Anguilla is known for a multitude of things from its tranquility wrapped in blue to its 33 beaches to its status as the latest culinary capital of the Caribbean. Having completed an endless amount of research on the island, I already knew about these aspects of life on Anguilla and while I may not have had the opportunity to experience everything Anguilla has to offer, I knew enough about them to have a reasonable level of expectation going into my press trip this past weekend. As she has a tendency to do, Anguilla still managed to surprise me with new locations casting their spells and old dependable stand byes reminding me that they still have the ability to astonish in a new way.
We missed the opportunity to visit Sandy Island on our last trip but luckily the powers that be were smart enough to get us on the ferry to this sliver of sand in the middle of the ocean, even somehow managing to pry us away from doing shots of the home brew at Elvis’ (not an easy feat when the rum gods are calling). If I had any advice about Sandy Island, it would be this – just go. Everything you have heard about it is true – it’s comparable to being stuck on a lost island in the middle of nowhere except that this island has exquisite cuisine, cold drinks and a tendency to remind you just exactly what liming away the afternoon is all about.
I knew enough about da’Vida, located on Crocus Bay, to be excited about our visit here. Nothing, though, can prepare you for how enjoyable an experience a Sunday afternoon here can be. Crocus Bay doesn’t get near as much attention as it should, the food is ridiculously good and the frozen mojitos – really, I should just stop there. Throw in a live (yes, live) Omari Banks jamming and Sunday afternoons at da’Vida are one of those moments that you have to pinch yourself as a reminder that it’s real. Get there early, though. While its magnificence was a pleasant surprise to me, it’s well known to others in Anguilla and it fills up fast at lunch.
Sunday at Moonsplash
Speaking of Sundays, if you go to Moonsplash, make it a priority to go back to the Dune Preserve for their free Sunday afternoon shows. The more formal stage shows from the previous two nights morph into informal jam band sessions and intimate performances on the beach side of the bar. Picture Woodstock on the beach, except on a much smaller scale. Yachts and boats of all sizes fill Rendezvous Bay and the locals and resort guests come out en masse to get up close and personal with their favorite performers, most of whom can be found milling around the crowd and taking in the scene just like everyone else. The VIP section disappears, the barrier between artist and fan vanishes and the scene becomes irie, the way it was always meant to be. Stay until the end, usually around 11 or 12, as the crowd thins out and Moonsplash gets even more up close and personal. The artist to fan ratio decreases to the point where the next thing you know, you’re exchanging contact info and blessings with your favorite reggae musician and everything seems like it’s going to be OK amidst the stars of Moonsplash and underneath the stars of Anguilla. Blessings, mon. It’s all irie.