One of the ancient names for God is Satchitananda, it means eternal conscious bliss. There are moments when I am traveling that I am so overcome by the beauty I am witnessing that pure joy rushes over me. Those moments of bliss abounded on a recent trip to Anguilla. The island did not just leave an imprint on my mind and body, but also my soul. The soft sand and the kaleidoscope of brilliant blue hues of the sea, the people and the conversations awakened an energy that connected much deeper than your typical island vacation of surf and sun. I tried to find words to describe Anguilla and I kept coming back to the word ‘dream’, but what I have realized is that my Anguilla experience wasn’t dream-like it was in fact better than a dream, it was conscious bliss.
Anguilla, pronounced similar to ‘vanilla’, is an island in the British West Indies governed by England. Since the time of the Arawak Indians, a spiritual connection has been found in Anguilla, a place where many believe the soul experiences true freedom. In ancient times the Indians believed the sun and moon went into a cave on Anguilla and gave birth to the stars, sea, land, and universe. Today most inhabitants are Christian and this soulful connection with God and nature is still prevalent.
The easiest way to travel to Anguilla from the Southeast is through Atlanta or Miami to St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport. From there you can hire Calpyso Charters to meet you at the airport and transport you to the port which is literally 1 minute away from the airport. Calypso Charters takes you on a 20 minute boat ride to Anguilla in a nice motor boat serving up water, beer, and rum punch with only a few other passengers. The closer you get to Anguilla the more vibrant blue the water becomes. What you find the moment you step off the boat is that the people are so friendly. Everyone says hello, everyone asks how you are doing, every resident is so proud of this beautiful place they call home.
Where To Stay
When it comes to where to dream on this beautiful island there is no shortage of gorgeous accommodations.
CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa – CuisinArt is owned by the Rizzuto family that owns CuisinArt appliances. Nestled on arguably Anguilla’s most beautiful beach, Rendezvous Bay, CuisinArt’s suites and villas are housed in Grecian inspired white buildings that line the shore. One of the most breathtaking views is the entry way that looks out onto the ocean over an infinite pool with smaller pools cascading toward the sea. If there is one thing besides the beautiful stretch of beach that CuisinArt is situated on that sets it a part, it is the food, boasting 5 restaurants and a hydroponic farm. Welcoming you to your suite is a bowl of fresh cherry tomatoes grown at the hydroponic farm, a farm that was envisioned as an important part of the resort during original construction.
Unique for a resort and the first of its kind in the Caribbean, the hydroponic farm serves as the basis for all the resort’s culinary inspirations. Hydroponics saves water through the use of recirculation systems and drip irrigation; CuisinArt recycles the drainage from the greenhouse to feed the outdoor landscape plants. The crops in this 18,000 square foot greenhouse can be grown all year, regardless of outside weather conditions. The farm contains two lettuce ponds and a bato bucket system for vine crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant. Raised beds contain herbs, lettuce and peppers, and plant towers are used for bok choy and herbs. For more information about hydroponics, visit Farm Manager Dr. Howard Resh’s website at www.howardresh.com.
The hydroponic farm provides over 60% of produce to the resort’s restaurants. The mint is used in their mojitos, the basil in their olive oils, the herb shiso is put on raw fish at Tokyo Bay, the peppers are used in hot sauces, and the lavender is used in oils for spa treatments. You can regularly find staffers plucking herbs in the morning to use that day. Tours are offered to guests Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
The crown jewel of the resort, the beach on Rendezvous Bay, is what you will fall in love with. With water so vibrant blue you will be rubbing your eyes making sure what you are seeing is truly real. The sand feels like a pillow against your feet it is so soft and the water against my skin was the perfect temperature, not too warm, not too cold, but cooling to the touch and just right for swimming in the azure sea. There’s a beachside bar as well as beachside service to order food and drinks so you never have to leave your lounger if you do not wish to. There’s also a watersports hut where you can borrow snorkeling equipment, reserve Hobies, etc. A flotable dock is stationed about 20 feet from the shore (so very Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief). One day while relaxing on the flotable dock I watched kite surfers skimming and jumping over the waves.
Enjoy total body relaxation at CuisinArt’s Venus Spa with treatments positioned looking out through windows to Rendezvous Bay. There is also a fitness center along with a 1-mile running trail throughout the property. CuisinArt is also home to the first and only golf course on the island, a $50 million dollar Greg Norman designed champion course. Click here for details and rates.
