Anguilla on $250 a Day
rah at shipwright.com
Sat Feb 26 04:17:01 PST 2005
The New York Times
February 27, 2005
Low: Anguilla on $250 a Day
By BONNIE DeSIMONE
KNEW the drill. An ever-punctual rooster outside my window would cut loose
with a brain-curdling cry at about 4 in the morning. I put a pillow over my
head, and, sinking back into sleep, I imagined this same rooster, its
internal G.P.S. activated the second I set foot on Anguilla, ruthlessly
tracking me down as it had on all my previous visits.
I was an old Anguilla hand, but this time on a new and interesting mission:
how to live well on $250 a day on a Caribbean island that promotes itself
as an elite retreat.
High: Anguilla on $1000 a Day
The key? Chickens have the run of the place, but so do people. Anguilla's
staggeringly beautiful beaches are public land, open to all no matter what
high-price resort looms nearby.
I felt like a reverse infiltrator. That's apt, since the highlight of
Anguilla's modern history was its largely nonviolent reverse revolution in
the late 1960's, when islanders successfully staved off Britain's attempts
to loosen economic and administrative ties. The island remains a British
It's easier to do Anguilla on a budget than it was years ago, and not just
because the wake-up calls are free. Luxury accommodations have multiplied,
but so have reasonably priced establishments. And it's a challenge to spend
money on night life: there's hardly any.
On a Friday afternoon in mid-December, I flew from Philadelphia to the
island of St. Martin and took a taxi to the port of Marigot, where ferries
leave for Anguilla every 30 or 40 minutes. My suitcase was loaded alongside
52-pound bags of dog food and cases of juice, and off we went, grinding
through the swells on a 25-minute ride that is not for the faint of stomach.
>From the Blowing Point ferry terminal, I took a cab to Lloyd's Guest House,
where I'd reserved a single room, including a hot, cooked-to-order
breakfast, for $78 a night including tax. Perched atop breezy Crocus Hill,
and managed by David Lloyd, whose parents opened the bed-and-breakfast 45
years ago, Lloyd's serves business travelers and savvy tourists. My fellow
guests included an artist, two marine biologists and an itinerant financier.
During the revolution, partisans irked by the senior Mr. Lloyd's
pro-independence leanings fired multiple rounds of ammunition into the
hotel's exterior walls. No one was hurt, all was eventually forgiven, and
the hotel is an island institution. I asked Mr. Lloyd if he considered
selling the business after his parents died. He smiled. "They would come
back alive," he said.
My spacious, high-ceilinged room had a stone-tile floor, worn but
functional furniture and a private bath with a shower and a cold-water
sink. There was a television in the room but no phone. (Mr. Lloyd makes his
office phone and Internet connection available to guests.)
Air-conditioning can be turned on for another $10 a night, but a ceiling
fan and an open window sufficed. Some of the 14 rooms are being renovated.
My first night, I walked down the short, steep and very dark hill (bring a
flashlight) to Roy's Place on Crocus Bay, the quintessential beachcomber's
joint, for a terrific lobster salad and a couple of beers ($36), then
repaired to the bar to join the island's best ongoing blarney session.
On Saturday morning, breakfast was scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. My
only quibble with Lloyd's was the mix-it-yourself instant coffee; I went
British for the weekend and drank tea.
A compact rental car awaited me outside the hotel. Mr. Lloyd booked it
through Andy Connors's local agency, which delivered it. The daily rate was
$35 plus a one-time $20 fee for a temporary driver's license.
Driving on Anguilla is a cross-cultural lesson. Islanders drive on the
left, use high beams after sundown and routinely pick up hitchhikers. When
I was detoured onto a dusty, cratered secondary road because of repaving on
the main drag, I stopped to ask two women for directions and was somewhat
startled when they opened the door and climbed in. We all got to our
Wanting affluent-looking feet, I had an hour-plus basic pedicure ($40) at
the Taino Wellness Center in South Hill Village. Then I took my newly
painted toenails for a picnic at Maunday's Bay, near the southern tip and
the site of the very upscale Cap Juluca resort.
I assembled lunch en route at Wee-Gee's bakery and MacDonna's, a take-out
place, stashing a tuna sub, water, a banana and a soda ($10) in a soft
cooler brought from home. I parked in Cap Juluca's public lot, spread my
towel beneath a sea grape tree, ate, read, took a dip and gazed back at the
resort's white Moorish-style villas and perfect palm trees.
