We woke up this morning to breakfast in bed, courtesy of our awesome butlers. While we relaxed and enjoyed breakfast on the back patio, they reserved us chairs and an umbrella on the beach. (I always despise the people at resorts who have their chairs reserved for them, but you know, it isn’t so bad when you’re the ones on the other side of the reserving. Hypocrite, right here.)
We headed down to the beach fairly early and spent the day lounging around. The waves were really rough most of the day today, and the water was really churned up and murky. No snorkeling tours leaving from the beach again today. And mid-way through the afternoon, the tide was in so far we had to stack everything we owned up on the chairs with us to avoid having it all washed back out to sea. I nearly lost a beloved Reef sandal. Too much stress for one day!
Once we were sufficiently annoyed with chasing down all of our things and balancing them up on our chairs, we went back to the rondoval and spent some time chillin’ in our private pool.
This evening we did an excursion through Sandals to Shirley Heights. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect, but it was highly recommended by the resort so we went for it. Good thing. It was actually a really fun time.
Around 4pm, a cab picked us up and drove us across the island. A lot of the trip was through inland cities and towns, seeing houses and shops, some green farmland, etc., but it was neat to see a lot of the island that we were not otherwise exposed to inside the resort. And despite the fact that we literally drove diagonally across the majority of the island, the drive was only about 30 minutes.
When we arrived at Shirley Heights, it was pretty crowded. And the longer we stayed, the more and more zoo-like it became. There was a steel drum band playing when we arrived, and a BBQ stand serving food and drinks. We didn’t eat BBQ since it was pretty pricey and we’re staying and an All-Inclusive resort. But we did have a couple of drinks, which were cheap and strong.
There was a stone wall around the perimeter of the outdoor area, which was completely covered with people sitting atop. There were also several shelter areas with picnic tables underneath; also crawling with people. As we talked with people, we found out that several cruise ships park in English Harbor and provide this excursion as well as most of the resorts on the island. And since the BBQ and band are only there on Sundays, it’s a common occurrence for it to get overly crowded.
We took in the views of English Harbor and took a few photos before we climbed over the wall and hiked a bit down the cliff below to find a more secluded spot.
As we sat, peacefully perched on the side of the cliff overlooking the Harbor, we watched the sun set over Montserrat and Guadaloupe off in the distance. The view went from a fully-visible, white hot sun to a clouded-in, warm, orange-and-pink explosion over the water. The steel drum band banging out soothing, upbeat rhythms behind us was the perfect soundtrack for the amazing show.
After the sun had set, we climbed back up to the main area. The steel drum band was in full swing now, and the drinks were flowing from the bar. We spent roughly an hour there, enjoying the band and the warm night air before our tour left. Just as we left, another band was taking the stage – this one a rock band – and locals were starting to file in. I got the sense that this place gets pretty wild at night and was torn between wanting to get out of there before the craziness and wanting to stay and be a part of it all.
When we got back to the resort, we had dinner at Kimono’s – the Japanese steak house. We’d had reservations at this place, and still it was an awful experience. We waited in the bar, having drink after drink, while we waited for a table to open up. For nearly an hour. Thankfully the drinks were free, although free drinks on an empty stomach wasn’t exactly what I needed at this point. Finally, we were shown to a table with several other couples, where they quickly took our orders and then left us sitting and waiting for almost another hour. The weird part was that resort staff kept popping in, trying to initiate awkward small talk amongst all the couples at our table, then leaving. Then the resort photographer showed up wanting to take photos of us. Anything to make another dollar, I guess. I just gritted my teeth and reminded myself that we didn’t pay for this trip, so I shouldn’t expect too much. After almost an hour, a chef finally showed up. It was a typical hibachi experience with decent food.
After dinner, we headed back to the room where we found a pleasant surprise: Cecil and Wendall had decorated our room for us! We had towel swans, rose petals and candles everywhere. And it was all topped off with a bottle of champagne chilling and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. What a way to end the night!