ANTIGUA | ROW FOR JAMES, HALF MOON BAY, RENDEZVOUS & PIGEON BEACH
Back to the spangling seas of the Caribbean and Brits abroad...
Before we headed to Blue Waters in the north of the island (see my previous two posts here and here), we spent a week right in the south next to English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard. We were out here to welcome our brave boys Harry, Rory, Sam and my brother-in-law Toby to Antiguan shores, after a brutal, non-stop row across the Atlantic from La Gomera. After battling unforgiving conditions, witnessing jaw-dropping panoramic sunrises and sunsets and getting up close and personal with marine life including pods of whales paying them visits, they reached the end of their gruelling mission in 39 days.
Most crucially of all they have raised close to £600k and counting for the widely under-addressed problem of depression and suicide amongst young people. You can read more about Row for James, what the money is going towards and the blog posts from the boys while they were at sea here.
Perched along the wall of a fort on the edge of English Harbour, we waited with baited breath for Team Row for James to come into sight, before legging it round to the dockyard to greet them.
Above photos by Louisa Buchanan and Tom Greenly
With our boys safely back on land (they finished 2nd out of 12 boats taking part), things crescendoed fast. Emotions hit dizzy heights, rosé flowed and some magical, memory-making moments ensued. Imagine a jubilant 45-strong party of family and friends riotously launching themselves into a three (four? five?) day celebration with wild abandon. Caribbean style. (Including the rowers who hadn't slept more than two straight hours over the course of six weeks.) To say we're proud is a mighty understatement.
Of course, being on a different continent called for exploration too and, in amidst the days of celebrating, we managed to steal away to see what else this beautiful island had to offer. Jet lag initially saw us rising pre 6am which made for some magical dawn hikes around Pigeon Point, watching the sun slip up from behind other mountainous parts of the island.
And for a total gear change there are always the beaches, which unsurprisingly Antigua does with aplomb. 365 to choose from to be precise (yup, one for everyday of the year). Hotspots (sorry) we discovered included Half Moon Bay, which boasted obscenely opaque, bath-warm waters that we lazily lolled around in for hours. Pigeon Beach was reachable on foot from our basecamp: a smaller, super sociable stretch of sand and home to the truly brilliant Catherine's Cafe – Antigua's answer to Cinqante Cinq and the base to our first marathon partying session after the boys' homecoming.
We also visited Galleon Beach, reachable by boat from Nelson's Dockyard and home to turtles and a buzzy beach bar, and Rendezvous Bay – Olly and I made the pilgrimage to this remote-but-100-percent-worth-it paradise. We got a taxi as far as it could take us (it's only accessible the entire way in a 4x4) and had to do half an hour on foot before feeling sand between our toes. This is a goddam supermodel of a beach. Picture a virtually private enclave: a stretch of palm-fringed, white sandy paradise curved around turquoise crashing waves...
Here, after clocking a very homemade 'Turtles Nesting' sign, we padded along combing the beach for treasures (I'll admit my pink rock below isn't all that impressive but the sun makes you lazy) and optimistically looking for wildlife. We saw a feret thing, which we later discovered was a mongoose, before being joined by an enormous excited dog... and a little later by a handful of our Row For James gang, completely unplanned I must add, but this was Rendez Vous after all...
I'll let the pictures do the talking now. I've also included shots of our awesome villa... have a scrolllll...
When the only people you bump into on the beach happen to be your friends – a real life unplanned moment on Rendezvous
Galleon Beach, English Harbour
Now to plan our next adventure...
Bikini | Melissa Odabash via Beach Cafe
Dress (wearing in hammock) | Wrap London
Sunglasses | Bailey Nelson
Long cream maxi | H&M Coachella collection
Denim shorts | Levi's (customised by me)