Those of you who receive the Sunday Newsletter know that I recently spent 27 days in Anguilla, BWI.
(Those of you who don’t receive it, click here.)
As I plan on doing a lot of traveling over the next 75-150 years, there will be more posts like this one. A sort of travel blog within dingtwist.com.
If you’re like me, you didn’t even know Anguilla existed.
“I’m going to Anguilla.”
“Why are you going to Africa?”
“Anguilla. Not Angola.”
“Stop making up places.”
Below I’ll talk a bit about what I learned of the island and its culture, but the main purpose is to share some Anguilla photos with you. It’s my further hope that people considering a visit to Anguilla find this post via Google and are convinced to take the plunge. When this happens, let me know in the comments.
If you’re not interested in Anguilla information, just scroll down to see the pics. There are ten categories: Scenery, Roads, Miscellaneous Photos, Man-Made Stuff, Nights, Rainbows, Plants, Wildlife, Sunsets & Sunrises, and Waves. I like the last three the most.
I’ll preface my own impressions of the island by referring you to the best Anguilla website on the internet: Anguilla Beaches. The owner, Nori, has lived there since 2008, and any piece of Anguilla-related information you could possibly want is covered on her website. Exceptional.
While 27 days is a long time for a vacation, it’s not enough time to really get to know a place, but I’ll try my best to give you a sense of the island. Staying with two residents greatly accelerated my learning and enhanced the experience.
Anguilla, lovingly referred to as “The Rock”, is a small island a short ferry ride north of St. Martin. Most people fly into St. Martin and take the ferry over, although Anguilla does have a small airport for little jets if you have the $$$.
Because it’s a relatively flat desert island, unlike its mountainous neighbors, Anguilla has perfect weather. Rainclouds don’t build up over it, and existing rainclouds pass quickly with the wind. Many times I saw fierce rainstorms over St. Martin that hovered for hours, but they never made it to The Rock. The longest rain shower I experienced was about five minutes, but most are from 30 seconds to two minutes, and if it’s in the morning or evening hours, the result of the showers is almost inevitably a brilliant rainbow. The place is so beautiful it doesn’t seem real. The quintessential Caribbean island.
Not only is the weather perfect, but it’s a very safe island. You can go anywhere without worrying about being mugged or kidnapped, which are very real concerns on other, larger islands. Natives and expats alike are some of the friendliest, happiest people I’ve ever met.
I was surprised to find so many exquisite restaurants on the little 17×3 mile island. 104, according to the internet. Almost all of them are open air, and most of them are right on the beach.
Not only are there a ton of restaurants, but almost all of them serve delicious food. Of the fifteen or so I tried, SandBar and Picante stand out the most. Coba was amazing…but so were the prices. As for the seemingly endless number of beach bars, Elvis’ was my favorite. The bar is shaped like a boat, right on the beach in Sandy Ground, and they make the best nachos in the observable universe.
Anguilla is much less touristy than the surrounding islands, and less built up. It has an incredibly relaxed, happy feel to it, and when you combine that with the perfect weather and the 33 beautiful, white sand beaches, each with its own unique personality, your stress has no chance of survival. It will melt like butter on a hot pan, then you can smear it on your johnnycakes for taste.
Except for the main road which basically goes the length of the island, the side roads are iffy at best, and some are overgrown and basically impassible (the tips of the island). As a general rule, if the road is paved, it goes somewhere, and if it’s unpaved, it will be a dead end. But then, on such a small island, perhaps all roads could be considered dead ends.
You drive on the left side of the road, which takes some getting used to, although probably 70% of the cars have the steering wheel on the left. A few people drive too fast, and many others drive agonizingly slowly (I’m talking 15 mph). Cars will just stop in the road to have a conversations with friends. Honking is common, but it’s how friends say hi. I didn’t witness a single angry honk during my stay, while witnessing many questionable maneuvers, to put it nicely. Hitchhiking is common and perfectly safe.
