22 October 2012

Virgin Gorda Day III

Sunrise over North Sound at Euphoria
Another day dawns clear and bright after a night of storms.  I had tried to lie awake to listen to the sounds of the rain, but the pull of sleep was too strong.  The tradeoff is that I'm able to bounce out of bed with an energy unknown at home and photograph the sun as it comes up. Then I make the coffee and find a quiet place to read until it's time to get ready for breakfast.

This time, DH makes French toast for us. Previous guests had left two kinds of syrup in the fridge and we had the mixings for everything else, including nutmeg and cinnamon to complete the island flavor.  It made me think of a wonderful breakfast I'd eaten on Virgin Gorda several years ago: bushwhacker French toast at the Flying Iguana.  Puck, the owner/chef (I think both), entertained us with stories and with his parrots in between courses, while DH and I had joked that vacationing in New Orleans and the Caribbean were the only two places where we can spend more on alcohol than food during breakfast!

Savannah Bay, looking left
Savannah Bay, looking right
Anyway, we soon packed up our beach bags, chairs and snorkel gear and hit the road to Savannah Bay, a beach that DH and I had visited in the past to make photographs but hadn't spent much time, for lack of shade. That's one reason I was pushing to get out of the villa so early. There is a carpark area immediately off of the main road, but it's easier to follow the rutted road closer to the beach, where there is parking and turnaround room.

We settled into a shady spot under a cluster of sea grapes and were quickly joined by the local beach fowl. DH and Mom decided to read for a while, so Melanie and I went snorkeling.  The water was cloudier here than it had been at Spring Bay the day before, so visibility was probably only about 15-20 feet or so.  Melanie quickly got nervous at how deep the water was getting on the far shoal (probably around 20 feet), plus her fins were still giving her issues, so we turned around and snorkeled closer to shore.  For the first time ever, my mask wasn't cooperating and was continuously leaking water and I couldn't fix it, so all in all, it was a frustrating excursion into the water. We stayed out there for about 45 minutes, though, and it was as fun as it could be while having to pause every couple of minutes to clear my mask.

Savannah Bay: again with the crowds 
Warning sign on the far end of the beach

Mom and Melanie reading
My book was calling to me before too long, so we got out of the water and walked back to where we were set up--we had drifted almost all of the way down the beach. We spent the next few hours reading, sunning, and hanging out in that gorgeous, gorgeous water, and right before we left, DH and I walked the beach. We were starting to get a likkle peckish around 1:00, so we packed up everything and were headed to the car when minor disaster struck.

Double self-portrait on Savannah Bay
The skin on my husband's forearms is so very thin and easily damaged, that when the beachbag he'd been carrying on his shoulder slid down, it sheared off two sizeable flaps of his skin. We'd been planning to eat lunch while we were out, but instead, we had to make a beeline back to Euphoria to patch him up.

His arm, two days later. Would have been too gross to post an earlier photo
Thank goodness that the villa had a first aid kit on hand!  We travel with most of the things we needed, like non-stick gauze and some self-adhesive ACE-bandage-like tape, plus some Neosporin and bacitracin. What we didn't have was something to gently cleanse the wound. We poured some bottled water over it to clean away the blood, but that stung like billy-o. We had some gin we thought about using, but DH was adamant about not wasting good alcohol. Luckily there was some sterile saline solution in the kit that we used. I did "waste" a little gin to sterilize my tweezers so I could pull the skin all the way back to get any air bubbles out, then laid it back gently into place, smoothing it down with the bacitracin. Mom and Melanie could barely watch.

Outdoor dining at NailBay's Sugar Cane restaurant
Since this happens on a regular basis to my DH, we weren't particularly fazed by it, other than feeling hungrier than ever by the time we were ready to leave. I proposed that we head towards Nail Bay, a suggestion that met with universal approval, and off we went to seek a late lunch.  It was a little after 2:00 when we arrived at Sugar Cane, Nail Bay's restaurant, and we were relieved to hear that they were still serving lunch.

Sugar Cane
DH and Melanie at Sugar Cane
Mom and I  at Sugar Cane
It was a very pleasant oasis, nice and breezy and pretty to look at, but unfortunately very buggy. The server was aware of the insect problem and she warned us of it before taking the outdoor seating, but we preferred to sit out under the large umbrellas rather than under the roof by the bar. I'd swear that it was sand fleas nipping our ankles and lower legs, but I can't imagine that they'd be up there.  We applied rounds of insect repellent, but that didn't seem to do much good.

Passionfruit daiquiri: one of my favorite frou-frou beverages.
So clearly having a round of drinks while we decided on lunch would be the only way to cope. We settled on three different appetizers to share, since the drinks did a good bit to fill us up: chicken satay, coconut cracked conch, and nachos. The chicken was pretty good, and you'd have to work pretty hard to mess up nachos, but the conch was very tough. We've been spoiled for conch ever since our first trip to Grenada, where we had it served up so tender you'd swear you were eating a scallop instead. Mr Boots serves up amazing lambi (as conch is known on that island), and no conch we've eaten anywhere else will compare. But I digress.  Bug bites aside, it was a pleasant interlude.
The bar and "inside" dining at Sugar Cane 
The very pretty pool on the opposite side of the bar
While waiting for the check to arrive, Melanie and I got up to explore the sugar mill ruins. I was completely taken by surprise by how awful the mosquitos were swarming, so I didn't stay long. It was sunny and breezy and more than two hours away from the time when the mozzies usually descend; I have no idea what circumstances were converging to make the bugs so terrible at Nail Bay that particular day. I can't imagine that it's like that all the time.

