wanting more. Once a week the restaurant has a BBQ, where for your mains you choose from a selection of chicken, beef, fish, pork and ribs and it’s freshly cooked in front of you.

Dinner finished, it is time to head to the bar area for an after dinner cocktail or two (again the hotel may be all-inclusive but the drinks are all branded) – there is also a bar on the beach that is open 10am until 6pm, looking after you with smoothies, tasty cocktails, soft drinks and anything else you might need whilst sunbathing and swimming, with the added bonus of afternoon tea (sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee) served from 4pm.

The hotel is directly on its own private part of the beach and is the ideal spot to sunbathe, swim, snorkel, or just relax to the soft sounds of the sea around you. There is also a small pool, set amongst palm trees and foliage with a few loungers dotted around – for me though it has to be the beach everytime, nothing can beat walking over the soft sand, hand in hand, into the clear blue warm waters of the sea.

A five minute walk from COCOS brings you to Jolly Harbor, a major tourism and sailing destination for the island. Here you can stroll round the shops, indulge in an ice cream or two or even go out on your very own boat – which is exactly what we decided to do – a 5 hour catamaran sailing trip just for the two of us (well and the skipper and his right hand man). Sailing around the Caribbean’s finest waters whilst lounging on the spacious sundeck enjoying cool drinks is pure heaven, passing by picturesque, rolling hills and secluded bays, before it’s time to drop anchor and enjoy some snorkeling and swimming. Whether you want to stay close to the boat and float around or swim to shore the choice is yours – but how can you be this close to your own private beach and not take a stroll on it? Back on the boat traditional Caribbean food is served, made on board whilst we were enjoying ourselves. The fresh fish, meat, salads and rice are delicious and there is certainly plenty of it. We headed back to harbor just as the sun was setting, a truly magical experience and highly recommended, if you only venture away from Cocos once this is a must.

If all the excitement of sailing round the island has worn you out, and you feel the need to unwind a little more then a visit to COCO’s Serenity Cottage is just what the doctor ordered. Here you can indulge in a relaxing body massage that will have you floating out of the cottage feeling refreshed and rejuvenated – just be careful you’re not too laid back you fall down the hill!

Apart from our little sailing trip, we did absolutely nothing, except lie on the beach, letting the stresses of everyday life just melt away and enjoying each other’s company. COCOS is truly memorable, a peaceful sanctuary offering couples the most romantic retreat, on the most idyllic island, with the most picturesque views. The only problem you’ll have is “When can you go back?

BOOK IT!

Prices start from £505 (Sept – Dec 2017) per couple, per night in a Premium View Cottage on an all-inclusive basis. Prices start from £667 (Sept – Dec 2017) per couple, per night in a Sunset Pool Cottage on an all-inclusive basis.

Flights: Virgin Atlantic flies from London Gatwick every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday in summer and every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the Winter. British Airways flies daily from London Gatwick. 

www.cocoshotel.com