mhm goes to Anguilla Jan24

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mhm goes to Anguilla

Anguilla

I told Peter that I was escaping the Denver winter to a remote island for a few days.  After some well deserved taunting for my extravagant travel desires he mentioned it might make a good mhm goes abroad piece.

So as I sit watching the flakes of snow fall across the greying Denver sky over Riverfront Park I’ll fondly remember where I was just a week ago…. Anguilla.

The plan to visit this small island was hatched way way back in July.  Ali and I had just returned from our Switzerland trip to join some great friends in their wedding celebration.  I find that nothing encourages travel more than travel.  I’m not sure how your brain works, but I find that if I haven’t gone on a vacation for awhile I tend to forget how important a journey around the world can be for you mind, body and spirit.

So within days of returning from Europe in July I began planning a January escape.  The logic was simple.  I thought “by the time January rolls around I’ll be CRAVING the warm embrace of a tropical beach, the sound of waves lapping the shore, and a beach drink mixed with any old exotic rum.

Ali thought I was a bit nuts to be planning an island escape so far in advance… but let’s just say by the time January arrived she had built up a great appreciation for my planning instincts.

You see, I’m an Über planner when it comes to travel.   Well, at least in terms of the big details such as finding a spot, using points and booking waaaaaaaaaaay in advance, and locking in some undiscovered nugget of a hotel that has few rooms but great character.

The other details such as where to eat, where to swim, what to do…. I leave that part up to the whims of the moment.  Some things should be planned.  Others should be experienced in the now.  Yep, that’s the way I roll.

In addition to the travel planning my goal was to find a place that neither Ali nor I had ever been before.  For those of you who love to travel and have a few decades under your belt you know this gets more and more challenging to do.  In the process of finding such a destination I began researching Anguilla.

More than once mentioned as having the most beautiful beaches in the world Anguilla is a land of sugary sand.  It’s small enough you can drive around the entire island in an hour.  It’s an old school destination that we found was knee deep in Easterners (many from New England or New York) who had been visiting for years in traditions passed on in their families.

It’s the British West Indies, but the food reflects more of the French influence from nearby St. Martin.  There is not a lot to do there… which suited us for this trip just fine.

The beaches and water are amazing, the people friendly, and half the time we felt that we had the beach entirely to ourselves… and it was high season.  Compared to the other BIG islands this was sleepy town.

There is some night life though.  Thursdays are party night at the Pump House which filled with a mix of local Rastafarians and eccentric Hemingway types.  One night a week the island decides to party.. go figure.

If you go I recommend the Frangipani.  It’s a small 19 room boutique hotel nestled on what I considered the best beach on the island.  It was just steps from the NY massively MOD Viceroy hotel so you can cruise down to their sunset bar when you need more than quaint.

The Frangipani is also partnered with the Straw Hat – home to the best French Toast, and just down the beach from the amazing Jacala restaurant (best cold cucumber soup EVER) and world famous Blanchards.  The Frangipani even leaves a lantern in your room for the late night walk down to these great dining restaurants.

And sorry I can’t jump on the Blanchards bandwagon but while the food was great… it was a bit overpriced for what you got.  They owners are super nice and we loved the location… but ouch!  You have to go because it’s the thing to do in Anguilla and don’t forget late night ice cream or lunch at their Beach Shack next door too.

New to the Anguilla scene is a locals spot called On Da Rocks… now this I like.  Quaint with a ensemble of local characters getting more than tipsy at the bar sharing their tales of island life, a chef who cooked up a crawfish just so I could try it, and two levels of outdoor space to watch the sun set over the bay.     Our bartender at the Straw Hat was surprised we had even heard of it, but that’s why I love hanging with the locals.

Rental car is a must if you go.  Taxis are outrageous and if you can save the full bottles of wine for the walkable restaurants this will let you explore all the little gems on the island.  One of our local friends (we shared our wine) called up one of his buddies to give us a rental car.  One low cash payment for a few days, no fees, and leave the car by the ferry with the keys in the ignition when you leave was a sign this island is pretty relaxed.  Granted the car was not much to work with but who cares… it got us from point a to point b.

I’m babbling a bit and telling the tale makes me want to go back to the airport but I have work to do so here are a few closing tips…

  • Gwen’s Reggae Bar – GREAT bbq chicken and ribs.  After eating kick back in a hammock with a red stripe and watch the waves crash in
  • Ask for a side of hot sauce EVERYWHERE they have it.  It is amazing on eggs, sandwiches, fries… you name it.
  • Sandy Island – a boat takes you to an island you can walk around in 5 minutes with one restaurant.  A must do
  • The seafood ain’t cheap, it’s twice as much as chicken or ribs.  Just FYI
  • On Da Rocks does $5 per crawfish on Saturdays and Sundays – but go early or fight for a spot
  • Beautiful perfect beaches – YES, Lots of coral and great snorkeling NO.  This was my one disappointment.  Pure sandy beaches just don’t seem to attract the fish.
  • Mosquitos hit you at night.  We made the mistake of leaving the doors open one post rainy night and got hit a few times.  Live and learn.

And for those seeking a Modern Home in Anguilla, just steps from our hotel on that same gorgeous beach was this home for sale.  I knew Peter would love to see the MOD Beach Home and share it with our milehimodern audience.  I walked the home… and it is amazing.  Two top level decks off the master bedrooms and a walk out to the best spot on the island.  It’s been listed for two years.. I’d bet they would take an offer.

That’s it, now I’m researching the January 2013 destination.   Suggestions anyone?

Contributing Writer

Mike Miller
Urban Brain Creative