For the past few years, we have made repeated trips to Providenciales. This month, we had the opportunity to get away for a short trip by ourselves, and decided to try somewhere new. We selected Anguilla as somewhere relatively easy for us to get to (direct flight down to SXM on July 10, followed by a quick hop over on AAS; much better than our return flight home to YYZ by way of AAS to SXM, SXM to Philadelphia, and Philadelphia to YYZ, followed by a 2 hour drive home, for almost 16 hours from the time we arrived at the airport in Anguilla on the morning of the 15th). As we had never been to the island, we did not have any idea of where to stay, so decided on the newest resort on the island, Zemi Beach on Shoal Bay.
I can tell you, this was a great decision. We had heard before our arrival that it was a large development, and there were even some references to high rise buildings. We were surprised to find that the building we were in was I believe 5 stories (ground floor + four), and that there were approximately 60 rooms available in the resort (rooms and suites). I would say that it seemed more like a small complex, and the atmosphere was more that of a boutique hotel. If you would like a more detailed review, you can check out our review of the property that should be posted shortly. We travel a fair bit with our family, and have visited many destinations in Europe, the US, and the Caribbean. The only hotel that we have ever stayed in that would compare at all is a Ritz Carlton, and the personal service provided by Zemi is above and beyond.
Once we arrived at Zemi and settled in, we took a walk as far as we could to the end of the beach, passing the many beach bars and resorts along the way. We decided we didn’t really feel like venturing too far on our first evening, so we had a few beverages and some food at the Zemi beach bar before heading to our room for the night. However, once we got upstairs on our deck, we could hear a live musician, so we headed back down, and found out the music was moving indoors to Stone. We decided one more beverage couldn’t hurt, so we sat at the bar and listened to the very talented singer before finally going to bed.
On Monday morning, we decided to set up on the beach for the morning after we had breakfast. The various blues of the water were lovely. It was apparently unusually windy for the time we were there, so we never saw the water like glass. Our rental car was being delivered to us at the resort, so once we had the keys in hand, we headed off to Café de Paris for a late lunch. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon exploring a couple of different beaches (Meads and Rendezvous), before visiting Best Buy for some snacks and beverages for the week. Had a relatively early night, in anticipation of a full day on Tuesday.
Breakfast on Tuesday was again at 20 Knots (Zemi), then we got in the car and drove down to Sandy Ground, so we could check out the boats moored there. We were planning on taking a fishing charter on Wednesday for my birthday, and wanted to see the boats before making a decision on which company to choose. After speaking to one of the Captains, we decided on SeaPro, and arranged to meet the Captain back there at 6:45 am on Wednesday. Next on the list was a snack and lunch to go from Gerauds, which we had heard much about. The stellar reviews are correct, although I wish we had heeded the advice that one baguette would feed two! We put our baguettes in our cooler, and went to Crocus Bay to find Calvin, and get a ride over to Little Bay.
Little Bay was very nice, and there was a brief period where we were the only two people there. Our sandwiches from Geraud’s were really good, but neither one of us came close to finishing them. We did some snorkelling, and saw a turtle, spotted ray, barracuda, giant suck fish, and a big skinny fish that swims backwards and forwards (sorry Calvin, you told me what it was called, but I forget!). Definitely worth the $15 return trip for each of us. A fair number of boats, including a big catamaran from St. Maarten stopped at Little Bay, but most did not stay for long.
On our way back to Zemi, we thought we would drive out to the end of the island to see if we could find Junk’s Hole. Unfortunately, Nat’s was closed, and there was no one out there. It was quite wavy, and some seaweed on the beach, so we just took a quick look then headed out (on the list for “next time”!). We continued on past Scilly Cay, and to Zemi. All of that exploring was exhausting, so we spent some time down on the beach just lounging around. Once we were ready for a bit more fun, we went to the Main Bar for some rum punch and pizza (spiny lobster pizza for my husband, and margherita for me), which was very tasty. An early night, knowing we had to be in Sandy Ground for 6:45 the next day.
Captain Tyrell and First Mate Crispin took us fishing Wednesday morning, and had already informed us that we would be better to go bottom fishing at this time of year, as deep sea would likely result in no catch. We appreciated the honesty, so bottom fishing it was. Fun was had by all, and we caught a fair number of fish, including a nice sized Trigger Fish by my husband (also known as an “Old wife” which he said was fitting since it was my birthday), some Butter Fish, Snappers, and “Bucket mouth hinds” (?). By the time we got back to Sandy Ground it was lunch time, so off we went to Geraud’s again where we sat outside and had lunch and another pastry. Very good once again.
Back to Zemi for some beach time, and to try paddle boarding. The paddle boarding was a lot of fun, but the wind made it a bit challenging. I think everyone on the beach had a good laugh at me as I had never tried it before, and was easily able to stand on the board and paddle, but took a while to actually go anywhere due to the wind. We had planned to go to Tasty’s for dinner for my birthday so we went to our room to get ready, then headed out, doing some souvenir shopping for our kids on the way (a stop at Irie Life was included).
Dinner was great, but we were glad we had only ordered mains, as the portions were quite large. My husband had the crayfish with peas and rice and vegetables, and I had the porkloin with garlic mashed and vegetables. I also ordered a side of plantain, as I had read somewhere that it was a must. Everything was excellent, and Chef Dale came out to see us and be sure we had enjoyed it, which we had.
Back to Zemi for the night, where we found Caribbean night in full swing. Wow, what a great time! There was a big dinner buffet on the beach that lots of people were enjoying, so we opted to sit at the packed beach bar. We had a few cocktails and enjoyed the live music by Mystic Vibes (amazing!), before I ordered some churros for dessert. They were the best churros I have ever had…warm, cinnamon sugary, slightly crisp on the outside but fluffy on the inside…highly recommend. Everyone was having fun, and it seemed like the place to be on a Wednesday evening.
Thursday was our last full day, and we wanted to make the most of it. After breakfast at 20 Knots again, we went to the beach for some kayaking and paddle boarding before we got in our car and headed out for the day. We drove along the island by Blowing Point so we could check out the ferry boats (happy we took AAS), then went to Maunday’s Bay to enjoy some quiet beach time. Absolutely lovely beach to spend an afternoon at. When we were ready to eat something late in the afternoon we went to Blanchard’s Beach Shack, and had lunch with our toes in the sand. Back to Zemi, where we spent an hour by one of the pools for the first time since our arrival (so many things to see and do, and so little time!). Cocktails later in the main bar, then packing to go home as our flight on AAS was at 10am. For next time (and, yes, there will be a next time) we would opt to take the later AAS flight. Our departure out of SXM was not until shortly before 3pm, so we had some time to spend in Simpson Bay area once we dropped our bags at the airport. That small slice of time pretty much convinced us that St. Maarten would not be for us. I think a couple more hours on Anguilla would have been time better spent!
For some reason I can’t make the link work, but if you copy and paste to your address bar it should work.