A Week of Good Wind and Sailing

Nonsuch Bay Resort, Antigua !!

March 2016

The Set-Up

We enjoy sailing and mostly in small boats, such as Hobie Cats. In the past we have frequented Club Med resorts as they used to have quality sailing equipment such as Hobie 16s rather than the more typical (and much less fun) Hobie Waves. Over the past few years, however, Club Med has phased out the Hobie 16s and the windsurfing equipment has also gone downhill. We decided to look and see if we could find someplace that had the kind of sailing equipment we enjoyed.

Southern coastline of Antigua on approach for landing.

We had visited a Sunsail resort in Antigua back in 2000 and they had good sailboats but they closed and went out of business about 10 years ago. I did my research, somewhat concentrating on Antigua, and found that the Nonsuch Bay Resort was focused on sailing, including Hobies, so we decided to give it a try. If nothing else, it would be an opportunity to get out of relatively cold Atlanta weather in early March and spend a week in the warm Caribbean.

The Antigua airport has a nice new terminal building.

Getting there and back

We utilized the Delta non-stop flight from Atlanta to Antigua on Tuesdays. The flights were relatively lightly loaded, probably about 50% full. First class seats were going for little more than coach, so we splurged on this trip. We were glad we did as these were some of the most pleasant flights we have ever been on, mostly because of the lead Flight Attendant, Cheryl. She just did things right, including asking us when we wanted our meals, rather than sticking to the somewhat strange "official schedule". Cheryl and the other FAs were attentative, friendly, and just plain nice. As we got off the plane in Antigua, she asked if we were returning on the Tuesday flight next week and when we said yes, she said that she was looking forward to seeing us again and it sounded like she really meant it. On the return trip she recognized us and remembered that we had an interest in wine (other than just drinking a lot of it). If you are ever on a Delta flight and have a silver haired lady named Cheryl as a Flight Attendant, consider yourself lucky and say "Hello" for us.

The flights were on time and smooth with the only issues being a long line for customs in Antigua (30 minutes arriving, 20 minutes departing) and a relatively long wait for our luggage back in Atlanta.

The Nonsuch Bay resort

The Nonsuch Bay resort sits on a bay on the eastern coast of Antigua. While it is a lovely location, it is somewhat isolated from most other popular areas in Antigua. Our room (apartment) was very roomy and nicely equipped. Since Nonsuch Bay Resort is a rental condo arrangement, all rooms are actually apartments of various sizes and configurations. We had a roomy living area with kitchen and a bedroom with very nice bath with a whirlpool tub and separate shower.

Our apartment was on the left, bottom level.

Housekeeping was efficient and the apartment was kept very clean and towels were changed almost every day. The design of our room limited the ability to take advantage of the constant breezes as the only way to really open up and bring the winds in was to completely open the multiple French doors. We didn't feel comfortable leaving these doors wide open unless we were sitting in the living area, so we generally turned on the (efficient) air conditioning in the bedroom in the evening and overnight, closing the door between the bedroom and living area. Also, if you leave the doors open very much, the birds have learned what little packs of sugar look like. They will fly into your room, pull a sugar packet out of the bowl and peck holes into it to get the sugar out, all on the kitchen counter.

The resort, as seen from out in the bay.

The resort is arranged in multiple tiers of buildings, with the lowest being just above the level of the beach. Each higher tier is situated so that it looks over the roofs of the tiers below it for a nice view of the bay. The only problem is that this places the third tier, where we were, rather high from the beach and restaurant areas, necessitating a climb of about 50 feet back to our room. We are very active and healthy so this was not a problem for us, but anyone who easily gets short of breath or has mobility issues should make sure they get an apartment on one of the lower levels.

The view of the bay from our balcony/patio.

The beach is rather small but nicely organized and well maintained. There were enough lounges and shade for everyone when we were there but might get crowded if the resort was full. The actual sandy part was rather narrow as the sea grass grew in close to the water's edge along most of the beach. The staff worked daily to keep the beach clean of drifting seaweed and quite a few people were wading or swimming in the water. I suspect some of them might have thought twice about that if they had noticed the numerous interesting looking jellyfish we saw floating along the edge of the water. I'm sure they must have been harmless or someone would have said something, but I decided to not pick one up and find out.

The beach, as seen from the open-air restaurant.

There are three pools, each with at least one "infinity edge" overlooking the bay. Two of the pools were nestled among the resort building and seemed to get quite a bit of use. The third one, however, was in a bit of a strange location, at the far end of the restaurant. It was in a beautiful setting and had a great view, but anyone going to that pool had to walk through the dining area to get to it. I think I only saw two people use this pool during the entire week.

The pool past the restaurant had a beautiful view but was lightly used.

The restaurant and food

Although you could purchase food outside the resort, bring it in and cook/eat in your room, we choose the easy way and purchased the all-inclusive option and so we ate all meals in the single restaurant, "The Bay". Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and dinner was full service.

At the entrance to 'The Bay'

Breakfast was good, but was starting to seem repetitive by the end of a week. There is a made-to-order omelet and egg station, but we are early starters and the station was not always "ready for business" when we got there right after they opened at 7:30. Lunch had something different each day, along with some items, like salad material, that did not change much. As is frequently the case at all-inclusive and buffet places, the food tended to be mildly flavored and lightly spiced.

