Anguilla's coolest star has long been Bankie Banx Omari Banks' father , a folk-reggae singer who's more Bob Dylan than Bob Marley with a musical career dating back to the s when he made his first guitar. After world tours, he's back hollering at his own haunt, Dune Preserve, a beach shack of split-level decks and makeshift stages with leads underfoot connecting keyboards to speakers and a strong whiff of marijuana in the air.
The bucket for tips is weighed down by seashells. The first time I heard Banx play a decade ago he told me off for dancing on the tables. He was right. Now I know better. One afternoon at his ironically named Sunday School gig let's face it, there's not a lot of religious instruction going on here Banx played with Konstantin Merezhnikov, a Russian violinist. I'd fly half-way around the world to hear such beautiful, ad-hoc harmonies again. Banx's year-old daughter Tahirah belts out her own compositions with a voice that hovers between Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill. Over a drink, her brother Omari tells me about his time as an off-spin bowler for the West Indies.
We're joined by his old coach, Cardigan Connor, another former county cricketer, who is now Anguilla's tourism chief.
WELCOME TO BLANCHARDS
I knew I was lucky. Anguillians are lucky. The Musical Brothers are a Thursday institution; they have only missed two gigs in 18 years, once because the lead singer had a sore throat and the second time when the bass player died. The Pumphouse is owned by Laurie Gumbs, who has something of a buccaneer spirit about him. By day he is captain of a 50ft gaff-cutter-rigged sloop called Tradition , one of only three historic sailing vessels left in the Caribbean. Carrying neither winches nor windlasses, and with a 60ft mast made out of an electricity pole, this boat has plied the trade winds carrying cargo and contraband around the region; now Gumbs offers day trips and sunset cruises.
I want to see Anguilla from the sea and Gumbs invites me aboard. We meet at Sandy Ground, the main harbour where fishermen offload their catch and where there are bobbing boats named Happiness , Joy and Bliss. As we set sail, he tells me about the strong sailing heritage and that boat-racing is the national sport.
We anchor, he strings up a bimini a canvas top , and serves creamy lobster rolls. I jump in the sea for a snorkel and then float on my back, looking up at cliffs dotted with cacti named Pope's Hat and Pipe Organ.
The next day I head to Prickly Pear, a pair of uninhabited islands six miles offshore, where Anguillians come to laze on the hot, white sand and swim in the incredible aquamarine sea. Snorkelling reveals nurse sharks and barracuda weaving through rock formations beside sunken shipwrecks. I order a whole grilled snapper at Johnno's beach shack, where finches flit between the tables.
The owner tells me about how his first bar was built from the wood of dozens of rum barrels, and how he used to fish from Monday to Saturday then cook up a storm for long lunches on Sundays.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla
He is also the only father of triplets on the island. When I drop by it's rammed. I'm now beginning to recognise people and they greet me like an old friend: the boatman, Johnno's three identical daughters. The lead musician, Sprocka, turns out to be Daisy Wong's son. This kind of thing happens all the time here. There's a hand-painted surfboard on the roof, plus a few Christmas decorations and giant shamrocks from St Patrick's Day parties.
I sit on the sand eating barbecued chicken legs. The band is playing Gregory Isaacs' 'Night Nurse'. A guy with a saxophone joins in. Garvey stops by for a chat. The sun dips lower. I go for a swim behind the break. On my way up the beach I ask the waiter, Teak, when they shut up shop.
It was going to be a long night.
On a bluff overlooking Meads Bay and Turtle Cove, Malliouhana , an Auberge Resort, reopened in late after a three-year makeover incorporating chinoiserie, vintage diving bells, mirrored floor tiles and Haitian art by Jasmin Joseph. There's a two-tiered pool, spa and superb restaurant under chef Cupertino Ortiz. The acre Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Anguilla has taken over the Viceroy, long known for being the best spot for sundowners with aged rums, Cuban cigars and crispy sushi.
The spa is in a year-old wooden house brought from Thailand plank by plank. There's also a toes-in-the-sand restaurant, tennis court and rum bar. Some say the acre Greco-Moorish Cap Juluca is on the island's most perfect beach: Maundays Bay, where all 69 rooms front the sand. There are tennis clinics, fitness classes and a wellness centre, and cheery staff who bring around chilled flannels, iced water and sorbet.
