Trip Report - Anguilla/St. Barts - May, 2005

Old Sep 11th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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Trip Report - Anguilla/St. Barts - May, 2005

My husband and I took our first trip to Anguilla and St. Barts in May. We were in Anguilla from May 20th - 24th, and we were in St. Barts from May 24th - 29th. This trip report is extremely long, but I wanted to include all details for first-timers to these islands. Also, I have included prices of what we paid for accommodations, car rental, meals, etc. to provide an idea of what costs are involved.

Friday, May 20th: We arrived in St. Maarten via USAir around 3:30pm. From St. Maarten, we then took a 10 minute flight via Winair and arrived in Anguilla around 5:00 pm. We opted for the flight instead of the ferry because I tend to get seasick, and I have heard the ferry can be pretty rough. We were very pleased with Winair (basically on time and an easy flight), though we were shocked at the tiny size of the plane. Upon arrival in Anguilla, we took a $12 taxi ride to the Rendezvous Bay Hotel where we were staying for our first night. We booked the lowest category room at RBH, garden standard room, for $100, but we were bumped up (without asking) to a beach front upstairs villa room, which normally runs $175. The room was very spacious and had a fabulous view and location on Rendezvous Bay beach. We took a walk on the beach and then ate at the Cedar Grove restaurant at RBH. The wait staff was very nice, food was good, and the waitress provided us each with a complimentary rum punch. I had the tomato basil soup and a salad, my husband had the lobster ravioli, and we had bottled water. Total for our meal was $47.

Saturday, May 21st: The next morning, Avis dropped off our automatic, air conditioned Grand Vitara, which we rented for $150 for 3 nights, including $5/day insurance. We drove to Tasty’s for breakfast. I had the Grand Marnier french toast and fruit, and my husband had pancakes and bacon. We also had bottled water and coffee. Total for our meal was $23. We then headed back to RBH to check out. After checking out, we drove to Cap Juluca to check in. Even though it was only 11 a.m. (well before the 3 p.m. check-in time), Cap Juluca ushered us into their library, providing us with cold towels and rum punch. They immediately got us checked into a room and a bellman took me by golf cart to our room, while my husband followed behind us in our car. We had booked the lowest category room at Cap Juluca, superior room, for $345, but we were bumped up (again, without asking) to a luxury room, which normally runs $420. With the exception of Jumby Bay in Antigua, our room at Cap Juluca was the nicest of all the places we have stayed in the Caribbean. For the rest of the day, we explored the resort and hung out on the beach. Lunch was at George’s at Cap Juluca - $40 was way overpriced for the 2 sandwiches we ate. Dinner was at Pimms. We had an early reservation - 6:30 p.m. - in order to get a first row table on the waterfront. The service was great - the hostess gives hugs to everyone when they come in the restaurant! The view and sunset were beautiful. The food was good (but not great), especially considering the prices. I had a salad, my husband had chilean sea bass, and we split a dessert - $108.

Sunday, May 22nd: Our continental breakfast was delivered right on time and included many fruits and varieties of breads - bagels, croissants, etc. It also included the beverages we had requested the night before - coffee, tea, milk and orange juice. After breakfast, we headed to Upper Shoal Bay, which is one of the best beaches we have ever been to - beautiful white sand, clear water and very private. We then drove to the boat to head to Scilly Cay for the afternoon. We had a noon reservation, but when we arrived, we found out that we should have specifically reserved lobsters - there weren’t any available. My husband ordered the crawfish, and when we told our waitress I had had my heart set on a lobster, she arranged for me to have one. (Apparently, another couple that did arrange for a lobster failed to show up). The lobster and crawfish each came with pasta salad, fruit and bread. Both the lobster and crawfish were delicious. Total for our meal, including a couple of rum punches, was $114. After eating and listening to Happy Hits play for awhile, we got back on the boat, headed to our car and drove to Shoal Bay East to look around. It was a beautiful beach as well, though it lacked the privacy of Upper Shoal Bay just around the point. We then drove back to Cap Juluca where we spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach. That night we ate at a Mexican restaurant, Picante, which had great food, service and prices. Total for our meal and drinks was $43.

