- Experiences & Adventure
While the West Indies is known to sun-seekers the world over for cocktails and calypso, Anguilla delivers a more laid-back wow factor.
The Caribbean island of Anguilla is known to be the choice blissful refuge for international stars and celebrities seeking a quieter life. Measuring only 35 square miles, this welcoming community is just a short 20-minute boat ride from the neighbouring island of St Maarten or a 40-minute flight from Antigua – the perfect pairing for a pre or post stay.
Private jets flock to Anguilla over Christmas and New Year when hotels have waiting lists and restaurant reservations are made well in advance, so you’ll need to plan ahead for a festive break – early December and post-New Year are the best times to make the most of the unspoilt and uncrowded marshmallow-soft sands. The island is small enough to explore in a day, but taking two days – one by land and one by sea – is the ideal.
By land, hire a driver, rent a bike or pack the whole family into a Mini Moke for a self-driving tour of the island. The rows of tropical palm trees and quiet roads are a safe haven. Bordered by the lush archaeological treasure Fountain Cavern National Park and set on Shoal Bay East Beach, voted one of the best in the world, is Zemi Beach House, a perfect resting spot for body and soul. While the West Indies is known to sun-seekers the world over for cocktails and calypso, Anguilla delivers a more laid-back wow factor Paradise found Paying homage to the indigenous spirit of the island, the Rhum Room here offers more than 100 small-batch, single-estate rums, and you can be guided by your own personal rummelier, as you sink into a plush leather sofa and match flights of liquor with juicy prawn tempura or local fried plantain.
On the second day, explore the island by sea with a private yacht charter. Visit coves you couldn’t otherwise reach and end with lunch at one of the offshore cays such as Scilly Cay – it’s completely uninhabited but has a charming daytime restaurant, serving fresh grilled lobster, chicken and crayfish.
Dubbed ‘the culinary capital of the Caribbean’, Anguilla leads the way in culinary delights. A relaxed lunch might entail a trip to Meads Bay for freshly-made fish tacos and spicy jerk chicken sandwiches at Blanchard’s beach shack. Alternatively, a casual lunch of red snapper ceviche at Straw Hat restaurant will impress you with its stunning views. Catches of the day arrive straight from the nets of local fisherman every morning; you’ll be pushed to find any place with grouper that’s this fresh and delicious.
Often the finest luxury in life is choice, and when deciding where to stay on Anguilla, you will be spoilt for it. After a multi-million dollar renovation, all eyes are on Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort. Completely reinvented, you can expect the wow factor. Eleven new beachfront suites, four garden suites and a two-bedroom beachfront villa offer the dreamiest of settings and utmost privacy. If romance is on your agenda, there is a tiny cove along the shore, where the soothing sounds of a live band, a barbeque, the crackle of a fire pit and a table decorated in magical fairy lights will frame the most tender and memorable dinner date of your lifetime.
Timeless and sophisticated, Belmond Cap Juluca on Maundays Bay is the most legendary resort on Anguilla, where slow living meets high style. Quite simply, you feel like you are at the best hotel on the best beach in the Caribbean. Underneath the archways of the impressive white balustrade of the hotel, the art of champagne sabrage begins the excitement of dining here; watch on in awe as you are taught how to release the cork with the skilled slice of a sword. Now part of LVMH, the world leader in luxury, Belmond Cap Juluca is its crown jewel in an age where experiences have become our dearest enjoyment.
Anguilla is also home to a spectacular Greg Norman-designed 18-hole championship golf course at CuisinArt. The par 72 course begins with one of the most breathtaking views of any links in the Caribbean. The vistas continue along elevated green fairways and challenging, dramatic holes. What’s more, the renovated bunkers are now filled with imported white silica sand, the gold standard when it comes to bunker design. For many, this is reason to visit Anguilla alone.
The locals ensure the island is renowned throughout the whole of the Caribbean for its friendly vibes. Before you leave, no holiday here is complete without a tipple at Elvis’ Beach Bar. Residents gather here most evenings to share their stories and passion for their small but mighty home, which has flourished despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017 – a true testament to the island’s charming spirit.