Little Apple Bay, British Virgin Islands

Photo: The Sugar Mill Hotel & Restaurant

Early dinners don’t make sense. Why would you leave the beach or the pool when it’s still hot to go shower and change into real clothes? You prefer to stroll over to a casual bar, order another frozen drink, and sit on the sand as the sun lowers toward the water. You’re making an exception tonight. A big one. You’ll be dressed up and seated at a west-facing table when the sun goes down.

It took one of the best restaurants on Tortola—make that in the Caribbean—for you to change your nightly routine. The Sugar Mill sits on Apple Bay. The north coast beach, famous for its big waves, is considered a surfers’ paradise. There seems to be more yachts and pelicans than surfboards on the water today, though. A small hotel is buried in the steep hillside above the beach. It was built around a 400-year-old rum distillery. Its old boiling house was turned into an über-romantic restaurant.

Stone paths wind through the hotel’s lush gardens into the restaurant. Its mottled stone walls were made out of cobblestone from trading ships and brain coral pulled from the sea. Polished redwood tables, fine china, and lots of white candles were added to the intimate space. The most coveted tables are on the open-air terrace, though. That’s where you find an uninterrupted view and a cool ocean breeze.

The Sugar Mill offers three-course and à la carte menus. At first, you lean toward the set menu. Conch fritters served with a mango-salsa chutney, the blackened catch of the day, and homemade ice cream sound like they’ll match the setting perfectly. Just in case, you glance at the full menu. Conch fritters still sound like the best appetizer. But other seafood dishes—lobster Thermidor, scallops in Champagne sauce, smoked-oyster risotto—catch your eye. You need more time to decide. Hopefully, a rum punch, on its way over from the bar, will help you make a decision. You certainly don’t want to miss Mother Nature’s nightly show.

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