Part 8: Please Don’t Stop the Music
Daylight dawns on our last full day on Anguilla, an island that boasts thirty-three beaches.
We have visited eight.
A mild panic engulfs me as I realize this is it: it’s now or never. I briefly consider a whirlwind Best of the Rest tour, hopping our way around the island sampling beaches. There are at least nine I want to visit.
In the end we settle for two.
First up: Captain’s Bay.
What? you ask. Not Shoal Bay West, playground for the rich and famous? Not chic Maundays, home to tony Cap Jaluca and voted by many one of the most beautiful beaches in the world?
As much as I would love to visit those beaches, Captain’s Bay offers a unique appeal to teenagers, with its crashing surf and craggy rocks for exploring. And I have found that when traveling with kids, what’s in their best interest is generally in the best interest of all.
And what can I say? You can take the girl out of the wilderness, but you can’t take the wilderness out of the girl.
So after fortifying ourselves one last time with croissants from Le Bon Pain, enjoyed under the watchful eye of a proprietary rooster on the cafe’s patio, we strike out for our first destination.
Mark and I had discovered Captain’s on our honeymoon, and loved its remoteness and ruggedness. I must say, it hasn’t changed a bit. Including the dirt road there, so pitted with holes at times we worried we would bottom out.
With its powerful surf, it definitely is not a good beach for swimming. It is, however, a great beach for playing Bashimo.
And for building sandcastles. Which, if you have been denied a beach vacation for a decade, you do at every opportunity.
Another factor in choosing Captains Bay, and a heavy one at that, is its proximity to our lunch destination, On Da Rocks. Weekends they have a special of crayfish for $5. $5 crayfish? Heck, yeah! So after exhausting ourselves in the surf and building a sizable appetite, we head off to lunch.
We find On Da Rocks easily, due in large part that it’s practically in the middle of the road in Island Harbour.
We settle into a booth, and order drinks in anticipation of the seafood feast we are about to undertake.
I’d like to fill this page with pictures of the mountains of crayfish we consume at this lunch, but I can’t. The waitress informs us that On Da Rocks has NO CRAYFISH.
What? No crayfish? This can’t be! We’ve been looking forward to this all week.
We debate our options. Order something else off the menu? But we’ve been here all week and have yet to have a single crayfish, and time is running out.
We decide to return to Uncle Ernie’s, where I’d seen crayfish being devoured earlier in the week.
So after watching a whale frolic in the waters of Island Harbour and finishing my piña colada, which is absolutely divine, we head out again, heeding the siren call of crayfish.
But alas! Uncle Ernie’s has no crayfish either. Or lobster. It’s a crustacean conspiracy!
Desperate for food by now, we step next door to Madeariman’s, where a lovely (and lively) waitress delivers menus and more piña coladas. There’s lobster pizza on the menu. We order that and, because we are famished, some calamari, escargot, and a margherita pizza for good measure.
I have no pictures of these, either. No time to snap any, as a feeding frenzy ensues as soon as food hits the table.
Second beach destination for the day? Upper Shoal Bay East, and Gwen’s Reggae Shack. We succumb to food comas in the hammocks.
This, I decide once settled, is the perfect spot to spend what’s left of our last day on the island. In fact, if I had one day left on Earth, this is where I might like to spend it. Hammocks, palm trees, and, a few minutes later, the Scratch Band.
I finally finish the book I’ve been reading (thank you, Neil Gaiman, for my wonderful travel entertainment!), the girls build yet another sandcastle, Aaron unearths (or unseas) a conch, and Mark just relaxes with a Heineken. Heaven.
But all things must end, and so too does our afternoon on the beach. We head back to the villa for one last sunset, and the anticipation of our last dinner on island: Tasty’s.
What Tasty’s lacks in name, it makes up for in charm and hospitality. Chef Dale greets us as we are seated, and talks a bit about the restaurant. You can tell he is passionate about what he does, and cares that each guest enjoys himself.
The girls each order coconut crusted snapper, Mark and I both order the tuna special, and Aaron orders the crayfish. Our dinners, if not spectacular, are solidly good, and the pumpkin amuse bouchée is a delightful touch.
But the standout of the night is the seafood salad we order as a starter. I regret having to share it with anyone, let alone three teenagers that can eat faster than I can fork it onto my plate. Perfectly cooked shrimp, scallops, lobster and snapper in a light wine sauce, all on a bed of fresh lettuces. One of the best things I have ever tasted.
Too full for desert, we call it a night and return to the villa to pack.
But I’m not ready yet to concede the night, I realize.
The moon has waned by a week since our arrival, but it’s still bright enough to light the beach in a cool glow. I can hear reggae music down on Sandy Ground.
I duck under the pier. The music takes me back to Dad’s. I order a glass of Prosecco, and Mark soon joins me.
Together we enjoy the music and drinks and all those stars up in the sky. I concentrate with all my might to soak in every last morsel.
Still, no matter how hard you plant your heels, vacation inevitably comes to an end, doesn’t it? And with a long day of travel ahead of us, we head back under the pier and back to the villa.
(“That’s a mighty big rope.”)