Travel Weekly editorial assistant Kimberly Scholz visited
Anguilla during Carnival celebrations last August. She danced a
little, ate a lot and experienced some of what the island has to
offer. Her report follows:
THE VALLEY, Anguilla -- This island is not the place to go for
wild nightlife or incredible shopping. In fact, Anguilla has only a
handful of stores and a market or two. Many restaurants -- and
there are lots of good ones -- close during the summer, and the
bars and clubs that remain do so sporadically.
However, all that changes during Carnival. In the first week of
August, the island bursts with returning Anguillians and repeat
visitors who come to party, celebrate and jam.
Festivities hinge on independence and emancipation celebrations
of three national holidays in one week: August Monday, August
Thursday and August Friday.
On August Monday, the official start of Carnival and my first
day on Anguilla, people rose at dawn to follow bands blasting music
from mobile stages on trucks. J'Ouvert, as the opening is called,
seemed to involve most of the island's 11,000 people.
I joined the moving masses around 8:30 a.m., when the
celebrations already were in full swing. People stood in the shade
of trees, watching and singing. A few onlookers squirted water on
the throngs of dancers to cool them off.
Vendors sold cold drinks and local snacks like johnny cakes,
which tasted sort of like a Caribbean bagel, and children sold
fruit and seafood. The dancing and the noise were centered in the
Valley, far removed from the resorts, so that guests were not
No holiday on Anguilla is complete without boat racing, the
island's national sport. The first official race of Carnival was
set for August Monday in the waters off Sandy Ground, one of
Anguilla's prettiest beaches. Groups of 10 or 15 boats, each with a
maximum of 13 sailors, competed in a frenzy of colorful sails and
enthusiastic racers. The August Monday race had a $600 jackpot and
offered the chance to compete in the Champion of Champions race
five days later.
The most exciting time in the race was the start, when the boats
sailed off toward the horizon, getting smaller and smaller with
each passing minute. Races generally last about three hours, so the
landlubbers and I waited -- and partied -- on the shore. Spectators
cheered their favorite teams and bet with one another.
The beaches were mobbed, and as soon as the boats were beyond
the horizon, the action started. Meet, greet, talk, walk, eat,
dance, sing, sunbathe, swim -- not a bad way to spend an
Local restaurants set up makeshift kitchens on the beach. The
aromas of fried chicken, beans, goat steaks, rice and grilled
seafood of every variety wafted through the air. Bands and live
radio broadcasts provided entertainment and dancing on the
When the boats were spotted hours later, the tension began to
mount. People jostled for front-row positions along the shore to
see which boat was in the lead. The finish was hectic and
fast-paced as the boats neared the finish line. The winning boat
was named De Chan.
"Culture, Glamour & Plenty Jammin" was this year's Carnival
theme. Next year's theme hasn't been announced yet, but it doesn't
matter to me. My dancing shoes are ready and my party clothes are
Covecastles, where I stayed, is situated on a secluded beach.
Amenities include a gourmet restaurant; concierge services; cable
television, a VCR and a CD player in each guest unit; hammocks,
beach chairs and umbrellas; champagne, hors d'oeuvres and a fruit
basket on arrival.
The property comprises eight beach houses, four villas and two
The beach houses and villas each contain a living room, a dining
area, a full kitchen and a private veranda. A curved staircase
leads to the master bedroom, which features a king-size bed and a
private bath; a second bedroom has twin beds and a bathroom.
Three-bedroom villas offer a master bedroom with a large
dressing area and bath as well as two guest rooms with twin beds
and a shared bath.
The grand villas, accommodating up to eight guests, have an
entrance parlor, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and four
bedrooms with private baths. Master suites open onto a sundeck
overlooking the sea. One grand villa features a private pool.
Daily rates from Jan. 5 through April 15 start at $695 for a
one-bedroom beach house and $895 for a two-bedroom house. Daily
villa rates range from $995 for one-bedroom accommodations to
$1,195 for two- and three-bedroom units. The grand villas are
priced from $2,495 to $2,995, depending on the category.
To make reservations, call (800) 223-1108.