We stayed at Cocobay for a week in June. It was absolutely beautiful and amazing. Gorgeous resort. Gorgeous beaches. Gorgeous island. Any complaints listed below are nitpicky.
We were greeted at the front desk by a clerk who knew our names and had a cold towel and glasses of rum punch ready for us. The bell hop took us directly to our room. Very classy.
We selected an oceanfront bungalow with a private plunge pool. Our bungalow, No. 5, was so cute. Everything in the room was clean and comfortable. The bathroom is basic. The shower has a door on it so you can open it up for more light. Since you have your own private deck, no one can see you if you do. The plunge pool was awesome. Enough water to splash around, probably about five feet deep, refreshingly cool. The deck has two chairs for sitting, a hammock and a fantastic view of the ocean and a small slice of beach. If you put a sugar packet from your coffee set on the deck railing, the most adorable black and yellow birds will visit you and gobble up all the sugar. We also had a little green lizard who lived on our deck. The bed was comfortable and the linens were clean. There is a mosquito netting around the bed. We used it each night and never had an issue with bugs in the room. We had A/C, however, and slept with the doors and windows closed. The room also has a small safe, a hair dryer, two robes, coffee pot and fixings, and a fridge, which was stocked with alcohol and pop because we booked online. They also left a chilled bottle of champagne in the room. No TV and only a phone to call the front desk.
This is a beautiful place with all of the wonderful little features you might not find in larger resorts. There is a computer with sporadic internet service that you can use for 50 cents a minute. You can also place long distance calls here for $2 a minute (I believe) if you don't have cell phone service, which we didn't. There is a small library of books available for guests, but, as the week wore on, most of the novels were in German. The resort pool is small and all of the chairs are typically filled. The bar area is lovely and, as it is all-inclusive, the drinks are plentiful. Try the rum punch. The daquiris are great for a hot day at the beach, as well. There is a small gift shop with snacks, gifts, T-shirts and other clothing items, but it is only open during the day. They sell medicine here as well if you have an allergy attack because of the incessant weedwhacking around the resort. This is probably my largest complaint. They didn't use a lawn mower the entire time we were there, but, instead, weedwhacked all of the grass. The weedwhacking started at like 8 in the morning and went all day. Very loud, very annoying and allergy-inducing.
I love food so I was very excited about the all-inclusive aspect of Cocobay. Breakfast is served from maybe 7 to 10 a.m., lunch is from 12:30 p.m. to 2 or so, and dinner reservations start at 6:30 and run until 9 or 10 p.m. There is also a mid-afternoon tea. There is no food otherwise which stunk. I would've liked to see a snack bar open all day and night. There is no food available at the bar to snack on, so, once you eat dinner, you are out of luck. Even if they would put a few bowls of chips and pretzels at the bar, that would be a plus. I would've even gratefully paid for snacks.
Breakfast and lunch are buffets. Breakfast has a nice selection of cereal, made-to-order eggs, toast, pastries, etc. The fruit in Antigua is like the fruit in the U.S., not absolutely delicious like it is in Aruba and Mexico. There is fresh OJ, another type of juice and milk. Rations tend to dwindle as breakfast nears an end, particularly with the milk, for some reason. Lunch is sort of weird. Don't get me wrong, the food was always well cooked and delicious, but it was odd, you will see. Typical lunch selections might include fish, mashed potatoes, soup, tomatoes, and a salad. There is only one type of salad dressing, which I was afraid to try, so most of the week I used mustard and balsalmic on my salad. Sometimes I felt like we were eating the Caribbean version of Thanksgiving dinner for lunch. The one day they had French fries, they could hardly keep the pan full because everyone wanted them. There was never normal American lunch options like pizza or hamburgers. I would've been happy with pasta salads, etc. After lunch, you are offered a choice of three desserts, usually an ice cream, a pie or cake, and a fruit cup. The desserts ranged from awesome (berry custard pie) to OK (sort of dry carrot cake).
