We returned last Sunday and have just come down to earth. It was our first trip and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
First, let me tell you that we are a couple who fell in love with Anguilla and have been going there for the last several years. When I read everyone's impressions, even after going to Provo for many years, I totally understood. While floating in the water or sitting on the sand, we would momentarily forget we were in T&C. It is THAT identical to the beaches of Anguilla, complete with the powder white sand and beautiful hues of turquoise.
We were able to travel only if we were on a pretty tight budget. That being said, high end restaurants were out of the question and really not necessary to us as we were traveling for beach and snorkeling. When we want a foodie destination, we drive up to Montreal or simply cross the bridge into NYC.
Okay, that being said, we stayed at Coral Gardens...a wonderful and beautiful choice for us. We stayed in the corner unit in an oceanfront unit. The wrap around sliding glass doors -- floor to ceiling -- were unreal. The livingroom and balcony became one. We found no problem at all with the "tiny" beach as posted here, and also no crowding. A couple of families would occasionally walk down from Beaches to show their kids how to snorkel, but that was about it. They were not allowed any of our beach chairs, as they were closely monitored by the very kind, friendly and gentle Jerome.
Our unit was on the complete other end from the "abandoned building that looked like something from Bagdad" (according to someone on this forum). However, if it were right next door, it would not have mattered to us at all. Like Anguilla, it seems Provo has its own compilation of abandoned building going on. With a view of water that beautiful, who would bother to look at an unfinished building??
We did have a few meals at Somewhere Cafe and the service and the food was excellent. I fell in love with the fish tacos and my husband loved the grouper sandwiches. We did bring some food from home and we enjoyed quite a few take-out meals from Graceway Gourmet....rotisserie chicken, mahi mahi, fried chicken, etc. All were priced $9.99 to $11.99 per meal and were bountiful with leftovers for the next days' lunch.
When we arrived at the airport (keeping in mind someone on this forum said), we went to the "declare" line. There was no line while the other line was enormous. I thought perhaps it was closed. No. I was pointed in the direction of two security women who saw we declared some frozen meats and two pints of vodka. After the ordeal of opening the suitcase, then the soft cooler, seeing the meats, she said "no, i want to see the vodka!" I said, "oh, that's in the little zipper compartment in the front." With that she laughed and said "they must be tiny little bottles! get out of here" and promptly closed the suitcase.
Okay, now for beverages. We went to Wine Cellars, even though most posted about beer prices. Since we are wine drinkers and knew we would need A LOT OF WINE for our 10 days, we hoped for a bargain. Well, the least expensive pinot grigio was a 1.5L bottle at $26. Hardly inexpensive, so we only bought one figuring we'd come back and try for a case the next day. However, the next day was Saturday and we were in Graceway Gourmet. I was looking at their wines and spotted our "everyday" wine of choice which we have at home and also have enjoyed on Anguilla...Gaetano D'Aquino! It was $11.99 but Graceway Gourmet offers 10% off on a case, as well, which no one had mentioned on the forum! We immediately grabbed a case, as well as some vodka and were off! Anguilla sells this wine for approx. $7.00 and I wondered how an island with hardly the amount of tourists as T&C could sell their liquor for so much less.
Props out to Ziggy whose directions were excellent to get to Taylor Bay, Sapodilla, etc. We went early one day to Taylor Bay, expecting to lunch at Las Brisas. However, when we hit the beach, a swarm of mosquitos attacked us, making us quite uncomfortable. It was too early for lunch and I could not WAIT to get back into our room to put something on all our bites! It had not rained nor was it going to rain, so I have no idea where all these mosquitos came from!
One morning we woke up, dressed and drove to Caicos Bakery (finally found it!) and bought some baguettes and some of those chocolate croissants. Okay, I admit it...one was missing upon the return to our room. In my defense, they were MINI-croissants :-)
We did get to Smiths Reef for snorkeling and both decided we liked the reefs right in front of Coral Gardens just as much, if not more. Great fish, a turtle, barracuda, etc.
We took a drive after lunch one day to find Da Conch Shack but, sadly, could not find it. (I guess we're both directionally challenged). Oh well, next year.
We found Hole in the Wall and were hungry for some oxtails. I had read some really good reviews here. Unfortunately, when we walked in, we were told they were sold out. We decided to just go back to Somewhere Cafe.
Our next day we found Danny Buoys, hoping for some fish and chips. The outside looks like a very nice place...the inside....not so much. I should have listened to this forum. The customer service was absent and while it was empty, dark and no one even bothered to notice us. Again, we left. Like I said, I should have listened, but as I mentioned at the get-go, we were really on a budget and thought this was an option.
The airport on Sunday was a zoo. But, we had a great trip and tried not to let that spoil it for us.
All in all, we could not believe the similarities to Provo and Anguilla. But Provo is quite a bit more "built up." And we were disappointed that we seemed unable to find places where the locals go. Instead, we found many more Haitian waitstaff than we did T&C waitstaff.
The best part (okay, not the best part) was that NO ONE in Coral Gardens got this dreaded sickness that I was reading about for weeks. I doubled up on my probiotics, brought meds with us, but I have to guess that because Coral Gardens is a small grouping of condos with no common areas, restaurants, etc., that maybe this helped. We did love Coral Gardens and would definitely stay there again. The unit was enormous, fantastic views, great maid service, etc. They offered a cell phone when we arrived for $10, which I took so that we could make local calls, call the front desk and even call home once or twice. They have no phone in the room. No clocks either...which made it a REAL vacation!!! :-)
Oh, and we rented a car which was waiting for us at the airport from Grace Bay Car Rentals. We returned at the airport when we left. Very easy and loved touring the island.
Thank you to all on this forum for making us feel comfortable on an island we had never visited before.
I will try to post some photos, although not many, as soon as I get this photobucket thing downpat.