Omari Banks, a reggae artist hailing from Anguilla, carries a musical legacy in his genes, being the son of the legendary reggae musician, Bankie Banks—a name that resonates deeply in Anguilla and beyond.
Omari Banks is a proud Anguillan who has an insider’s perspective on what makes this island special. With a love for both his music and his homeland, he’s the perfect guide to uncover the best experiences Anguilla has to offer.
During a recent visit to Anguilla, our team at WAWW had a chance to chat with Omari Banks. So, here are the top nine things to do on this Caribbean gem through the eyes of Omari Banks—a reggae sensation with deep roots and a genuine love for Anguilla.
1. Visit Anguilla’s Breathtaking Beaches
Anguilla’s beaches are a must-see when you visit. Rendezvous Beach, where you might find me performing at my dad’s beach bar, The Dune, is a must! Shelby Beach, known as one of the best in the world, offers excellent snorkelling opportunities and secluded areas for a private beach experience. Explore Meads Bay for fantastic hotels and excellent snorkeling. Little Bay is a hidden spot; accessible by boat from Crosby, it’s a small area with soft sand and crystal-clear waters reminiscent of Puerto Rico—a true paradise! Many celebrities love this spot, making it perfect for a private escape. The water is so beautiful and transparent that you can see straight through it. It’s like having your own little slice of paradise!
2. Visit the Historic Fountain
Anguilla isn’t just renowned for its pristine beaches; it boasts a rich historical heritage as well. The Fountain stands as a historical testament, tracing its roots back to the time of the Amerindians, the island’s first inhabitants. It stands as one of the oldest meeting places in the Northern Hemisphere. Journey to the Fountain and immerse yourself in the artefacts and narratives left behind by the Amerindians. It’s a captivating glimpse into the tapestry of Anguilla’s past.
3. Check out the local music scene and groove to the rhythm of Anguilla
Anguilla’s vibrant music scene is an absolute must-experience. Omari himself, alongside his father, Omari Banks, and other local talents, frequently grace the island with their performances. Their repertoire spans from reggae to contemporary tunes, capturing the infectious energy and spirit of Anguilla. Be sure to catch their electrifying shows at various venues, including esteemed hotels, and during the Carnival season. Music is woven into the very fabric of Anguilla; it unites people and forges unforgettable memories. You’ll feel the rhythm resonating within your soul!
4. Do not miss Anguilla's festivals and carnivals
One of Anguilla’s most exhilarating events is the Carnival, a day bursting with music, dance, and sheer euphoria. The vibrant street jam kicks off early in the morning, with local bands setting the rhythm as people dance along the roads. The festivities continue at Sandy Ground, where the thrilling boat race commences at 10:00. It’s an experience you simply can’t afford to miss!”
Next up is the Moon Splash Festival, my father’s annual musical extravaganza, typically unfolding between February and April, with March being the primary month, coinciding with the full moon. These festivities span from Friday to Sunday, featuring artists from around the globe and, of course, local and regional talents from places like St. Martin and Anguilla. Beyond the music, Moon Splash is a celebration of love and positivity, drawing people to Anguilla year after year, making it a recurring event on their calendars. This family-friendly festival has become a cherished tradition, with relatives, including uncles and cousins, joining in to make each Moon Splash as unique as the last. Sheriff Bob, a musician and one of the core producers, travels down from New York to add his magic to the festival.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Summer Festival, especially the highlight, Argos Monday, a thrilling boat race on Sandy Ground Beach held every August 1. This enchanting day draws international and local artists, attracting attendees from all corners, including Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. Honouring the historical anticipation of freedom from slavery, the festival inaugurates two weeks of celebrations, featuring parties, beach events, and boat racing. On August Monday, a lively street jam with local bands commences at 4:00 AM, concluding at Sandy Ground, followed by a DJ on the grand stage. The eagerly awaited boat race sets sail at 10:00, transforming it into a vibrant and unforgettable celebration. Make a note of this culturally rich and magnificent event on your calendars!
5. Visit the Dune Preserve
The Dune Preserve, nestled on Rendezvous Beach in Anguilla, is a legendary beach bar with a story as rich as its history. Named by my father, it was once sheltered by a magnificent 30-foot sand dune. However, the passage of time, coupled with the forces of erosion and hurricanes, has caused some erosion of this natural wonder.
Beyond its natural beauty, The Dune Preserve is renowned for hosting the Caribbean’s longest privately owned music festival, Moon Splash. Frequented by celebrities, it offers not only mesmerising music but also enticing snorkelling opportunities. The tale of The Dune Preserve traces its origins back to the early 1990s, when Bankie Banks, a local legend, decided to bring something special to the beach. Unfortunately, in 1995, a hurricane ravaged the beach bar. Nevertheless, some of the world’s most prominent figures, including Jimmy Buffett and John Mayer, have graced the stage.
The Dune Preserve is an icon in its own right, having welcomed luminaries such as Steven Tyler, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and even Justin Bieber, who delivered unforgettable performances. It’s a treasure trove of cherished memories.
6. Explore the nearby Sandy Island
For a truly unique experience, set sail to Sandy Island, just off the coast of Anguilla. Board a boat, make the short journey, and immerse yourself in a delightful atmosphere. Despite its proximity to the mainland, Sandy Island offers an enchanting sense of isolation. Here, you can enjoy a picnic, take a refreshing swim, savour local cuisine, and sometimes even relish live entertainment. In the past, private events were hosted here, and if exclusivity is your preference, you can still reserve the entire island.
7. Go goatspotting. Yes, it is a thing!
While it may seem unconventional, take a moment to appreciate the charming local goats. These animals hold a significant place in Anguillian culture and history. In bygone days, goat herding was a cherished tradition, with children tending to their herds before heading to school. So, keep your eyes peeled for these adorable and amiable goats during your visit!
The goats may not be your typical tourist attraction, but they’re an integral part of our heritage. Plus, they’re undeniably adorable! Just exercise caution to ensure they don’t nibble on your picnic. Stay vigilant while driving around the island, as goats may occasionally cross the road unexpectedly. These charming creatures have a special place in our island culture. In the past, alongside fishing, goat farming was a primary industry before the era of tourism.
8. Savour the local cuisine of Anguilla
No trip to Anguilla is complete without indulging in the island’s mouthwatering cuisine. From beachside shacks to fine dining establishments, there’s a culinary delight to suit every palate. Anguilla is renowned for its connection to crayfish and lobster. Festival Del Mar, a vibrant seafood festival held around Easter in Island Harbour, a key fishing district in Anguilla, is a seafood lover’s dream. Fishermen bring their freshest catches, including fish, lobster, crayfish, and an array of delectable sea treasures. The festival not only showcases local talents but also provides a culturally rich experience that both locals and tourists savor. This roadside celebration offers a unique opportunity to relish a diverse range of seafood in a lively and festive setting.
9. Visit boat races
Discover the exhilarating world of Anguilla’s boat racing, a dynamic Grand Prix-style event that unites communities across the island. Each district boasts its own team, from the Lightning Pacers to the UFOs and Sonic Fleet, creating spirited competition. These large teams emphasise the collaborative effort required in this unique sport, making it a significant community celebration that blends elements of culture and competition. Anguilla’s boat racing isn’t just a sport; it’s a vibrant expression of community spirit and cultural pride.
Anguilla is waiting to welcome you with open arms and a soundtrack that will make your heart sing!
Omari Banks’ website: https://www.omaribanks.com/