Monday, May 23rd: My 30th birthday!!! Our continental breakfast was delivered right on time and included different fruits and bread varieties than the previous day. After breakfast, we went on a walk through Cap Juluca’s herb garden and then spent the morning on the beach. For lunch we found a restaurant near Blanchard’s restaurant that had just opened that week, Pomegrante. It is owned by a former chef of Cuisinart. The service, food and prices were great. My husband had fish, and I had a sandwich - total was $30. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach at Cap Juluca and then headed out to find Cliffside Riding Centre where I had a sunset ride reservation. We had some trouble finding the stables, but with the help of some local people, were finally able to find our way. Tonia, the owner of the stables was so nice and helpful (I had never ridden a horse before), and my horse, Biscuit, was very gentle. It was just Tonia and me on the ride (my husband is allergic to horses), and the sunset as we rode down the beach was beautiful. After the ride, we drove back to Cap Juluca to get ready for dinner. We had an 8:30 p.m. reservation at Blanchard’s. I had read “A Day at the Beach” and was looking forward to meeting Bob and Melinda Blanchard, but they weren’t there that night. The service and food were wonderful. We drank some fabulous wine and then split the Caribbean Sampler for our entree and the Chocolate Trio for dessert (Blanchard’s wrote a “Happy Birthday” message in chocolate on the plate). Total for the meal was $117. We noticed that Michael from “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” was eating in the restaurant, so after he finished his meal, we went over to his table. He was very nice, and we had our pictures taken with him.

Tuesday, May 24th: We left Anguilla and flew to St. Barts on Winair. I was terrified of the flight into St. Barts, but because of the direction of the wind, we came in the opposite direction, so no free fall out of the sky! Upon reaching the airport, we went to the St. Barts Properties desk where we checked into our villa, La Danse du Soleil, and picked up our complimentary rental car. Total for 5 nights at La Danse du Soleil, including the car rental, was $2,000. We followed the property manager to the villa, and upon seeing the traffic, rough condition of the roads, and general busyness of the island, I was so upset we had left Anguilla! We finally made it to the villa and I soon changed my mind about St. Barts. We had a fabulous, private villa in La Danse du Soleil. The pool and view down to the beach were beautiful. After exploring the villa, we went back into town to Match to stock up on groceries. After having been in grocery stores in Aruba and St. John, I expected Match to have all the American brands. I was wrong. It was difficult to find simple things like breakfast foods, and the only milk in the store was goat’s milk (they were out of cow’s milk that day). Our total grocery bill was $117. After driving back to the villa and unpacking, we lounged by the pool for the rest of the day. For dinner, we ate at Andy’s Hideaway and had some great pizza. After dinner, the waitress brought us shots of vanilla rum (for free and without asking - we weren’t aware of this practice in St. Barts), which was a wonderful way to end the meal! Total bill was $30.

Wednesday, May 25th: We ate breakfast in the villa and packed a lunch to take to the beach. We found a beach umbrella in the villa and took that with us to Gouverneur Beach. We were happy to have the umbrella with us, as the only available shade was already taken. The beach and water were beautiful, almost as much so as Anguilla - I wasn’t expecting this from the descriptions I had read about St. Barts’ beaches. Some of the women were topless, though no one was completely nude. There was a photo shoot taking place on the beach of two little children with a picnic basket - I assumed for a local magazine - which was fun to watch. After a few hours, we headed back to the villa and stayed in the pool for the rest of the day. That night we ate dinner at the Wall House in Gustavia. The service and food was very good, and prices were reasonable for St. Barts. My husband had duck, I had pesto gnocchi, and we split a chocolate fondant for dessert. The total for the meal was $72.80. The meal ended with complimentary shots of vanilla rum.

Thursday, May 26th: Again, we ate breakfast in the villa and packed a lunch to take to the beach. This time we went to St. Jean Beach and watched the planes land and take off, which was an amazing sight. I couldn’t believe how close the planes come to the people in the water when taking off - a few times we dove under, thinking they would land on us! We then headed back to the villa where we stayed in the pool for awhile. By late afternoon, we got dressed and drove to Gustavia for some shopping. After buying my husband a shirt and tie at Café Cotton, where we had the most helpful service, I dropped my husband off at a nearby bar. I then went and explored all the wonderful shops. After I met back up with my husband, we ate at Le Select for dinner. This was a fun and inexpensive place - two burgers, fries, and drinks were only around $15. No vanilla rum this time, though, unfortunately!

