08 December 2014

Making the Most of our Last Day on the Island

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It's hard to believe that Monday is our last full day on the island.  Time always goes by quickly when we're on vacation, to be sure.  But it seems to be especially fleet when it comes to vacation in Anguilla. That morning, since Geraud's is closed, we take the easy way out and head up the road to Straw Hat for breakfast.


It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and bright, and the view looking over Meads Bay was really lovely. Ava had the pancakes, DH ordered some poached eggs & toast, while I opted to try the scallion potato pancakes à la Benedict.  It was a very satisfying breakfast and I loved the texture in mine.  The pesto Hollandaise wasn't bad, either!



After breakfast, we headed back to Caribella because we had a date with Ronnie Bryan to settle up about our rental car.  Ava entertained herself skipping rocks on the beach while we chatted with Ronnie and admired the photos of his newborn son that we made him promise to bring.  After that, we packed up our beach bags and headed out for Irie Life so that Ava could do a bit more shopping for her family and so that DH and I could pick up a few things for our housemates, too.  I also lightened my wallet buying an Omari Banks cd and a new beach cover up for myself while I was at it.

Leaving Irie Life, we saw a pretty big boat at anchor in Road Bay -- much bigger than anything we'd seen there before.  We also happened to see a very pretty cow, too!



It was a little early for lunch, but at 11:30 we headed to Ocean Echo anyway because we had a gift for our friend Andrea, who works there, and we thought we might as well sit and chat with her at the restaurant instead of just driving around. As we were the only people there, she was free to visit for quite a while, and we had a fun time just sitting around in their club chairs, gabbing away.

Looking west, toward Viceroy, from the bar at Ocean Echo
The comfy club chairs 

I don't understand why Ocean Echo doesn't ever seem to be busy when we're there.  Admittedly, we only travel in low season (or as in this trip, shoulder season), but it's a great location, with a varied menu. Good food served at reasonable prices.  AND they offer complimentary beach chairs with the purchase of lunch -- and it must be said that these chairs are nicely padded and among the more comfortable ones available around the island. On top of all of that, Ocean Echo honors the Anguilla card!

The comfortable-looking, lie-flat chaises available at Ocean Echo
The view from our lunch table
Around 12:30, The Kid said she was feeling hungry again, so we grabbed a table to order some lunch -- we chose a table a little farther back to catch the best breezes.  Sometimes the sand on Meads can radiate some real warmth toward the restaurant.  DH wasn't feeling so great, so he only had his iced tea, but Ava ordered the vegetable panini with fries and I had the vegetable stir fry, which was a pretty different choice from my usual luncheon fare. Both were quite fresh and tasty.



We'd debated over lunch about what to do with the rest of the afternoon.  Ava and DH were thinking maybe we should just set up shop right there at Ocean Echo, take advantage of Andrea's company and the chairs & umbrellas, but I had a card up my sleeve.  I'd remembered that Davida had kayaks for rental on Crocus Bay, and I had the dimmest of recollections that they also offered stand up paddle boarding.  When I casually mentioned that there was a chance of doing some SUP once more, Ava's face lit up.

So onward to Crocus Bay we went.


Davida is one of those places on Anguilla where I'm *really* glad we gave it a second chance.  Our first visit there was not good, but we went again last year to meet Andrea for lunch because it was convenient to her house, and now the rest is history.  We liked the location, the food, the service, the ambience, you name it.  Complete turnaround from our first time there.

Just chilling at Davida
When we arrived, we told the nice server that we'd like to rent some beach chairs & umbrellas because we wouldn't be having lunch, but she very sweetly informed us that there would be no charge anyway. This was welcome news, as the beach chairs at Davida are the most comfortable ones available to the public on the island, and their umbrellas are the most generously-sized, too.  We told her that we'd be happy to start a drinks tab and that we would eventually rent some equipment, then headed to our chaises to read for a while.

There was a motor boat really close to shore, but we didn't really give it a second thought until the guy tried to leave.  His hull was stuck in the sand, and the situation got dicey quickly.  One by one, people got up to help the guy get out of the sand, and their group efforts nearly resulted in capsizing the boat more than once.  There were maybe 10-12 guys out there pushing and giving directions, and then, I kid you not, one of the ladies on the beach got up and started helping and the boat immediately got free. Just sayin'.

The boat went from this...

