There are a small cluster of places on Earth that really, absolutely, seem too good to be true. Here in London, the eclecticism of Sir John Soane’s Museum springs to mind, or that posh Spar in Walthamstow with organic wine on tap, and perhaps those dimly lit cellar booths beneath The Southwark Tavern. Jumby Bay, however, takes things to a whole new level. A 300-acre private island nestled in the blue seas of the Caribbean, the all-inclusive mega-resort is made up of a mix of hyper-luxurious, privately owned lodges rented out to the public, as well the Oetker Collection’s own swish suites and villas.
To make your way to this paradise, you’ll first need to touch down in another, Antigua, and take a breezy 10-minute boat ride on the speedy Jumby Bay yacht to the island’s shore, where you’ll recognise the pale, sandy beaches and teal, transparent waters from your daydreams. We made ourselves at home at the seven-bedroom Cocoa Beach villa, complete with pool, private beach, personal outdoor showers and enough loungers to capture the sun’s every ray. The vast kitchen — stocked with an endless supply of wine, champagne and snacks — was both supremely impressive and dangerously tempting. A short walk, cycle or — dare I say — tipsy golf buggy ride away, were three restaurants and countless bars, serving just about anything your heart desires.
The palatial yet peaceful 1830s Estate House was once the heart of the island’s only sugar plantation and is now hailed as one of Antigua and Barbuda’s finest dining establishments, boasting a modern menu inspired by the local landscape and the most heaven ly pistach io souf f lé. Meanwhile, the red snapper tacos at the Pool Grille and the Antiguan breakfast — a generous plate of eggs, chop-up (a moreish veggie mash of pumpkin, aubergine and spinach), salt fish, plantain, avocado and Johnny Cakes — on the Jumby Bay Veranda make for brilliant pre and post-swim delights.
Speaking of getting wet, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is more than one way to do so. A slow wander up the shallow sand bank in front of the Pool Grille promises greetings from some of the island’s most alluring residents: majestic, pre-historic-seeming hermit crabs, gigantic sea stars and their neighbours. And if it’s a full body dunk you’re after, there’s an endless array of all-inclusive watersports on offer — including waterskiing, windsurfing, wake-boarding, sailing, kayaking and snorkelling — to explore the island’s coral reefs.
For those seeking to experience a touch of local history and food, a trip to Antigua’s mainland is a must. Unesco World Heritage Site Nelson’s Dockyard, where the eponymous admiral once lived, the idyllic Pigeon Point Beach and, my favourite place, Caribbean Taste — where Grethel and Nick serve the very best curry goat rotis from their yellow and green home — are just a hop, sail and (admittedly rather bumpy) car ride away.
Beware, back on Jumby you might spot regular Piers Morgan in his shorts and flip-flops, but that’s nothing a Piña Colada on the beach won’t fix.
Rates at Jumby Bay Island start from £1,761 per night on an all-inclusive basis, including meals, drinks and access to all resort facilities (oetkercollection.com)