Anguilla is one of my favorite islands in the Caribbean for a lot of reasons. It's very easy to get to ( JetBlue now flies nonstop from Orlando to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and very reasonable prices) and then you're just a puddle jumper flight away to Anguilla from San Juan, PR. I normally fly on American Airlines from San Juan to Anguilla, but on this most recent trip I tried a new charter service that was awesome. It's called Anguilla Air Express, and my flight had only the two pilots, myself and one other passenger, giving me room for all of my gear and luggage with no problems at all. And they treat you like a first class passenger. As always I slept the entire flight, which was great.
It goes without saying that Anguilla is full of fabulous beaches ( like most of the Caribbean ) but one of the things that makes it stand out from the pack is it's great food and great people . Topping the list for my money: Breakfast ( coffee and authentic french pastries ) at Le Bon Pain French Bakery, ( don't let the outside look fool you , the food is awesome ) and dinner at my two favorite restaurants on the island: Straw Hat Restaurant (www.strawhat.com ) which recently moved to the Frangipani Beach Resort and is owned and operated by Peter and Anne Parles (they are the best) with a super staff, and my other fave is ' Veya ' Restaurant ( www.veya-axa.com ) owned and operated by Jerry and Carrie Bogar ( Carrie is the magician in the kitchen here ) . These restaurants are family owned , and you can't go wrong with either one , so try them both . For a very unique dining experience , you should try ' Scilly Cay ' (pronounced like 'silly key' ) owned and operated by Eudoxie and Sandra Wallace. You can get to it only by boat (it's on a private island, just a few hundred yards off of the beach in Anguilla) and everything they serve is grilled fresh on the spot. Did I mention they only serve lobster , crayfish , chicken and rum punch . Don't miss the boat here, order the lobster, it's the only way to go. While you wait for your grilled lobster, sip ( and I mean sip ) a rum punch and chill out to the sounds of the acoustic guitar man .
I couldn't talk about Anguilla without mentioning the funky music scene (and my encounter with the one and only Bankie Banx is a story on it's own ) . Some describe Bankie as a cross between Bob Dylan and Bob Marley , which is fair. He is certainly unique, and the music and atmosphere at his place 'Dune Preserve' ( http://www.bankiebanx.net) are worth the trip. Oh, and don't get there early, because Bankie is a creature of the night and when I was there, didn't come on stage to play until about 11pm , so relax and take in the vibe. I think of Bankie's as what you would get if you put the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse , some Berkeley, CA flavor and toss in some reggae music , then shake it all up , and pour it on the sandy beach in Anguilla. For another evening adventure (especially on Thursday nights , when it's rockin' ) try The Pumphouse ( which is actually the old pump house they used in Anguilla to pump the water for salt ) . If you haven't had enough ( drinks and fun ) after they close, then meander across the street (on the beach) to Elvis' bar (which is actually an old boat , converted to a beach bar ) and say hello to Elvis himself . And everyone thought Elvis died in 1976, well the bar and Elvis are alive and well in Anguilla- http://www.elvisbeachbar.net
I've personally experienced (and photographed) all of the above mentioned places., as well as many others on the island. It's truly a memorable location , both for the stomach and the eyes and ears. I would add Anguilla to my top ten list for sure , and the rum punch !
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