After settling the bill (btw, 15% service charge was already added, so we added a little additional tip), we headed back to Euphoria for either a nap or a swim before cleaning up for dinner. On our previous trip to Virgin Gorda, our best meal by far had been at The Rock Cafe, so we decided to make reservations there for dinner, requesting an outdoor table near the waterfall for the ambience. (Inside, it's nothing special AND the music is really, really loud, so this was important.) But first we went to a new place called CocoMaya so that we could have cocktails and watch the sunset.  If we liked what we saw, we'd come back another night.

On the beach at CocoMaya
Mom at CocoMaya 
Some more outdoor seating at CocoMaya
Melanie and DH at one of the outdoor cocktail areas

Well, we liked what we saw.  I'd read reviews of CocoMaya online before coming and knew to be prepared with insect repellent, and boy, was it ever needed.  The sand fleas were awful, and of course the mosquitos hit at twilight like they do everywhere.  But it was a fun place, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a menu of more creative cocktails. Between our two visits, we tried almost all of them:

We arrived just in time for sunset, and what a difference it makes between my little phone camera and my husband's camera he uses for work.  Check it out:

We enjoyed our cocktails immensely: DH ordered a Pimm's cup, Mom had a Cinnamon Girl, Melanie had the Strawberry Mule, and I had the Cohiba. I liked mine best, of course. Really, though, it was well mixed, quite refreshing, and not at all too sweet.  For someone who loves her desserts with an unparalleled passion, I'm not all that crazy about sweet cocktails.

My Cohiba
Once the sun went down, we climbed up to the bar to order another round of cocktails. I'm not kidding--the bar was so tall we all had to hoist ourselves up. DH and I opted to be just a swangin', which was a lot of fun but also challenging for those who are not the height of Scandinavian basketball players.

Hard to tell here, but we're on a very high porch swing
Blurry shot of Josey in mixology action
Here was where we met Miss Josey, our wonderful bartender, and we had a blast chatting with her while she helped us pick our next beverage. DH reverted to his usual gin, while Melanie went out on a limn to try the tamarind & chile margarita, Mom had the Utopia champagne cocktail, and I had the ginger-lychee champagne cocktail. They were all good, but Melanie's was definitely the most interesting!
Check out how high that bar is!

It's a salt and cayenne-lined rim for this margarita!
Soon it was time to head over to the Rock Cafe to make our dinner reservations--it's very close to CocoMaya and easily could have been walked, but we drove instead rather than leaving our car at the bar.

Pretty setting, but too dark to get a better photo
I'm sorry to say that in comparison, Rock Cafe was disappointing. It was also very mosquito-y there, which means it was an island-wide problem and not endemic to one area, and there was a very drunken young man seated at the next table who wanted to make lots of conversation.

We requested a second lantern just to read the menus!
The location is, admittedly, very pretty, but the food, with the exception of my mom's chicken picatta, was mediocre.  DH and I had each ordered the snapper in a caper & butter sauce, and the quality was not in line with its Anguilla-like price. When we're in Anguilla, we're happy to pay those prices because the food is, almost invariably, outstanding.
Mel's seafood pasta

The snapper

Mom's chicken
Dessert wasn't much better, I'm afraid.  They had two choices: chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream, so we asked for a little of both.  The portions of each were ample, but the cake was stale. Since we were celebrating my birthday, DH agreed that he would drive home that night, but it was his first time behind the wheel on the trip, so the ride home was an adventure for everybody.  The roads are super-dark, and unless you know them well and know when it's going to bottom out or turn sharply to either side, it's a little challenging, to say the least. Speed bumps and dips seemingly came out of nowhere, so it felt not unlike Mr Toad's Wild Ride. Home again, home again, piggledy-pop!

We tried to stay up chatting about this, that, & the other, but I promptly fell asleep on the sofa before dragging myself to bed.  After all, I had to maintain my strength for our next day's adventure: the Baths.

Sunset from CocoMaya


  1. It's really great to relive all the beautiful beach and dining experiences by reading about them...I declare them all "wondersome".

  2. We have eaten at many of the places you visited. A couple, I think the name has changed, but I know we did Flying Iguana and The Rock. The parrots were lots of fun.

    We love Savannah Bay as well. They were building on the cliff above it and to the side and I would imagine they are finished now, so maybe not as private as it was.

    Thanks for letting us revisit.

    1. I wish Flying Iguana were still open--good food, good prices, casual atmosphere. Totally unpretentious! Savannah Bay is still pretty secluded--there's a rocky headland that separates the main beach from the part where the uber-luxury villas are (like Katitche Point). You could swim there from the main Savannah Bay beach, but I don't know if there's a way to walk it. It's still gorgeous there.

  3. My wife and I visited the island for the 1st time last month (9/8-18), so it's fun to read your observations. We, too, were disappointed by Rock Cafe, but so many places were closed, we had few choices. However, we, too, were thrilled with our experience at Coco Maya - that Cayanne Tamarind Margarita is flat out one of the best drinks I've ever had - on vacation or otherwise! Looking forward to the rest of your trip report. Thank you!

    1. Yes, it was an amazing drink. I personally think that both the cocktails and the atmosphere outclass the food at CocoMaya, but I loved the time we spent there. Just what the island needed, I think.

  4. So much fun to go on vacay with you! Do you ever make it to L.A.? You would love the Paradise Beach Cafe out in Malibu!http://www.paradisecovemalibu.com/beach-cafe/

  5. Simultaneously: impressed with how your photos and travelogue bring me right back to Virgin Gorda AND crazy jealous!
    My resolve quickens: must. return. to. the. Caribbean. soon.
    Preferably in company as fabulous as yours.
    I suspect you've returned, and so hope that Sandy didn't do you too much damage.


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