Even though, for the moment, I am more than happy with the chilly weather in New York City, it won’t be long before I start wanting to escape to the beach again.
My list of favorite beach destinations is getting longer and recently I added another favorite: Anguilla.
Anguilla is a British island in the Caribbean. With a population of a little over 15,000, this is the kind of place where people really know each other, and if you visit enough times, will really get to know you as well. It is friendly and welcoming. During my visit, I had the opportunity to really experience the people, but most importantly, the food.
I did my best to eat as much as I could while in Anguilla (because, you know, research) and discovered some pretty great spots along the way. Because it’s not a very big island, with enough planning you too can eat you way through Anguilla and see why it has become one of the most celebrated culinary destinations in the Caribbean.
Some of my most memorable dining experiences were paired with incredible views, the kind of views that only Anguilla can offer, and that warm Anguillan hospitality.
The following are some of the highlights for me.
While on a balcony overlooking the Shoal Bay beach, we got an opportunity to wine and dine with Anguilla’s most celebrated Executive Chefs. Present were chefs from Tasty’s Restaurant, E’s Oven, Flavours Restaurant, Smokey’s Restaurant, Ripple’s Restaurant, and Viceroy Anguilla. Getting a chance to chat with award-winning chefs and get a bit more of the culinary culture while at the same time dining of some fab dishes was a huge treat.
Touring the luxury villas (some which can accommodate up to three families and can go for about $10,000 a night) was a pretty breathtaking experience as well. The large pool overlooking the teal blue ocean immediately became my favorite spot. The villas come fully equipped with everything one could need during their stay and all the comforts of home. Though my dining experience here was unique, villa guests can request to have their own chef or catered meals and home service.
This 97-room resort offers accommodations that range from luxury rooms to villas, many facing the ocean. The hotel has an upscale fitness center and spa, as well as three in-house restaurants.
I absolutely loved taking long walks along the white sandy beaches. The waters are so clear and blue, the sand so soft, the sun so warm. The on-beach service is a convenient and nice touch, and the privacy of the area allows you to completely relax and take in all without disruption.
One of the most memorable dining experiences I had in the resort was at the Chef’s Table, where Executive Chef Jasper Schneider of the hotel’s very own Japanese restaurant, Tokyo Bay, served up a series of menu items that were as diverse and delicious as the next and showcased not just some of Anguilla’s local flavors, but also some variety that detailed the food and wine creativity of the culinary team there. It was quite a night to remember. Guests can reserve a similar experience, whether for a romantic dinner for two or a larger group.
Many of the resorts vegetables and herbs come from their very own hydroponic farm, managed by Dr. Howard Resh, who offers tours and detailed explanation of the farm’s function, seasonal items, and growing aspirations. What grows in the farm is what inspires many of the dishes that guests will taste at the resort restaurants. I recommend taking a tour at the farm before dining, as it will bring your closer to your food and really enhance your overall experience there.
Along the coast of Meads Bay is the beautiful, boutique-style Frangipani resort. With only 19 rooms that can be made separated into single rooms or two-to-three bedroom suites (or villas), it’s easy to arrange a stay that best fits both your needs and budget. The larger suites offer all the amenities you could need for a comfortable stay with your family, including laundry and kitchen and access to the pool and beach is only steps away. I really loved the intimate feel of this resort. It isn’t the kind of place where you will get lost or overlooked. And though the appeal is one that would attract couples, I felt it would be a sweet experience for a family as well.
The restaurant on the resort grounds is Straw Hat, which is one of the island’s most popular restaurant. The location there is fairly new, but already well-visited. I had breakfast while overlooking the calm beach scenery and truly couldn’t have imagined a better start to my day.
The Viceroy is the only internationally owned chain hotels on the island and it is massive. With 166 rooms, this sprawling hotel offers a lot of luxury and a lot of space. But, of course, I spent my time there eating and enjoying the refreshing evening sky in their open bar and lounge area. As with everything the Viceroy does, it spares no expense in making sure that every detail, including the cocktail and small bites menu is satisfying and delivers in sophistication.
I think the hotel itself is absolutely gorgeous, though personally, in an island like Anguilla, I might go for something a bit more intimate and laid back. It’s a great option, however, and even if you don’t stay there, it’s a wonderful place to have a drink and enjoy some really delicious food.
There are many other places to eat that can be found off hotel grounds and help to really bring forth the authentic flavors and feel if Anguilla.
This private beach area is accessible one by boat. Guests must call ahead of time and reserve their meal. Once you decide what you would like to eat, it is then set up as a planned catch for the day of your arrival and prepped and serve when you get there. What this means is that you might actually have a chance to actually see your meal still wiggling around when you arrive.
Start your meal with their famous rum punch and enjoy a swim or time sunbathing while the grill is fired up and your lunch prepped to order. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon and though the cay itself is only a short distance away from the island shore, it feels like you are a world away. The Wallace family go all out to make you feel welcomed and comfortable, and though the entire experience is a casual, relaxing one, you can’t help but feel like royalty while there. The lobster and cray fish lunch are an absolute must. Larger groups can call in advance and reserve the entire cay for themselves if they so desire.
D’Avida Beach Bar and Restaurant was a fun stop with so much delicious food to order. I guarantee you I pretty much tried the entire menu thanks to our generous hosts and there was really not one thing I did not enjoy. I highly recommend giving their cocktail menu a try. The mojito margarita is a gift from heaven.
The experience at Blanchard’s is not one you will soon forget. The staff is one of the friendliest around and the food is insanely delicious. I went for dinner, so it was difficult to really enjoy the beach views, but it’s right there and if you ask for a seat closest to it, you just might get to get a more of the full experience then I did. If you go at night, you will still get to feast on some traditional dishes paired with wonderful wines. You absolutely must finish off your meal with the chocolate coconut rum dessert. You won’t regret it.
And last, but not least, don’t miss checking out Hungry’s Food Cart, Corner Bar Pizza, and Ken’s BBQ (check out my Storify “Exploring Anguilla” for more info on these and other spots not mentioned here). Please also see: Friendship and A Smile.
In the end there was a lot of food that was enjoyed, a lot of drinks in between, and tons and tons of new friendships forged throughout. My time in Anguilla was a wonderful way to end a year in travel for 2013. I really enjoyed the company, which, when paired with food, only makes the entire experience that much more memorable.
I hope you take this list of eating destinations on your visit to Anguilla. You’ll enjoy discovering how this small island can deliver so much in flavor and understand why, when it comes to Caribbean cuisine, it is starting to lead the way.
Photos are property of Girl Gone Travel and may not be used without direct consent of the publisher. All photos taken with my Sony NEX 5r.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Anguilla Tourism Board. I received no compensation for this review. All opinions expressed here are my own.