2017 was the first Thanksgiving of my life where I didn’t eat turkey for dinner, and I have to say, it was probably my best one yet. My dad’s 70th birthday was in August, and for this monumental birthday, he wanted to have the whole family together on vacation over Thanksgiving. We originally rented a villa in Anguilla (hey, that rhymes!), but had to shift gears after the hurricanes wrecked havoc on the Caribbean, and somehow Antigua made it through unscathed.
There were 12 of us total – my folks, me and John, both my sisters, their husbands, and their four (total) kids. If I’m being honest, I was a liiiiiiiittle nervous about having the entire family under one roof for a whole week for the first time in… years. We’re all pretty intense and 12 people, including 4 kids between 2 and 10, is a lot, but everyone got along really well and it was one of the best vacations I’ve been on!
To start, the villa we stayed at, Perfect Sunshine, was absolutely breathtaking. Here’s the view from the back porch, looking out over our private (!) infinity pool and the resort itself.
And this is was view from the back balcony every.single.night.
Another reason I loved this trip so much was that John and I went snorkeling every day while we were there, and saw some pretty cool stuff!
The island itself has 365 (!) beaches, and we made the rounds visiting quite a few during our stay.
One of the other really fun things we did was take a sunset cruise, which was actually my and my sisters’ gift to my parents, and we spent about 4 hours cruising around on a private catamaran.
And then when the sun started to set it was hard not to be mesmerized by the view.
The one downside, and I’m not even sure I’d call it that, was that food was REALLY expensive in Antigua. We cooked breakfast at the villa each morning (and by “we”, I mean my sister Wendy) and for the most part ate one meal out per day and cooked the other at home. We had some great meals out, including lunch at the Beach Bum Bar & Grill (times two).
Lunch at Papa’s By the Sea (side note: it’s REALLY hard to take a selfie and get 12 people in the photo. This was my best try…)
And probably my favorite meal of the trip – a whole red snapper grilled with garlic butter, plus fries, veggies and salad on the side from OJ’s Bar & Restaurant.
The only other thing that was less than ideal were the roads in Antigua. I’ve traveled in the Caribbean quite a bit and there’s usually potholes and narrow roads, but Antigua took it to a whole different level. The roads were so narrow it didn’t feel like two cars could get through side by side, and cars were randomly parked on the side of the narrow streets all over the place. Our villa was a bit isolated so we had to drive about 45 minutes to get to the other side of the island, and it was really intense each time. We ended up on a few dirt roads that were mostly just potholes on top of each other and I definitely considered getting out of the car and walking a time or two.
The best part of the trip was getting to spend solid quality time with my family, which is much rarer than I’d like it to be these days. I remember when I first got out of college and went home for the holidays and was shocked that I only got one day for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It felt like it was time to head back to DC/get into work mode before I’d even realized the holiday was upon us, and that’s continued to be one of the things I struggle the most with in terms of adulting.
The upside to that is it makes times like these that much more precious.
Who knew I was such a sap!?