I just returned home from 4 glorious days in beautiful and tranquil Anguilla. The island is super laid back and the beaches scream for you to just come and veg out on their white sands. Believe me, I did exactly that every chance I got, but I was also taken around by locals this time who showed me another side of Anguilla.
I met up with Samantha and Vanessa, two island girls who call the island of Anguilla home. We met on Instagram. Now, who says social media doesn’t make you social? These girls were most accommodating, picking me up from my hotel, eager to show me places I have never seen before and experience a different side of their island.
People from St. Maarten or the “City Island” as we are called sometimes, have this misplaced notion that Anguilla is a quiet, boring and backwards little island where nothing other than beach, sleep and repeat happens. I can now tell you that this is the biggest load of bull crap I have ever heard.
Anguilla is what St. Maarten used to be about 20 years ago and unlike St. Maarten it has found a way to maintain it’s Caribbean charm. With colorful little houses alongside the roads, cows and goats grazing in nearby fields, amazing restaurants, food shacks and unspoiled beaches, this British isle lacks absolutely nothing and after the hustle and bustle of the “City Island”, it is an inviting change.
So without much further ado, here follows a list of suggested Must Do’s for the perfect Anguilla Experience according to yours truly:
How to get there
I am a fan of the regular ferry leaving from Marigot, French St. Martin. That is until I discovered the Anguilla Ferry Terminal by the airport on Dutch St. Maarten, from where about three independent fast-ferry companies operate. For this trip I chose GB Ferries. What a complete different experience. From check in to arrival, it was one smooth ride. And unbeknownst to me, GB fast ferry was actually much faster. Imagine that! We got there in under 22 minutes and the service on board was impeccable. I felt like royalty. Thank you GB Ferries. A round trip will set you back a bit more than a roundtrip with the public ferry but it is worth every single dollar.
Where to eat
Anguilla has a long list of restaurants, from very posh to super laid back. I suggest you to sample around. For me 4 days was just not near long enough to sample everything. A good excuse to re-visit, don’t you think?
After a bit of a disastrous first experience at Scilly Cay, a tiny dot of an island in Island Harbour (and I had such high hopes for this one), Falcon’s Nest was a welcome change. It’s a cute shack on the beach of Island Harbour. I fell in love with their fish bits and their own special sauce called the Falcon Dip was just to die for. Their rum punch was on point and the service friendly.
Blanchard’s Beach Shack
The Beach Shack, how the locals call it has long been a favorite of mine. With its cute blue picnic tables in the sand looking out onto gorgeous Meads Bay there really is no way to go wrong here. Their menu is quite extensive so I’m sure finding the right snack, dessert or drink will not be a problem. Try their margaritas and chicken tacos. Yummm.
Do I really have to say again how much I love their fish and polenta and special home made hot sauce? Just go and experience it for yourself. Don’t expect to be very lucid after the heavy meal at Johnno’s though. You will definitely need a nap on the beach after all that good food. Visit on Sundays for lunch with live music and a great local ambience. Johnno’s is located on the Sandy Ground Beach.
This little beach shack might not look it but it is a culinary gem and every bite was a delight. I was invited to dine here with local friends and I was blown away by the taste of the food and the punch of the drinks. A fantastic time was had by all and a return visit to this restaurant located on Shoal Bay beach is already in the plans. Try their escargot and Mahi skewer.
UPDATE: The original Madeariman burnt down just before the start of the 2016 Caribbean season but was quickly rebuilt and reopened just a few months after.
For a great breakfast or afternoon high tea complete with cucumber sandwiches head over to Valley Bistro in the Valley. I am usually the one to skip breakfast. I know. I know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I promise to start taking better care of myself. If the Valley Bistro’s cheese omelettes with guacamole on the side is what is on the menu every morning, skipping breakfast will be a thing of the past.
What to do
Follow the Boat Race on Anguilla Day
I’ve always known that Anguilla takes their sailing very seriously but now having experienced Anguilla Day on May 30th first hand, I can tell you that it is definitely considered the national sport. The Anguilla Day Round the Island Race is by far the largest sailing event every year. For those who missed booking a spot on one of the many spectator boats there is little else to do but follow the race from land. I’m talking about hopping on and off the car at every spot on land that allows you to see the boats pass by until reaching the end destination on Sandy Ground. I’ve always applauded this little island for not having any traffic but try getting in or out of Sandy Ground as the last boats arrive on Anguilla Day. Gridlock!
