story and photos by Barbara Bagnell
For our January break this year, we found the tiny island of Anguilla, next door to St. Martin/Maarten. WestJet flies from Toronto to St. Martin at least three times a week. We reserved a studio apartment at a resort named Paradise Cove owned by a local doctor and his wife. We recommend both the island and the resort if what you want is comfort, quiet, very little nightlife after dinner, and a piece of the Caribbean with interesting history. (It’s still a British territory, but fought a bloodless coup in the 1960s to separate from another British territory in the region – St. Kitts and Nevis.)
From St. Martin’s airport, taxis will easily transport you to the 25-minute ferry to Anguilla – www.link.ai – and Anguillian taxis will pick you up if you have not, as we didn’t, rented a car. (Avis and others available via www.anguillacar.com) We were lucky to meet Wilmoth Hodge, a driver/guide whose slogan is “Where there’s Wil, there’s a way.” We used Wil’s services for our entire visit because of left-hand driving and pitch black nights. If you decide to do likewise you can e-mail him at [email protected]
Our studio apartment consisted of a very large room, with flatscreen tv, king size bed, a neat kitchen area with table for two beside the doors to our very private patio, which happened to be at the back of the building giving us a view of the wild vegetation of the untamed areas of Anguilla. At the front of our building, one of four low rises, was an Olympic-size swimming pool with comfortable loungers and alluring gazebos close to the bar.
Breakfasts of all types are available at Paradise Cove’s dining room, if you have not picked up some juice and muffins for your kitchenette where coffee is provided. With laundry facilities in each building, your own kitchen and a playground and safe shallow pool for children beside the large pool, Paradise Cove would be ideal for young families. The town called The Valley, capital of Anguilla, has a supermarket; roadside markets abound and at least one art gallery sells gorgeous tomatoes!
Shoppers would enjoy an area about the size of a city block not far from Paradise Cove where “Cheddie” sells sculpture made of driftwood, the Galleria sells Asian antiques and the Devonish sells paintings and jewellery as well as the above-mentioned tomatoes.
Lunch and dinner are also served at the Cove, and the island has some excellent dining spots to sample: Jacala, run by two French chefs; E’s Oven with its local chef; Veya run by a young chef and her husband from Philadelphia. (They migrated from the US with their three children who attend British-type island schools which must be good because of the number of Anguillians we met who have graduated from the most renowned universities in the US, Canada and the UK.)
Paradise Cove is a 10 minute walk from a golden beach, or in 20 minutes you can drive to Shoal Bay Beach at the island’s north end, often listed by Condé Nast as one of the world’s best. Anguilla has a total of 33 beaches. Golf and all watersports are available, as are spas and interesting places for lunch in the sun. There’s Smokey’s, close to Paradise Cove on Cove Bay Beach (which also serves candle-lit dinners) and there’s Johnno’s at Sandy Ground where, on Sunday afternoons, five local musicians provide jazz to a lunching audience of mostly island visitors. Or you might try lunch or dinner at CuisinArt Resort where Canadian hydroponic gardening guru, Dr. Howard Resh, supervises a huge hothouse where luscious vegetables are grown hydroponically and then appear on the resort’s menu. (www.howardresh.com) ( www.cuisinartresort.com)
Visitors interested in the island’s story should visit the modest Anguilla Heritage Museum run by Dr. Colville Petty in a building where he was born and grew up. A song and dance story of the island is performed frequently by Moyumba Folkoric Theatre at the Anacoana Hotel where dinner is a buffet of curried goat and fresh fish by a local chef. That performance is about as close as you’ll get to nightlife and that was part of the charm of Anguilla for us.
We recommend this little isle and recommend you get there before tourism grows to be a larger industry than it is now. For rates and package deals (the best includes car rental) at Paradise Cove see www.paradise.ai. For general info and a section illustrating all levels of accommodation see www.ivisitanguilla.com or phone 1 866 348 7447; or 905 689 7697 to reach Anguilla’s tourism office in Canada.