Jumby Bay, Antigua, West Indies
the Summer Joys of Jumby Bay
Frommer & Jeff Schock
several hundred years, Jumby Bay Island was known as Long Island,
because of an illusion created by its elongated appearance in
combination with an uninhabited island nearby when witnessed from
the Antiguan mainland. It stands virtually alone and is
actually somewhat oval shaped but there is no denying the scale of
its copious delights. Two decades ago it was renamed Jumby Bay
Island, in homage to the ever-present and playful local apparitions
know as Jumbie or “friendly ghosts” described in local Arawak
|Once a sugar plantation, flint mine and later a sheep ranch rented
to emancipated slaves, the island found its true calling when it was
first developed as an exclusive resort and residence community in
1983. Today this private enclave attracts visitors from all over the
world mostly from the Northeastern US, Europe and South America.
It’s a member of Elegant Resorts International, and is owned by
the Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club. Jumby Bay is a
constituent of the British Leewards, located just 2 miles off the
northeast coast of Antigua, West Indies, in the warm waters of the
View from the watchtower at Pond Bay Villas
With a modern international airport near by, it’s no wonder that
Antigua’s easy accessibility factors into many holiday decisions to
resort occupies 85 of the island’s 300 acres, and is home to endangered
species of turtles, lizards, rare birds, sheep descended from its first
settlers, and a few well endowed two legged hedonistic transplants.
Mediterranean-styled pavilions, replete with tile roofs, watchtowers, wild
orchids and lush tropical foliage are spread throughout the property. Each
suite has a water view and is built along the bayside, off from the beach
to promote privacy with access to the cool breezes. The villas are
connected by bike paths that crisscross the island and make getting around
a snap whether your mode of transportation is dirt bike, hoofing it or via
visitors fall under its spell and come back year after year.
Some join the ranks of kindred spirits who’ve bought property and become
full time residents on permanent vacation. Robin Leach, host of the
ever-popular television show ”Life Styles of the Rich and Famous,”
became one of the enchanted transplants creating a magnificent Italian
palazzo with swimming pool, tennis court, and four separate guesthouses
that truly rivals the caviar taste of his celebrity subjects. The
novelist, Ken Follet, also owns a home here and is rumored to play a mean
game of croquet when he’s not hammering out best sellers on his
The Great House
|The potential for celebrity hobnobbing, combined with sharply
reduced off-season rates makes Jumby Bay a very attractive summer
destination. If you depart from the Northeast as we did, you won’t
spend an entire day getting there. We booked a reservation, studied
up on Antiguan poltergeist, packed the bare essentials and headed
down to Jumby Bay last August for an action packed few days of fun
in the sun underlined by romance.
to Jumby Bay is remarkably easy, including the 2-mile voyage from
Antigua’s VC Bird International airport. We caught a 6:00AM flight out
of JFK, connected through San Juan, and were cleared through Antigua
customs at around 12:45PM. At the airport, we were met by hotel
representatives and quickly whisked away to private ferryboat—five
minutes by minivan from the airport.
the dock, we were welcomed aboard with a choice of rum punch or soda, and
offered cool towels to freshen up. We relaxed under shade of a
covered deck, enjoying our drinks and the sweet Caribbean music heard on
barely had time to snap a off a few photos, when we arrived at resort’s
guest dock, cheerfully greeted by Jumby Bay’s general manager, Rudi
Schoenbein. Rudi, a jovial European with a vast experience in the
travel trade, insists on personally meeting all guests upon arrival.
We were the sole passengers at this welcoming party, just two journalists
from New York who couldn’t wait to hit beach.
first visual impression, off the boat, is an awe-inspiring view of Jumby
Bay Beach. Not wanting to waste another minute, we hopped on board a
Jumby Limo—golf cart—and were quickly delivered to our suite at the
Pond Bay House.
|Jumby Bay has 39 junior suites and 11 two-and-three bedroom
villas. Some of the larger villas have their own plunge pools and
golf-carts. All villas have louvered doors and windows and feature
four-poster beds in dark mahogany resting on terra cotta tile
The villas are spacious, and cool when you step inside. A floral
theme pervades the bedding and couches. Our luxurious one bedroom
suite with living room was located on the first floor at the Pond
Bay House. The villa had an adjoining living area with a television,
stereo, table, chairs and desk. It also had a small kitchen with a
refrigerator, sink and stove.
