Adventures in Anguilla

On the verge of another polar vortex in Pittsburgh, I could not have been more excited to spend a few days in Anguilla at one of Belmond’s newest takeover and restoration properties (formerly Cap Juluca – now Belmond Cap Juluca). A perfect escape for anyone looking for a retreat from winter (especially those on the east coast), flying to Saint Martin could not be simpler and takes roughly five to seven hours.

Arriving in Saint Martin, I was escorted through immigration before boarding my semi-private boat transfer to Anguilla. You do have the opportunity to charter a small aircraft to get to Anguilla if that is up your alley, but traveling via semi-private boat would be my recommended choice of transportation if you are not a fan of small planes. The primary advantage of taking the plane would be turning the 30 minute boat transfer into a 15 minute trip. Frontiers can help assess the best decision for your travels.

After a scenic boat ride with 10 fellow passengers, I arrived in Anguilla and was quickly and efficiently transported to Belmond Cap Juluca. Tucked away from the mainland, Belmond Cap Juluca is seemingly built in a horseshoe-like shape around the entire island. An impeccable example of a private island paradise, the property is adorned with Greco-Moorish white designed villas, which provide the ideal contrast to the pristine blue sea. Upon arrival, I was greeted by both Valerie Lund (Area Sales Manager of Belmond Cap Juluca) and Laura McDavid (our agency’s Belmond contact, Director of Global Sales), and they quickly introduced me to the Caribbean drink of choice–and a new favorite drink of mine during our trip­–rum punch.

After a drink and catching up with Laura, I was shown to my room by one of the friendly bellman. During my brief transfer by golf cart (the main way of transportation other than walking and bike riding), I took in the stunning scenery of the property. It is hard to believe that just a year ago this property was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. With the meticulous keeping of the property and its adjacent villas, the $121 million dollar renovation by Belmond is seen in every part of the property.

Sitting areas in the lobby of Cap Juluca.

Continuing its renowned legacy as a vibrant Caribbean hideaway, my premium beachfront king room, 1004A, was nothing less than perfect. With a sleek and modern but appropriately beachy design style, this room offers a private terrace (just 50 steps from the beach), beautiful separate tub and shower.

As I walked out to the beach and took in the view, I quickly came to realize one of the best things about Cap Juluca is that there is an oceanfront view from every room, suite, or villa on the entire property. After settling in, I was invited by the general manager, Tiago Sarmento, to a glass of evening champagne sabering at sunset – this was the perfect way to kick off my visit to Cap Juluca!

Early the next morning, I headed to Cips for breakfast with the rest of our group. The breakfast buffet at Cips is not to be missed – I have never experienced such an array of food carefully crafted to accommodate any type of eater or dietary restriction. More impressive than the endless options of the breakfast buffet is the stunning open-air view from Cips, which provides 360-degree views of the sea.

Just as I completed my breakfast, I saw a speed boat come to meet the shore and just as it arrived, we learned that was our call to head out for our boat exploration of Anguilla. Upon boarding, we were introduced to our exceptional guides for the day, Eddie and Brad.

As we headed out and began exploring the waters, our guides would slow to cruise and point out various areas of interest throughout the island, including scenic landscapes, homes of celebrities, known beach areas and more.

After a half hour or so of cruising, they took us to an area known as Little Bay. This is a popular area in Anguilla known for a rock that you can climb up and jump off of (which is at least 40 feet above the water!), and it also provides an excellent area for snorkeling. Brad and Eddie shared that they had recently visited the area and hosted LeBron James, who had also enjoyed jumping off this very rock. After taking this in, along with some encouragement my fellow travelers, and Brad and Eddie, I decided to take the plunge off the rock.

I am not usually too afraid of heights, but the difference in height of the rock from the boat and from in water is rather stark. In order to climb the rock, you must climb by rope to reach the top entirely unharnessed. In retrospect, I would definitely encourage anyone considering making this venture to bring a pair of rock shoes as the rock has the texture of pumice stone, and this would make the rope climb up much more accommodating. After gaining footing (and reminding myself to not look down), I was able to make it up the rock rather quickly. From the peak of the rock looking down, I was really able to see the beauty of Anguilla and all that surrounded me – this includes the considerable jump down. As Newton’s law of gravity states, “what goes up must come down,” and I was for certain not climbing down the rock – so off I went!

 

While plunging into the sea off a 40 foot rock was not originally on my life’s bucket list, I always aim to remind myself that I will only live once, and taking this (quite literal) leap of faith was one of the most exciting things I have ever pushed myself to do. Although my heart was racing with adrenaline for the next hour (or excitement from the fact that I survived this), I can only categorize this as one of those special moments where you realize how truly impactful travel is on your life. While everyone has their own interpretation of risk or an adventure, I certainly accomplished mine. This experience set the perfect undertone of an adventurous beginning to my time in Anguilla paired with the kind of luxury that one can only expect from Belmond. Even though this was only the beginning of my trip, I had already considered making my return to the property, and I am very grateful to say that I am fortunate enough to be returning for my honeymoon this summer!

Some photos courtesy of Belmond Cap Juluca. 

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