Determined to get more exercise this year, instead of walking, we hired a couple of bikes today, which were dropped off to the beach for us by Premier Taxi & Bicycle Rental. They cost 25 GBP for the day and included helmets, optional on Anguilla.
Sadly, Anguilla isn’t as flat as it looks ☹ with quite a few small hills along the way, sneakily hidden behind bends in the road. The roads are all in good condition, the map is accurate and we had numerous locals asking if we needed help with directions every time we stopped to check the map.
We did about 20 miles in all, not a long way but the island is only 16 miles long and 3 miles wide and it was over 80 degrees in the sun. Our first stop was the capital ‘The Valley’ and we imagined it would be reasonably built up. It wasn’t. All the buildings were low level and quite spread out, giving a sort of Wild West feel about the town. The shopping malls were tiny but the churches and library were interesting buildings.
We carried on north to visit Shoal Bay East as it has a nice sandy beach but it wasn’t much to our taste, being full of bars, sun loungers and tourists desperate to get a quick tan in the short time they are on holiday. We feel exceptionally lucky when we see those scenes but decided not to stay when we had the lovely Road Bay to go back to.
We passed the airport, hopefully to be extended soon so they can take direct flights to boost their tourist numbers. The 16,000 inhabitants seem to rely very heavily on tourism and the scale of new hotel and villa builds is quite disturbing, given the size of the island. The island is renowned for excellent cuisine, white sand beaches and gorgeous clear water but we hope they don’t overdo the development. Barbuda, on the other hand, is still very special if you want a deserted beach to yourself, with just a couple of hotels and not a sun lounger in sight. The people here are wonderfully warm and friendly, more so than any of the other islands, so we wish them the best and hope their future is a bright one.
Talking of which, the chain on my bike got stuck at one point, so we had to stop outside someone’s house and sort it out. The occupier came out with a screwdriver, soap, water and paper towel for Rob’s oily hands. How kind.
We returned via The Valley and as usual, the schoolchildren were turned out in pristine uniforms but we saw them all at lunchtime, heading for the milkshake bar and fast food vans parked conveniently just outside school! Jamie Oliver wouldn’t have approved at all. The school bus I photographed was very American but the road signs are definitely British as this is still a British Overseas Territory.
We stopped at the Valley Bistro for a rest. They had good iced coffee and a menu we would have loved to sample if we weren’t trying to rein in the spending. The prices, as I’ve said before, ‘go north as you go north’, so we aren’t surprised that meals are double what we are used to paying in Grenada and Trinidad. The BVIs are even worse but we have hopes that the SVIs and Puerto Rico might not be as expensive. Will let you know soon.
The views from the top of some of the hills were worth the effort and you are never far from the sea. We didn’t find much to do, if you were on holiday but as most of the activities seem to revolve around the sea, we don’t usually partake as we are doing them already. There were 2 things we read about in the Island Guide, which sounded interesting though, swimming with dolphins and visiting the historical collection museum. Perhaps next time.
Back in the tranquillity of Road Bay we noticed that the 2 restaurants near the dinghy dock were empty at 1330, not a good sign, so we have decided to go to one of them tonight, good intentions and all that! Johnno’s is a nice bar and apparently has a good Sunday lunch and jazz session. He also runs a bar on Sandy Island, a real desert island, apart from the bar, which we visited in April last year. The WiFi is fast in Johnno’s and on this island I get my 3G downloads on my Kindle, so can read a daily paper again if I get that desperate (all about the General Election in the UK).
We cooled off in the bay, got rid of our few barnacles and found that one of the keel cooler anodes for the freezer was almost eroded, just 3 months after fitting brand new ones. Rob managed to replace it under water and we’ll take a look at the freezer to see why it happened. Tomorrow we clear out and get ready to sail at around 2300, with either white or coloured sails depending on the wind speed. Looking forward to getting to our original destination about 6 days late.