Bike paths connect crisscross Jumby Bay Island
|The amenities were plentiful with unusually large bottles of
designer toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, and aloe
Vera gel – a very important sun survival ingredient. All villas
had both front and back entrances. The back of our villa faced the
bay. A large patio ran the length of the villa with entrances from
both the living area and bedroom. Air-conditioning is a new
convenience at Jumby Bay, and necessary in the summer. You can open
the louvered doors and create very acceptable cross venation if
you’re not the air-conditioned type.
|We unpacked our bags and quickly changed into our swimming suits,
and lounged on the beach savoring the mid-day rays, toasting chilled
cocktails, feeling so lucky that we had been spared the Labor Day
traffic back home. Here on Jumby Bay we had the whole beach to
ourselves, we dared not imagine what the crowds where like erstwhile
on Long Island…. New York.
Antigua is known for its beaches, with as many beaches as there
are days in a year. Jumby Bay has three very distinctive beaches,
and its pristine white sands are considered among the best in the
Jumby Bay Beach
are oodles of water activities on site, everything from water skiing, wind
surfing, sailing, snorkeling, and kayaking and more. Conversely, one
can be left alone to enjoy the fine art of tanning at the water’s edge
— a flag wave from imminent service. At its heart and by design
it’s a romantic playground, an ideal spot for weddings and active
Another view of Jumby Bay Beach
|Whether you’re thinking of tying the knot next week or next
year, Jumby Bay can host your nuptials with a Wedding Plan that
includes everything from a marriage license to champagne &
wedding cake. Those who are a little further down the road to
spousal bliss will be pleased to know that children are now welcome
year-round at Jumby Bay. A change from the time the resort was
off limits to children under eight during the winter season.
new health-club was just built and is housed in a wooden hut-like
structure with exercise machines and free weights. Expect an excellent
view of the ocean from the treadmill. In all honesty, we made it to
the gym only once during our stay, preferring to exercise our limited time
on the beautiful beaches, lazy hammocks, swift sunfishes or between the
pages of a good book.
Bay is an all-inclusive resort and all meals—Breakfast, Lunch and
Dinner-- and activities are included in the daily rate. Price should
not be an issue when deciding what to do each day. Access to water
activities is located at the sports shack down by the guest dock, and all
equipment and instruction can be acquired there. They even have some
varnished conch shells, which will cost you an extra few bucks depending
on size. The water sports team is on-deck from early morning until early
evening. They are very experienced in a range of disciplines and don’t
mind patiently coaching impatient beginners or guiding experts to new
levels. Choices run the gamut from water-skiing to kayaking, and
with enough sunfish rigged for a regatta, there’s plenty of equipment to
satisfy any craving or competitive urge.
|Boating is confined to a designated area within sight of the
sports shack for obvious safety reasons, unless accompanied by a
captain. We traveled with a folding kayak, which we used once -- at
our own risk -- to circumnavigate the entire island for the purposes
of this article. In hindsight, we should have left kayak at home,
because schlepping the extra 40-pound duffle bag was like taking
sand to the beach, and you can explore the whole island by bicycle
without any problem.
Kayaking in Jumby Bay
View from the top of Bird Island
had almost unlimited access to everything including our favorite
diversion-- a speedboat and captain.
loved the day-trips to uninhabited islands, or along Antigua’s
coastline. A popular excursion is to Bird Island, which became a
national park in 1996. A picnic lunch is provided: conch sandwiches,
pickles and rum-punch, and a cooler full of beverages ranging from
beer to ice tea.
