Thursday, September 1, 2016

My Solo Anguilla Adventure





The infamous (and unfiltered) Anguilla Blues :)

Since 2016 is the year of my 40th birthday - and traveling has been on my bucket list since I created my bucket list - I decided that this is the year I'd FINALLY start adding stamps to my passport.
 
I firmly believe that fun travel adventures and the ocean air is medicine for the soul.  I live a few blocks from the ocean, so I'm good there; but I never thought I could afford to travel like I wanted to. However, the past few years have made me realize that life is really short.. why wait?
 
Geraud's Bakery in Anguilla clearly understands the 'life is short' concept... #bacongoodness

Traveling to fabulous places doesn't have to cater to the rich and famous...  I quickly learned that if you do a little research and figure out some things ahead of time, you can have amazing adventures anywhere.

So, with my new outlook on living life and incorporating travel, this year I decided to line up a few trips for myself...

The first was a solo trip to Anguilla, an under-the-radar island in the Caribbean that's now my new home away from home because it is simply amazing.


Pretty Crocus Bay, Anguilla

This was my 2nd trip to Anguilla.  The first was on my honeymoon, 11 years ago.  The marriage may not have lasted but the memories of Anguilla did... including how the island smelled and the breathtakingly gorgeous beaches and the amazing food.  I've been wanting to go back ever since; plus, I really liked the thought of creating NEW Anguilla memories for myself.

My objectives as a solo traveler were:
  1. to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life
  2. attempt to remain budget-conscious on an island where budget can easily get out of hand
  3. quench my thirst for adventure
Managed to check all boxes in Anguilla!


Off-tune singing at Mango's back in June 2005
True to form, and just like 11 years ago, I obsessively researched the trip, to the point where I felt like I knew the island before I got there. 

This time though, since I was traveling solo, I could do WHATEVER I wanted.  I didn't have the big honeymoon budget this time (quite literally had a fraction of it) but I was able to do so much exploring and have an amazing experience.

So here's a recap of my time in paradise... I stayed 5 days, 4 nights which, of course, was not long enough.  All the more reason to get back sooner than later ;)

About as crowded as it got on Rendezvous Bay... this is my kinda crowd right here :)
(Dune Preserve in background)

omg.... first time driving on the left side of the road!
Day 1: I'm New England-born and raised, so I know rotaries/roundabouts... BUT navigating rotaries that go in the opposite direction from how my brain typically processes them was... apparently too much for my brain to process haha.  The first day of driving I kept veering off to the left when I would approach a rotary because I was so freaked out haha.  Luckily that wore off by day two.

First rum punch courtesy of Elvis' Beach Bar
 
I heard that Elvis made a great rum punch so of course I had to sample it for myself straight away!  After that, I walked to Barrel Stay and had an amazing sea scallop dinner... and my very first jonnycake :) They were playing the best 90s love songs... like random-old school-amazingness.  Truly the icing on the (jonny)cake for my first night in Anguilla.
 
My apartment view by day...


 
...My apartment view by dusk
Day 2: Now I'm a morning person but I was not prepared for my daily 3:30am wake-up call, ha.  I did not get the memo about the roosters in Anguilla. I will say though, it was lovely waking up to the sound of waves crashing in between all that cock-a-doodle-doo-ing.  I decided my first order of business was breakfast at Le Bon Pain in Island Harbour.

Anguilla's Jammin' jams... made in an aquaponic garden!

For some reason, I had a heck of a time trying to find it but so glad I did!  Best French bread ever.  Hugest egg sandwich ever.  Ate half of it on their palm-covered patio and decided to continue on to Shoal Bay East (after buying some cute Anguilla's Jammin' jams for souvenir gifts!).

One of about 45 pictures I took of the crystal clear water at Shoal Bay East. Doesn't even do it justice.  I could do an entire blog post on how awesome this beach is. 
 