...to this
After an hour of reading and enjoying a refreshing cocktail, Ava and I got up for our little sea adventure.  I knew better than to try the SUP again, so I started off with a kayak. The beach attendant, whose name eludes me right now, got us fitted with everything we needed and off we went to explore the beach immediately west/southwest of Crocus.


What I could not tell from my position in the kayak, however, was how rough the water felt to Ava, who remained in a kneeling position the whole way down and back. By the time we got back to the beach in front of Davida, her legs were shaking so we trade her SUP for a second kayak and headed off to the east, checking things out along the rocks.


MUCH better!
The kayak was much easier, and we were maybe 1/4 of the way towards Little Bay when it started raining.  Actually, not just raining, but pouring.  It rained hard enough and long enough that everybody on shore scurried for cover and the beach attendants put away all of the umbrellas and cushions.  Ava and I, on the other hand, just lay back in our kayaks and let the rain wash over us, enjoying the sensation of the cold drops on our faces while trailing our hands through the warm sea.

After about 45 minutes, we paddled back in, as we were one of only two parties still out on the sand and we got the feeling that maybe the folks at Davida would like to close up for the day.  When DH paid the bill, we got a pretty big surprise.


Now, I don't mean any disrespect to Anguilla Watersports when I share this, as they provided a service with their SUP by delivering all of the equipment to Rendezvous Bay, providing a quick lesson, and then returning when we decided for them to pick everything up again.  That kind of service comes at a price (and you can see their price on the website, if you care to see it), and we paid it and were happy with the service. Fair enough.  In fact, we *still* are happy with the service, even in retrospect.

But our water sports bill at Davida was only $20 for the entire time, for the SUP rental AND the two kayaks rental.  They charge $10 per hour per piece of equipment, but I'm positive that we were out for at least 90 minutes, and by my reckoning, they could have charged us $40: for the time and because we had three pieces of equipment all together. My bottom line is this: even with a 100% tip to the watersports guy, our bill at Davida for SUP was less than a third of what it was the day before.


So if you're thinking about doing SUP on Anguilla, my recommendation to you is this: If you want to try it for the first time because you're not sure if it's for you, drive down the hill to Crocus Bay and give it a whirl for $10/hour.  If you already love SUP and want to do it in your favorite location anywhere on the island, and if cost is immaterial, try Anguilla Watersports.

Smoothie perfection -- no artificial flavors or colors!
In the meantime, all of this activity was generating a pretty powerful thirst, so after settling the bill, we packed up the car again and headed to Sea Spray to see Pamela one last time, enjoy a smoothie, and to lighten our wallets once more. I ordered the White Sands again to share with DH and I can't remember what Ava ordered, but while I was waiting for it to be made, I made some photographs of Pamela's shop, including the hand-painted Christmas ornaments that she makes.

Hand painted shell bottle openers
One of two main jewelry displays



This report really is getting long in the tooth, so I believe I will end it here and pick up with our fabulous dinner at Veya in my next installment.  Here's a pretty beach video to play you out:


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7 comments:

  1. Oh Emily - you brought back such fond memories. We love DaVida, they are first class all the way, they really go out of their way for their customers.
    Ocean Echo is another place we enjoy and are always amazed at the lack of business, good food, service and prices.
    Your reports are just wonderful and your pictures are terrific.
    Thanks so much.

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    1. Thanks, Ellen! I'm really glad that DaVida is back on our regular roster of places to visit.

      Did you and your DH try The Paris Cafe on this trip?

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  2. thanks for this update..I love seeing AXA through your lens..

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    1. thanks, dear! hope to see you back there one day once the dolphins are freed.

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  3. No, we did not go to Cafe Paris as we do not go out for breakfast and rarely go out for lunch. Hope they are open for dinner next trip. The new place at the old Lucy's sounds great and Denise and Joash (Sandbar) are opening a place in Geraud's plaza, so we will have even more casual options. I like that.

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  4. After following your trips to Anguilla, my husband and I are going there instead of our usual Virgin Gorda. We will be there this Thursday and watching your videos has given me the island vibe even before leaving! Thanks for all your information and pics.

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  5. If I had to guess why Ocean Echo doesn't do better business, my number one thought is Straw Hat and Blanchards Beach Shack.

    Also a big fan of the White Sands at Sea Spray. Pam is a delight.

    Good tip about the SUP prices, usually Crocus is so calm.

    Thanks, Emily, wonderful to read as always.

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