Background – Couple from Chicago. We like nice beaches, the ability to explore on our own safely, and good food. I don’t care about nightlife and don’t need to be constantly entertained. As a comparison, we LOVE Anguilla, but wanted to try a new island.
Day 1: Arrival/Airport: Like every time I’ve chosen a line at the grocery store or DMV or wherever, I chose the wrong one. By far the slowest moving, but within 45 minutes, we were on our way to Avis. Flights were basically on time.
We got a “mid size” rental, so a slightly larger clown car. Very happy with our experience with Avis, would use them again in a heartbeat. We were then on our way to the Beach House.
We bought a Luxury Link package for the Beach House and overall, we really liked it. Loved the small, intimate feel, and loved the quiet and wide stretch of beach. It has, what appeared to be, the most comfortable lounge chairs of any hotel we walked by. For the type of money some places charge, I can’t believe they have those crappy rubber strapped beach chairs. Given the amount of time we spend in beach chairs, this is almost as important as the bed being comfortable. There is turtle grass in the water, but it has no effect on your ability to swim, as its in 10 feet of water. A few minor little things that could have been improved upon in the rooms, but nothing major. Staff was very friendly and the included breakfast entrees were really, really good.
Unfortunately shortly after we arrived, it began to rain fairly heavily. We ran to the IGA and picked up snacks, beverages, and stuff to make sandwiches in the room a few days. Great store, felt like a typical U.S. market (albeit with $12 a pound a lunch meat).
It did stop by dinner time, but we weren’t able to see Grace Bay in all its glory just yet. Included in our package was $150 dinner credit at the Beach House. We did the chef’s 5 course tasting menu and it was excellent! Wonderful presentation and great food. , One course was just OK course, but the other 4 were excellent. This was our second best meal.
Day 2: Set-up shop on our comfy beach chairs for the day. The only issue with the Beach House Set-up is the umbrellas. They are too small for the big beach chairs, so there is a shade issue. On this day It was basically cloudy with threats of rain out over the water. Still managed to get a little sunburn and enjoyed the beautiful sandy bottom and crystal clear water.
That day we entered our typical boring days of beach until 4 ish and then my GF gets ready for dinner while I have a cocktail on the patio and read some more.
This night dinner was at Mango Reef. We decided to stop in at Regent Palms at their pool bar, but it was dead, as in not one person there. So, on to Mango Reef. This was a WONDERFUL dinner. The sun made an appearance in time for sunset. We were seated up on their deck with a wonderful sunset view. I had the blackend Grouper special and the GF had the seafood open ravioli. Loved it.
Day 3: Morning on the beach. The sun finally made its presence felt at times and we got the full Grace Bay experience. Incredibly beautiful. The water just has this glow to it that is unreal. Pics do not do it justice.
We decided to get out and explore a bit and head to Las Brisas for lunch. Found it with ease. Lunch was fine, nothing memorable about it, but Chalk Sound is incredible. We took a drive further down Chalk Sound Drive to get some additional views and also try and find Taylor Bay. We failed on Taylor Bay but found Sapodilla Bay, which was actually kind of hopping. It seemed like the villas there were pretty full, lots of people playing in the water. This is a great beach with shallow water and a very different feel to the sand.
Dinner this night was Sailing Paradise. Our waitress was as sweet as can be. The wind had really picked up though and we were unable to eat on their deck and instead had to eat inside in the bar area, which wasn’t the best atmosphere, but you can’t control the weather. Conch fritters were great, fish entrees were really, really salty. Overall, maybe a bit disappointed.
Day 4: I wish I could describe our days in more detail, but doing nothing but lounging with the occasional walk or swim just isn’t all that interesting! This morning we did drive and park at the beach access by Somerset, so we could walk a different section of beach. Weather continued to get sunnier.
