The Jolly Beach Resort is perfect for those travellers looking for a budget all inclusive stay in Antigua. It runs an all-inclusive plan that includes limited water sports (SUP, Kayaking) food and drinks.
Review and Resort Information updated October 2023 with a real paid for stay!
About Jolly Beach Resort
Editors note: The Jolly Beach Resort reopened in 2023 through the Elite Islands chain. Another different owner yet not so much has ever changed.
Generally, the hotel reviews are what you would expect for a 3* with the staff coming out on top as helpful and accommodating. However, if you choose to book a Super Saver room, the feedback seems to suggest these are very compact and offer little storage for a couple - more suited to a single traveller. For this trip review, we stayed in the next tier after Super Saver.
The pool area if you are staying in the resort a good few days (you should) is very nice however the main pool is currently best avoided due to green algae discolouring the pool check on our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/antiguatravel for the current situation.
It does lack a bit of shade now and again but I would give it 8/10. Having such a sizeable area to swim in is nice and the pool bar with all-inclusive drinks is addictive of course. Currently, there is very limited entertainment- which you should also consider. The beach is excellent however and you might say saves the resort.
Around The Resort Area
Location wise its well placed being quite close to the capital St Johns and in a very vibrant tourist area in the South West. You can walk to the Epicurean supermarket in 10 minutes which is very handy and not many resorts can say that!
Some local places to check out include all of the restaurants and bars of Jolly Harbour, Popup Beach Bar (formerly Castaways), has a particularly nice vibe now - you can walk along the beach to this venue. If you fancy some late-night drinking then just north via the beach is Sandras and Popup. Also, the Cantina Mexican (formerly WestPoint) in Jolly Harbour is the only option. De Underdog bar is now closed but look out in season for it and we don't recommend it because we no longer know it.
Beaches of note that you might like to visit include Darkwood Beach and Love Beach (officially Crab Hill Beach). Sugar Ridge Resort also sometimes has some music events in their public bar. Sugar Ridge is currently closed for extensive renovations.
Generally, you will find yourself eating in the main restaurant The Palms which is indoors. The food is ok but does not cater to specific dietary requirements.
Breakfast 7 am-10 am; Lunch 12 pm – 2 pm; Dinner 6:30 pm-10 pm
You may also find the pool area snack bar (Coconut Grill 12:00 pm to 4:45 pm) has great fast food perfect for your guilty pleasure. I especially like the cheeseburgers. It can take a bit of a wait to get served but it's all within ok times even when the resort is very busy.
Other restaurants are limited in 2023 probably even 2024. The a la carte exists and we enjoyed the single time we ate it was an Italian evening. We recommend getting out to one of the local restaurants in Jolly Harbour and the area notably Miracles (10 mins walk) and The Big Head Lobster (20 mins walk).
Resort Bars and Entertainment
As of 2023, the following* is dated. However, the resort is working to get back to the following state we hope. If you arrive in 2023 you will only have access to the evening bar at reception which works ok. Coffee and Tea self-serve is available from around 7 a.m. until late afternoon when it may run out.
*(Dated but useful) There is the evening bar a long bar with dancing and an entertainment area (make sure you check out some steel pan music one evening) - well frequented for the evenings - the entertainment truly excels and provides an antidote to the ageing rooms and general gripes. During the day the main pool which is very large but lacks much shade has music and entertainment ranging from a cupcake eating contest, and tug of war with 'Charn' a funny talented entertainer, water volleyball, bingo etc..
Don't miss the fire dance when it happens during your week and the beach BBQ. The large pool has a swim-up bar - perfect to have a Pina Collada or Rum Punch at while making new friends. One evening you get a chance to listen to the manager Mr Antoine Brown and his key staff as he welcomes you for a drink and canapes in the lovely courtyard area.
The resort has a poorly equipped gym but is worth a look if you prefer to do something. There is no SPA currently in 2023.
There is a tour desk ready to help you organise your way around the island but if you take a look at these excursions and tours you can book online directly and save money. Car hire similarly is slightly cheaper to arrange directly from here.
Golf is an option to be paid and arranged separately this is part of the Jolly Harbour complex. Tennis courts are on the resort site and not included in the all-inclusive plan but go ask if you like to hit.
There is a games room with 1 table tennis (ping pong) and 2 pool tables and another outside for the 'young' and 'old'. Speaking of the young see the children and kids section.
Shopping is well catered for by the single shop onsite which has quite good prices but in USD make sure to take your plane ticket to get your tax deducted. For other items Jolly Harbour has a well-stocked supermarket (the Epicurean) with almost everything you could need with ATMs inside and also around the other shops of Jolly Harbour.
As of 2023 there is only now SUP and Kayaking. They have brought in water hammocks which do extend the enjoyment of the sea here. The following** is now outdated but I have hopes that Elite will bring them back.
(Outdated historical information)** Complimentary non-motorized water sports include Windsurfing, Hobie Cat (small catamaran), Kayaking, and Paddle Boats. Free lessons where needed run at 10 am daily for example if you have never tried Hobie Cat before. The Water Sports Center is available every day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can find guys renting Jetskis from just on the beach - this is apart from the resort offerings.
If you do decide to do JetSki please think about swimmers and some of us swim far from the beach.
Children and Families
Only kids above 12 years old can stay. As the resort currently is in 2023 I would say it could be limited interest and you would need to get some internet for them with a local SIM card. Beware there is no pool lifeguards or even at sea so you must watch them yourself.
Jolly Beach Resort Holidays and Booking
Check the prices and reviews on the two engines below for your dates. You can find a good flight deal to get a bargain.
With the cheapest rooms comes the least space as they put it "Best suited for singles or intimate, value-oriented couples" Still with all you really need from a hairdryer to a/c and a balcony to enjoy a quiet sitdown in private. No fridge!
A bigger room even ok I would say for a couple and 2 children at a push with a bed for each if available. Air-conditioned, hairdryer, TV, direct dial telephone, in-room pay safe.No fridge!
These are better suited to families and larger sets. All rooms with two Queen beds, shower and bath, balcony or patio. At this point, refrigerators appear.
A bit more space than a Queen but a single king bed. Getting married then consider this room set in a quieter more heavenly part of the resort.
- Junior Suite
A separate living space might be right for you but again better for couples.
Only 4 on request - close to the ocean these 1 or 2-bedroom varieties can sleep up to 5.
* All guests must be 12 years of age or older to stay at Jolly Beach Antigua. A Resort Fee of US$12 per room per night and a statutory Tourism Levy of US$5 per guest per night apply to all bookings and are payable locally at the resort.
The rooms are finished in a basic stippled artex in white. They are cleaned daily and towels are replaced as needed. They seem to have this part of their resort running okay.
It should be noted that there is normally NO WIFI in the rooms they do claim to have some rooms with wifi but it needs to be organised separately and this would be reserved for the higher-end rooms. But again check in advance using the contact details here.
Overall, it would appear most customers have found the location excellent and the beach 5* but have said it could do with some refurbishment.
Jolly Beach Resort Location Map
Videos of Antigua Jolly Beach Resort
Getting to Jolly Beach Resort
Jolly Beach Resort's Recent History
A rebrand happened in 2017 managed under the name Starfish so the Jolly Beach Resort was called the Starfish Jolly Beach Resort until recently. In 2021,2022 the resort closed pending sale or lease it has now re-opened in 2023 under Elite Island Resort and we went to check it out for a week's stay.
Coming shortly updated reviews.
Usually, customers of Jolly Beach Resort allow us to use their photos, here is where we credit them.
Catherine Kaminski- Rainbow over the main resort building.