Drinking & driving is accepted. People drive around all the time drinking beers, and drunk on the way home from bars. I heard of someone getting very drunk, driving his car into a bush, and when the cops came, they said, “Find a ride ‘ome. We deal wit dis tamarrow,” in their island accent which sounds a bit Jamaican, though less pronounced. I saw five or six cop cars total during my entire stay. Old, white cars with a pastel-colored police logo.
Anguillians, and I suspect all Caribbean islanders, are on “island time”. Agreeing on a time to meet means somewhere in the very general vicinity of that time. Or so. It took me twenty minutes to get cold cuts at the grocery store as the only person in line because the employee first wanted to set up her fruit displays, then have a conversation with a co-worker, all after I ordered. It’s not meant as an insult or a lack of respect – islanders simply have a much different conception of time than we mainlanders have. I saw a several men riding their bikes more slowly than should be possible while remaining upright. It takes some getting used to, but I think they have the right idea. What’s the rush?
This sums it up:
Speed humps, not speed bumps.
“Wha’ya say?” is a common greeting. “I’m cool.”
Another common greeting is “Okayyyy”. The response is “Alriiiggghhhtt”. And vice versa.
There’s a distinct island handshake where you clasp hands with thumbs interlocked, pull away and close your fingers around the other person’s fingers, pull away, give a rock, then bring the rock to your heart.
Rum punch is the island drink, and each bar has its own slightly different recipe. Some will knock you on your ass.
“I’m going to the Chinese” means I’m going to the food mart. For some reason, all of them are owned by (very friendly) Chinese people, and locals call these establishments “the Chinese”.
There are no addresses.
Things take a long time. The thermometer in The Valley has said -90 degrees for weeks (months?). A common response to such delays is, “We’re working on it.”
Many of the natives I met work two jobs from early morning to late night. Costs on the island are high (except for alcohol and cigarettes), and the pay is low. In spite of their many hours spent working, they’re some of the smiliest people I’ve ever met, always quick to make a joke.
I spoke with several expats who are living their dream: living in Anguilla. All of them had vacationed there for years then finally dove in head first and went for it. Restaurant owners, boutique owners, businessmen. In such a short period of time, I’ve never met so many people who are actually living their dreams. They’re happy people, and their positive vibes are contagious.
Now, for the photos. I uploaded them at a lower-than-maximum quality for load time. You can click on them to enlarge them, but if you’re interested in having any particular photos at their maximum quality, email me.
Cliffs on the West End. Where it’s not a sandy beach, it’s sharp, rocky cliffs.
Little Bay, part of Crocus Bay, a popular snorkeling/swimming/sunbathing destination only accessible by boat or by climbing down the cliff hanging onto the rope for dear life (see next pic). If you go, make sure to climb and jump off the protruding rock on the left side of the photo.
The rope. You could seriously f*ck yourself up if you slip and fall.
St. Martin from Bankie Banx Dune Preserve on Rendezvous Bay.
Breakwall bordering Little Harbor.
Captain’s Bay and Exclusive Villa on the East End with Scrub Island in the distance.
Down on Captain’s Bay. The beach is stunning, and the surf is huge. It is strongly recommended not to swim here. The undertow will at least steal your bathing suit, and maybe worse.
The very western tip of Anguilla with a view of St. Martin. Only accessible by a serious 4 wheel vehicle or a long walk. Not a good place to swim, but there is sandy seclusion.
Also the very western tip, looking the other way, with Anguillita in the background.
A staircase accommodating a tree.
A shady haven on Crocus Bay.
Sheets of rain over Crocus Bay.
One of the aforementioned lingering storms over St. Martin.
The mostly unpaved roads were fascinating and beautiful. They deserve their own section.
Western tip. Soon the grass is replaced by bushes.
You’d prefer that your brakes not fail on the road down to Crocus Bay.
Road on the East End overlooking Island Harbor.
Same road going east.
Rocky road near Shoal Bay.
St. Martin in the distance.
