My trip to Anguilla began uneventful enough as I trudged through the St. Martin airport, caught the Win Air connecting flight to St. Barts and then on to my final destination.

A bit of research about this British overseas territory told me that I shouldn't expect to topless bath or run into throngs of tourists.  I'll take the good with the bad, in this case, because while there are tourists in Anguilla, the island is still very peaceful. 

I was originally invited to Anguilla for the Moonsplash Reggae Festival.  Moonsplash is an annual celebration hosted each year during the March full moon, by Anguilla's favorite Reggae king, Bankie Banx.

The Moonsplash festival is three days and nights of good food and even better music, located at Banx' eclectic beach bar right on the Dune Preserve, a two-mile curve of glistening white sand on Rendezvous Bay.

At the same time Moonsplash junkies are grooving on Rendezvous Bay, there is yet another kind of festival going on as well.  The Anguilla Jazz Festival is a yearly event and most locals know to attend both - the jazz festival earlier in the evening and then on to the Dune Preserve to listen to the music and watch the sun rise.   

This year's jazz festival included performances at Shoal Bay Beach and Frangipani Beach Club.

Anguilla has just the right atmosphere to experience romance complete with excellent dining choices, gorgeous beaches, pampering spa treatments and a bit of history to throw in for good measure.
Take a look back at Anguilla's rich history by visiting Sandy Ground, once a ceremonial site for the Amerindians.  Guided tours of the place are by appointment and also include a stop at the Old Salt Factory and pump house.  Later, you can go back to the pump house for dinner and drinks, as it has been renovated and turned into a bar and restaurant.
For lying around in the sun, choose one of Anguilla's 33 white, sandy beaches.  I enjoyed myself on two separate occasions at Anguilla Great House Beach Resort and CuisinArt Resort and Spa.

For the perfect spa experience I headed to CuisinArt's Venus Spa where I succumbed to a relaxation massage after a too late night at Moonsplash.

The Spa at Cap Juluca is not to be missed, either.  It's not business as usual at this luxurious resort. Secluded and peaceful, the Cap Juluca spa offers a range of wellness treatments based on indigenous rituals from around the world, including the signature two hour Cap Juluca Ritual for two with a basil and mint clay body scrub, shower, massage and sea salt and flower bath.  Come away from the Juluca Massage with a mingling of Swedish, Thai and reflexology, or intoxicate your senses with the Lulur Royal Ritual combining the island's flowers, herbs and plants.

As leisurely as the island, treatments are encouraged in-room making for a more relaxing experience.  Several spa rooms are available, as well as the garden or a gazebo overlooking the Caribbean and the mountains of St. Martin.

Set amid 179 acres of purple, blue and yellow flowers, the pristine beaches and bright white Moroccan architecture that make up the beach front villas and suites offer an international flavor with a strictly Caribbean attitude.

Cap Juluca is also host to special food festivals during the year.  I was lucky enough to be there for the Italian Wine Festival.  Guest speakers from Italian Vineyards were present to discuss their popular blends; the Pinot Bianco Collio 2001 was paired with Tomato, Fennel and Argula Salad and by the end of the evening I had tasted six wines, the final one a desert wine; Brachetto D' Acqui.  Who would have imagined a little taste of the Mediterranean right in the heart of the Caribbean islands.
Other Restaurants worth visiting:

Altamer Restaurant offered me my first meal in Anguilla.  After a busy pre-Moonsplash party at Altamer, I waited until most of the revelers were gone to sit down for an elegant, yet quiet, dinner just inches from the sandy beach.

Expect French Caribbean cuisine and nightly entertainment.  The kitchen is also open so you can watch the chef at work.

Shoal Bay West
Anguilla, British West Indies

Flavours is a uniquely casual restaurant offering Caribbean Cuisine for both lunch and dinner.  Overlooking historic Sandy Ground, I took in the atmosphere and enjoyed the Chef's famous fish soup, Jamaican jerk chicken and a coconut tart.
Back Street
South Hill Road

Finally, no trip would be complete without a charming place to lay your head.  While Cap Juluca and CuisinArt promise luxury, I chose to stay at the Paradise Cove Resort.  Fewer rooms meant smaller crowds and more personable service.

While the Paradise Cove Resort is not on the water, it's only 300 yards from Rendezvous Bay West and 500 yards from Cove Bay.  It has a tropical feel with landscaped gardens and all the amenities you could want such as; pool, jacuzzi, pool bar and a breakfast and lunch cafe.

Paradise Cove Resort
P.O. Box 135, The Cove
Anguilla, British West Indies

Indulge in Anguilla's opulence and don't be shy when the natives offer a friendly, helping hand.  It's the Caribbean way and it's very easy to get used to.

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