Run away to...Anguilla!
We're happy to welcome back an Island Runaways "Island Expert" Chrissann Nickel, who edits the fab blog Women Who Live on Rocks, for another guest post about the Caribbean. Dreaming of an Anguilla getaway? Read on to get the inside scoop... For some, it is easy to think of the Caribbean as one destination. While there are many islands that comprise the region, unacquainted travelers often believe that they all have a similar experience to offer. And yet, once you embrace the opportunity to visit a couple of different rocks, you discover how truly unique they all are.
(A sublime vista from Anguilla. Photo credit: AD Sanford.)
Having had the pleasure of living and vacationing on several Caribbean islands, I was excited to finally add Anguilla to my list. I knew it was one of the only coral islands (as opposed to the more mountainous, volcanic islands) in the Lesser Antilles and wondered how similar it would be to Anegada, BVI (a neighbor to my "home rock" of Virgin Gorda). Not only did the topography surprise me (it had some higher spots than I pictured), but the sheer amount of things to do and see and eat blew this island girl away!
(Island Girls in Anguilla. Photo credit: Kristen Kellogg)
Off the Beaten Path… er… Sea
Anguilla is only 20 minutes by boat (always my preferred mode of transport, I recommend Calypso Charters) from St. Martin but feels a world away from the comparative hustle and bustle over there. Because it is easier to fly directly into St. Martin, this extra step to hop over to Anguilla means that only the more resourceful "in-the-know" travelers make it here.
Beaches That Can't Be Beat
You'd think I - a woman who lives year round literally walking distance from white sand shoreline - would be hard to impress when it comes to beaches. But my entire trip, I couldn't stop gushing about Anguilla's. The sheer scope of white sand is unbelievable. From the shoreline to the bush line and the shoreline to the reef line - Anguilla's beaches are so much wider than I've seen before, giving you plenty of room for gratuitous cartwheeling and jumping into the world's prettiest "swimming pool". My favorite beach, if I can even pick a favorite, is Shoal Bay East. One of the villas we had the pleasure of staying in, Ani Villas even catered a gourmet lunch for us under a tent steps from the water so we could spend a full day there, soaking up the magic.
(Shoal Bay beach in Anguilla. Photo by Kristen Kellogg.)
Though no beach I visited came anywhere close to disappointing, I'd say my second two favorites were Meads Bay and Maunday's Bay.
A Foodie's Paradise
While many Caribbean islands aren't exactly known for their diversity of cuisine, Anguilla is a true foodie's paradise. The island has drawn renowned chefs from around the globe which means you can get everything from traditional ramen to handmade gnocchi. A dining highlight of my trip was being treated to an omakase meal at CuisinArt's Tokyo Bay restaurant by Chef Joe Richardson who not only accommodated my vegetarian diet, but wowed me with inspired creations from their own hydroponic garden.
Other don't miss eats include Da'Vida, Blanchard's and Blanchard's Beach Shack, and, for a special occasion, a private beach dinner at the Viceroy (we had local crayfish paella for ours) is something you won't forget.
While there are plenty of the typical, island-style inns on Anguilla, if you'd like to take your trip to the next level without losing the island charm, there are several unpretentious luxury hotels and villas to choose from. For me, the biggest benefit of the magnificent Viceroy - beyond their impeccable service, artistic decor, and amenities - is its location on Meads Bay. To be able to wake up in the morning and take a walk first thing along miles of white sand is what vacations are made of.
I also really enjoyed my stay at the more private Ani Villas, perfect for groups who want to feel like they finally own the Caribbean home of their dreams complete with attentive staff - if only for a few days.
(The more private Ani Villas. Photo credit: Kristen Kellogg)
More than Steel Pan
Another unexpected treat in Anguilla were the talented musicians who call the island home. I could go back to visit for the concerts alone. Between Omari Banks and Omalie 360, I could dance all night. I won't be surprised if we start seeing these two singer/songwriters garnering even more fame in the mainstream very soon.
Destination-enhancing Activities for the Island Adventurer
Though I could have spent every day alternating between villa pools and beach after glorious beach, I'm so glad I branched out and tried some of the other entertainment options available. Anguilla is also home to many accomplished artists, including Lynne Bernbaum who teaches painting classes at the Viceroy. Let me just say - painting with views of Caribbean blue, salty breezes, and a mimosa is a stress-buster like no other.
( Searching for things to do? Anguilla may surprise you. Photo credit: AD Sanford.)
If you're an animal lover like me, check out Seaside Stables to take a leisurely stroll on horseback along the coast and into - yes, INTO - the sea. I'm pretty sure my heart exploded in happiness and is still floating there in the water at Maunday's Bay - I've been daydreaming of horses ever since.
Last, but certainly not least, if you have the opportunity to get out on the water - take it. I loved the sunset sail on Tradition Sailing. Between the gorgeous wooden boat, the charming captain and crew, and sipping cocktails under the flapping sails and stars, I felt beyond grateful to be there, in that beautiful moment.
Though I'm trying to allot time for visits to all of the Caribbean's islands, I'm not going to be able to avoid a repeat to this one. Anguilla - I will be back! Soon!
(Women Who Live on Rocks blogger Chrissann Nickel. Photo Credit: AD Sanford.)
*Author's note: I visited Anguilla as part of a luxury travel writer's retreat. Though some of my experiences were hosted, these recommendations and opinions are my own.
To view more photos of the trip, visit the hashtag #CaptureAnguilla on Instagram.
Thank you so much, Chrissann, for sharing all these fantastic tips about gorgeous Anguilla! You definitely have us dreaming of an Anguilla getaway. For more of Chrissann's adventures in island life, be sure to follow her blog Women Who Live on Rocks on Facebook.