Sharing space with resort guests is an interesting exercise in etiquette. I
wouldn't have been comfortable flopping between the chaise longues where
Cap Julucans reclined, and it's not kosher for nonguests to use the chairs
during prime beach time. But on previous visits, I've waited until late
afternoon when the beach empties, then used the chairs with a wink and no
interference from staff members.
Next on my agenda was a hike to Shoal Bay West, one beach over. Anguilla's
southwestern end features a string of beaches separated by fossilized coral
outcroppings. The passages range from easy to dicey and call for long pants
and closed-toe shoes with good traction.
I walked over on a nonscenic inland path along a pond, emerging on another
gorgeous strip of sand occupied by the chic Altamer and Covecastles
resorts, the Blue Waters Beach Apartments and a pink mansion once owned by
the actor Chuck Norris.
After rambling the length of the beach and back, I took a break at the
dreamy little open-air Trattoria Tramonto, whose sensory pleasures include
colorful tile-and-wood dicor, opera wafting from the speakers and freshly
grated nutmeg on the exotic drinks. I ordered a cooling lime daiquiri ($8
with tip) and discussed celebrity sightings with the bartender, who
reported that Robert De Niro had stopped in recently.
I slowly worked my way back across the point to Maunday's Bay without
encountering another person. Footing on the dead coral can be treacherous,
and the "trails" are more like random openings in the thick scrub
vegetation, but I was rewarded with views of the ocean and St. Martin and
the beginnings of a double rainbow.
I'd never seen Anguilla on horseback, so I arranged for a private ride ($25
plus $2 tip) at El Rancho del Blues stable near Blowing Point. The
facilities are a tad ramshackle and my Dominican guide spoke little
English, but my chestnut rent-a-mare, Natasha, appeared healthy and the
tack was in good shape.
Our eclectic hourlong route wound through a residential area, sunlit
fields of high grass and the crowded ferry terminal parking lot before it
reached the beach. It wasn't a high-level equestrian experience, but I was
content to take it easy.
I cleaned up in a gas station bathroom and made my way to the Devonish Art
Gallery at West End to attend a reception for an exhibit of antique maps.
Over complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres, I chatted with the gallery's
owners, Courtney and Carrolle Devonish, and bought one of Mr. Devonish's
woodcarvings, a "touch form" ($20) meant to be cupped in the palm for
Dinner had to be inexpensive after my profligacy, so I headed for the
English Rose, a tavern in Anguilla's central business district, The Valley.
A trencherman's portion of snapper with sweet-tart creole sauce, rice and
native peas, canned mixed veggies and salad, a beer and tip came to $16.25.
A nightcap at Roy's ($4), and I was ready for bed.
On Sunday morning, I chose cereal for breakfast to spare my arteries and
drove 20 minutes to Shoal Bay East. It's a one-stop-shopping beach with
lots of commercial activity, but still never seems crowded.
At Elodia's, a complex that includes villas and a bar-restaurant, I rented
a chaise longue and umbrella ($5) and snorkeling gear ($10) and treated
myself to a $3 coffee.
When a glass-bottomed boat pulled up near the beach, I waded into the
water and hailed Junior Fleming, who has worked Shoal Bay East for years.
He proposed an hourlong one-on-one snorkeling outing for $40 (less per
person depending on the size of the group), then motored to an outlying
The current was strong, so Junior literally took my hand and towed me
around, pointing out huge schools of blue tang, the odd, long-nosed trumpet
fish, stands of elkhorn and fan coral. I hauled myself back aboard wobbly,
parched and exhilarated.
I rehydrated with a large bottle of mineral water ($4) and strolled to
Uncle Ernie's timeless beach-food shack for a cheeseburger, coleslaw, fries
and a soda ($8). I read, walked and swam until late afternoon, when the
reggae band at Elodia's segued into Bob Marley's classic "Stir It Up,"
triggering a Pavlovian craving for rum. I nursed a frozen piqa colada ($7),
dusted with cinnamon and topped with a maraschino cherry, while watching
Wanting to dine somewhere with tablecloths without busting my budget, I
headed to Tasty's in South Hill. I ordered lobster-and-corn bisque and
seafood salad, and washed it down with a half-bottle of French rosi ($46
with tip). I still had money to burn, so I made my now-ritual stop at Roy's
On Monday morning, I squeezed in visits to several art galleries before
going to the CuisinArt resort's Cafi Mediterraneo on Rendezvous Bay for a
parting lunch: an entrie-size salad of greens and vegetables from the
resort's hydroponic garden and a big bottle of bubbly water ($33.35).
