05 December 2014

Another Hard Day at the Beach

When you're on vacation in Anguilla, you're faced with difficult decisions at every turn.  Like, Which perfect beach should we visit today? And, At which fabulous restaurant should we have dinner tonight? Luckily, when you're on vacation in Anguilla, there are few wrong answers.

After breakfast at Geraud's, we packed out beach bags and headed for Shoal Bay East, a place that is as close to beach perfection as can be imagined: soft white sand, myriad shades of blue, uncrowded, and dotted with amiable beach bars. We love the location at Elodia's, which is the farthest east on the main part of Shoal Bay, close to the point.  We were happy to see that we arrived early enough to claim one of the cabanas, too.  (Elodia's rents a pair of chairs + one umbrella for $10 for the day, or a cabana with up to six chaises for $40.)

Just another excellent book. NBD.

I settled in immediately with my book while DH and Ava took a turn about the room beach.

Unfortunately, there weren't many rocks or bits of coral that were ideal for skipping, so Ava alternated between reading and just hanging out in the water. DH promptly fell asleep to the sound of the waves, while I read about half of my excellent book before it was time for lunch.

We ordered a hot dog (DH), the ribs platter (Ava) and a fish sandwich (me).  All were perfectly good, standard beach bar fare, and the prices are very reasonable.  I also supplemented my lunch with a passionfruit daiquiri, which I find to be the most generous pour on the entire length of the beach.  Carol, the lovely woman who runs Elodia's by day and works at Cuisinart by night, always seems to know when a *little* extra rum might be welcomed, too.

After lunch, we took a walk along the beach and got a better look at the construction at Manoah.  The units at Shoal Bay Villas looked better than ever, and once more, DH inquired why we've never stayed there.  His heart really does belong to SBE!

Before long, however, our walk was starting to cut in to DH's busy napping schedule, so we turned back. I read for a little while before walking toward the point.  Curious about the erosion and whether there was anything left of the old Gwen's location, I thought I might walk all the way down to the end of Upper Shoal Bay.  But the waves were strong and I had my camera and there was no way I was going to attempt it.

We stayed at Elodia's until about 3:30, when a pretty big storm cloud blew across, before heading back to Caribella. We dumped our beach bags at home and all three of us walked west toward Arbron villas to go for a swim at our cove.  It was ill-judged, however, as the waves were really choppy.  Ava is much like a sure-footed little mountain goat traversing an Alpine trail, but I had a little trouble timing the waves with avoiding the rocks, and DH never should have tried it in the first place.  We were lucky to get him out of the water without serious mishap.  We lingered for a while to skip some more stones & coral before heading back to the room to clean up for dinner.

Usually when we visit Barnes Bay, none of these rocks are exposed
Ditto for these 

This is the first trip where Barnes Bay was good for shelling
Looking back toward Viceroy
DH and I enjoyed a sunset cocktail while Ava napped before dinner.  The place where the sun set had shifted west several degrees where we're used to seeing it in June, so we couldn't actually see it from our balcony.  I walked down to the beach to shoot a few photos and chat with Ellen, who was staying at Caribella, too.

Our balcony at the golden hour

Before long it was time for dinner. We did Straw Hat, which was as fabulous as usual.  Unfortunately we didn't get to see Peter, but Doris and the rest of the staff welcomed us back with great warmth!  The new construction, post-Hurricane Gonzalo, looked great.

Straw Hat at night
One of the requirements of our grandchildren when we travel with them is that they must try everything. They don't have to order something exotic (to them) for their own meal, but everything that DH and I order, they must try.  We've had varying degrees of success with each of the kids, with some of them actually discovering a love of new foods while the others were clearly just going through the motions to please us.

Curried goat slider appetizers
Ava was definitely in the first group, trying lots of new things (okra and different kinds of fish and shellfish) and finding that she really liked them, but she was totally unprepared for how much she would like the goat sliders that we ordered.  After exclaiming all trip long every time she spied a goat, she was understandably hesitant to try it.  For my money, the goat sliders at Straw Hat are basically the gateway goat for any eater.

My shrimp appetizer 
Ava's chicken
DH's snapper

Anyway, DH ordered the snapper saltimbocca, Ava tried a salad and a chicken dish, while I had a side salad and the shrimp skewer appetizer special.  Mine was the only one that was slightly disappointing. Afterward, to celebrate Ava's birthday, they brought out our desserts with a lit sparkler and sang to her. I was so taken with the spectacle that, unbelievably, I forgot to take any photos. The warm coconut tart with rum raisin ice cream that I ordered was excellent, and Ava was absolutely over the moon with her molten chocolate lava cake.

With full bellies all around, we hoisted ourselves from the table and made it back to Caribella, ready to hit the sack and be ready for our last full day on the island.  Stay tuned for breakfast at Straw Hat, lunch at Ocean Echo, and an afternoon of more stand up paddleboarding at Crocus Bay...


  1. I am SO impressed that you even try stand-up paddleboarding. It is a big sport here & I just know that it would be kneeling-paddleboard (or worse) for me. Love your reports!

    1. Thanks, Mary. I probably won't be trying the SUP anytime soon, but it was fun being out on the water with the kiddo. I did renew my relationship with kayaks the next day, which I'll post about next time.

  2. Those food pictures are just mouthwatering. I tried to do the walk to Gwens on Tues or Wed 11/25-26, but the waves were quite strong and I could not see how to get around that bushy point areas without walking in water. It was too rough for me. You would not believe how the beach at Barnes came back - all the rocks were covered up by the time we left. One thing you missed was the big barge and tugboat that parked in front of our place on Fri 28th, what an eyesore.
    Love reading your blog Emily - really great, thanks so much. Hi to your DH and Ava.

    1. I wouldn't believe it about the beach at Barnes if I hadn't witnessed *major* changes myself, just over the course of a week. It's so intriguing to me. Pair that kind of cyclical affect with what Viceroy is doing with their attempted breakwater and I just shake my head...

  3. PS, we had a terrific lunch at StrawHat - one of the best hot dogs I have had in years and a TI punch - that was really good - we went there for NowayEllen's birthday on Friday Nov 28, it was a lot of fun.

    1. Lunch is the one meal at Straw Hat that we don't do on a regular basis, and I'm not sure why!

  4. Right after you left, the big earthmover/crane went down the east end and proceeded to move a bunch of boulders from one area to another in the water, the noise down there was horrendous. Then they stopped for several days, no crane work. Then all of a sudden the barge and tug showed up, they were down there at the east end, with a big load of boulders and Dept of Fisheries came by and hung around for a while, I figured someone called them - but then they left and the tug proceeded to push the barge into place and the crane was dropping more boulders. We went to lunch and when we came back - the barge and tug were directly in front of our place, parked! We were leaving early the next morning, but all that money they spend on trying to upstage Mother Nature is just plain dumb. Someday's Barnes is flooded out down there despite their efforts.

  5. Loving all your posts Emily, they are always a treat to read, and see the pictures. So well done, brings back great memories for me. Thank you.


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