Camper & Nicholsons' Miriam Cain Explores Anguilla of the Leeward Islands
Dec. 20, 2005 07:00 PM
Yacht Vacations & Charters Magazine
The tiny island of Anguilla is beautiful and romantic - a place where you can really hide away from the rest of the world protected by the fiercely proud and loyal locals who are always on hand with a friendly smile.
The most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, Anguilla measures only 26 kilometres by five across. It is hard to believe that as little back as 1984 this small, eel shaped island had no electricity and only dirt tracks for roads. Today, Anguilla radiates an unspoilt innocence and tourists are seen as welcome visitors. Sparingly developed, Anguilla has become internationally renowned for offering some of the world’s most exclusive five-star luxury resorts, has been voted as one the of worlds top ten destinations for its beaches, and has more than its fair share of fine restaurants offering both local and international cuisine. But be warned, this year the Caribbean is all about hippie chic, and the trend isn’t confined to fashion – the accommodation may be sophisticated, with its butler service, but with stylishly simple interiors, deserted beaches, and 12,000 friendly and laid back locals, the emphasis is on comfort and ease. Following are a handful of the finest attractions Anguilla has to offer...
With so many restaurants serving up an eclectic mix of international and island-style cuisine, it is hard to fit in all the hip haunts on this one island in just a few days. Seafood features heavily on Anguillian menus, with local crayfish, whole lobster, grilled snapper, swordfish and mahi mahi the main specialities. From beachfront shacks to romantic gourmet waterfront restaurants, the following are a cross-selection of what the island has to offer...
The latest offering from the Altamer haut-luxe resort, the Altamer Restaurant is magnificently set on the shores of Shoal Bay West, where dining can either be enjoyed along the open front only yards away from the lapping waves, or at the rear where the chef’s table affords views of your dinner being cooked right before you by Chef Maurice Leduc and his team. The extensive menu includes local fresh fish dishes such as Sweet Potato Crusted Snapper, and is accompanied by a vast selection of wines that are passionately recommended by the restaurants sommelier, Brian Reid.
Combining an authentic Caribbean menu with fine china, crystal and crisp white linen, Blanchard’s offers style and panoramic views over Meads Bay and the blue Caribbean waters. A regular winner of the Wine Spectator Award for Excellence, Blanchard’s has an extensive wine list and a sophisticated menu with a Caribbean flair reflecting influences from around the world.
An islet in the bay of Island Harbour, Scilly Cay is home to the restaurant of the same name. After an entertaining two-minute tender ride with the boatman ‘Africa’, relax with a Scilly Cay rum punch while the simple menu of spiny lobster, crayfish and chicken is cooked on the Anguilla-style grills. The restaurant is a hip hangout with live music on Wednesdays and Sundays.
For great local cuisine, lunch at Gwen’s Reggae Grill on Shoal Bay East. Specialising in barbecues and salads, this is the perfect place to escape the midday sun accompanied by a cool rum punch and live reggae band on Sundays. Another restaurant for great local cuisine is Tasties at South Hill. It has delicious seafood, including crayfish, tuna, snapper, mahi mahi and conch, all of which can be accompanied by the local dish of rice and peas.
Set alongside CuisineArt’s spectacular pool, the cuisine at Café Mediterraneo is fresh and organic with produce from the resort’s organic garden and hydroponic farm. Drawing inspiration from around the world, with a hint of Caribbean flavours, the daily menu of spa grill lunches and Mediterranean dinners is accompanied by specials throughout the week including a lobster night on Tuesdays, a west Indian prime rib beef menu on Wednesdays, and a castaways champagne brunch on Sundays.
The centre of Anguilla’s limited nightlife, Sandy Ground is home to both Johnno’s, a classic Carribean beach bar famous for its late night music and delicious seafood, much of which is caught by the proprietor himself, and Gabi Gumbs Pumphouse, where the rum punch should be referred to as just rum, and local bands entertain on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Renowned for its annual Moonsplash festival, the Dune Preserve at Rendezvous Bay is run by the islands local celebrity music master, Bankie Banx.
Anguilla is well known for its small group of hip, exclusive, architecturally striking haunts. From the supervillas offering complete privacy, to the extremely smart resorts, the island’s accommodations have excellent levels of style and service.
Altamer is a trio of white washed geometric-style villas lying on the southwestern tip of the island overlooking Shoal Bay West. An oasis of luxury, each villa has its own unique interior décor theme – the Russian Amethyst is influenced by the riches of Italy and Turkey, the Brazilian Emerald has colourful artefacts from South America, and the African Sapphire boasts a natural décor inspired by the warmth of Africa. Sleeping between 10 and 16 guests, each villa also has a professional gourmet kitchen complete with chef and assistant, two butlers, and two housekeepers. Opt for the central villa - the Brazilian Emerald - with its 6m high ceilings, a large round bar area, an outdoor pool and hot tub, and the finest service under the guidance of head butler, Laval.
On the other side of the island the Santorini style Temenos Villas are another trio of properties overlooking the pristine Long Bay. The villas are all similar in design but inside each is uniquely influenced by one of three elements: sea, sand or sky. Seemingly floating between the sea and sky, the Sea Villa affords outstanding views over the Atlantic Ocean from almost all vantage points, including the stunning infinity pool. With accommodation for eight to ten guests, each villa has an expansive stone deck with Jacuzzi, outdoor dining pavilion, stairs leading down to the stunning beach of Long Bay, and a full complement of staff. Temenos is cloning these villas at its resort around the island’s Rendezvous Bay. The new complex will come complete with a state-of-the-art Greg Norman 18-hole golf course, and the whole resort is due to be completed by 2008.
Those looking for accommodation for fewer numbers will find Anguilla has a few luxury resort hotels, including the CuisineArt, the Malliouhana, and the popular Cap Juluca. Standing in a line of 18 spectacular villas overlooking the perfect crescent-shaped Maunday’s Bay, the Andalusian-style resort of Cap Juluca attracts celebrities and honeymooners. A lively and upbeat atmosphere is created by the hotels award winning General Manager, Eustace Guichard and his team, who offer many activities, including several water sports, croquet, tennis, and the resort’s own Spa Rituals programme. The resort also has three very different restaurants – George’s for lunch on the beach or a casual evening barbecue, Pimm’s for fine cuisine, and Kemia for tapas style dining.
With clear calm waters on the southern coast and rough and rolling waters on the northern Atlantic side, Anguilla has a varied coastline. The beaches are public but many are deserted, accessible only from beachfront properties. What’s more, as motorised water sports are banned on Anguilla, tranquillity is guaranteed.
At the southwestern tip lies the secluded Shoal Bay West, a great beach for snorkelling and romantic moonlit strolls. Shoal Bay East on the other side of the island is also good for snorkelling, with its reef-protected shallows. It is also a good spot for swimming with children, as is Mead’s Bay further along the northern coastline, and the southern Rendezvous Bay, with millpond-calm which are perfect for swimming. Both Windward Point Bay and Captain’s Bay at the most northerly tip of the island are great for wild waves, and due to their remoteness, are populated by pelicans.
With such an abundance of choice, Anguilla is the perfect island on which to spend a few days ashore at the end of your charter through the Leeward Island chain.
Altamer Restaurant & Villas
+1 264 498 4000
+ 1 264 497 6100
Scilly Cay Restaurant
+ 1 264 497 5123
Gwens Reggae Grill
+ 1 264 497 2120
+1 264 497 2737
+ 1 264 498 2000
+1 264 222 9000
+1 264 497 6779