Arrived Nov 16th, departed for SXM Nov 19th-
We owe this report to all those who have answered our questions and have provided information that has been helpful to us. Sorry it has taken over a week to get this submitted but I came back to the business going 100 mph and I had to play some catch up. So here is goes.
Travel – Would say it was the usual but the usual for us coming from the left coast is usually eventful, left our house at 4:30pm. With flights scheduled from PDX to SEA to MIA to SXM we began our trip with high winds and a cancelled flight from PDX to SEA, luckily having had this happen before I made sure we had plenty of time in SEA to make the connector. Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air did a good job of recovery and we were on our way and made it to SEA in time to eat something before the red eye to MIA. In MIA we once again had plenty of time but had to go from F to A which required us to go back through security with our carry on, beginning to not like the MIA airport. MIA to SXM with no hitches, were given a tarmac parking spot since KLM and Air France go the Jet Ways so we got to smell the air and feel the heat upon arrival, both of us do like that. We landed at 3:15pm, off the plane at 3:25, at 3:42 we passed through a very long immigration line that moved faster than it seemed at the time, and were getting in a taxi with checked luggage in tow at 3:57pm. The taxi to Marigot to get the ferry to Anguilla shared cost us $15 plus a tip. Took the Ferry to Anguilla, like sitting on the top deck in the air up until we were instructed to go down due to a good sized rain storm we had to pass through. Took 20 minutes to clear customs in Blowing Point and in a taxi(I think $23 plus tip) in another 2 minutes and off to Allamanda. 22 hours from the time we left our house we were sitting in our room at Allamanda.
Anguilla – We had a car dropped off the day after we arrived and did a drive across the island and back taking some time to look around. It is much different from SXM, driving on the left side of the road and about no traffic. Toughest thing for me to get used to was pulling out of a parking lot, it just seemed weird, as well as the round a bouts, but the normal driving was easy to get used to. We did not find the customer service on Anguilla to be anywhere near what we tend to find on SXM, more of a no care attitude, did not seem happy or upset that we were there, I guess that is the best I can explain. After the drive around we were happy with the place we picked, nicest of the beaches we saw.
Allamanda – We arrived later than the office is open and it was dark. A bit concerned I must admit since the area around the office was dark as well, but I noticed an envelope that had my name on it taped up high in the dark and it told me that we were in unit #2 and the unit was open for us with the keys inside. Fine with us, would deal with the office the next day. Our room was nice room on the top floor with AC and a small kitchen area. The water pressure would be my only complaint, the shower was a drizzle and the toilet would not flush a piece of tp no matter how many times you tried. With my limited plumbing background we used a water picture to aid in the flushing which worked fine (tmi I am sure, but a helpful tip for those to follow). Keep in mind that this is not Royal Islander, it is a small hotel that has a lot of character. I happened to be reading Don’t Stop The Carnival along the way while traveling here and it added to the enjoyment of this place. Allamanda sits a ways off west end of Upper Shoal Beach, really only one other hotel in the same area on this section of beach. When you walk out to the beach you are right at Gwen’s Raggae Grill who rents chairs and umbrellas. Allamanda also has chairs available for free right next to Gwen’s. Beach towels were provided by Allamanda. The beach was all but vacant until about 11 or noon, and then the most we saw on this section of beach was probably 8 people at one time all though I am sure when the season picks up it would be more crowded. The sand is very fine talcum powder sand that is very white, in some places it became more course with a few areas that had larger chunks of shell. From Gwen’s you have about 50 yards of beach to your right if you are facing the water, and at that end is the other hotel on that section of beach. If you go to the left you have 100 plus yards to where the beach turns about 90 degrees to the left and heads towards an area that has hotels such as Ku and Shoal Bay Villas as well as Uncle Ernies. That section of the beach is fairly long and is a nice walk. At the hotel there is a nice pool area that we did not use at all since the beach was so close. There is no food at the hotel area during the day. On site at the hotel is Zara’s which is a good place to eat that only opens for dinner, it is upper end food and while not cheap it is really not that expensive either especially considering the presentation and quality.
We at Zara’s twice in our three nights. The Steak in a demi glaze for $26 was my favorite of what we had, and the Roasted Pumpkin Soup for $10 was excellent as well. We also enjoyed the Beer Battered Shrimp and the Rosemary Crusted Grouper. Of all the businesses we visited this place had the best customer service as well. They also included a tip of 15% into the check, and on the credit card charge slip they had no place to add additional tip money which seemed honest to me, left some cash to supplement the 15%.
We also ate at Gwen’s twice, enjoyed it both times having ribs and chicken and MJ had the Mahi Mahi sandwich. The pasta salad and the coleslaw were the best parts of the meals. Beer was $3 and wine was $6 for a very large glass. They included a tip in the bill.
Even though we heard Uncle Ernie’s was a bit dry in the BBQ area I felt compelled to give it a try. The Ribs were dry, the French Fries were probably cooked on the island at some point in the previous week, included a few slivers of coleslaw and while it was cheap it just was not worth the time going there. Stick to Gwen’s or try another place, just my humble opinion after only giving them one try.
Pump House – Went there for one evening, the service was average for what we found on the island in our short amount of time. The food was reasonably priced and pretty good, simple American pub food. Had the Jerk Chicken Sandwich and MJ had the Chicken Quesadilla. Upon leaving there we sent to Johno’s for some live music, which was fun. They seem to alternate which place has music for an evening in that area, all with in walking distance.
We will go back to Anguilla, it is an excellent place to go to relax. I am sure with more time on the island we would find more of the places to be and when to enjoy night life. On our drive around we also got to stop and watch a bit of a girls soccer game which I enjoyed being a coach. The locals did not know what to think with me taking pictures of the game and watching. We also stopped and picked up some groceries since there really is not a place very close to Allamanda, in the future we would either have the cab stop along the way to the hotel or bring some basics from SXM with us to get through until we could make a grocery trip.
When we left for the ferry we just left our Mitsubishi Pajero(Island Car Rental) in the parking by the ferry dock with the keys in it, felt very uncomfortable doing this but it turns out it was not the last time we were to do this on our trip.
SXM trip report to come, probably a bit more abbreviated but felt that Anguilla needed a bit more info to be given.
Cheers, picture is from the corner of the beach looking back at Gwen's and the Allamanda area.