It may have only 15,000 residents, but every night’s a party on idyllic Anguilla. Popular with yachters, honeymooners and A-listers, the British Overseas Territory has a staggering 33 pinch-yourself beaches, a sprinkling of understated chic hotels and more than its fair share of lively bars where the music’s loud and the rum never runs out. Here are the places to head for a night out in paradise.
Expecting a quiet Sunday afternoon drink? There’s no chance at this Anguillan institution owned by the island’s very own reggae star Bankie Banx. Voted the coolest bar in the Caribbean, this wooden hideaway built of driftwood on the sand at Rendezvous Bay is all about great rum punch and even better live music, sometimes performed by Bankie himself. Go on Sunday for the legendary buffet and music into the night.
There are just 30 seats at this chic beach bar at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences, so you can’t help but feel a little smug if you land one. The open-air wooden deck looks out onto one of the most dazzling beaches on the island, at Barnes Bay, so this is the place for a very long lunch that rolls into dinner as you work your way through the delicious frozen-cocktail list.
Roll straight in off the sand to while away a lazy afternoon on the wooden deck at the original beach bar on the island. Cocktails are a specialty, but you won’t go hungry with mountainous portions of grilled lobster or whole steamed snapper to soak up the fruit-packed daiquiris. There’s live music at the weekend, but the bar is especially renowned for its jazz sessions every Sunday afternoon.
Jump on the shuttle boat that leaves every hour from Sandy Ground beach to head 2mi (3.2km) out into the ocean to this tiny, picturesque sandbank for drinks you won’t forget. You can pop by for a lobster lunch, but service is so laid-back, you might as well make a day of it. Go on a Sunday for live steel drums and all-day DJ sets plus whatever cocktails the friendly bar staff chooses to whip up especially for you.
If you’ve already blown the budget getting out to Anguilla, you can still live the high life at Uncle Ernie’s on Shoal Bay. This family-operated bar and restaurant has been a popular spot since 1984 and is still going strong, serving a signature conch stew, a delicious guava colada and the cheapest beer on the island. Just be sure to bring cash, as the bar doesn’t accept credit cards.
Often known as Nat’s Place, this simple corrugated tin shack on stilts in Savannah Bay is more remote than the busier beaches but worth the effort to get there. Tear yourself away from the blinding white sand to head inside and meet Nat himself, who serves up grilled crayfish, spicy chicken and the perfect fries. As one of the very few bars without music on the island, you’ll want to stay a while with a cold beer and listen to the sound of the waves as you sup.
It’s not difficult to find rum on Anguilla if you’re partial to a drop, but real devotees should make a beeline for this sophisticated rum bar at Zemi Beach House on Shoal Bay. Surprisingly, this isn’t a beachside shack but a moodily lit private club-style bar with leather and velvet chairs, a refined air and a humidor for cigar fans. The expert rummelier (a sommelier for rum) can talk you through over 100 varieties of small-batch rum and lead a tasting through some of the best.
For something a little different, head down to Mezze, tucked underneath one of the best restaurants on the island, Veya. This Moroccan-themed tent is decked out in patterned sofas, antique lanterns, rugs and a ceiling draped in deep red and gold and serves moreish platters of Mediterranean bites. But cocktail fans love it for the extensive and innovative drinks menu, which is one of the best on the island.
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