Dinner that night was Caicos Café and at the risk of offending its fans here on this board, we were highly disappointed. Everything was “meh” including the service. Everything had a very processed and canned flavor to it. The service was chaotic. 4 different people visited our table, but none of them seemed to know what the last person had done, so some things were asked 3 times while other things were ignored. Will not return.
Day 5: On this day we did a half day snorkel tour with Island Vibes. It was a great time. The snorkeling was hampered by the wind but the crew was great and Half Moon Bay was incredible. LOVE that beach. Got to see a large eagle ray and a small shark come and feed on the conch remains. I could have lounged on that beach all day long. It was a great sunny day.
As we imbibed on a few (or several) rum punches. We walked over to Somewhere for fish tacos for dinner. Fun place and a great sunset view.
Day 6: The usual during the day. Weather continued to better than the first couple days.
Our Luxury Link package also included a Sunset Cruise, which ended up being through Reef Peepers. It was billed more like a romantic sunset cruise, but the group on board was younger and the crew was lively, so this was really more of a “booze cruise”. So, rather than be disappointed that we weren’t sipping champagne with soft music in the background, we turned this into a booze cruise for us too. It was a lot of fun. We sailed out to about half way along Pine Cay and then back. On the way back we get the fantastic surprise of JoJo the dolphin joining us for a swim along the boat. That was great.
Given that we turned this into a booze cruise, driving to dinner was out of the question. We decided to just get a pizza delivered from Mother’s. It was very good, confirmed the next day when I had sober leftovers.
Day 7: We kept noticing each day that the clouds would come and go along Grace Bay but it always looked sunny towards Chalk Sound. It became a running joke that “It’s Always Sunny on Sapodilla Bay”. So, as some afternoon clouds rolled in, we decided to head out and find Taylor Bay. This time we were successful. It helped that there were a couple cars in the parking area, so we knew that had to be it. Beautiful beach and we spend a nice hour sitting in the water and splashing around in the bright sunshine, while a couple little afternoon storms rolled along Grace Bay.
Dinner tonight was Coco Bistro. It did not disappoint. The level of service is much more in line with what you would expect from a 5 star place in the U.S. Everything was wonderful. The tuna sashimi appetizer might have been the best thing I ate all week.
Day 8: Last full day, and of course, this was the best weather day. Grace Bay had been a little choppy all week (but still easily swim-able), but it was as calm as could be, with barely a cloud in the sky. Spent all day lounging, with a walk over to Somewhere for some lunch.
Our last dinner was Seven. Food was good, no real complaints , maybe a slight let down after Coco, but the service faded at the end of dinner. Apps and dinner took an hour from start to finish, no problem there, but it took another 1.5 hours to order and receive dessert and get and pay our bill. Not good for a high end place like that.
Day 9: Leaving. Had one more great breakfast at the Beach House and then packed up and checked out. Had some time to kill, so we had a nice lunch at the Tiki Hut and then headed to the airport. Wow. What a line. We stood in line for nearly 1.5 hours. We did learn a few things though. We should have just hung out in Gilley’s as our flight was 3:45, which is the end of the afternoon rush, so the line kept getting shorter after we arrived. We also learned that as flights get close, they bring people for that flight to the front of the line, so basically, people who arrive a little late get a free pass to the front, while those who arrive early, continue to wait in the heat. We will tackle the airport differently next time.
Impressions: Really love the island, the water and beaches are incredible. Everything was much more compact than I envisioned (in a good way). I would read about how the Beach House wasn’t really close to anything, but it’s really only a short drive from everywhere. I had heard mixed impressions about the people, but I got to say that basically without fail, the locals were very, very friendly. The boat crews were great, the housekeeper at the Beach House was such a sweet lady. She had to come and give us hugs on our last day. We felt very welcomed on the island. Sure, there were a couple service issues, but that’s par for the course when traveling in the Caribbean, we expect that to an extent.
Our goal was to find an island that was similar to Anguilla in that it fit what we like, but different enough that we could switch off between the 2 and I think we found it. Next trip we need to do a North/Middle day trip.