I parked at Elodia's on Shoal Bay East, grabbed a chair, and proceeded to drain my phone battery while taking a million pictures because the beach really is that beautiful.  Oh, and sampled a rum punch of course!  After spending a good portion of the day there, I decided to take a drive to Zemi Beach House and check it out.  Amazing property. 

Self-guided tour of Zemi Beach House... the gorgeous pool area
My Bostonian winter skin had maxed out on sun exposure by this point, so I decided to head back and shower for dinner. 

I had dinner reservations at Veya for 8pm so I decided to chill on my deck for a bit and watch the sun set. Ronnie Bryan, who I rented my car from, happened to be in the area so he stopped by to take care of my paperwork. I asked him, "How did you know I would be here?" He said, "Well, if you weren't here, I'd just check back another time!" You gotta love the laidback, relaxed pace at which everything gets done in Anguilla! Not a nicer guy on the planet, by the way. 

I don't have pictures from Veya because, to be honest, it was the one place in which I felt slightly self-conscious being alone.  Veya was so busy and I was the only person dining solo.  I'm sure no one noticed or cared but I did feel self-conscious.  If I go back by myself, I will likely belly up to the bar instead of sitting at a table.  However, dinner was nothing short of spectacular. .. from the cauliflower soup amuse bouche to Bon Iver playing on the speakers when I came in (which changed to a live performance by Omari Banks), to the spicy jerk shrimp cigars... all fantastic.

Shoal Bay West; Covecastles Resort Villas in the background
Day 3: Today was all about the West Side!  I really wanted to explore that area so I first headed to Geraud's for breakfast (omg so good), then to Shoal Bay West (had the beach to myself), then decided to try and find the natural bridge...

You had me at "road close".... The sign that kick-started my impromptu West End hike
lol... road closed?  Ok, well let's get some steps in!  Next time I will know to bring sneakers instead of flip flops...


View from the end of my West End hike

West End stairway to heaven
Everything was so pretty... but seriously, where is the damn natural bridge??  Sadly, I didn't find it but I fully intend to when I go back to Anguilla!

Little pink houses, for you and me...  And goats on goats on goats.  Because... Anguilla.

Self-guided tour of Viceroy
I don't stay at the luxury places but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in them!  Decided to check out Viceroy (now the Four Seasons) and see what all the fuss is about. Super pretty, very nice.  Just FYI on the foot rinse machine... there is a top and a bottom button... the bottom button turns on the foot rinse, the top button turns on the shower it does NOT turn OFF the foot rinse. An unexpected shower is always a surprise but makes for a lovely walk back to the car in the Anguilla heat.

Since I was itching to do something active (hiking in flip flops didn't exactly qualify haha), I decided to drive to Da'Vida, rent a kayak, and paddle over to Little Bay.

Kayaking to Little Bay
THIS was one of my most favorite parts of the trip because it was such a unique experience to kayak to this cutie little beach.  Of course, while on Little Bay, I met a super nice couple who live the next state over from me because it really is such a small world.  (Shout out to Susan and Jay!)

Some people prefer to let the kayaks rest and have Calvin take them to Little Bay in his boat


Post-kayak fluid replenishment... frozen mojito at Da'Vida (Crocus Bay)



I know it's SO tough to tell but I'm really enjoying this
Later in the evening, I had dinner at Roy's Bayside then headed to the Pumphouse for Ladies Night!  In the few days that I had been on the island, I had the pleasure of meeting some great people who live on island - including my super friendly hosts - and they invited me out for a night with them.  Between the company, music, people-watching, and drinks... it was such a fun time! I don't know why we didn't think to take pictures (having too much fun I guess!) but next time for sure.

Tigger the cat just chillin' at Roy's  :)
Day 4: Unfortunately, roosters don't care how late you stay out at the Pumphouse... but I'd rather be tired in Anguilla than well-rested at work ;) I decided to have breakfast at Straw Hat and then take advantage of their loungers for a bit.  They were playing reggae versions of Prince, Adele, etc... it was great! Meads Bay is probably my 2nd favorite beach behind Shoal Bay East (not that far behind though!) and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out there. The adorable Frangipani resort is right next door, which I did not visit, but may have momentarily pretended that I did haha...

