Anguilla has been one of the Caribbeanâ€™s best-kept secrets but is becoming one of its most exclusive and sought after destinations. Anguilla is an English island where cars drive on the left side of the road. There is a palpable friendliness on the island making it a relaxing charter destination. Charter clients can fly into the Anguilla airport directly now that the airport has been expanded for private jets. Alternatively, Anguilla is just six miles to the north of St. Martin and reachable in about 20 minutes by boat. Although these two islands are geographically close, they are worlds apart in terms of their character. Anguilla does not have deep-water ports for large cruise ships as St. Martin does. It has become a destination because of its natural beauty and the privacy it affords the celebrities and wealthy visitors who spend time there.
Beaches and an Elegant Spa
There are over thirty beaches on the 35-square mile island of Anguilla. The island geography is mostly flat with bays all around the island, each with its own beach. Most beaches are safe for swimming.
To name a fewâ€¦.West End Bay is a perfect crescent, ideal for those seeking privacy, a hike along the cliffs, or a beautiful sunset. There are no restaurants or bars, just nature and the white sand and turquoise waters that have made Anguilla famous. Forest Bay is a beautiful beach with shallow water for swimming. Little Harbor is protected on all sides and has no waves. Rendezvous Bay is a long beach (almost a mile) with good swimming and clear water. Meadâ€™s Bay is an expansive beach, excellent for a romantic walk, with nearly a mile of white sand. Even at the height of tourist season, it remains virtually empty.
There an exclusive spa/hotel at the end of the beach called the Malliouhana Hotel, a perfect spot to spend the afternoon being pampered!
For a little more action, the most popular beach on the island is Shoal Bay, which is famous for its offshore reef and beach bars (Eliodaâ€™s, Gwenâ€™s Reggae Grill, Uncle Ernieâ€™s BBQ, and Madearimanâ€™s Reef Restaurant). It attracts many visitors and activity (chairs and lounges to rent, glass bottomed boats to view the reef, etc.).
But donâ€™t worry, you donâ€™t have to deal with the buzz of Shoal Bay to find a funky beach bar. At Junks Hole Beach on Savannah Bay, try the Palm Grove (1-264-497-2738), a beach bar specializing in rum drinks, crayfish and lobster. It was written up in the New York Times with the ultimate complimentâ€¦â€Happiness awaitsâ€¦â€ NYT October 27, 1996.
Happiness also awaits in the lovely gourmet restaurants that help create the â€œhidden Beverly Hillsâ€ reputation of the island.
One of the most famous restaurants in Anguilla is Blanchardâ€™s in Meadâ€™s Bay owned by Bob and Melinda Blanchard. The couple moved to Anguilla from New England and have written a book about the experience entitled Live What You Love. Have you ever thought of chucking your life and moving to an island? If so, this book could be dangerous!
Many other gourmet restaurants can be found on the island including:
Altamar, a chic restaurant alongside the architecturally famous Altamar Villas in Shoal Bay.
Koal Keel, an authentic plantation restaurant in the Valley with a 15,000 bottle wine cellar,
Michel Rostangâ€™s spectacular restaurant at the Malliouhana Resort on Meadâ€™s Bay complete with a 25,000 bottle wine cellar.
Santoriniâ€™s at the CuisinArt Resort in Rendezvous Bay, which boasts an organic farm and offers cooking classes.
Straw Hat, a sophisticated restaurant with local flare built on a pier in Forest Bay.
For a more casual island dining experience try:
Big Jimâ€™s Snack Bar at Blowing Point, which supposedly has the best BBQ chicken on the island.
Barrel Stay on the beach in Sandy Ground (264 497 2831)
Mangoâ€™s Seaside Grill, an open-air restaurant overlooking Barnes Bay.
La Veranda a new family-owned restaurant in Sandy Ground whose French chef serves Caribe Mediterranean fare with real zest. 1-264-497-2225
Oliverâ€™s Seaside Grill at Long Bay.
Tastyâ€™s, whose chef and owner was formerly at the Malliouhana Hotel ( 1-264-497-2723).
For a complete listing of restaurants on the Island, check out the Anguilla News