I had never been anywhere warm for New Year's Eve...ever. 34 NYEs have been spent in insufferable arctic temperatures. Fortunately for me, my better half made sure my 35th NYE was spent in the warm Caribbean sun. It can be very hard for me to stay out of the planning phase of a trip, but I let Jay and his buddies take the reigns on this one... and wow, did they pull off one hell of a trip. Note to self: Always leave trip planning to adventuresome men who love to party.
I had never been to, nor really heard of Anguilla (pronounced: An-gwhil-uh). Apparently it was in the British West Indies...and that was good enough for me. Let me cut to the chase. The island is perfection. It's only 13 miles long and 3 miles wide (you fly into St. Maarten/Martin and take a 20 min boat ride over). It is encircled by the most glorious talcum powder beaches and pristine turquoise water. It is not heavily developed and the islanders are gracious and welcoming. They are very proud of their island paradise, and rightfully so. Very few resorts occupy Anguilla, and the ones that do are quite exclusive. We stayed at Ce Blue Villas, a gorgeous resort made of only 8 villas overlooking a quaint, yacht speckled bay. The terrain and waters seemed more reminiscent of Hawaii than the Caribbean. All in all, a sight for sore (and frozen) eyes.
Our first day there we went Scuba Diving. There was a great little dive shop on the beach and we were able to charter a private dive boat for the 6 of us. The diving was not the best i've experienced (that actually would be Hawaii) but it was solid. The shallow dives were a bit murky but the deeper (80ft) wreck dive was fantastic. Clear warm water and an abundance of sea life was visible, including several sea turtles. Overall, definitely worth it.
Day 2 was an experience of a lifetime. Being all "eat travel rock" as I am, many would be surprised to find out that I'd never been in a little plane. They've always made me nervous, so I've avoided them at all costs. Well I was outvoted when it came to deciding how we were getting to St. Barths. It's an 1:15 boat ride, or a 9 minute plane ride. The plane won. We chartered a small 8-seater, and low an behold, 10 minutes later (landing on Earth's shortest airstrip, and one of the world's most extreme airports) we were in the South of France.
St. Barths was surreal. I literally felt as if we were magically transported to Europe. EVERYTHING is in French, EVERYONE speaks French, they use the Euro, and the streets and buildings look much more European that Caribbean. We had reserved a table at the world famous, Nikki Beach, and had the time of our lives. Fresh sushi, delicious grilled chicken and steak, and magnum bottles of Domaine Ott Rosè for days. The crowd was international... we may have been the only Americans, which was such a relief. Live music, dancing on tables, endless food and wine, while playing on the St. Tropez-esqe beach was otherworldly. We then WALKED to the airport and hopped aboard our little flight back home... touchdown... 9 minutes later.
When people ask how my trip was, my first comment is: The food was amazing!! It's true. EVERYTHING we ate was delicious. The service is friendly, but timing...well everyone is on island time. So don't go to a restaurant starving (hard for me) because you won't eat for about 30-60 min. But soooo well worth the wait. Each meal we had was perfection. From beach shacks (Blanchard's Beach Shack), to fine dining (DaVida), everything was on point. Of course each menu was seafood heavy, which was expected and welcomed. Yet they do great BBQ, and have other great ethnic food such as Italian. The meal that took the cake, however, was Scilly Cay. This restaurant encompasses one entire tiny island. Our instructions were to: "go to the end of the dock, wave like an idiot, and a little boat will come pick you up." I was the one who volunteered to wave like an idiot, and sure enough, 1 min later, a little boat scooped us up. The island was a 2 minute boat ride away and it was untouched, authentic, and gorgeous. The food: Grilled lobsters or grilled chicken...that's it. Oh and some earth shattering rum punch. That. Is. It. I went with grilled lobby, and smarter people went with a combo... I missed out because the chicken was some of the best i'd ever had. Both were coated in a sweet coconut curry sauce that was sublime. After my big meal, I went over to a little lawn chair on the beach, had a spiritual moment, and just let it all sink in...
And New Year's Eve! This is all I will say. When the clock struck midnight, I was on the beach with my feet in the water, glass of champagne in my hand, watching fireworks, kissing my guy, and hanging with great friends. Best. EVER.
Anguilla is an island destination I would absolutely return to. I've been to Jamaica twice, and Dominican Republic twice and I'm not a huge fan because you can't leave the resort or really explore the indigenous food, people, and beauty of the island. Anguilla is different, it's safe and easy to find hidden gems and mingle with the locals. The food, the people, the beaches, and the scenery make this my favorite Caribbean destination, and overall my favorite trip I've taken. If you need more activity or restaurant recommendations, let me know by commenting below! Viva Anguilla!!