12 November 2013

Ahhhh, Anguilla: October 2013

Sunrise, seen from the bedroom
Isn't it always the way?  It seems that we have a habit of discovering a new favorite place on our last full day on the island and this trip was no different. When we'd stopped by Sea Spray the day before, Pamela had told us about Bonjour Cafe, so when we woke up on Tuesday we were excited to try something new. Just to play it safe, we called ahead to make sure they were open, then we packed our beach bags for the day and headed to Sandy Ground.

Bonjour Cafe was just as sweet and charming as can be.  Very low key, limited menu, but just the kind of place we were looking for: quiet, breezy, and inviting us to take our time to linger over our books.

I ordered an almond croissant and a pain au chocolat, plus the freshly squeezed orange juice and a cappuccino. DH ordered the continental special, plus cafe au lair and orange juice. My pastries were good but not special--we learned later that they come from Le Bon Pain in the east end, and my guess is that they weren't baked fresh that day, since we went back the next morning and the pastries were excellent. But the coffee was good, the orange juice was great, and we enjoyed the quietude, only occasionally interrupted by the yard fowl.

After about an hour I wandered around and made some photos. The patio itself is fairly large but there is also a bar with some lounge seating indoors, plus a hammock on the side of the building. We were the only people for the hour and a half we were there.

Cappuccino, served up with cinnamon and turbinado sugar

Interior of Bonjour Cafe
While paying for breakfast (on the expensive side, thanks to the OJ), we learned a bit more about the HUGE airplane we saw flying in on our way to breakfast. At first we assumed that the 737 was headed to St. Maarten, but it was REALLY low over the island. Turns out that it was from the World Cup trophy tour, so we swung by the airport on our way to Shoal Bay East to ogle it.  We contemplated lingering there until we could see it take-off, and if it hadn't been our last day on the island, we might have.

Big 737 at the tiny airport

The road to Shoal Bay East
At Shoal Bay East, we decided to return to Tropical Sunset since we'd had such a good time there the day before. It was quiet when we first arrived, so I made a quick video, and it's a lucky thing I did because 45 minutes after we arrived, a small bus disgorged passengers from St. Maarten.  Uh, oh!
Despite our qualms, the guests from St. Maarten were respectful of the serenity on the beach--no shouting, no drunken louts, no running up and down the beach.

The only impact they had on us was that we decided to walk up for a late lunch so that the kitchen wouldn't be as slow, but that just gave me time to enjoy my first guavaberry colada (okay, but not my favorite) and to explore the beach and make some photos:
Looking west from my chair
Looking east from my chair, with the folks from St. Maarten in view

In front of Madeariman
At the end by Madeariman
Gutted building at Ku
This is a seriously gorgeous beach
Lunch was on the lighter side, since we'd gone out for breakfast and were planning dinner out for my DH's birthday. DH ordered a hot dog and I'm afraid that I cannot remember what I ordered.  I think it was something like a fish sandwich, but I didn't write it down.  I do recall that we had talked about sharing the cracked conch salad and then each having a sandwich, but we weren't hungry enough.

Heading home to Sweet Return
The island sparkling in the afternoon sun
We left the beach in the late afternoon and headed home to Sweet Return for a swim and to refresh ourselves before our sunset drinks. We'd been looking forward all day to our sundowners at Elvis's on Sandy Ground.  Too bad we didn't know it was closed.  We pulled up in the parking lot a few minutes before sunset and were dismayed to see that Elvis's was all shut up.  Or at least as shut up as an open-air beach bar can be.

We risked walking out on the sand to get better shots of the sunset--I don't know what it is about the Sandy Ground location that makes it so terrible for bugs.  We'd sprayed down with some insect repellent with a low DEET percentage, but we still felt like we were getting eaten alive.
The most colorful sunset of our trip
So, we've got a little time on our hands and we decide to hit up Roy's for a cocktail before our dinner reservation.  It's pretty quiet there and also very buggy.  The drinks are expensive for just being a gin & tonic and Jack Daniels on the rocks--I think it was $24, including a service charge. At least we had the entertainment of a playful but standoffish kitty.
Entrance to Roy's

Before long, it was time to head to Dolce Vita for our special birthday meal. Turns out that the large table from the previous night also liked DV enough to make it their last meal on the island, too, and we all had a good laugh about that.  Since I hadn't yet had crayfish on this trip, I ordered the crayfish pasta and DH ordered the veal parmesan, and we split the arugula salad.

This is *half* of the salad
My crayfish pasta
Veal parm
The salad was excellent, as was DH's veal, but my crayfish wasn't quite up to snuff.  I suspect that the crayfish used in my dish might have been frozen because the texture was a little bit, well, mealy.  Two slightly disappointing meals in a row from Dolce Vita, but the limoncello cheesecake, if possible, tasted even better than the night before and they were gracious enough to comp us the dessert for our birthday celebrations.  I cannot decide if our disappointments sprang more from re-opening jitters or unreasonably high expectations.  Likely it was both, but we still plan to visit on our next vacation.


  1. Oh - that St Martin crowd would do me in - reminds me of the zoo at Blanchards, ugh. We encountered a bad meal once at season open, the food had a decided freezer burn, I didn't say anything as it was not the norm, hope Dolce is just going through opening pains, I have read a few negative comments lately and it is troubling - I know Abbi tries real hard to make everyone happy.
    Thanks for posting Emily - it is always a pleasure.

    1. Thanks, Ellen. Yes, I suspect it was re-opening kinks more than anything else. I look forward to being there again in June.

  2. Nice blog, however the aircraft is not a 737!!

    1. no? Is it an MD-88? Whatever it is, it's a lot bigger than most aircraft that land on Anguilla!

    2. I've since learned that it was an MD-83. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  3. I am glad you are enjoying the island instead of reading on one beach as on your first visit

    1. Well, that seems like a strange comment. I enjoyed the island very much on my first visit and read on many beaches.

  4. Every trip we plan on going to Bonjour Cafe and somehow we never make it. Will you return to Sweet Return?

    1. We'd theoretically return to Sweet Return when Caribella is closed for the off season. But Caribella did a few things to earn our loyalty and it will always be our first choice of places to stay because of that, and because of the price and location, too. At the end of the day, I'd rather be beachfront than have a pool, though my ultimate preference would be to have both! Alas, I don't think a place exists in Anguilla with both that is also in our price range.

  5. Two new items for my to-do list: Bonjour Cafe...and that veal parm at Dolce Vita! :) Loved this report and glad you had a great time!


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