PHOTO: Sandy Island beach, Anguilla. (photo by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates)
If you’ve never heard of the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla, you’re not alone.
This impossibly beautiful little island in the Eastern Caribbean has been the exclusive getaway for celebs and jet-setters for decades. Only recently, has Anguilla expanded its reach beyond high-end travelers to fans of relaxed island lifestyles.
Anguilla is still a rarified experience with endless pristine beaches, and only six traffic lights to interrupt the nirvana. At 17-miles long and three miles wide, the island appears as a mass of pearly sand and crystalline blues so perfect that they are hypnotizing.
A visit to Anguilla is one of the best anecdotes for dreary winter weather and here are a few ways to experience it.
Spend A Day on Sandy Island
Kick off your stay at the luxurious and secluded Ceu Blu Villas or the Mykonos-inspired Cuisinart Resort. Drop your bags and head out to Sandy Ground Village, which houses the island’s main port.
The official tagline for Anguilla is “tranquility wrapped in blue,” and although this is an accurate sensation anywhere on the island, the full impact arrives when you step foot on Sandy Island. Located five minutes away from the Sandy Ground mainland, you have to hop a sea shuttle to get to Sandy Island, but the quick ride is a like transportation to another realm. From a distance, the tiny sandbar looks like a deserted island, with just a few palm trees blowing in the sea breeze.
Once you sink your toes in the powdery sand, you realize that it’s an idyllic cay outfitted with hammocks, beach chairs and a restaurant—not that you need any of those amenities.
With warm, clear water that glistens three different shades of blue, sea grape and coco plum trees dangling with pink fruit and coral reef wrapping around the island, you could lounge, snorkel and nibble fruit for a day in this private paradise. If you crave something more substantial, the Sandy Island restaurant is noted for it’s grilled lobster, crayfish, snapper and bbq chicken, all prepared on an outdoor grill. Order Jo Jo’s rum punch to wash it down and sink back and absorb being surrounded blue waves.
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Swim, Eat and Listen to Live Music at da’Vida’s
There is a pattern to Anguilla activities, and they usually involve the sea, food and music. There are no packaged tours or tourist traps to be had, so you’re left to enjoy the island’s natural assets, and they are all vividly on display at da’Vida Restaurant & Spa.
Perched on a scenic strip of Crocus Bay, you can swim or kayak and then choose to lounge at da-Vida’s Bayside Grill or restaurant. The varied menu includes curried chicken, dumplings, lobster, fish or burgers. You can also book a seaside spa treatment if the sun and water don’t wipe away all your stress. On weekends, a live reggae band plays melodic rhythms that will likely make you wonder why you ever have to leave this place.
Hang Out with Locals at Dune Preserve
A pilgrimage to the ramshackle bar that is Dune Preserve is an Anguilla requirement. Owned by the island’s most famous citizen, reggae star Bankie Banx. This chill spot is as charming as the island itself. Composed of shards of driftwood, shipwrecked boats and battered coconut trees harvested by Bankie himself, the bar sprawls out on the beach of Rendezvous Bay. From noon to sunset, there’s live music and welcoming locals who will chat you up as you sink your toes in the sand. Grab a Dune Rum Punch and pretend that the cold isn’t waiting for you back home.