Travelogue: Anguilla (part 2)

After touring the viceroy grounds on day 1, I figured we'd get some activities planned so that we can mix it up and not get bored. The hotel has their own weekly agenda of activities of which some are free (like the movie night) and some aren't (sunset cocktail cruises). Despite being about 5 months pregnant, I felt pretty good enough to do a few activities. The one that stood out the most to me was the hotel's bike tour. So we signed up and were able to fill in the last two empty slots for day 2 of our stay. Once that was arranged, we set off to find a spot to do dinner...

I've read about how Anguilla's restaurants are top notch (and) expensive (somewhat) so I was anxious to get to eating.  Problem was that with us moving into off-season, some places were already on vacation.  So our dining options were somewhat limited.  The other thing that factored into dining - Cabs.  It was recommended that we rent a car for the week but I really wanted to play it by ear on how mobile we wanted to be. But after the cost ($30) of our first excursion to our first restaurant, Tasty's - which wasn't even that far - I soon realized that if were back, we should rent a car just to save on taxi fares alone.

Tip: Coming from NYC where cabs are aplenty, taxis are more of shared car service on the island. Basically whoever we used leaving the hotel would be the one taking us back. Take their business card to give them a call when you're ready OR just let them know when you want to be picked up. Also, everyone is fairly helpful enough that a restaurant can call a taxi for you.
L: oxtail, R: coconut custed fish

Tasty's Review:  Being one of the few restaurants open and everyone's generally positive reviews, we gave them a try.  It was packed when we got there but we got a seat immediately. Unfortunately it took like 10-15 minutes until someone came to check on us to finally take our order.  Service was pretty brisk - if not a little cold.  Mr. P ordered oxtail and I had a coconut-crusted grilled fish with coconut rice and vegetables.  We both thought it was good but nothing to rave home about. Tasty's gives a local, neighborhood-y vibe, but the prices were anything but.  I thought it was overpriced especially for the lackluster service.  Not only did it take like an hour to get our entrees but just hailing down a waiter took forever. I felt forgotten about and soon got impatient.  It didnt help that it was hot in there (no air) but thankfully we were seated next to window so that I got a few breezes here an there.

Did I mention it was August Monday on our first night? It's Anguilla's annual carnival/holiday party day so everyone kept telling us to go to Sandy Ground.  How did this play out in general?  For one, I think it affected the service at the hotel.  The staff who was there just did not seem at all happy to be working that day (for good reason). They were also hard to find (short-staffed?). I'll get into my service review of the viceroy in a later post but as were heading out to Tasty's we actually shared our cab with a group of women from chicago heading out to check out the party at Sandy Ground. We jumped out at Tasty's and they continued on. But no later than 45 min had passed until we see them entering the restaurant.  I could see it on their faces but I asked how was it and they shook their heads and was like "...ehh.. we're back."  LOL.  I think it was past party stage and probably into drunk, party dying down stage for the locals.  So that nixed our after dinner plans so we headed back to the hotel to get up for our 8am bike tour.

The bike tour was awesome.  Granted it was described as a 3 hour leisurely bike tour (on trek bikes) of I believe 8-10 miles or so?  "Leisurely" it was not.  Anguilla is hilly. They are NO JOKE and nothing compared to your fancy spin class :)  however the views were pretty amazing. Our tour guide, Anthony (?), was great and super knowledgeable. During high season I hear the tour stops at Geraud's bakery for a snack but it was closed for us (bummer).  We were part of a big group of 10 of a family from Miami but we all got along well and helped take each other's photos. Speaking of which, definitely bring a camera because you can't pass up views like this:
Mead's filter - the water IS that clear!
Overlooking Sandy Ground

The tour was great and there was a part where we went "off-roading" which was somewhat scary but fun and adventurous. The weather was HOT but passing through shaded neighborhoods with the breezes made it bearable. For the most part we were on side roads but at the end we did have to bike on the main road back to the hotel - luckily it was mostly downhill (thank goodness) and cars just went around us.
All smiles at the end of the bike tour.

After that workout, there's nothing else to do but pool or beach it up.  With the hotel being somewhat empty in occupancy, we ended up finding ourselves at the Sunset Lounge pool over Aleta.  Main reason being that I felt there was more staff in that area in case I wanted to order a drink or food whereas Aleta pool was pretty deserted.  And the sunset lounge pool really does give you the greatest place to witness some spectacular sunsets:
The infinity pool at the Sunset Lounge. Paradise!
We opted for dinner at Straw Hat this time.  You can see it from the hotel - and I thought skip the cab and just walk along the beach. It seemed like a good idea until I felt some sprinkles. I couldn't walk that fast in the sand but I was definitely huffing and puffing a little by the time we got to the restaurant. Fortunately - it didn't end up raining. It took about 10-15 min to walk there.
Straw Hat - outdoor seating area

Straw Hat review: great. Recommend it and would eat there again.  Service was much better and more of what we are used to. (I think I'm just spoiled living in NYC).  Now I can accept the island time and have more of a relaxed approach to dining compared to the hustle and bustle of NYC but Tasty's was a snoozefest. Straw Hat was definitely better.  Food wise - almost everything sounded good on the menu but again I went for a local grilled fish with rice and Mr P had um... I forgot lol. But he ate it all!  I did however snap a pic of his appetizer which was like a tuna tartar pizza I think.  Food was great, atmosphere was great (the ocean breeze and night-time dining was pretty dreamy), and service was great. I think the prices were comparable to Tasty's but just felt like it was more justified here at Straw Hat.
P's app, tuna tartar pizza I think, and on the right, my grilled fish, rice, and mango salsa on the side.

After dinner, it was time to call it night so we walked back on the beach to the hotel. It's actually really really dark so I did use the flashlight app on my cellphone to see our way. It wasn't unusual however to pass other people walking on the beach to get to and from the restaurants/hotels along Mead's Bay so I'm just being a wuss.