Horseback Riding on Maunday’s Bay
When Vanessa, my new Anguilla friend took me to Maunday’s Bay to meet her dad and his two horses I was not prepared for the gorgeous scene that greeted me. This beach is one of the most beautiful I have seen on Anguilla and riding on horseback in this clear water was a true treat. Zambezi, the owner and his horse Juluca took great care of me, a first time horseback rider. It is an experience I will recommend to anyone. True animal friend that I am I found that Zambezi’s horses Juluca and Tosh were well taken care of and the love between horses and man was not hard to miss.
Snorkeling at Crocus Bay
I spent my last full day in paradise vegging out at Da’Vida Bayside, a popular restaurant located on Crocus Bay. While the food was not exactly to write home about, the Johnny Cakes with cheese, the margaritas made from scratch and our waiter Ramon were “fantabulous”. So after a bit of relaxation we rented some snorkeling equipment from the water-sport hut onsite and went into the water. All I can say is that I was not prepared for such beauty. I will leave the pictures speak for themselves.
Drinks at the Sunset Lounge
Nothing screams luxury more than the Viceroy Resort so when my Anguilla girls picked me up for drinks at the resort’s famous Sunset Lounge I made sure to put on my best ensemble and look the part. Of course I failed miserably since I packed only beachwear. A trip to Anguilla is just not complete without a stop at this popular happy hour hangout. It’s chic, the view incredible, the music swaying and the drinks: OMG. Don’t miss their signature drink, the Jalapeño Margarita. Ayayay! It makes you sing like a Mexican.
UPDATE: This Viceroy resort has since been taken over by the Four Seasons.
After Beach Hangout at Elvis’
Elvis is a boat bar at the end of the Sandy Ground beach well known for its mamahouana shots. But it is also a great place to relax, see the sun set, enjoy great music and strike up conversations with random strangers. The place is especially happening on Sunday afternoons.
Massage on Shoal Bay
Who would say no to a massage on the beach? Exactly. No one. I am no exception and I thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing Swedish massage by the more than capable Simone from Malakh Spa. I swear this woman has magic hands, and with the soothing sounds of the waves from nearby Shoal Bay beach and the gentle breeze smelling of salty goodness I completely lost track of time as all the stress left my body. Sorry about the drool on the pillow. I will definitely be back.
Afternoon Smoothie Break at the Fruity Web
I’m not exactly feeling the name but I definitely felt the taste. This little hut sells the best there is in fresh island fruits. Choose from a smoothie made out of three different fruits, add the type of liquid you want (water, coconut milk, Soy milk, or regular milk) and a super food like Flack seeds: the result is a delicious island smoothie.
Which beach to lie on
Anguilla is surrounded by gorgeous beaches and it is hard to pick one as an absolute favorite so here is a list of the beaches I highly recommend you visit.
Where to stay
The Fountain Resort Residences
I must confess that this particular trip to Anguilla was on the invitation of the Fountain Resort Residences. I did little research before heading out to see it for myself as I wanted to be completely unprepared and really allow myself to experience it first hand without any pre notion. The locally owned Fountain Resort did not disappoint. I had a nicely furnished one bedroom apartment with a complete kitchen, large flat screen tv in the living room and second tv in the nicely decorated bedroom. The large balcony was a perfect place to chill and relax after a day of sightseeing. Mine overlooked the pool and allowed me to view spectacular sunsets over shoal bay below. Look out for a complete review of this resort in the next few days but in the meantime take it from me, The Fountain Resort is the place to stay and I’m not saying that just because I was sponsored by the resort. Here are some pictures in case you don’t believe me and do stay tuned for a full review of this property.
A very big THANK YOU goes out to Cassandra, Vanessa, Samantha, Daryl, Kebrina, Bevington and Aaron who all made this particular Anguilla trip one of the most fun, pleasant and damn straight fantabulous of all Anguilla trips so far. I have previously only visited Anguilla on day trips, which never allowed me to experience the true beauty of the island. I am happy to report that this particular trip deserves two thumbs up. Until next time, gorgeous Anguilla. Stay beautiful.
What should I experience on my next Anguilla trip? Comment below. It’s always great to get some feedback.
Always live, laugh and travel.