Frangipani Beach Resort pool (Meads Bay)


Frangipani has the cutest thatched umbrella and chairs (Meads Bay)


CuisinArt Resort - I found out after I took this pic, oddly enough, that this is the building I stayed in 11 years ago!
 
Speaking of frangipani... one of the things I *really* wanted to do when I went back to Anguilla is to go to Cuisinart, where I had stayed when I first visited the island 11 years earlier, and take in the intoxicating frangipani smell that I remembered.  The only problem was... when I got there, there was no smell!  If I'm being honest, the resort looked a little less "nice" than I remembered.  In fairness though, I was there 11 years earlier AND on my honeymoon so probably had my head in the clouds. I was probably even thinking the lizards were "cute" back then ;)  Decided to lift my spirits with a visit to the Sunshine Shack...
 
 

Met this cutie on Rendezvous Bay... she didn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish but we got along just fine :)

Sunshine Shack was the perfect antidote to feeling letdown from Cuisinart... Garvey makes a mean frozen margarita, the beach is perfect (I think Rendezvous Bay rounds out my top 3!), and I saw Susan and Jay that I met at Little Bay! 

MA license plate, front and center, at Sunshine Shack!


Me and Sunshine Shack's friendly owner, Garvey

After a relaxing afternoon at Rendezvous Bay, I went back to Sandy Ground to chill for a bit then went to Zemi Beach House to see Mystic Vibes perform.  Can't think of a better way to spend my last night on the island :)

My adorable little studio apartment in Sandy Ground...

...which is also the perfect spot for sunset viewing...
...And is managed by the best people ever who actually BAKED me a delicious carrot cake treat for my flight home!!
Day 5: Last day, so sad :( Decided to finish strong with a walk on the beach, breakfast at Geraud's one last time, a quick visit to Cove Bay, then headed for AXA. I flew in and out of AXA primarily because it was much cheaper than flying to SXM.  Although I've heard of issues with travel through AXA, I had zero issues and a very pleasant experience :)

Where I stayed... if you are familiar with Anguilla and Sandy Ground, you can probably guess where I stayed from my pics... right above Roy's Bayside Grill! I found out about this place from BeachBarBums and I couldn't be more grateful.  As a solo traveler, this is exactly what I wanted... somewhere safe, that my wallet could handle, and located directly on the beach.  This is a self-service apartment, so not in the same echelon as the luxury, high-end places that Anguilla has come to be known for, but I wasn't looking for anything fancy.  This place was perfect for me and I absolutely loved it.

Planning the itinerary now for my May 2017 Anguilla trip... stay tuned for the recap!


Have you ever traveled solo?  If not, would you?? 

4 comments:

  1. Loved hearing from another solo lady. I travel solo lots. Mostly AXA but go to mountains NC and CO as well. I live in Boston (well actually North Quincy) Got married on Anguilla in 2003 but after divorcing in 2010 have been going solo and love it. I was impressed with your courage to dine out to the higher end places. I cannot bring myself to do that.
    Roys, Lebar, Tasty's,E's and Arawak type places work fine for me. Also am very budget conscious. Never stayed on Road Bay but its one of my favorite places on the entire planet! I am looking forward to 2 weeks late May into June at Anguilla Great House this year so if you are visiting then do let me know! And of course, safe travels.

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    1. Thank you Brenda! It looks like we'll be missing each other by a week or so in Anguilla this year but I fully intend to make this a yearly adventure! I would love to make it back to CO also... I went a few years ago and loved it!

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  2. I loved your report, but the pictures made it even better. I am glad I checked your blog – good job!
    The frozen Mojito at DaVida is one of my favorite drinks, I get that and my DH gets the rum punch and we split a Supreme pizza, it is really good.
    I admire your free spirit, thanks for posting.
    Ellen

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    1. Aw thank you Ellen - I appreciate that! And I will definitely have to try the pizza next time I'm at DaVida!

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