Some splashy Caribbean islands get all the glory, while other sun-kissed outposts fly happily under the radar, attracting a smaller number of discriminating vacationers who are willing to go the distance. Anguilla is one of those lesser-known outposts. A conch’s throw from St. Martin, Anguilla (French for eel) feels serene, remote, and luxuriously low-key.
We fell in love with Anguilla recently when we visited the island with our dearest friends – let’s call them the Mertz’s. They were initially introduced to Anguilla by their in-the-know friends, who graciously showed us the this ins and outs of this teensy little paradise.
Back to the island … A British territory that’s about 35 square miles, Anguilla isn’t the easiest Caribbean haven to get to. The usual route is to fly into St. Martin (half French, half Dutch), grab a taxi at about $8 per head, then shuffle onto a ferry for the 40-minute cruise with (or without) a sloshy belly full of rum punch from St. Martin’s modest ferry snack bar. In exchange for the extra schlep, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous, sparsely populated white sand beaches; impressive restaurant options; friendly, outgoing locals; and a few fascinating Robin Leach-style scenes like this mega-yacht Yalla (below) that demanded our binocular attention.
This 22-crew member, 6-suite yacht anchored in front of our lounge chairs, tendering pampered passengers to the island, and giving us nosey neighbors something to talk about. I hatched a pragmatic plan to swim out to the yacht, feign my own near-drowning, and then score a drippy little tour of the vessel (for the sake of the blog, of course), but my wise gal pal Ethel Mertz wasn’t in as spotter, so I’ll strap on some water wings and try that another time.
We Scouts love wallowing in an over-the-top luxury hotel (or a yacht, for that matter), but when traveling during Spring Break with a group of 8 (including 4 kids), an airy condo with a washer, kitchen, and spacious oceanfront deck makes solid sense, especially when it’s comfortably sandwiched between two ultra-hot properties including the lovely Malliouhana (a recently-refurbished Auberge resort that’s a design lover’s sorbet-drenched fantasy) www.and the slick, buzzy Viceroy, cloaked in chic, muted tones.
Naturally, we did our due diligence for you and explored both resorts, inside and out, including taste-testing pineapple pancakes and plenty of elixirs. Both proved safe and won our highly-coveted Sunshine Scout stamp of approval. Tip: If you find yourself at The Sunset Bar at the Viceroy, might I suggest the refreshingly fragrant muddled cucumber martini, chock full of antioxidants.
With it’s award-winning accommodations and under-the-radar vibe, Anguilla has earned a reputation for being a kind of secretive sister to St. Barts, without all that paparazzi and hype. Interestingly (or perhaps not, it depends), Mr. Justin Bieber recently stayed at Anguilla’s Viceroy for the New Year’s holiday. Ellen Degeneres, Dustin Hoffman, and Jon Bon Jovi were on island recently, as well. If you’re not a fan of swanky, star-spangled resorts, rest assured that great condo rentals abound.
If you go: Be mindful of your cash. Most places on the island accept US currency as well as Eastern Caribbean dollars, but working ATMs are hard to find. You’ll need cash for the ferry ride back to St. Martin, tips, etc. There’s some debate about drinking the tap water, especially in condos and villas that have cisterns. While you can certainly use tap water to brush your teeth, you may want to buy cheap bottles from “Best Buy” grocery store for consumption or risk what feels like a sudsy, urpy belly. Lastly, tell your friends you are vacation in Angola, so we can keep this eel-shaped slice of heaven just between us.