Trip Report May 11-14, 2013 Mother Daughter Trip
My daughter turned 21 this year so I thought it was a good time for us to have some alone time. So after she finished her college exams, we headed out for our trip. We left my husband to handle our two sons at home who was still in school. I did some research ahead of time but did less research than I normally do.
Flew north to Charlotte on USAir to then get the flight to Provo. Our flight arrived at 2:30 pm. You deplane and walk across the tarmac to a large room with no air conditioning and get in to one of many lines to go thru customs. It does seem like the process is slow but the agents are friendly and welcoming. There appeared to be more than one flight arriving at the same time. There are no restroom facilities (tip: use the bathroom on the plane).
After going thru customs we go to another room to pick up our luggage and out the door we go. We are met with a chaos of people holding signs for various hotels and individuals. There were no clear signs about the taxis and where to go or get in line for one. Looking bewildered, a hotel representative pointed out a representative from our hotel that was assisting travelers and grouping them together. The taxis are large 10 passenger vans so the hotel rep trys to help fill up the taxi. The “taxi” ride was about 15 minutes to the Alexandria Resort and the charge was $11 per person. We passed the IGA grocery on the way to the resort.
What we eventually learned was that the “taxis” were mainly large 10 passenger vans. There was a certain price per mile per person. I knew we weren’t going to take too many trips away from the hotel to warrant a rental car. It all depends on the number in your party and how many times you think you will need to leave the hotel as to whether to get a rental car or not.
Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted and asked to sit on the deck overlooking the beach until it was our turn to check in. They offered us a cool, wet cloth and a rum punch. We didn’t have time to finish the punch before it was time to get the keys to our room.
Our room was located on the 5th floor of the Marilyn building. There was a small balcony that overlooked the pool and the view of the ocean could be seen on an angle. It was a very pretty view and I didn’t mind that we were not oceanfront. The hotel type room had a kitchenette area that was equipped with a mini fridge, microwave oven, blender, toaster, 4-cup coffee maker with coffee supplies (refreshed daily), and basic dishes.
We quickly changed clothes and headed to the pool to relax. The pool was not crowded and had plenty of lounge chairs. The landscaping and grounds were beautiful and well maintained.You had to walk all the way out to the beach area to pick up beach towels though. I would suspect that this was the case because it was off-season. The water was cool and refreshing. My only complaint was that the servers very rarely walk around the pool to take drink orders. When the server (from Mango Bay restaurant) did come he was very cheerful and friendly. It was sunny and warm and always a breeze blowing.
Dinner that evening was at Coco Bistro. It was a $10 taxi ride each way. There was no problem getting a taxi and we did not call ahead to do so. For appetizers we had Conch 2 Ways (Asian fried and ceviche). I had a passion fruit and mango martini, which was delicious. For dinner we tried the pan seared snapper with jasmine rice and vegetables and also the blackened mahi with mango and curry. The bill came to $185 incl 10% tip automatically added. We each had 2 cocktails, shared and appetizer and a dessert. It was by far the best meal we had on our trip but also the most expensive. The outdoor dining area was absolutely lovely. We enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.
Breakfast is oatmeal (brought from home) and coffee. It is our way to keep the calories down and allow us to sleep later.
It’s Mother’s Day and my request was to go to church and then spend the day relaxing at the beach and pool. We attended 9 am mass at Our Lady of Divine Providence church. The 9 am mass was the only one in English. They also had one in Spanish and one in Creole. The church was lovely and the people in attendance were of all nationalities. The “taxi” ride was $20 each way. When the driver dropped us off he told us to pay him on the return and that he would pick us up later. He did that and also added another family to the taxi who were traveling in the same direction.
For the rest of the day we sunned at the beach and pool. It was not overly crowded and we were able to get 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella on the beach. We observed people walking to snorkel but did not know how far a walk it was to get to the reef. The Alexandra provides beach equipment including snorkel gear, paddleboards, kayaks, beach volleyball and floats free of charge.
I brought from home some snacks and also drink flavoring packets for flavoring water. The most useful thing we brought from home was the new Tervis Tumbler water bottles. They are large double insulated drinking bottles. Early in the day we would drink our own water, lemonade or iced tea. Later in the day we would purchase mixed drinks and pour them in our bottles and they would stay very cold.
Dinner that evening was at Bay Bistro. We had a 7 pm reservation timed such that we would see the sunset. Bay Bistro is a short 8 min walk on the beach to the right of the hotel. There are about 3 resorts between the Alexandra and the resort that has Bay Bistro.
While at the restaurant we ordered 2 appetizers conch wontons and conch and mushroom crepes. The wontons were great. For dinner we had blackened snapper and grouper in an Asian salad. The meal was very good. The service was very slow and they appeared to be under staffed. I wanted to order a second glass of wine but was never given the opportunity to do so.
The meal was $160.