Friday, May 27th: Usual routine: breakfast in the villa and packed a lunch to take to the beach. We drove to Saline Beach, which was very similar to Gouverneur Beach. The wind and waves were strong, so we only stayed a couple of hours. We hung out in the pool for the rest of the day and ate dinner in the villa. We then headed out to Nikki Beach that night, expecting some fun nightlife. No such luck. It was pretty dead - only a few couples quietly eating/drinking. After a couple of drinks ($21), we went back to the villa for the night.

Saturday, May 28th: We ate breakfast in the villa, and then headed back to St. Jean Beach. Though it’s not the most beautiful of St. Barts’ beaches, it was our favorite as we liked to watch the planes. For lunch, we walked down the beach and ate at La Plage. The service and food were very good. I had a salad, and my husband had ribs. Total for the meal was $30. Vanilla rum was again complimentary. After lunch, we drove back to the villa and spent some time in the pool. That afternoon, we drove back into town for some shopping and exploring in St. Jean. Dinner was at Kiki-e-Mo. Though this is mainly a takeout place, there are some tables where you can eat on site. I had pizza, and my husband had a sandwich. Total was $20. That night we went out to Le Ti St Barth - we had been saving this place for last, but we should have been going every night! When we first got there (around 10 p.m.), everyone was still eating dinner, so we had a few drinks in the bar. Models then began changing into crazy outfits and parading around the tables. After everyone finished eating, the tables were cleared, and the music and dancing began. I danced on the table tops and had an absolute blast!

Sunday, May 29th: We headed home today. Just as we had been disappointed to leave Anguilla, we were equally disappointed to leave St. Barts. In the airport in St. Barts, I spotted Scott Wolf (of “Everwood” and formerly, “Party of Five”) and his wife, Kelly Limp (of MTV’s Real World New Orleans). They sat two rows behind us on the Winair plane from St. Barts to St. Maarten. We stood beside them while waiting for our luggage in St. Maarten, but they looked like they didn’t want to be bothered, so I didn’t speak to them. After a few hours layover, we got back on the plane from St. Maarten to Charlotte, NC and then on to Knoxville, TN via USAir.

Observations on Anguilla: The beaches are fabulous, with our favorite beach being Upper Shoal Bay. The people were so friendly - the friendliest of any island we’ve visited. The island was easily navigable, as the streets on the Anguilla map are well marked, and there are generally signs to restaurants, hotels, and beaches. Overall, the restaurants are great in terms of quality of food and service. The prices were a bit high, but I expected that. Next time, I will seek out more of the beach bars on Shoal Bay East for lunches. I will not eat at Cap Juluca next time - other than the complimentary breakfast, of course! Of all of the islands we’ve visited, Anguilla is tied for our favorite with St. John.

Observations on St. Barts: This island is COMPLETELY different from Anguilla but is absolutely fabulous! The beaches are beautiful, the French people are so friendly (not what I experienced in Paris several years back), Gustavia is wonderful with its shopping and restaurants, and we can’t forget that vanilla rum!!! We will definitely be back.

