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My first trip report- Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Kitts honeymoon

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We just returned from our week-long destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta, followed by our honeymoon split between Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Kitts. The entire trip was incredible and provided us with so many great memories. Since I received so many helpful tips from this site, I thought I’d give writing my first ever trip report a shot in hopes that it will help others. Hope it’s useful!

ANGUILLA
Overall, we adored Anguilla and can’t imagine a friendlier or more beautiful place. Every single person we talked to seemed so kind, helpful, and happy- we just loved it. The beaches and the restaurants were phenomenal. We spent 4 nights here and wish it had been more!

HOTEL: Cap Juluca
We were hesitant about CJ because of the mixed reviews it’s been getting lately due to management issues, but we could not have enjoyed our stay more. The service was top-notch- they opened the gift store twice for me when it was closed so I could get medicine for my new DH, they sent Champagne and a welcome basket for our honeymoon, as well as a voucher for their sunset cruise, etc.

We stayed in a Luxury room (Villa 4, Room 5) with a private rooftop deck and we loved it. The view of St. Martin from the top was amazing and the room was very nice- simple and clean and very comfortable. The bathroom was half the size of our New York apartment and had a large soaking tub, a beautiful shower, and skylights. The mattress and the bedding were all nice and soft and we slept very well. We did not find the louevered doors that some complain about to be an issue- we liked that to hear the sound of the waves and did not mind putting on bug spray (provided in the room) to avoid being bitten.

CAR RENTAL: Ronnie Bryan
We were so glad we rented a car- parking was easy on the island, we enjoyed being able to go at our own pace, and the one cab ride we took to Blanchards from CJ before we had the car was $35 round-trip- just about the cost of the car for an entire day. Ronnie Bryan was very nice and professional and we would definitely recommend him.

Driving on the left was something neither of us had done before, but it wasn’t difficult at all. Aside from remembering to go left around the roundabouts, we just felt like it was driving in the left lane of the one-way streets at home.

RESTAURANTS
We love to go to dinner, so the restaurants were one of the reasons I was looking forward to Anguilla and we were not disappointed! The restaurants were New York prices, as we expected, and generally we ordered wine, 2 apps, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert and our bill ran between 175-225 including tip each night. We enjoyed and would recommend all the restaurants. In order of our favorite (top) to least favorite (bottom):

1. Mango’s- we felt like this restaurant had it all! A wonderful staff, beautiful ambiance, lovely food.
2. Koal Keel- we liked the change of scenery here from the beach to town. The building has a lot of history to it and it was neat to explore. I had the tuna here and it was the best I’ve ever had in my life. The food was exceptional; unfortunately, the service was not. Perhaps we just had an “off” waiter, but he was a bit slow and the closest we came to an unfriendly person on the island.
3. Blanchards- we came here our first night in Anguilla and they greeted us with complimentary glasses of Champagne for our honeymoon. Everyone was very nice and the food was excellent- my DH got the Caribbean sampler and the jerk chicken and sweet potatoes was out of this world! We didn’t like the atmosphere inside the restaurant as much as Mango’s- it was beautiful, but somehow just didn’t strike us the same way. Of course, we got there late, when the sun had already gone down, so perhaps that affected our experience.
4. Straw Hat- this building looked pretty ramshackle when we pulled up and we loved the contrast between the worn exterior and the beautiful restaurant inside. The views were great and the food was very good- the bread, however, was the worst bread I’ve ever had. But after a bad start, everything else was great!

ACTIVITIES
After a stressful destination wedding week in Puerto Vallarta, we were ready to relax! We enjoyed CJ’s wonderful beach, which always felt like it was empty. The water was calm and warm and we loved the floating docks we could swim to. People have complained that a hotel as expensive as CJ should have nicer beach chairs, but once the beach attendants put the towels on it for us and made little towel pillows they were perfectly comfortable.

We also did the sunset cruise CJ does on Fridays, and it may have been our favorite activity all trip! The boat took us around the tip of the island to Little Bay, which was just gorgeous with all the cliffs and cacti around. The sunset was beautiful and drinks and heavy hors d’oeurves were served. Because the sun doesn’t set in front of CJ’s beach, I’d highly recommend this trip for a great time and a gorgeous view.

We went snorkeling on the sailboat Chocolat and visited Prickly Pear and Sandy Island. This was a great trip as well, but a little long. DH and I both said it would have been better to do one island or the other, not both, as we were gone from 8AM to almost 5PM and we were exhausted from all the sun and swimming when we got back to CJ. The captain, Roland, was very helpful, though, and was also a great storyteller. The boat had an open bar and a large lunch was provided at Prickly Pear. The snorkeling was very good, but although our boat of six was the only group in the water when we got it, when I next lifted my head out of the water several other boats had arrived and there must have been at least forty other people swimming. My DH was run into a couple of times by people so intent on their snorkeling- not a huge deal, of course, but just to say that it was nicer when the group was smaller.

Finally, we did an island tour with one of the cab drivers, Bennie, who took us to see Mallihouhana, Cuisinart, Shoal Bay, and a few other areas. We were glad we did this, since despite having researched the island thoroughly and having our own car, there’s nothing like having a local around to point out interesting sites and tell stories. We paid him $80 including tip for about 3 hours and it was well worth it.

As a side note, after seeing the other two top hotels on the island, we were very happy we were at CJ. Mallihouhana was very beautiful with dark wood and a nice pool area, but their beach wasn’t as nice as CJ’s, and we felt that Cuisinart’s property was too manicured and Disney-fied for our tastes- in our opinion, it could have been anywhere. Both CJ and Malli seem have a more natural island charm to them that we enjoyed.

(more to come!)

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