The start of this trip was pretty inauspicious – a direct, 25-minute flight to our destination at St. Martin and they managed to lose my luggage. Everybody we told about it just burst out laughing. I got it back later the next day but it meant that we spent a lot of the first day in or around the airport. Luckily St Martin happens to have one of the most famous airports in the world. The runway is so close to the beach (Maho) it feels as if the plane is about to land on top of you, and the force and noise of the jet stream when the planes take off is insane. I don’t know why I didn’t get any pictures – I must have been concerned about my luggage!
Aside from its beautiful beaches and water I’d say one of the best things about St. Martin was the food. Being a half-French, half-Dutch island I shouldn’t have been surprised. It felt so good to finally have a good croissant for the first time since I moved to the Caribbean a year and a half ago! Sarafina’s bakery in Marigot (on the French side) has the most amazing selection of bread and pastries and of course I went there all three mornings we were there. Right by it is Marigot fish market, prettily decked out in blue tiles and right on the harbour. For some reason I’ve always had a thing for fish markets – they’re always so lively and atmospheric, not to mention smelly as hell. I think I associate them with sunny places and pretty harbours.
The real goal of our trip was Anguilla, which is only a 25-minute ferry trip from St. Martin. If you have a penchant for staying dry, I’d recommend staying inside. If you want to get soaked from head to toe, try outside, like J did. From the minute I stepped foot in Anguilla – and I literally mean at the port customs and immigration – I fell in love with it. There’s just something about the light there – the fiercely bright, direct and relentless sunshine that makes the colours in Anguilla look like someone’s fallen asleep on the saturation key. The roads are wide and dusty and the buildings bright and pastel-coloured.
By far the most stunning thing about Anguilla is its sea and its beaches. I’ve never seen water that turquoise and crystal clear and sand that white. We have beautiful beaches where I am but in Anguilla every single beach fits that description. They’re so undeveloped and desolate too. Walking up Turtle cove by where we stayed, with no hotels in view and no islands to break the horizon, felt like being stranded on a desert island. One beach that stood out as slightly different was Little Bay. It’s quite elusive as the only way to get there is either to climb down a cliff-side rope or by short, pretty boat-trip from Crocus Bay – we went with the boat. This side of the island is more rocky, which makes it great for snorkelling around its little caves. We saw a family of lobsters and a beautiful, enormous orange starfish.
When I travel I like to stay in and see a range of places so we stayed at Malliouhana for two nights and Anacoana the for next two. Malliouhana I think is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. It’s been recently renovated and I just loved the pastel and stripe theme and splashes of bright colour (and of course the views) throughout. There was a photo op at pretty much every corner. I think I almost broke the camera, and J, running around taking pictures of it all. The food here and everywhere else on the island we tried was amazing too.
One of the days we had to dedicate to just lazing around at the hotel and sailing around Meads bay. We had (delicious) cocktails while watching the sunset and then headed to the carnival at Sandy Ground. The set up at the beach for the carnival is so huge that our taxi couldn’t go directly and had to drive along the beach to get us there, which was cool and a definite first. I’ve never seen so many people on a beach – with the dancing and singing and the smell of Caribbean barbecue the atmosphere was incredible. I’ll never forget it.
WHERE TO STAY: Malliouhana.
WHERE TO EAT:
Cafe de Paris – The food is good pretty much everywhere on Anguilla. We had breakfast at Cafe’ de Paris, which was very cute but unassuming. We weren’t sure what we were going to get but the croissant was one of the best I have ever had, even in Paris!
The Straw Hat at The Frangipani – I’m not usually crazy about dessert but The Straw Hat at the Frangipani had a warm coconut tart with rum and raisin ice cream that’s making me drool right now just at the thought of it.
Johnno’s Place – For something more authentic Johnno’s place at Sandy ground does a whole grilled fish of the day. Apparently this is a typical Anguillan dish but I had to search the island to find it and we finally got it for our last meal. It was really, really good.