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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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I totally enjoyed your trip report! Thanks for sharing!
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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 01:42 PM
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What a wonderful trip report! In the mid-late 90's, we used to split our time between Anguilla & St. Barts but finally made the decision that our hearts are in Anguilla so, since 1999, that's where we go. Your report made me think that we should return to St. Barts at some point (although we're already booked for Anguilla this year -- maybe another year it will happen). Those 2 islands do make a nice combo, don't they?
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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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Becca, nice report! I am so glad you had a wonderful time. Caps rooms are great! I also enjoy the ambience of Cedar Grove. You were lucky to get into your room so fast at CJ! I did the walking path, herb garden a few years ago--
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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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Becca,What a great trip report.Very detailed and informative! I like that.
We were looking for another Caribbean Island to visit and Anguilla sounds just like what were looking for! We have been to the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands now we are looking for another island to visit.
Turks and Caicos seemed like a good place but since I've read your trip report about Anguilla I think we'll give that a try....
I love a nice quiet,peaceful island to go on vacation.
Sounds like you had a great time!
Were there lot's of kids at Rendezvous Bay??
Any info you can give me on Anguilla would be great.
Thanks,Debbie
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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 04:08 PM
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Debbie: We debated Turks & Caicos for a vacation as well, and while I think we will visit there one day, we made the right choice in Anguilla/St. Barts. Since we were at the Rendezvous Bay Hotel for only one night, I didn't get a good read on the place, but I can tell you that I didn't see any children while I was there. Maybe it was the time of year we went, but I saw very few children on Anguilla. I saw the most children while we were eating lunch at Scilly Cay, and those children were very well behaved. I think Rendezvous Bay Hotel would be an excellent place to spend time on Anguilla. The beach is absolutely beautiful, and you can't beat the price. I'll be happy to answer any other questions you have about Anguilla!
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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 06:20 PM
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We stay at Rendezvous Bay Hotel every year for a portion of our Anguilla time. There are very few children when we go & as a rule, I think Anguilla attracts fewer families with children. Be advised that Rendezvous Bay Hotel is closing next year at the beginning of June and when it re-opens it looks like it will be high-end villas and not the moderately priced place it is now. If you are travelling with kids, Shoal Bay East seems to have a number of families during school break times.
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 06:42 AM
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I really enjoyed hearing about your trip to my little part of the world, Becca. Sounds like it was a fabulous celebration! Happy belated birthday.
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Thanks, Statia! It was definitely my best birthday yet.
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 08:43 AM
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Becca, wonderful trip report. Your report brought back memories of our trip to Anguilla in '98. We've been to several islands after that trip but Anguilla continues to be my favorite. I'm glad you had a great time.
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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Thank you for the great report. We actually go back to St Barths in Nov. We rented through St Barths Properties as well. Reading your post made me miss Vanilla Rum! I cannot wait.

I love Anguilla and St Barths. I prefer St Barths as it is really hard to beat in charm factor anywhere.

Glad you had such a nice trip!
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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Thanks Becca for taking the time to write a trip report. I am salivating, as we are visiting St. Barts for the first time in May. It sounds like you liked Anguilla better though. Perhaps we can do that another time. Le Ti sounds great - thanks for the tip!
Maggi
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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Maggi: It's hard to say whether I liked Anguilla or St. Barts better. They were the perfect combination because they are both so different and so wonderful. What I liked better about Anguilla is that I could walk right out my door and be within steps of the beach while on St. Barts, we had to drive to the beaches. Of course, that could be remedied by staying at one of the few beachfront resorts in St. Barts - but then you wouldn't have that fabulous view from our private villa and pool! My husband and I have booked our airfare (using FF miles) for next May to St. Maarten, and we are currently trying to decide what islands to visit. I think we will stay a few nights on Nevis - and visit St. Kitts by ferry - since we have never been to those two islands. From there, though, we can't decide whether to go to Anguilla or St. Barts - we love them both!
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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Becca, what a pleasant predicament to be in! We also save up our FF miles to do these trips - our first to that area. We are trying to decide whether to do the fast ferry or Winair from SMX to St. Barts.
Cheers, Maggi
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 12:15 PM
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I have a friend who took the Rapid Ferry from SXM to St. Barts because she was nervous about the flight. She said the ferry was rough, though nowhere near as rough as the regular ferry and no one became seasick. I become seasick very easily, which is why we opted for the flight. Also, the flight is around 10 minutes whereas the ferry is much longer.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 12:51 PM
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How long does the fast ferry take and any link to the schedule? Thanks.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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The crossing is 45 minutes. Here is a link regarding the Rapid Explorer, including the ferry schedule:
www.sbhonline.com/Rapid_Explorer.htm
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 01:16 PM
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Thanks, Becca!
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 02:42 PM
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Hi Becca, Just got around to reading you report. My wife and I also travel to St Barts every year in late May after experiencing the beauty of the island. We love Saline and St Jean and have found the greatest little bungalo right on the St Jean beach. All the things you spoke of we experienced too. We are now trying to learn french to mingle better. We also have done Anquilla, but now opt for St John for our other fall holiday (Nov) We are already anxious for next May's trip back to St Barts.
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