For dinner, you need to sign up at the front desk with your choice of time. Get there early or you will be stuck with 9 p.m. dinner, which is way too late when you've had nothing to eat since lunch. I would suggest adding slots earlier than the first slot at 6:30 p.m. Some of us eat like senior citizens and want our dinner at 5 p.m. At dinner in the all-inclusive restaurant (the pay restaurant is only open in high season), you have a choice of a fish entree, a meat entree, a vegetarian option, and a pasta dish (which was sometimes vegetarian). You also get to choose from a few appetizers, one of which is also always vegetarian. You get soup and a choice of dessert as well. My husband eats meat, but I don't. The food is a little foufy. I like big portions, don't expect that here. The vegetarian options are sometimes strange. They like to put things in dough packages. I ate vegetables I have never heard of or seen before. One night I had a dough package of peas served on a bed of beets. It still haunts my nightmares. Other nights, however, I had delicious pasta or this odd stew that I reluctantly admitted I liked despite first turning my nose up at it. They also have the option to pay $20 or $30 and get lobster, etc.
They try to be fancy at dinner and men are required to wear long pants and a collared shirt. This, however, meant entirely different things to different people. Some people went to dinner in jeans and a casual button-up. Some wore khakis. I don't know why shorts weren't acceptable. It is stinking hot out! A couple of nights the dinner was buffet, which was very good each time. They had live entertainment a couple times we were there. Would be nice if they did that every night because the steel drum bands were really cool, especially the bad that played Caribbean versions of bad (but awesome!) 80s tunes like Africa.
Also, the restaurant runs on island time, so expect meals to start late.
The resort is all inclusive so you don't have to tip. We did not see anyone else tipping while we were there, but we tipped. Maybe a couple bucks for a meal and a $1 for a drink. These people work very hard for probably not much money. A few dollars in tips goes a long way! People remember you and, as a result, you get much better service. The service was still efficient and friendly for those who didn't tip, but, trust me, you will see a difference if you do. Everyone appreciates good service so tip a little :)
I loved, loved, LOVED the beach. In front of the oceanfront bungalows, there is a tiny strip of beach which no one ever used. Really it is useless, but I suppose you could put a chair there. If you don't mind the stingrays that try to eat the schools of little fish. There are large strips of beach on each side of the hotel. Facing the ocean, the beach to the left is the best. Walk through reception and you can access it through there. There is also another hidden stretch of beach beyond that side. If you want to get to the beach on the right side (on the way to Cocos and Jolly Harbour), you either have to wind around and find a way to get to it or scale over rocks and go through the water. We chose the water route and saw two sting rays which scared the crap out of me. I don't think anyone from our resort really used that beach although there are a TON of shells there. On the beach to the left, there are plenty of beach chairs, you just have to set them up yourself or take the ones closest to everyone else. Folks who want a bit of privacy will force their husbands to drag chairs down the beach a ways. It feels so much more private and lovely down there. Some locals come down to the beach, but it is not at all bothersome. People do politely sell jewelry and excursions, but if you tell them no, they leave you alone. You can also rent a jet ski right there for $50, I think. The beach is so beautiful. Just breathtaking, really. And the water is clear and the warmest water I've ever experienced. There is none of that cold shock you get when you get in the ocean other places. The view is amazing. Just move your chairs down the beach to get away from everyone else if you like quiet and unobstructed views.
The only place you can easily walk from Cocobay is Dennis' Bar and Grill, the large house-like structure on top of the hill with flags flying. Good food up there, although there is no A/C outside so it is a wee bit sticky. I would recommend checking it out just for the view. Take your camera!
We took a taxi to Jolly Harbour, which was a giant waste of time except for the grocery store. It was cool to see some of the different items there for sale. Jolly Harbour has a few shops but it looks like a tumbleweed should blow through. The casino is closed. Boo!
We also took a cab into St. John, the capital. It was like maybe 4:30 p.m. when we got there and everything was closing because there were no cruise ships in. The capital was the only place in Antigua where we didn't feel absolutely safe. There were only maybe six other tourists there. I'll be honest, it was a tad shady. The casino is small, but nice and clean, but we made sure to get out of there before dark. Plenty of shops to look around in, but take a buddy ... or 12.