22 January 2024

Anguilla XV: Out with the Old, In with the New

Sunset on Sandy Ground, as seen from our rooftop

Michael and I are not the sort to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, much less go out, but we played against type for our first Old Year’s Night in Anguilla. About a month before our trip, we sat down to determine which restaurants we wanted to prioritize for dinners while on the island, but particularly for December 31 when reservations would be harder to come by. We toyed with the idea of heading to Rendezvous, lured by the thought of ringing in the new year with Bankie and whatever musical celebs might be partying with him at The Dune. Ultimately we decided that given our budget, but more importantly, given our practical nature, that it was the sort of night that would be more fun in the retelling than in the actual experience. Spending $180 pp cover just to be able to say that we spent NYE in the company of Madonna (or so I heard) and then driving a long way home in the dark amidst drivers who have overindulged just isn’t us (not to mention that we were trying to keep some costs down on this trip).

Beachfront table at Dolce Vita

Instead, we chose Dolce Vita, one of our favorite spots, and now even better – just a short walk up the beach from Roy’s! It falls to my lot to be the designated driver on the island because I’m comfortable driving on the left and am generally pretty familiar with the main roads, so it was a real treat to indulge in adult beverages without worry for a change.

Grilled crayfish: Anguilla's signature dish

Typically I order from the same rotation at Dolce Vita – gorgonzola gnocchi, spinach & pear salad, eggplant rollatini, poached pears in red wine with white chocolate mousse – but this night I opted for the grilled crayfish special, and why not? I was hungry and had been dreaming of the island’s signature dish for the last year. Michael and I split the Caesar salad to start, and he ordered another evening special with seafood pasta. We shared the Nutella cheesecake, which always looks beautiful but has never really tasted very chocolatey or hazelnutty to me, but I do love how light-bodied it is. And it pairs beautifully with that coconut cream sauce on the plate, too.

So silky smooth in texture

Since our strategy was to stay awake until midnight, we parted ways with Dolce Vita after our complimentary limoncello but before the joint really got to jumpin’. Abbi came by with a hug, a smile, and warm wishes to send us on our way. From there we walked to the end of the beach to have our second round of drinks at Elvis’s, rum punch for Michael, planters punch for me (it’s less sweet). 

We chatted with Elvis and the other patrons and decided to have another round of the same – hey, not driving! – before walking back up the beach around 10:00 pm. Our best laid plans of stopping in at Criss Conch Shack for a snack and then Lit Lounge for another drink never came to pass. We were still too full from dinner and despite my lack of driving responsibilities, I just didn’t have it in me to have another drink.

Roy's lights - just follow them home!

Traditional holiday Black Cake

Instead, we bellied up to the bar at Roy’s so that I could sample another traditional Caribbean holiday food I’d never had before and hear the last bit of Sprocka’s set. The Black Cake was an intriguing mashup of something like a rum cake, but with the flavors of a mincemeat pie and the density of a fruitcake. I’m so glad I could finally try it! 

Sprocka joined us at the bar after his set and we talked until about 11:30, at which point we went upstairs to watch the fireworks in the comfort of our jammies from the rooftop. I love that the entire Sandy Ground community of restaurants and bars pool their resources to provide fireworks for the entire village’s viewing pleasure. It’s true that various resorts do the same thing for their guests, but it felt special to be a part of a community celebration. The show only lasted a few minutes, but they were memorable – and at one point somebody up on the hill along Back Street was shooting off fireworks, too, so we were surrounded.

The opening fireworks, seen from our rooftop

Self portrait in jammies

“Oh, what a night!” as Frankie Valley might say. 

And the evening and the morning were the second day.


Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)