Malliouhana – Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort, is a technicolor dream. From the moment you set foot onto the mirror tiled floor lobby that welcomes you to the resort, Malliouhana enchants your senses. With Anguilla known for some of the best diving in the world, Malliouhana displays vintage dive helmets on a wall at the entrance. A lobby dripping in opulent decor welcomes you and around every corner you will find more colors to delight your eyes. The breathtaking views at Malliouhana are often cascaded with gorgeous foliage of bougainvillea and palms. Malliouhana, situated cliff side between Mead’s Bay and Turtle Cove, offers a dramatic setting for its two infinite pools lined with yellow flamenco umbrellas and black and white striped cabanas.
The Restaurant at Malliouhana boasts a nautical theme with blue and white striped fabrics, ropes hanging from wood beams and sweeping views of the ocean in all its shades of blues. It is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner serving up the freshest sea-to-table fare. You can even arrange for a private dinner on the cliffs or in one of the pool’s cabanas.
Malliouhana also boasts various beaches including Mead’s Bay with its azure blue waters and watersports, a bobbing cove for relaxing and snorkeling, and Turtle Cove nestled among the rocks for a more private beach experience. In addition to snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, and tennis, the resort also offers special family activities to bring kids and parents closer to nature.
The accommodations at Malliouhana are stunning and squeal-worthy with garden and ocean view guest rooms as well as junior and two-bedroom suites. All rooms are impeccably decorated with beautiful artwork, alluring wall colors, exquisite fabrics, and lavish furnishings.
Enjoy more than just lavish accommodations and relaxation, but also restore your wellness at Malliouhana’s spa with treatments like the Warm Shell Massage in which large shells filled with lava and saltwater generating their own heat paired with your massage therapist’s exquisite touch make muscle tension melt away. A fitness center along with complimentary fitness classes add to your mind and body experience at Malliouhana.
The first resort on the island named for the Arawak Tribal word for Anguilla, Malliouhana now 30 years old was recently renovated by Auberge Resorts and continues to set the bar as not just one of the best resorts in the Caribbean, but as one of the best resorts in the world. Click here for details and rates.
Las Equinas At Little Harbour – Looking for soulful solitude? Las Equinas is a villa located on the tip of Little Harbour where the land meets the sea. With 180 degree views of the ocean, its own private beach, a gorgeous infinity pool that looks as if it runs right into the ocean, and the most hospitable host, Las Equinas At Little Harbor is its own little paradise in paradise. There is an energy that you feel at Las Equinas. It comes from the beautiful, yet minimalist villa and from its owner, Robin. Las Equinas was a labor of love for Robin and you can feel her soulful connection to the home and to the island in her conversations while the hostess with the mostest serves up freshly made rum punch (the best I had on my trip).
To be able to share this place of love, peace, and harmony with guests is Robin’s wish. Las Equinas means ‘the corners’ and in this villa with a courtyard situated in the center and a main living area that allows for open air entertaining, you will also find 4 distinct corners and guest rooms. Each corner is decorated like one of Robin’s favorite places that she has traveled or lived. They are the Balinese, Mediterranean, Moroccan and Mexican suites. Each has European-designed ensuite bathrooms, with granite countertops, polished Jewelstone showers, bidets and, in the Balinese suite, a bathtub. The rooms can be rented out individually or you can rent the entire villa. You will also find hammocks strategically located throughout the villas as well as other areas positioned perfectly for reflection. Room rates are $400 and up. Click here for details.
Where To Eat
Anguilla may be small but it boasts over 100 restaurants to choose from, many that rival world class restaurants in metropolitan areas. The is quite a fete for any Caribbean island and proves furthermore the sophistication found on this unspoiled island. With an abundance of fresh fish, spiny lobster, and ‘crayfish’ you can bet that your dining experience will be memorable.
Sandy Island – This is a MUST. There is no other experience like this. To approach this beautiful island of sand in the middle of the ocean and as your boat gets closer and closer to see the water radiating the most vibrant shades of blue, is an experience all its own. Then, on top of that, to dine on Sandy Island is another level of euphoria. There is one restaurant serving up fresh spiny lobster and crayfish caught that morning – so fresh, so simple, and so delicious it will linger in your mind long after the last bite. This was the best meal I had in Anguilla and that is a well-earned compliment considering the amount of mouth-watering restaurants on the island.
da’Vida – There’s no many places on the planet where you can go for a swim apres meal, at least not in crystal blue waters. da’Vida means to ‘celebrate life’ and celebrate they do by serving up fresh catches, tropical drinks, and a swim along one of Anguilla’s most beautiful beaches, Crocus Bay. Enjoy fresh catches like snapper, spiny lobster, or crayfish started off with an order of johnny cakes. Take in the beautiful views and sip on a Minty Fresh made of rum, fresh mint,and passion fruit.