We had plans to take the 8:30 am snorkeling excursion on Caicos Dream Tours (leaves from the beach at our hotel). We were taken out to a wonderful reef to snorkel, then to a beach island to look at iguana and then to a shallow area to dive for conch. The crew prepared conch ceviche for us to eat and also provided rum punch, beer, water and a pack of Doritos. Before returning we made another stop in a shallow area to collect sand dollars and shells. There were about 20 people on the trip and it was a friendly cheerful group. Two people got seasick even though the waves were not too bad. I am rather prone to seasickness and I was fine the whole day.
We returned to the hotel by 1:30.We went to the pool for a bit and then got a massage. It was a sunny day and a little warmer than the day before. Beautiful weather!
Dinner was at Las Brisas in Chaulk Sound. I called our taxi driver Tina from our ride from the airport. She arrived to take us to our restaurant and had her cute grandchildren with her. She dropped us off and told us to call her when we wanted to be picked up again. For appetizers we had conch fritters appetizer and spinach salad with hot cream. The spinach salad was more like a soup so I sent it back at first since I thought it was the wrong order. It was unusual but tasty. Our main courses were snapper with creole sauce and rack of lamb with mashed potatoes and black beans. The total cost was about $140. Our taxi driver delivered us to the hotel and the round trip fare ended up being $70!!! Lesson learned: if you don’t have a rental car, choose restaurants that are close to you hotel.
A very early day since Big Blue Unlimited is picking us up at 7:30 am for our excursion. We stopped at 2 other hotels to pick up other people. We got dropped off at the Big Blue headquarters/dock where several different excursions were getting organized. Our guide Lynn was a marathon runner and we were taking the Bicycle Island Adventure.
Our day started with a 30-minute boat ride to the North Caicos ferry landing. We then walked a short distance to the bike storage building to get our bikes and helmets. Our group also included 4 others in their late 40’s/mid 50’s. We rode in the countryside a stopped at a few local sites. We stopped at the old cotton plantation and walked the grounds and Lynn told us some of the history behind it. We rode thru the village of Kew and passed the local elementary school and saw the children in uniforms playing. They waved and said “hello”. Everyone we passed throughout the day said “hello”. We stopped at J’s Variety store for a cold drink. They had an Internet café and printer available. I was fascinated at the prices of the groceries available. Next stop was the private home of a local that cooks lunch for the Heart of the Islands tour group. I enjoyed meeting Sue and seeing her home. We walked her yard while Lynn pointed out some of the plants growing on the property. Some more riding and we stopped for a long lunch at the Barracuda Bar. We were able to walk the beach, swim if we wanted or lounge in the hammock. The return ride was a bit uncomfortable since several miles were on bumpy, sandy roads. All told we rode about 20 miles. My daughter and I agreed that we very much enjoyed the eco-tour. We liked their approach giving tours and remaining eco friendly. We wished we were able to do another tour with Big Blue.
We arrived back to our hotel hot and tired at about 5:00 pm. We changed clothes and got right into the pool. We waded over to the pool bar to get a much-needed cold drink.
Dinner was planned to be at the hotel at the Mango Bay restaurant. We were very tired and really enjoying the pool so we missed our reservation. They had live music so they were busier than normal. When we finally to the restaurant at 8 pm, we had to take a table near the bar but were still able to enjoy the music. We both ordered curry dishes, which were delicious. The meal was about $120 and I think it was the least expensive meal we had. We later found out that lobster season was August to April. Since we were there in May, no lobster was available at any restaurant, which was disappointing.
We fly home today but our flight isn’t till 3:30 pm. I walked to the lobby and ask the clerk (Olivia?) if we could have late check out. They allowed us to keep our room until 1 pm.
With the late check out we decided to walk down to the Coral Gardens to snorkel one last time. The walk was about 15-20 minutes on the beach to the left from the hotel. You have to walk past the Beaches resort with is hustling and bustling with families. The Coral Gardens is a trail of markers designated by ropes and buoys. There are informational markers that are on the ocean floor for you to read. The Somewhere Café is located right there. That would have been fun to go eat breakfast there after snorkeling but we were not prepared for that.
After snorkeling we walked back to our beach a got some lounge chairs. We recognized a few people from the 2 different excursions we took. We had a nice time at the beach before preparing to go to the airport.
We left the hotel at 1:20 in order to get to the airport 2 hours before our flight. There were about 3 flights all leaving at the same time. Although the airport was crowded, the process seemed to go at a reasonable speed. Once thru security, we were able to shop at the duty free store and souvenir shop. The waiting area was air conditioned and very crowded. The people were packed in everywhere and there were lots of people standing or sitting on the floor. We were eventually able to get seats.
My daughter and I had a great trip. We had just the right amount of sun, surf, pampering, good food, lounging and reading. I can’t wait to return someday with the rest of the family.