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An unComplicated Caribbean Retreat

June 2, 2012

Ahhhhh…Anguilla. It was so good to be back after a hiatus of nearly three years. This lovely Caribbean island has become my favorite getaway spot — and I get away there as often as I can.

Anguilla is appealing not only for what it has — miles of gorgeous beaches with crystal-clean, turquoise-tinted water — but also for what it doesn’t. Unlike the island of St. Maarten (about 10 miles to the south) and many other Caribbean destinations, Anguilla is not overdeveloped and brimming with shopping centers and casinos. Instead, it is a small, quiet island that is perfect if you want to swim, relax, eat great food, and listen to live music at diverse locations.

Part of the Leeward Islands chain, the coral and limestone isle encompasses 35 square miles and spans only three miles at its width point. There are no lush tropical forests, mountains or waterfalls on Anguilla, but the island has hidden beaches and coves, hiking trails, coral reefs and other places to explore on foot, by boat or by kayak.

Even though we’ve traveled to this Eastern Caribbean gem many times over the last decade, my husband and I always find something new on each visit. During this trip, we explored the secluded beach at Katouche Bay and found the trailhead for a one-mile hike to a cave. Since it was too late to start the hike that day, we plan to try it during our next visit.

Katouche Bay

Another new find was da’ Vida, a recently opened restaurant, bar and spa complex at Crocus Bay, one of the island’s prettiest bays. The owners have spruced up this stretch of beach, which previously was home to a popular, but decidedly more rustic restaurant. It’s a great place to watch a sunset while sampling the tapas and sipping a “Tropical Storm” cocktail.

Crocus Bay

At Sandy Ground, where several restaurants and two nightclubs are located, we checked out SandBar, a hip little restaurant that serves a refreshing rum punch containing only one liquor (dark rum). That was a find in itself, as the rum punches offered at other restaurants (they all have their own recipe) usually contain three or four liquors. Not a drink for the timid.

Also on this trip, we finally made it to Gwen’s Reggae Bar & Grill on a Sunday afternoon, when Gwen’s regularly hosts an Anguillan reggae band and draws both tourists and locals for the lively music and party atmosphere.

We ordered dinner-to-go one night at the Pit Stop, one of several casual spots that serve simple but tasty barbecued chicken, fish and ribs, along with delicious Johnny cakes (fried cornmeal biscuits) every Friday night. These inexpensive outdoor eateries are popular not only with locals, but also with visitors who want to venture beyond the restaurants touted in travel guides.

We stopped at Rainbow Farm one morning to buy vegetables to eat with the parrot fish we had purchased at a fish market in The Valley, the island’s capital. The farm had greatly expanded since our last visit a few years ago.

Noel, the friendly owner, gave us a tour and sliced open a yellow passion fruit for us to try. The pulp and seeds had a sweet-tangy, citrusy taste. We bought a few to take back to our quiet, hilltop apartment, which was also a new discovery for us and a change of pace from the beachfront places where we previously stayed.

Anguilla has a reputation for being a pricey travel destination because of its upscale resorts, such as Cap Juluca at Maundays Bay and the vast new (and a bit intimidating) Viceroy complex overlooking Meads and Barnes bays. But the reality is that there are many accommodations in the mid-priced to budget range, especially during the low season, which generally runs from mid-April through November. Do a little research and you’ll find one that fits your budget and preferences.

We favor apartment-style lodgings with a living room and full kitchen, plus a balcony to sit on while eating breakfast or watching sunsets. It’s like having our own little vacation home — minus the commitment and mortgage.

This was one view from the balcony of our latest Anguillan digs.

You don’t have to stay at a five-star resort to see this horizon — or to experience the pleasures of Anguilla.

© Janice Leary and My Point Exactly, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use of this material, including original photographs, without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janice Leary and My Point Exactly, with links to the original content.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 2, 2012 9:52 pm

    Reading this and looking at the gorgeous photos makes me want to hop on a plane & go to experience the island of Anguilla myself. Thanks for sharing.

  2. June 3, 2012 8:19 am

    Anguilla is one of our favorite islands! Thanks for the trip report!

  3. July 5, 2012 5:31 pm

    Anguilla is one of my dreams yet to be conquered. You have just made the need a little greater. Wonderful photos.

    • July 5, 2012 5:43 pm

      Thanks very much. I dream of Anguilla whenever I’m not there.

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