Several cruise lines offer itineraries originating from Dutch St. Maarten and its French counterpart, St. Martin. These include Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Star Clippers and others. These cruises usually leave in the winter months and getting to the departure port involves several flights. Since flight delays and weather issues can pose frequent problems during that time, it’s best to arrive several days early to extend your stay to avoid transportation issues. Adding vacation days onto your cruise is a great way to relax as well.
If you’re planning to sail out of St. Maarten, consider spending several days pre- or post-cruise on the nearby island of Anguilla. Located just a quick 20-25 minute boat ride from St. Maarten, unspoiled Anguilla is an ideal place to chill out and unwind before or after your cruise. With less than 15,000 residents and one main road traversing the island, Anguilla is the perfect uncrowded alternative to bustling St. Maarten.
Anguilla is well known for its exceptionally beautiful beaches. With 33 dazzling strands, Anguilla has topped many lists of the world’s best beach destinations. The Travel Channel named Shoal Bay East the best beach in the world and those who walk along its powdery white sands will quickly understand why. Other memorable beaches include Rendezvous Bay, Meads Bay, Maundays Bay and Crocus Bay. Anguilla’s beaches range from long two-mile strands to secluded crescent coves – and none of them are crowded. With so many stunning ocean vistas to see, make sure to allow plenty of time to explore all Anguilla has to offer. After all, there’s much more to experience on this island than just beaches.
Vacationers have a wide variety of things to do in Anguilla. One of the most popular activities for cruise ship passengers is playing with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery. Visitors can choose from simple dolphin encounters to extensive swims. Be sure to make your reservations in advance, as these dolphin experiences are very popular with both cruise and resort guests.
Water sports are another popular way to explore Anguilla. The turquoise waters around Anguilla are generally crystal clear, providing excellent conditions for snorkeling and diving. Good snorkeling locations include Crocus Bay, Little Bay, Sandy Island and Shoal Bay East. The island also has seven marine parks with wrecks and walls that are appealing to divers. Glass bottom boat rides are readily available for those who want to see Anguilla’s abundant sea life without getting wet.
Sports lovers will find plenty to do on Anguilla. Boating is ingrained into the island’s culture and heritage. In addition to watching boat races and sailing, guests can take sunset cruises and trips to deserted beaches. Tennis is also popular here. Some of Anguilla’s resorts have tennis courts, but guests without court access can head to the Anguilla Tennis Academy for opportunities to play and instruction. Golfers will be happy to know that Anguilla also has an exceptional 18-hole Greg Norman championship golf course with panoramic ocean and island views.
Day trips are popular on Anguilla, especially to Sandy Island or Scilly Cay. On these tiny islets not too far from shore, vacationers can “lime” the hours away relaxing on the beach and dining on mouth-watering treats like grilled lobster and crayfish. Both spots get rave reviews for their fresh seafood and gorgeous settings.
Sometimes referred to as the “Cuisine Capital of the Caribbean,” dining is another of Anguilla’s major draws. With over 100 restaurants, the island offers a wide variety of dining choices. Anguilla is best known for its outstanding seafood, fusion cuisine and beachfront dining venues. Some favorites include da’Vida Restaurant and Bayside Grill on Crocus Bay, Straw Hat and Blanchards Restaurant on Meads Bay, and Cap Juluca’s Pimms on Maundays Bay. The Viceroy Anguilla’s restaurants also get rave reviews.
Foodies are consistently drawn to the restaurants at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa. The property has three major restaurants – Le Bistro at Santorini, Japanese venue Tokyo Bay, and Italia at the Clubhouse. The resort also houses a complete hydroponic farm, offering guests some unique farm-to-table dining options.
Dining and entertainment can go hand-in-hand on Anguilla. Smokey’s at The Cove, for example, often features live music to accompany its scrumptious ribs and burgers in a relaxed beachfront setting. For a taste of Anguilla’s cultural heritage, head to the Anacaona Boutique Hotel’s Firefly Restaurant on Thursday evening for its Mayoumba Folkloric Dinner Theater show.
Where To Stay
Anguilla is home to some of the world’s most celebrated beach resorts. Luckily, however, the island is not just for the rich and famous. Vacationers will find accommodations here ranging from exclusive resorts and posh villas to charming boutique escapes.
Three of the leading luxury resorts on the Anguilla are Cap Juluca, CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa and the Viceroy Anguilla. These lavish hotels feature rooms, suites and villas with lovely ocean views, over-the-top bathrooms, private plunge pools and more. Their restaurants and spas are fabulous. Each resort has its own unique feel and character. With their outstanding service and superb accommodations, these five star properties are sure to please the most sophisticated and discerning guests.
Villa rentals are another great alternative for large families and groups. For those seeking privacy and plenty of room to spread out, Anguilla has over 300 vacation villas from which to choose. These range from magnificent retreats like the eight-bedroom oceanfront Ultimacy “Super Villa” to upscale enclaves of individual villas with resort-style amenities. At CéBlue Villas & Beach Resort, for example, each five-bedroom villa has its own private pool and offers breathtaking views of Crocus Bay. Guests enjoy access to the property’s clubhouse and fitness center, children’s play rooms, and adjacent beach club, oceanfront restaurant and spa.
Vacationers on a modest budget also have plenty of options. Some are beachfront, including the one- and two-bedroom units at Carimar Beach Club situated directly on magnificent Meads Bay. Others, like Paradise Cove, are located just a short stroll away from the Caribbean Sea. This boutique property offers a variety of suites as well as a large pool, gardens, restaurant and bar. The resort’s one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse suites feature full kitchens, washer and dryer facilities, and lots of family room.
No matter where you stay, you’ll find Anguilla’s people to be incredibly genuine, warm and welcoming. While Anguilla’s natural beauty is stunning, its people are the island’s greatest resource. For more information on Anguilla, visit www.ivisitanguilla.com.