Visitors can relax on the beach with a cold drink at Anguilla’s Sandy Island. // © 2015 Anguilla Tourist Board
Feature image (above): Anguilla’s cuisine is mainly cosmopolitan, and the island has several specialty restaurants to choose from. // © 2015 Anguilla Tourist Board
The compact island of Anguilla is one of the most sophisticated destinations in the Caribbean. On Anguilla, your clients won’t find huge all-inclusive resorts, action-packed waterparks or over-the-top nightlife. What they will find is a handful of luxe beach resorts, comfortable midrange properties and stylish bed and breakfasts. The island regularly plays host to celebrities such as Beyonce and Jay Z, who choose Anguilla for its attentive service and low-key vibe.
One aspect of Anguilla that sets it apart from neighboring islands is its highly developed dine-around scene — the 35-square-mile island has some 100 restaurants. Since all-inclusive resorts on Anguilla are in short supply, guests are more likely to eat at a range of restaurants during their stay. These may be anything from a standalone eatery to a restaurant at one of the high-end hotels.
Getting around Anguilla is fairly easy; the most convenient method is by taxi. Because the island is relatively small, hiring a taxi won’t break the bank. Taxi drivers are also great sources of insider knowledge, as well as founts of island gossip. During my visit, my cab driver pointed out the home of a fellow driver famous for having 27 children by nine women — definitely the kind of tidbit that doesn’t make it into the official sales guide.
On the Trail of the Perfect Restaurant
Your clients will have a huge range of dining options on Anguilla. They can choose a five-star restaurant where the maitre d’ will escort them to a candlelit table, or they can dip into a ticky-tacky beach shack with lobster is on the grill and ice-cold brew.
Anguilla’s cuisine is cosmopolitan, with restaurants specializing in French, Asian, Italian, Belgian, Caribbean and American cooking. Some of the most sophisticated restaurants include Coba at Viceroy Anguilla; Le Bistro at Santorini at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant; Blanchards Restaurant; da’Vida Restaurant & Spa; Mango’s Seaside Grill; Veya Restaurant; and Hibernia Restaurant. Wine lovers will want to check out the selection at the restaurant at Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort, which has 25,000 bottles of wine.
Eating Like a Local
For a taste of local fare, point your clients toward Flavours Restaurant at La Vue Boutique Inn and Firefly Restaurant at Anacaona Boutique Hotel. Here they’ll find signature Anguillan dishes such as island snapper with Anguillan peas and rice, West Indian-style curried goat or grilled crayfish and lobster.
With 12 miles of coastline in Anguilla, and a hungry traveler will find him or herself rolling past one beach bar and bistro after another. Some of the most popular are Johnno’s beachfront restaurant and bar in the village of Sandy Ground, which has live jazz on Sunday afternoons; Smokey’s at the Cove, situated on Cove Bay; Straw Hat Restaurant on Meads Bay beach, where the specialty is red snapper crudo; Jacala Beach Restaurant, also on Meads Bay, with a Gallic-influenced menu; and Uncle Ernie’s Shoal Bay Beach Bar, which has been serving up cold beer and barbecued ribs for more than 30 years.
The island also has its own food trucks. Two of the most famous are Hungry’s Good Food, which serves eight varieties of homemade soup, including pea soup with pig tail and bull-foot soup. Vegetarians can be on the lookout for Papa Lash’s Food Van, which serves plenty of healthful food items, including a signature cheese patty, a favorite with locals.
An Anguillan Specialty: Offshore Cay Dining
A very short boat ride brings diners to off-shore cays, where the island ambience is kicked up a notch. Scilly Cay, one of the most well-known, lies just offshore by the fishing village of Island Harbour. The small island’s restaurant has a variety of island dishes, but the lobster is highly recommended. If you indulge in one of the potent rum punches, hold onto your chair when you get up — this high octane libation puts the punch in punch.
The Prickly Pear Cays lie 6 miles off Anguilla’s western shore. After a round of swimming and snorkeling, your clients can quench their thirst at Tiki Hut bar or order lunch at Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant.
Sandy Island lies just minutes off Anguilla’s western shore. An excursion there is an ultra-comfortable Robinson Crusoe experience — the kind with fine food, snorkeling gear, cold drinks and a comfortable al fresco restaurant. Kick back with a plate of drunken coconut shrimp, and top off the meal with a slice of sunshine cake made with Cointreau and fresh fruit.