As I savored the meal and my lush surroundings, three plump hens
stutter-stepped across the patio. A rooster called from afar. Two women
sitting next to me started, and one giggled nervously. "At least they keep
the floor clean," she said.
We budget travelers don't hog the poultry. The chickens, like all the best
sights on Anguilla, are for everyone.
TWO-DAY TOTAL: $498.25
Several United States airlines run flights to Anguilla, but most operate in
connection with other carriers. Most flights go through San Juan, and the
cheapest fares (from about $646 round trip for late March) can require an
additional connection in St. Martin. If you fly into St. Martin (from about
$561 round trip), you can take a 20-minute ferry to Anguilla ($24 round
trip plus $2.75 departure tax from St. Martin and $3 from Anguilla).
Ferries run every half hour from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where to Stay
Cap Juluca, (888) 858-5822, www.capjuluca.com, is tucked away on the
secluded beach at Maunday's Bay, making it a favorite hideaway for
celebrities. Doubles start at $780 a night in the high season, from $445 in
April, and $345 from May 1 through mid-November. (Add 20 percent in taxes
to all rates.)
Malliouhana Hotel and Spa, (264) 497-6111, www.malliouhana.com, is the
perfect place to see an Anguillan sunset: it sits atop a cliff facing west
over the crystal blue waters of Mead's Bay. Doubles start at $400 from
April 1 to 30, and $290 from May 1 to Nov. 19; ocean-view one-bedroom
suites are $825 and $660.
CuisinArt Resort and Spa, (264) 498-2000, www.cuisinartresort.com, is
perched on Rendezvous Bay. Rooms start at $550 a night from January through
March, $395 in April, and $350 from May 1 to mid-December.
Lloyd's Guest House, (264) 497-2351, www.lloyds.ai, has 14 rooms on Crocus
Hill, in walking distance of Crocus Bay. The spacious rooms, some recently
renovated, go for $65 to $85, with breakfast.
Where to Eat
Blanchard's, (264) 497-6100, www.blanchardsrestaurant.com, has a romantic
setting overlooking Mead's Bay, and serves food with a Caribbean flair.
>From mid-October through May, it opens for dinner at 6:30 p.m. and is
closed Sunday. June through August, it is closed Sunday and Monday. Closed
Sept. 1 to Oct. 20. Entrees from $34.
Gorgeous Scilly Cay, (264) 497-5123, is an open-air restaurant on its own
island, with free ferry service from Island Harbor. It is open on
Wednesday, Friday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since there is no
electricity, all food (chicken or seafood) is grilled. Live music on
Wednesday and Sunday. Entrees start at $25.
Roy's Place, (264) 497-2470, www.roysplaceanguilla.com, is a charming
beachcomber's joint overlooking Crocus Bay, with a lively beach bar and an
Internet connection for guests (including wireless). There is a Friday
happy hour with dinner specials for $12. The Sunday specials are prime rib
($20) and lobster ($38). Lunch and dinner served daily, except dinner only
English Rose, (264) 497-5353, a tavern in the central business district of
The Valley, serves generous portions of comfort food at reasonable prices:
burgers from $4, salads from $6. Closed Sunday.
Tasty's Restaurant, (264) 497-2737, offers chic-casual Caribbean dining in
South Hill: dishes like stewed creole-style lobster for $30, and
coconut-crusted filet of parrot fish in banana rum sauce for $20. Open for
breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, except Thursday.
Trattoria Tramonto, (264) 497-8819, has open-air dining and a beach bar on
one of the island's prettiest beaches, Shoal Bay West. The Italian menu
emphasizes game and seafood, including wild boar filet mignon ($35) and
spaghetti with crayfish, clams and shrimp ($30). Lunch and dinner except
Uncle Ernie's, (264) 497-3907, is a quintessential beach shack on Shoal
Bay East; open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What to Do
Taino Wellness Center, off Spanish Town Road, South Hill, (264) 497-6066,
www.magma.ca/~phwalker/, offers massages (from $40 for 30 minutes),
manicures and pedicures (from $15), facials (from $50), and body treatments.
Devonish Art Gallery, the Cove, West End, (264) 497-2949, shows works of
local artists, including those by Courtney Devonish, a woodcarver and
ceramicist. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday or by appointment
Horseback riding with El Rancho del Blues in Blowing Point, (264)
497-6164 or 497-6334, starts at $25 an hour.
BONNIE DeSIMONE writes about travel and sports.
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
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