We are already one month into the new year! Can you believe it? Time is definitely moving quickly. Recently I was driving with my boyfriend through West End and we travelled down a road I had never driven on before or even noticed. Please note that this was not a new road. Although I have lived in Anguilla my entire life, there are many roads I have never explored, places I have never been and cultural sites I have never visited. I’ve realised that we spend so much of our time working to build a great life or consumed by technology, that sometimes we forget to enjoy what is in front of us.
There are times when I post a great beach photo or a photo dining out and I use the hashtag #Ilivewhereyouvacation. I am sure I am not the only one guilty of this. While we are clearly proud to live in such a beautiful island that most can only dream of visiting, do we really take advantage of all that Anguilla has to offer? As tiny as this island is, there are still so many great things to discover or rediscover beyond our popular beaches and restaurants/bars.
For 2017 and beyond, My Anguilla Experience plans to continue doing just that and we hope that you join us! In celebration of our four year anniversary, we are introducing the #MAEDiscoverAnguilla hashtag. We want to encourage locals and visitors alike to really discover all of the hidden gems on this amazing island. Discover our beaches. Discover our art and culture. Discover our adventures. Discover our local talent. Discover Anguilla!
If you’re on board and wondering where to start, we’ve provided a short list of some great options. Be sure to tag your photos #MAEDiscoverAnguilla and like us on facebook and instagram where we will be sharing our favourite tagged photos throughout the year. Let’s Discover!
1.) Life’s a Beach!
We’ve all relaxed on Shoal Bay, partied at Sandy Ground and enjoyed walks on Rendezvous Bay. However, that still leaves 30 beaches to explore and discover. Yes, Anguilla has 33 beaches! How amazing is it that you could literally visit a different beach each day for a month without repetition. Pretty amazing I think! Each beach is different with its own unique charm. Some are super sandy, some rocky and some require the adventurous side of you (Rock Climbing at Little Bay anyone?). Personally, I have only been to a handful of our beaches but visiting all of our beaches is definitely on my 2017 bucket list!
2.) Water Sports are actually amazing!
The first time I went kayaking was in Antigua, the first time I went sailing was in Punta Cana and the first time I went paddleboarding was in Anguilla. If you’re sporty, an adventure seeker or simply enjoy water activities, Anguilla offers a variety of watersports. Strong swimmers looking to ride the waves can rent boards or book a surf tour with Surf AXA or if you’re like me and require a life jacket for any water activity, several businesses such as da’Vida Restaurant in Crocus Bay and Anguilla Watersports rent kayaks, snorkels and paddleboards. Kitesurfing and sailing is also available in Anguilla. The recent additions of Aqua Fun pedal boat rentals at Rendezvous Bay and the Anguilla Aqua Park at Cove Bay Beach means fun for the entire family! Safety is a priority with all providers of water sports activities so take the plunge and have some fun!
3.) It’s a cultural ting!
Anguilla is home to several museums, historical sites and art galleries. Heritage Collection Museum in East End provides a fascinating account of Anguilla’s history through artifacts and documentation covering areas such as British settlement and slavery, the revolution and local geology. You can learn about Anguilla’s local heroes and how this great nation came to be.
Hiking and nature tours are also great ways to discover Anguilla’s history and culture.The Anguilla National Trust (ANT) offers guided tours to off island cays including Sombrero Island and Prickly Pear, nature walks/hikes, bird tourings and visits to heritage sites such as Big Spring in Island Harbour. You can read about Shelly’s experiences hiking with ANT here and here. Hiking can also be fun with family and friends. Read more about Nash and I’s different experiences hiking to Windward Point here and here. You can also read about Nash’s first time visiting Scrub Island with his friends and coworkers here.
For those interested in arts and crafts, you can visit Cheddie’s Carving studio and Devonish Art Gallery both conveniently located opposite each other in West End. Cheddie specialises in wood sculpting creating well crafted pieces of art from mahogany, walnut and driftwood. Similarly, Devonish utilises wood as well as stone and clay to create his fascinating works of art.
You can travel inward to the island’s centre to find Savannah Art Gallery located in the ‘Old Valley’ or lower Valley close to Crocus Hill. This gallery offers a great collection of beautiful and creative pieces of art including colorful paintings and metal sculptures depicting local and regional culture. Read about Shelly’s visit to Savannah Art Gallery here.
Also located in the Valley is Ani Art Academy, ‘ a non-profit organisation that provides an intensive multi-year art skills education to aspiring artists around the world.’ Each year the Academy hosts an Open House to display the artwork of it’s talented apprentices, many of whom are locals. You can view some of their amazing work here, here and here.
There is clearly a growing appreciation for art and culture in Anguilla. The first national Arts and Culture Awards organised by the Department of Youth and Culture was recently held at the end of 2016. Read more about the award ceremony and the recipients here.
Celebrate history. Celebrate art. Celebrate culture. 🙂
4.) Food, Drinks and Live Music!
Anguilla is known most famously for two things. Our beaches and our cuisine! When I was away studying in the UK I could not wait to come home simply because I missed the food. Whether it’s BBQ by Ken, crayfish at Sandy Island or mussels at The Restaurant, Malliouhana, one thing is for certain, the food is sure to be tasty! There are several great restaurants and beach bars to choose from in Anguilla. See here, here and here. Shelly and I really enjoy trying out new restaurants ever so often, budget and time permitting of course! In recent times, one of the things I enjoy the most about dining out is the added value of live music/entertainment. Live music entertainment is available every night of the week and all weekend in Anguilla. The next time you eat out you never know,you could be in the presence of the next big superstar!
Let us know in the comments below any hidden gems you’ve discovered in Anguilla that you would like to share. Also, be sure to use the #MAEDiscoverAnguilla hashtag so we can all discover Anguilla together!