The Valley, the “capital” of Anguilla. The big city. Cows in the background.
Beautiful road down to Gwen’s Reggae Bar.
Anguilla Miscellaneous Photos
Photos that didn’t fit any other category.
Wooden face block and sweaty rum punch at Bankie Banx.
Anguillian fisherman using a hand line.
“Anguillan snow” – happens on the salt ponds when the wind stirs them up.
Bambu drink: 18.5% alcohol with horny goatweed and ginseng for “uplifting power”. Lots of these sexual performance drinks around. It tasted like expired cherry cough syrup mixed with burning coals.
Anguilla Man-Made Stuff
Photos of man-made stuff.
Bankie Banx Dune Preserve. Each table has its own unique “room” if you can call it that with the tables and chairs made of different materials. This is just one of several at bottom right.
SandBar from the beach.
Sunset Lounge at Viceroy.
One of the villas from an old, abandoned resort on Little Harbor.
A shipwreck in Sandy Ground.
Recently broken glass along with old sea glass. Amazing that what was once a bottle enjoyed by someone long ago is now ground down little fragments of glass that still exist. Imagine the stories behind each piece and what it’s been through. Also, on the right, is what I now realize is a used diaper.
Cuisinart Golf Course clubhouse.
Villas near the golf course.
Night lights at Viceroy.
St. Martin from Rendezvous Bay.
Little Bay at night. In retrospect, maybe not the brightest idea to climb down there at night.
Rainbow (slight double rainbow) over CeBleu on Crocus Bay.
Rainbow on the water at Viceroy.
Double rainbow over the Cuisinart clubhouse.
If you know the names of any of the unnamed plants below, let me know so I can add them.
(Edit: Thanks to Larry for the names of the plants, added below.)
Bougainvillea – lots of them on the island.
Sodom’s Apple Milkweed
Pope Head Cactus (three photos)
Yellow Dodder (parasitic plant)
Tomatoes in the Cuisinart hydroponic farm.
Anguilla is full of exotic wildlife. The photos below only barely scratch the surface.
Western Sandpipers dining out for breakfast.
Plain old rooster, sole owner of the beach at Crocus Bay.
“The f*ck you lookin at?”
American Oystercatcher. Pretty birds except for those gnarly legs and feet…
…but as you can see, they have them for a reason.
This dog, dubbed Little Girl, is not exactly wildlife, but she’s not exactly not wildlife. Every island dog I met (15+) roamed freely around its neighborhood, trotted confidently along main roads, was sandy, salty, stinky, and happy as hell about the whole situation.
Anguilla Sunsets & Sunrises
Sunrise through a rainstorm.
Sunrise over St. Martin from Rendezvous Bay.
A mother making a finger camera at the sunrise for her daughter.
Stormy sunset at Viceroy.
Blue water sunset.
Impressive cloud over Crocus Bay.
Raincloud over the setting sun from Viceroy.
Another one with the reflection.
Blue sky sunset on Meads Bay.
Cuisinart Golf Course.
I sent the next one out in the Sunday Newsletter a few weeks back. Occasionally, a “green flash” occurs right at the moment the sun disappears below the horizon due to light refraction. I was lucky enough to take this photo right at the moment it happened. It was the only green flash I saw in 27 days, and it lasted maybe a second. Unfortunately, the image quality is not that great, but at least you can actually see the green flash. (Zoomed image 2nd one down.)
There is infinite creativity in our world. Each moment is filled with boundless beauty, most of it unseen or even imperceptible. By freezing waves we can enjoy the beauty that normally escapes our eyes. You may want to enlarge some of these for a closer look.
Violent surf on Captain’s Bay. Get between it and the sharp rocks and you’re pudding.
And at the opposite end of the spectrum, gentle, lapping waves on smooth beach stones.
I wonder if Anguillians would be as entranced by my Connecticut sunsets as I am by theirs. From this evening:
I don’t know. But I do know they wouldn’t be entranced by this motherf*cking weather.