The self-service buffet area for breakfast and lunch.

Meals included the "house wine", either white, rose or red. Unfortunately, it was not especially good. I'm not sure if this was to save a couple of dollars or to encourage guests to purchase better wines, but I would put the house wines in the "Two Buck Chuck" category. The wines we had on the flights to/from Antigua were much better than the Nonsuch house wines.

The evening meal was full service from a menu that changed about every two days. There were typically 4 or 5 choices of appetizer and the same number of entrees, including vegetarian options. Desert came from a separate menu that only changed once during the week, but they were very accommodating to special requests, such as just getting a serving of their delicious guava sorbet, rather than some pie and a little sorbet. One night they had a Bar-b-Q dinner, which was good, but one thing we missed was any kind of local style foods such as fungi and goat stew.

Part of the actual seating area for the restaurant. It did have a lovely view.

Service was very friendly and helpful, but not always prompt. We normally eat fairly quickly, but on two nights the full meal took 2 hours which included a lot of waiting between courses (appitizer, entree, desert). The open-air setting and the scenery are beautiful, but after about 90 minutes the chairs start getting hard and uncomfortable. When you come to dinner here, don't be in a hurry.

I would suggest that the resort provide the all-inclusive guests with some information on just how everything works. We got nothing to tell us how to sign in for a meal or how the reservations system worked, nor what we could (and could not) order from the bar. A little more information up-front would make things easier.


We came to this resort because they seemed to focus on sailing and appeared to have good equipment. We are experienced sailors and have sailed everything from a 12 ft. Sunfish to a 44 ft. cruising sailboat, but most enjoy small sailboats such as a Hobie-cat, especially the Hobie 16, and it is getting difficult to find anyone who rents such boats today.

Some of the boats lined up on the beach, including the operational Hobie 15.

Nonsuch has a number of types of sailboats including a Hobie 15 which is fun, but not quite as good as a '16. The Nonsuch literature had shown multiple Hobie 15s as available, but during our stay, only one was actually operational, so we had to "reserve" it ahead of time and it was frequently not available because it was very popular. (One Hobie 15 appeared to have been retired with the mast serving as a flagpole and the other one had a "problem with the jib" we were told.) Given the apparent popularity of the Hobie 15, it was disappointing that they did not have more available, especially since they appeared to have a definite surplus of about every other type of boat. All the other boats are from "RS Sailing", a relatively newcomer to the sailing scene. There were boats of various sizes and types from ones suitable for children to 24 ft keel boats. it did seen that all the RS boats were designed and equipped for high performance sailing and racing, although there were no organized regattas.

Another view of the sailboats. The Hobie 15 is gone, out sailing in the bay.

The high performance nature of these boats tend to make then rather "twitchy" and not really pleasant or appropriate for just going on a relaxing sail. While I sometimes enjoy sheeting in and blasting across the water as fast as I can go, sometimes I'd just like to go out and enjoy the water, wind, and sun in a more relaxed mode but none of the available boats seemed geared toward that.

Some of the cruising sailboats anchored in the cove at Green Island.

As part of the sailing activity on Mon., Wed., and Fri, a sailing instructor would take you out to Green Island (using a power dingy) for snorkeling and exploring. The day we did this the water was not very clear (visibility probably less than 20 feet), but we did see some interesting items/fish and did explore a small part of the island.

The Ballyhoos seemed to like to follow us around.

There were quite a few Ballyhoo (small fish with a long "beak" that are frequently used for bait), and they seemed to think we were either part of their family or were bringing them food as they tended to follow us around.

It was interesting watching the coming and going of various cruising sailboats in the bay. Most stayed out close to Green Island but some came in and anchored closer to the resort area.

Some of the cruising sailboats anchored in the bay in front of the resort.

One classic style sailboat stood out from the rest with its beautiful lines and amazingly tall mast. It was anchored out by Green Island most of the time and we passed by close to it on our snorkel trip.

A beautiful classic sailboat. The mast was twice as tall as any other sailboat around.

The Staff

Without exception, the staff at Nonsuch were wonderful. They were friendly, helpful, pleasant, and just nice to be around. The sailing team especially, (Denise, Akeem, Devon, and the others) were always glad to do whatever they could to help us and always with a smile and a friendly word. They were always willing to rig up a boat or two for our use and help us get started into the bay. If anyone needed instruction or lessons, the staff were happy to assist, such as when Akeem took us out and showed us how to sail the keel boat, which has a lot of lines to keep track of and adjust.

One of the hardest workers and friendliest was the Beach Attendant. Although we never made direct use of his services, it was hard not to notice him. He was there early, worked late, and was either delivering orders from the bar to the guests on the beach or helping to rake and clean the beach of seaweed. The restaurant staff were just as friendly and pleasant, yet it seemed that things sometimes fell through the cracks there. The bartenders mixed excellent drinks but we especially liked the way David made a Mojito. All of the Antigua people we met at the resort, in the airport, and the taxi driver, were friendly, helpful and pleasant.

All in all, it was a very pleasant visit.

Contact me via mike@hammocktree.us