Anguilla1

Source: Lisa Bonner

Anguilla, the tiny Caribbean island of 14 miles long by 3 miles wide, is big on charm and local culture. With several improvements on the island’s infrastructure, Anguilla is finally emerging from the shadows of its more famous neighbor, St. Barths, and poised to take the spotlight as a destination in its own right.

Just an easy one hour flight from Miami, you’ll be sunning on this island in no time. Renowned for its powdery white sand beaches and crystal blue waters this destination is the perfect place to do as much or as little as you want. If a girl’s trip is on your mind, there are tons of activities to keep you and your besties busy. But if you’re in a flirtatious mood, this little island is filled with gorgeous brown island men.

HOW TO GET THERE: If you listen to most people, they will tell you to fly to St. Martin and take a ferry over. Quite frankly, I found this primitive and a waste of time. Who wants to leave the airport, drag your bags to a ferry landing then take a ferry across the water when there’s an easier (and chic-er) way? Enter Tradewind Aviation.

For the cost of all that inconvenience, you could fly in a classy charter jet with a snacks, wine and handsome pilots! A quick 60 minute flight from Miami and you’re on the tarmac in Anguilla with bags in hand, refreshed and ready to hit the beach. Email charter@tradewind.com or visit www.flytradewind.com to look at their schedules and book your flight!

WHERE TO STAY: You have plenty of options on this beautiful island. Whether you want a villa or hotel, this island has it all. My choice was the brand new hotel, The Reef by CuisinArt, owned by the same person, Leandro Rizzuto who owns the kitchen appliances CuisinArt (and Rusk hair products) and for me, this was every-thing!

First, let’s start with the old adage: location, location, location. The hotel is centrally located, and since this is a small island, there are no highways, and my vacation time is always at a premium. Just a quick 20 minute ride from the airport, The Reef is located on a gorgeous stretch of beach on Merrywing Bay, with dramatic views of the ocean from the hotel and most guest rooms. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this hotel gives you a two for one, it has reciprocity (and a free shuttle) with its sister hotel, the CuisinArt Golf & Spa Resort located next door.

anguilla

Source: lisa bonner / Lisa Bonner

WHERE TO EAT: Secondly, the food! Although Anguilla’s climate and terrain isn’t hospital to growing vegetables, because there’s not an abundance of fresh water, aside from reverse osmosis, most of the food other than seafood, is imported to the island. Solution: Mr. Rizzuto built an 18,000 square foot greenhouse/hydroponic farm at the CuisinArt, which uses only water and nutrients, no soil! They grow all their own vegetables and herbs (for the cocktails, of course) in the greenhouse for both hotels.

You can take a tour of the greenhouse where you’ll see about 10 different types of lettuce, every tomato variation imaginable, fresh mint, cucumbers, everything! It was like a vegetable paradise and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted (that’s saying a lot for someone who hasn’t eaten meat in 21 years). No doubt, the kitchen connoisseur knows the art of cuisine (it’s in the name), so when I tell you the food throughout the hotel is BEYOND, this foodie means it. Fresh smoothies abound. Gluten free, no problem.

And don’t forget to book a seat at The Chef’s Table to watch Jasper, the Executive Chef, work his magic with an eight-course meal and wines selected by the resident sommelier to complement each course. If you want to venture offsite, Smokey’s At The Cove, is right next door to the Reef. Smokey’s has a varied menu, with lots of vegetarian options, Caribbean favorites, and fabulous drinks with beachfront dining to chill and catch some rays. They don’t have a website, but just ask the front desk or any islander. It’s really that good that the name speaks for itself.

Anguilla1

Source: Lisa Bonner

WHAT TO DO: Here’s the good part, there was so much to do between the 2 hotels that I really didn’t have to leave to do much. Have you ever tried aquacycling? It’s like a spin class in the water, I did that a few times in The Reef’s infinity pool, which was hella fun! I did yoga daily, so between the two, I didn’t feel as bad when I ate and drank my weight in food daily at Breezes, the hotel’s beachfront bar, complete with a resident DJ who spins live tunes every afternoon from 3-6.

If you go with kids, don’t forget to check out Anguilla Aqua Park, located adjacent to The Reef, the largest inflatable water park in the Caribbean. If you want to shop, Anguilla probably isn’t the best option, but head over to The Valley, which is a cute little enclave that has lots of local arts, crafts and art galleries. You can always hop on the ferry and head over to St. Martin to shop, but with so much to do in Anguilla, my recommendation is to stay put and enjoy the island’s charm.

I’m a certified SCUBA Diver, so I’m always looking for great places to dive. I often convince my friends to come along and try a Discover SCUBA dive course, or go snorkeling, which is always a fave for the kids. Anguilla has crystal clear water which is great for diving, it also has lots of shipwrecks and underground caves to explore.

I chose the SCUBA Shack because it’s the only PADI (certified) SCUBA facility. Not a diver, no problem, hop on the boat and snorkel or just sun on the boat. Don’t want to leave the hotel, The Reef has Anguilla Water Sports which offers glass bottom kayaking, a water trampoline and other water sports. If you are a golfer, it pays to note that The CuisinArt is home to the only golf course on the island and it’s a world championship golf course designed by Greg Norman! Not too shabby!

If you’re looking for something fun to do for Memorial Day, Anguilla is a great choice. The Reef is hosting a Memorial Day party, with music by the legendary DJ D-Nice. The Reef hosted a blow out party featuring D-Nice for New Year’s Eve and it was such a hit, they decided to bring him back for part 2. Aside from being a super cool guy, he knows how to bring the party so make plans, gather your girls, hop on the flight and get your groove, food, life on in Anguilla!

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