Five reasons to plan your trip to Anguilla
This long skinny coral island surrounded by white sands and electric blue water is a top choice for many. Receiving constant awards and top ratings from travelers and the press it’s hard to pass up a trip here. Immersed in beachside elegance with posh resorts, small boutique properties, and one-of-a-kind luxurious villas the island is packed with hospitality. With a selection of superb eateries, friendly beachside bars, and arguably the best sand beaches in the region, Anguilla is ready to explore.
Roadside barbeque chicken and ribs with johnnycakes to five- star culinary dining experiences are what you’ll find on Anguilla. A long-time favorite, Blanchards may have set the bar high when the stateside couple moved to the island opened their restaurant, and published their book, A Trip to the Beach which put the island on the map with foodies. Five-star resorts brought in five-star chefs and today the island is bursting with multilayered flavors and menus you might find in faraway lands. Tasting menus whet the appetites of gastronauts and neophytes will find they can pick up a recipe or two at a cooking class. At Aurora Resort & Spa, formerly Cuisinart you’ll take part in crafting an authentic Anguillian lunch with johnnycakes, bush tea marinated fish, coconut lime rice, and jerk butternut squash. A visit to the hydroponic farm which supplies 90% of the produce used in the menus followed by a farm-to-table garden dinner is tops on the list. The changing menu incorporates the freshest ingredients from the garden and the distinctive dinner takes place twice a month. The ultimate dining and cooking experience is now an annual event that takes place in early May. The Anguilla Culinary Experience brings in chefs from the States and Europe who cook alongside local talent. Dinners, cooking demonstrations, and hands-on classes are all part of the event.
One of the biggest festivals and most popular on the island takes place over ten days during the late summer. This idyllic and quiet island cranks up the energy where everyone is engaged in some aspect of the Anguilla Summer Festival. Lazy days along the seashore change up and turn into energetic beach parties bustling with music, food, and boat racing. The Anguilla Summer Festival is part Carnival with parades, street dancing, calypso competitions, and beauty pageants and part emancipation celebration with maypole and Moka Jumbie dancers. The celebratory first Monday in August originated to observe the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies. Today the date is the driving force for a series of parties that combine historic aspects, customs, and activities influenced by African descendants with contemporary celebrations and music. Boat racing begins at Sandy Ground and Meads Bay with an around- the-island race where spectators follow their boat of choice with binoculars in hand. The Valley, the capital, sits mid-island and is where parades begin, some make the six-hour march to Sandy Ground. Plan on eating plenty of barbeques and local seafood, johnnycakes, and tamarind balls. The annual Anguilla Summer Festival runs from July 30 to August 7, 2023.
Lovers of luxury flock to Anguilla, after all, there are several five- star properties to choose from. When it’s time to find that private space where the view is all yours a penthouse vista is the answer. Treat yourself to the ultimate privacy and exclusivity offered on the top floor. These three properties are small enough to give that home away from home feel but with all of the amenities of a grand hotel. At Quintessence Hotel, you’ll stay in a mansion fashioned after the original Mallihouana Hotel. The hotel lobby doubles as a museum and art gallery showing the largest collection of Haitian art outside of Haiti, owned and curated by the hotel owners. The top floor of the nine-room hotel is the exquisite Joseph penthouse suite overlooking the white sands of Long Bay. From your private terrace and the expansive windows, you’ll have the turquoise sea as your view. Turkish marble baths, Roman soaking tubs, a fully equipped kitchen, 24/7 butler service, and a grand living area are part of the setup. Over on Meads Bay, the 15-room boutique property of Tranquility Beach offers three penthouses. These three- bedroom villas each have terraces with private hot or cold tubs, full kitchens, and plenty of space to take in the ocean and beachfront views. Frangipani Beach Resort also sits along Meads Bay and offers a grand penthouse with 3,000 square feet for friends and family members to have their own space. Comforts include an indoor and outdoor shower and tub, a fully equipped chef’s kitchen, a spacious living area, and an expansive balcony overlooking the turquoise waters of Mead Bay.
On the Sand
Once the site for boats loading up salt from the flats behind the strip of beach, Sandy Ground today is the island’s hotspot for nightlife and beachside dining. Boats continue to drop anchor offshore but today they load and unload visitors from nearby islands and day-trippers heading out for snorkeling and fishing trips. It’s the spot to socialize, mingle and wander from bar to restaurant and now there are some new spots to explore. During the day most people head for the sugary soft sand and the views but in the evening the place with the best nightlife wins out. The latest newcomer on the strip is Sandbar, a toes- in-the-sand place offering tapas and craft cocktails. Owners Carrie and Jerry Bogar already know the ins and outs of running a restaurant; their first spot is Veya restaurant. Sandbar is the place to share plates, listen to live music, and snag front-row seats for the festivities that take place on Sandy Ground. Island local and favored chef Dale Carty has expanded his spot up on the bluff to include an outside bar and dining spot that takes in the view of Sandy Ground below. Tasty’s POV allows patrons to have that Point of View of the crescent below while enjoying grilled lobster or chicken. Another local chef, Vincia Hughes is heading up the kitchen at Vincy on the Beach which opened its doors in the summer of 2022. The menu includes barbeque chicken and ribs, a staple on the island.
Islands and Cays
Island hopping is the thing to do while on Anguilla. Scrub Island, Scilly Cay, and Sandy Island are three of the more popular isles in the collection of ten coral isles under the Anguilla umbrella. Scrub remains privately owned and is reachable by boat for days of picnics and bird watching. Birders know the isle as an important area for nesting seabirds; laughing gulls and royal terns are common sightings. Once a drop-off point for drugs back in the day, today is just the goats and lizards that patrol the innocuous sands. You can’t visit Anguilla without taking a trip to Scilly Cay, the most enjoyed and tastiest trip yet. Board the boat in Island Harbour and set off for a fabulous lunch of grilled crayfish, lobster, ribs, fish or chicken and their wickedly strong rum punch. Bring your snorkeling gear and sun protection for a beach day. You could almost swim to Sandy Island from Sandy Ground as it’s just two miles off the coast. This private isle is the most photographed with its white sandy beach surrounding a tuff of greenery with today’s restaurant in the center. The low- lying spit of sand has come and gone over the years with one hurricane washing it away and another building it back up. Order the lobster, chicken, fish, or ribs and you’ll be fully satisfied as the cuisine is as tasty as any main island high-end restaurant. The restaurant is open until hurricane season when they board up with fingers crossed that they can return in the fall. This island escape is popular with locals as well as the rich and famous who come to dine, snorkel and sunbathe.