This is a brilliant place for foodies: farm-to-table produce, acclaimed restaurants, including Tokyo Bay, cooking classes and wine tastings. High-end sister hotel, The Reef by CuisinArt , is due to open this month. At Las EsQuinas in Little Harbour, more a gorgeous home than a hotel, Robin Ogilvie has created a breezy bed-and-breakfast decorated with travel mementoes.
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The showpiece in the living room is the 'biggest cock on the island', an eight-foot, hand-painted wooden rooster from Bali. Classic Cerulean Villa on Barnes Bay is one of the largest, loveliest and best-managed houses to rent on the island, decorated by New Yorker Scott Salvator and with some covetable artworks. Beach House is a smart new villa on Meads Bay with eight bedrooms, split-level decks and terraces, an infinity pool, a tennis court, gym, theatre, basketball hoop and games room, all done up in a contemporary style.
Behind an enchanting entrance of blossoming white bougainvillaea is De Cuisine. Denise Carr's dishes, which change regularly, include foie-gras mousse with spiced-mango preserve and hibiscus reduction, and shrimp-stuffed dumplings with lobster broth. My favourite lunch spot is Blanchard's Beach Shack for its chunky gazpacho, flat-bread sandwiches, pulled-pork tacos and flat-top hot dogs. Bargain big bowls come with a mountain of jerk chicken, rice, black beans, sweetcorn salsa, pico de gallo , onion and Monterey Jack cheese. On the more remote side of the island, the area around Hibernia Restaurant Art is great for good surf and boogie-boarding.
There's a delicious mix of Thai, French and Japanese food here: smoked fish with horseradish and ginger cream cheese on brown bread; wahoo in shio goji with purple sticky rice; crayfish with vanilla and lemon grass. Plus there's a brilliant collection of Asian art; the owners source the paintings from Burma to Bali. Straw Hat has recently moved to the Frangipani Hotel alongside some of the best beach-front joints.
The low-key menu has West Indian veggie burgers, NYC-style bagels, spring rolls and spicy fish sandwiches. It also has some of the loveliest souvenirs, with bold graphic T-shirts, signage made from driftwood and cookbooks. Maundays Bay is small and perfect: a sweeping one-mile crescent. Meads Bay is wide and expansive with top hotels, villas and restaurants. Rendezvous Bay, my favourite, has laid-back bars and guesthouses facing the hills of St Martin. Follow Traveller share-facebook share-twitter share-instagram share-youtube share-pinterest Newsletter Sign Up.
Sip your favourite cocktail without leaving the soothing waters of our infinity pool. From fitness classes to kids programs to dining options, here's everything you need to know to plan your stay with us this upcoming holiday season. For the best views of the island and its turquoise waters, let us customize a private boat tour with one of our experienced captains and guides. Let us help you discover the restaurants who have helped Anguilla earn its much-deserved reputation.
Simply consult with our Concierge to design the perfect culinary itinerary during your stay. Take time for yourself with a variety of yoga classes. Enhance your flexibility, balance, and overall wellbeing with our al fresco classes providing unobstructed views of our beautiful sea for an unforgettable namaste. Advance reservations are required and offers are subject to availability.
Royal Palms Hotel, Anguilla
Certain terms, conditions, blackout dates and restrictions apply. Only valid on new reservations. Terms and conditions are subject to change. Upgrade of one accommodation category, based on availability at time of check-in excluding signature suites, villas, and private residences. Room type inclusions may vary slightly by property. Advance reservations are required and offers are subject to availability at time of check-in.
Complimentary late check-out, based on availability at time of check-in. Play or pause video. View More Photos 0 0. Welcome to our seaside Resort. Meads Bay is the location of our Sea Centre, which facilitates complimentary non-motorized watersports. Stroll along Barnes Bay with our picturesque Resort in the backdrop. Couples can ease into their vacation with waterfront views from our Spa. The Resort's villas offer privacy while sitting just steps from the beach.
Our friendly team welcomes you in the lobby. Grab your friends and family — our indoor-outdoor villas offer enough space for everyone. Wake up to sea views from your custom Four Seasons bed. With up to five bedrooms and expansive outdoor areas, our villas are ideal for groups. Come to Sunset Lounge for a cocktail-making class. It's easy to see where Sunset Lounge gets its name from. Savour the crimson sky with a refreshing drink in hand.