The next morning we took a leisurely ride up to Shoal Bay for a morning swim before the day got too busy.
The local sights along the way seemed color-coordinated to match the Shoal Bay's ethereal blues.
We continued along until the stunning bay came into view.
As is our custom, we dropped our beach bag in the sand without breaking stride, shedding shoes and clothes as we dashed headlong into the crystal-clear water.
When our fingertips became pruney, we dragged ourselves to shore, then made a quick pit stop back at Sweet Return to rinse the salt off.
We then popped across the street for lunch at Café Med at CuisinArt.
We love many things about CuisinArt, including the elegant open-air lobby, the tropical blue-and-yellow color scheme, and the large, sunny pool.
But we really love the frozen mojitos.
Some of us, a little too much.
We chose a table near the pool, sipping our minty concoctions as we perused the menu.
CuisinArt grows its own vegetables in its hydroponic garden, so crisp greens were the way to go. I decided on the Greek salad with Little Gem lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, and tangy feta cheese, all dressed with a house-made red wine vinaigrette.
CuisinArt grows its own herbs, too, so Angel went with the grilled skirt steak topped with a fresh, flavorful chimichurri, served alongside a roasted half tomato and some charred asparagus.
As we were finishing our lunch, we were lucky enough to bump into Peter and his lovely wife Anne from Straw Hat, who recognized me from this blog. I was just happy they saw me after that dainty salad had been cleared. I have a reputation to uphold, you know.
We were already at Rendezvous Bay, so we spent the afternoon floating in the warm sea and enjoying a sneak preview of the upcoming boat races.
When we'd had our fill of sun, we cooled down with a couple of the best piña coladas on the island at Anguilla Great House.
That evening, I'd planned an early anniversary surprise for Angel -- a private sunset dinner at the Sunshine Shack. With the help of some folks on the travel forums, I learned that Garvey had arranged a private dinner for a large group in the past, and it looked absolutely beautiful:
And so, a few months before our arrival on island, I began an online correspondence with Garvey to lock down the day, the time, details about the menu, and, most importantly, the table setup shown in the photo. Attempting to project a laid-back, easygoing island vibe, I casually noted that if pineapples weren't available, conch shells, starfish, or other beachy decorations would do. (But you know I really wanted those little pineapples.)
Finally, the big night arrived. As we made our way down the deserted beach, I smiled to myself as Angel, unaware that anything was amiss, asked me if I was sure if Sunshine Shack was actually open.
Based on the photo I'd sent Garvey, I could barely contain my excitement as we approached the Shack, picturing a rustic wooden table draped with a linen cloth and ringed by tiki torches in the sand. I envisioned flickering lanterns and decorative pineapples, or conch shells, or even starfish. (But hopefully those little pineapples.)
Unfortunately, we did not get pineapples, or conch shells, or starfish. We did not get tiki torches. We did not even get a table cloth.
I was disappointed, but not for long. That's because while Garvey may not be the next Martha Stewart, he just might be the next Top Chef, or so it will seem when you get an eyeful -- and mouthful -- of the gargantuan 4 lb. lobster he serves for dinner.
And not only was this lobster so big that it didn't even fit on our plates, but it was so perfectly marinated and grilled that we scarcely needed the melted butter it came with . . . but scarfed it down anyway, along with the rice n' peas, carroty slaw, and fresh green salad that accompanied this massive sea beast.
And of course, because Angel had no idea what I'd been expecting, he was thrilled with the setup: A private table in the sand! A ginormous lobster! Someone else paying the bill!
As the sun began to set, we reveled in the romantic solitude.
By the time our plates were cleared and the bill was settled, it still wasn't much past 8pm. Not quite ready to call it a night, we decided on a whim to stop by CuisinArt for a bottle of rosé.
After we'd each enjoyed a glass, we brought the rest of the bottle back to Sweet Return. There, we dangled our feet in the pool, basked in the warm evening breeze, and tilted our faces skyward, contemplating a vast, dark universe decorated with tiny glowing stars.
It wasn't exactly the anniversary night I had planned, but sometimes, the best-laid plans are none at all.
There's only one more Anguilla post -- CLICK HERE -- but don't despair: There is still lots of fun to be had as we sample fritas in Key West, funnel-cake French toast in Philadelphia, a most famous meatloaf in East Hampton, mojitos in Miami, a cocktail named for you-know-who in the Hudson Valley, and more stone crab than you can shake a stick at on Anna Maria Island. And did I mention not one but TWO more trips to Anguilla??? Subscribe here to follow along!