The island of Anguilla in the Caribbean offers a vacation destination for those who enjoy soft sand beaches, turquoise water and luxury accommodations.
When travelers first fly over the eel-shaped island of Anguilla, and see the impressive array of luxury yachts bobbing in the turquoise blue water below, they know they’re landing in one of the Caribbean’s most exclusive tropical playgrounds. But single adventure travel buffs are notorious for wanting to do more than return home with a fantastic tan and a potent recipe for rum punch. They aim to experience what’s truly unique about any destination they’re visiting.
Anguilla is the most northern of the Leeward islands and an internally self-governing British overseas territory. The low-lying island of coral and limestone, which is a mere 16-mile long by 3-miles wide, has roughly 13,500 sea-and-sun worshiping inhabitants — and two stop lights. Located just a few miles north of Saint Martin, you can almost wave to your seaside neighbors, and watch them wave back, while taking a power walk on the beach.
While most islands offer an array of water sports, like sea kayaking, windsurfing and water skiing, each has its own delightful surprises. The soft adventure activities below are what give Anguilla her own unique flavor.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Adventures
Deep within the Anguillan heart is an unrelenting love of the sea, which is no surprise given its rich nautical history. Of its 33 beaches, which come in a sugary array of white, pink and golden sand, Shoal Bay is the most famous. And for good reason. Conde Nast Traveler listed it as one of world’s 10 most beautiful beaches.
Because Anguilla has little or no underwater current, scuba diving and snorkeling provides people new to the sport with the ideal environment. Everyone has equal opportunity to experience the bounty of the ocean either by land or by sea.
Another little known fact is that Anguilla has seven government-protected Marine Parks, all only a short sail boat away from its coral coastline. Travelers have easy access to such interesting places like Dog Island, Prickly Pear Cays, Seal Island and Scrub Island, which give their travel dollar additional value. There are ecologically important coral reefs to explore in waters that are 33-to-120 feet in depth. Mini wall dives expose the antics of spiny Caribbean lobsters and moray eels. Heritage dive sites also provide exceptional sea-centric visual treats, as evidenced by the growth of marine life lurking in Anguilla’s nine (deliberately) sunken ships.
An Adventure in Cultural History
I was taking a guided tour of the Crocus Hill area, which is the island’s highest point (213 feet), to catch a glimpse of Anguilla’s boutique rain forest. But it wasn’t the (former) alligator-infested watering holes that caught my attention. It was learning that the caves that lined the rain forest contained drawings from as early as 600-to-1500 A.D. The Arawaks were Anguilla’s first indigenous people and they created the magnificent petroglyphs. Historians speculate that they migrated to Anguilla because of its extensive reefs that offered prime fishing. They lived in homes close to the sea and salt ponds.
There are 42 Amerindian sites currently known in Anguilla, which the Anguilla National Trust is in the process of preserving. But visitors can arrange for a tour of Fountain Cavern, the most well-preserved collection of authentic petroglyphs in the Lesser Antilles. Among the most beloved images is of the Arawak rainbow spirit called “Juluca,” who was thought to bring good luck to fishermen who spotted him at sea.
Anguillans love their horses, which makes a ride on a deserted beach the perfect activity to say goodbye to the island. Well-groomed and well-trained horses, from Sea Side Stables, leisurely clip-clop across the road that leads to Cap Juluca Beach, their water saddles in toe. Once the scenic ride is through, the horse will join you for a dip in the sea on his back. The area is so beautiful and the experience so surreal that you will never forget it.
An Adventure in Secluded Luxury
Party guests, guided by the sound of the surf and the light of the moon, head towards a secluded sandy cove in Meads Bay, to enjoy an Anguillian-style barbecue. They have flown in, from every corner of the earth, to celebrate the 50th birthday of a dear friend and loyal customer of the Malliouhana Hotel & Spa.
It is a coincidence of anniversaries, as the Malliouhana Hotel is also celebrating a milestone; its 25th year in business. Guest are “bare footin’” it, past banana trees, Jurassic-sized bougainvillea and calypso-colored hibiscus, to meet their friends at the bar.
The Malliouhana Hotel was the visionary dream of Leon Roydon, an Englishman credited with building Anguilla’s first luxury hotel at one of the island’s most spectacular sites. But its secret of longevity is the way it treats guests like family.
“We are very family-oriented , which is why we created a place for children and the pirates ship that children simply adore,” said Nigel Roydon, who has a 7-year-old daughter. “We also offer service second-to-none in Anguilla and food that’s second-to-none in Anguilla.”
Malliouhana, which combines the finest elements of luxury French Riviera hotels with Caribbean relaxation, has multi-tiered junior suites large enough to land a small aircraft on. But you won’t hear that headline in the news. In the spirit of tranquility, TVs and radios are located in the media center, not individual rooms. Other guest accommodations are even more glorious.
Malliouhana Hotel is also home to over 25,000 bottles of carefully chosen wine. Its Sommelier, Albert Lake, travels the world meeting vineyard owners personally.
Soothing Spa Adventures
Most any physical activity can be taxing on the body when you don’t do it on a regular basis. So before you leave for the States, it’s wise to get your body back in balance.
The elegant 27,000-square-foot Venus Spa, at CuisinArt Resort & Spa is a name synonymous with health and healing. The award-winning spa offers gentlemen a private Men’s Club Suite where you can get a “Tandem 4 Hands Massage” followed by a Pyrat Rum Mojito or a non-alcoholic Refresher drink. Another ground-breaking spa amenity is its Healing Waters Pool, which combines fresh water and revitalizing mineral sea salt. It’s the ideal spot for any “Aqua Massage Therapy.”
On the property there is an 18,000-sq. ft. hydroponic greenhouse, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The organic farm, which offers tours on the property, grows perishable vegetables and herbs for its guests and is also used in various spa treatments. A bowl of bright cherry tomatoes are best enjoyed in rooms with a private solarium. Tomatoes and sunshine!
Just before you go, take a relaxing walk around the CuisinArt Resort, which has over 50,000 plants and looks as lush as the biblical Garden of Eden.
Anguilla is known as a warm and welcoming place, and that goes double for the massage therapists at the ocean-front Malliouhana Spa. The new 15000-sq. ft. Contemporary spa features cutting-edge treatments to get body, mind and spirit ready for any of life’s great adventures. One powerful Asian treatment is the “Balinese Massage,” which draws its inspiration from Indian, Chinese and European influences in Bali. It combines stretching, acupressure, palming and thumbing with long gliding strokes. A full day of bliss would be the “Royal Javanese Lulur” treatment spent in a private suite. It originated in the royal courts of Java to prepare a bride for her wedding day.
A Culinary Adventure
Anguilla has over 100 delightful restaurants and roadside eateries, but only one Alain Laurent, the Executive Chef at “Michel Rostang at Malliouhana.’ He likes to infuse classic French cuisine with local Caribbean flavors. The restaurant is under the guidance of Parisian Michelin two-star chef, Michel Rostang, internationally renowned as one of the best chefs in the world. The upscale restaurant won the January 2008 Gold Award for “Best Hotel for Food” in the Caribbean by “Conde Nast Traveler UK. That alone is worth the trip!
Copyright © Devorah Ben-David/ 2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
Devorah Ben-David is a freelance writer and single parent, who has traveled to every continent on earth. Her articles can be read in high-profile publications throughout North America and Asia.