It was exhilarating to zigzag around coral reefs and motor through the
gentle seas, guided to choice spots on the map, which have all been
immaculately maintained and preserved. We spent several afternoons
exploring the warm shallow waters, and learned much about indigenous coral
formations and the endless varieties of sea life. If you climb to
the top of Bird Island, you’ll understand why it’s called “Bird”
island. Island life is beautifully simple.
morning we dressed for the beach and rode our bikes down to the Verandah
Terrace for breakfast. We sipped strong coffee and read an
abbreviated fax of the morning paper, with a confidence building crossword
puzzle. There is always a morning special and we enjoyed their
“crab omelets” with a very spicy island hot sauce. Whether you’re
hungry as a barracuda, or interested in fat-free fare to power your day,
the breakfast buffet serves a cornucopia of fresh tropical fruits,
pastries, juices and cereals. Tiny yellow finches fluttered in the rafters
and were a constant amusement each morning as they aimed for errant
is also served on the Verandah Terrace, and is an efficient pit stop
between activities – soup, salad, fruit, meat, chili, fish, cheese, rice
and beans – you name it. Fresh chicken, meat, and fish are cook on an
open grill to your specifications. Both Breakfast and Lunch are
casual affairs designed to get you back to the beach and or to your next
tennis or windsurfing lesson without delay. One afternoon during lunch the
resort surprised us with a 14-piece steel-drum band called The Westside
Symphony which set up in the wooden gazebo by the beach. They
pounded out tropical favorites like “Kingston Town,” as much for each
other as this audience of two. If you like to be on your own and on
your way, the kitchen can also pack a box lunch for a picnic on Pasture
British tradition of “Tea Time” is maintained at Jumby Bay. It
is served every afternoon complete with the appropriate sandwiches and
cookies. Or you can skip the caffeine rush and head straight for the
Terrace Bar for cocktails - open throughout the day and well into the
evening hours. We always had a great time at the Terrace Bar and met
several of the homeowners who use the resort like a club. Genevieve the
effervescent barmaid--seen in the broacher with a pallet of "frosties"--
is a jolly Antiguan, who kept the drinks coming and the conversation
flowing. “My mother wanted me to be nurse, but I guess a bartender is
the next best thing! “ she joked with a wide smile. She has been a
fixture at the resort since 1985 and enjoys her tenure, “This is by far
the best place to be on all of Antigua.” She had a special drink for
each sunset, concocting her magical potions with fresh coconut, pineapple
and assorted rums with the skill of a sorceress. The drinks were blended
in a sound proof box at the end of the bar which was a nice touch. She
even brought in her own Island Drink Recipe book for further
experimentation. We found the entire staff to be an attentive fun loving
bunch, and one of the resorts many joys, even with a strict adherence to
the resort’s no tipping policy.
the day is done, and the sun goes down, we looked forward to shifting
gears anticipating the evening’s festivities. Dinner is handled
like an event, a nice contrast to sun drenched casual days on the beach.
It’s generally served at the Estate House, which sits at the eastern end
and highest point of the island. After spending our days in bathing suits
and sarongs, it was fun to dress and primp for dinner. When we were
dressed and ready, we placed a call to the front desk and within minutes
the “Jumby limo” would arrive to drive us along the windy paths to the
Estate House. The vespertine trade winds stirred the fragrance of
wild orchids along our path, past palm trees, and a sugar mill – one of
two, still in existence on the island. In its day, a windmill would be
turning a grinding wheel.
|Today it serves as a lookout tower, which is a terrific photo
opportunity of the entire property. The sugar mill is quite
notorious as a popular site for couples where many a man has
crouched before his beloved on bended knee and waited anxiously for
an answer to his proposal. According to local rumor, the site
has a terrific success rate, , and we highly recommend it. If the
muse or a giggling Jumbie does not sway you, then you certainly
can’t help but be moved by the romantic setting.