Restaurant at Malliouhana -Caribbean dining at its finest in an exquisite setting offering a variety of sea-to-table cuisine using the freshest ingredients available. Healthier fare as well as Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free options are thoughtfully crafted by Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman and available year-round on the menu. Guest chef events also occur throughout the year. I enjoyed the walu crudo and the special which was Spiny Lobster served with fresh vegetables.
Smokey’s At The Cove – Located on unspoiled Cove Bay, Smokey’s serves an extensive menu of fish, lobster, steak, burgers, and more. You can even sit on the beach if you like as there are a limited number of tables in the sand. At sunset enjoy the view of the boats docked at moorings as the sky changes different shades of pastels. The food is simple and tasty and the drinks are fresh not sugary mixes.
Tokyo Bay – A sushi experience to rival any sushi experience you have ever had. Tokyo Bay at CuisinArt is extraordinary and a must while you are in Anguilla. The chef uses fresh herbs from the hydroponic farm to accompany many dishes. The flavors combinations of the sushi rolls dance and melt together in your mouth.
Elite – Located in Island Harbour the atmosphere is relaxed and at night you can enjoy the swaying of the palms in the ocean breeze. Elite offers an Italian flare with pastas served up al dente and fresh catches like snapper cooked whole in a lemon-butter sauce.
What To Do:
Snorkeling or Scuba Diving from Shoal Bay Scuba – Shoal Bay Scuba is Anguilla’s only PADI dive resort serving Anguilla since 2004. Excursions to Little Bay and Pelican Bay will leave you mesmerized. I love to snorkel but have never seen as many fish as I did in Anguilla and our second stop to Pelican Bay proved the most beautiful with all of its textures and colors of corals.
Sandy Island – Again this is a MUST. As we approached Sandy Island my senses were overcome with joy, the sight of the island and surrounding water is truly bliss for your eyes. The beautiful shades of blue and green shining like a kaleidoscope from the sea and then to approach a tiny island of white sand, you feel like a modern day Robinson Crusoe. While on Sandy Island you can enjoy snorkeling, lounging, and even kite surfing.
Sandy Ground – Looking for a little nightlife or a fun happy hour, there is always a party to be found in Sandy Ground. Fun spots for cocktails. music, and dancing include Elvis’ Beach Bar, The Pumphouse, and Dad’s.
The Dune Preserve – What looks like a shack on the beach, you will actually see is an intricately unique hot spot put together with shipwrecks, driftwood, and coconut trees. The Dune Preserve is right beside CuisinArt Resort and a truly unique Anguilla experience where you will find famous Caribbean musician Bankie Banx playing Saturdays and Wednesday as well as food and other music throughout the week.
Festival Del Mar – Around Easter all roads lead to Island Harbour as Anguilla celebrates the island’s seafaring heritage in the colorful Festival del Mar. Sponsored jointly by the community of Island Harbour, the Anguilla Tourist Board and the Ministry of Youth & Culture, Festival Del Mar serves a dual purpose, providing Anguillians with the opportunity to celebrate their history while offering our visitors a window into cultural traditions. Island Harbour should always be a stop on any Anguilla itinerary. The small village, which is located on the eastern tip of the island, has remained largely untouched by tourism development and still maintains its local vibe. Colorful boats bob in the blue harbor and a fishing pier juts out to catch schooners and fishing boats, much as it was in the early 1900s. The festival includes deep sea fishing tournaments, culinary competitions, children’s fishing tournaments, crab races, boat races, and more.
Anguilla Literary Fest – Held Memorial Day weekend the literary fest pays homage to Anguilla’s literary heritage featuring panels Caribbean writers, discussions with internationally acclaimed authors, panels with magazine editors and publishing professionals, and receptions with all the authors and personalities. This year’s literary fest included Grammy-award winner J.Ivy, author Zane, author Benilde Little, author Krista Bremer, and even celebrity guests not on the itinerary like Southern actress Annie Potts who shares an affinity for the beautiful island. Potts has written and designed a children’s book, Kemarley of Anguilla, that tells the story of a young boy who admires the beauty of his island through a very special lens. Sales of each copy of the book and greeting cards benefits the Blossom Centre and the special-needs children of Anguilla. You can purchase the book by clicking here.
Anguilla Day – May 30th is celebrated as the spark that ignited the island’s freedom from St. Kitts and Nevis. Anguilla Day is an excellent time to visit the island. It is a day of joyful celebration for our people, but also for visitors. Contagious happiness permeates all. Every year the festivities kick off with one of Anguilla’s most exciting boatraces, the Round-the-Island race, which begins at Sandy Ground at approximately 9 am. A sight to behold as white sails take to the sea and “land racers” follow them by car and radio until they reach Sandy Ground in the late afternoon.