One of the island’s two remaining sugar mills
General Manager Rudi Schoenbein
|The Estate House is the main and most formal dining facility at
the resort, an authentic English manor house dating back some 230
years. Before diner, we enjoyed a martini straight up
with a couple olives in the library/bar on the second floor – a
cozy bar with a few books on shelves worth pursuing, attached to an
outdoor deck which is a great after dinner perch for cigar
smokers—Cubans are available at the bar for purchase. After our
preprandial, we’d slowly drift to an openair courtyard where
dinner was served by candlelight. The setting is dark, romantic and
|The staff offers small pin-lights to help illuminate the menu and
wine list. Carsten Stelzer has been recently appointed
as head chef. He was formally executive chief at Ariel Sand’s
Beach Club in Bermuda. Carsten does a fine job, and works hard
to make each line item on the menu a savory special. A live
musician would play an electronic piano and fill the night with
popular ballads as we sipped the house chardonnay and sampled items
like garlic and thyme soup, Caribbean paella, and baby jumbo shrimp.
The days would fly by in a rush of activity like a tattooed steel
drum, while the nights would linger in the exhaled exchange airborne
of a fine Cuban cigar.
late night nature lovers there is one popular late night activity found in
an annual phenomenon called turtle season. Pasture Bay Beach is the
nesting site for the Hawksbill Turtle, one of the most endangered sea
turtles in the tropical regions of the world. Since 1987 The University of
Georgia and Jumby Bay Island sponsor two biologists during the
peak-nesting season. This year the University sent 2 lovely student
biologists who earned the sobriquet “the turtle girls,” for
their good looks and dedication. Their job is to patrol the beach between
8PM until 5AM from June 15 to November 15th and assist the Hawksbill
Turtle in a tedious nesting process that takes place only at night. It
offers the guest at Jumby Bay the chance to see the egg laying process in
its natural habitat.
Rudi’s “Managers Party” we finally hooked up with the turtle girls,
who only come out at night. Perri Mason and Heidi Gerstung,
described the Hawksbill ritual as something resembling a huge dinosaur
coming out of the surf, laboring up the beach to lay 150 peristaltic eggs
before returning to the sea hours later. We signed up immediately!
All guests are encouraged participate, and if a turtle is spotted you’re
called in the middle of the night to witness mother Nature’s miracle
first hand. The turtles don’t hit the beach every night, and none
were spotted during our watch, confirming that it is a rare occurrence,
and another reason to return to Jumby Bay Island next season for a second
The lap Pool
|The Caribbean is often overlooked as a summer destination because
it’s considered too hot. Pure mythic humbug. The
climate in Antigua is the best in the Caribbean with little
rainfall. Constant sea breezes and trade winds keep the air
fresh and cool. The temperatures average a pleasant 81 degrees
in high season and around 89 degrees between May and November, which
is just right by our standards. It’s wise to monitor the weather
from your homeport, and we suggest that you pay particular caution
to September and October when hurricanes do occur.
these two months, the Caribbean is a good bet. The biggest change you’ll
experience from one season to the next is the off-season rates.
If you enjoy the beach, pool, tennis and water sports, covet endangered
wildlife, then perhaps you should reconsider your plans for next Summer
with Jumby Bay at the top of your list. We suggest you rest up,
because Jumby Bay Island is open twenty-four hours a day, all year long.
Villas set back from the beach
On board the ferry to Jumby Bay
Information or reservations, call 1-800-237-3237 or at the hotel direct
you’re interested in purchasing a piece of paradise you can call Don
Tate directly at Jumby Bay Island: 268-560-4331 or via email www.jumbybayrealestate.com
Frommer & Jeff Schock
are a wife and husband team specializing in Caribbean and
Mexican travel and cuisine from a multimedia perspective.
Frommer is a Marketing Executive for one of America’s leading
teen magazines and former Vice President of Entertainment for Sony Music.
Schock is writer and television producer who creates entertainment
programming for networks such as MTV, HBO,
and the Disney Channel.
Frommer and Schock are currently at work
on an in-depth feature on the influences of music on Cuban culture.
You can reach the authors at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Article is Copyright © 2003 by
Frommer & Jeff Schock.
All rights reserved worldwide.