By: Kristin Bourne
What is bordered by cerulean blue water, smells of fresh Johnny cakes and grilling lobsters, sounds of dominoes, music, and laughter, and is covered with smiles and good cheer?
Anguilla's Annual Festival del Mar! See the video below for a look at Festival Del Mar :-)
Festival del Mar is held in Island Harbour every Easter weekend.
Festival del Mar heats up as the racing boats get going in Island Harbour
The festival started in 2008 and has grown in popularity each year. One of the most festive and local annual gatherings, it's a must do!
Let's see what all of the buzz is about...
Anguillians have been all about the sea for hundreds of years. The island's national sport is boatracing. The Amerindians lived off of everything from the sea and settlements were lined along the beaches.
It's only natural that Festival del Mar exists in the first place!
So, what goes on during Festival del Mar?
It all starts and stops with seafood.
From the wee hours of the early morning, when it is still dark out, fishermen take to the sea to participate in one of the festival's hallmark events, the fishing contest. They return with enough fish to feed a country!
Our friend Theon with a big catch!
This festival boasts a whole lot of tasty seafood.
Tents start serving up fresh eats around 10am. You can show up in the morning for breakfast and dine all day!
Festival del Mar crayfish plate (and some for as low as $15!)
Enjoy fresh catches of all kinds, from shark to sailfish to fried fish, to lobster and crayfish.
Lots of tents serve up accompaniments of Johnny cakes, breadfruit, scalloped potatoes, salads, and more.
Tower of Johnny cakes
If you want to get local, try some bush tea. If you are not up for bush tea, there are plenty of ice cold beverages to choose from. Cocktails and beer are served all day.
I suggest trying some local drinks while you have the chance... the homemade lemonade is usually very tasty and refreshing!
A whole lot of crayfish and lobster!
Bellies full, let's explore the rest of the festival...
Scheduled events include a children's model boat race, a swimming contest, a deep sea fishing contest, a solider crab race, sunfish racing, a B-Class and an A-Class boat race.
By mid-day the flurry of activity is mesmerizing... children jumping off the Island Harbour wharf over and over again.
People of all ages coming and going from the sea to cool off.
Fishermen bustling about the wharf and the boatramp with fresh catches.
Sailors preparing their sailboats.
Colorful sails breezing by in the harbor.
Music of all types plays throughout the day... some dj music, some live music, and always a local string band with steel pans.
Festival del Mar offers all types of local music
The energy is so festive and fun. Be sure to bring your swimsuit in case you want to take a dip in the sea!
If you would prefer to sit back, relax, and take it all in, there are plenty of tented seating areas for doing just that.
Festival del Mar is the place to be and tents offer plenty of shade from the sun.
As the day winds down, the party continues on the beach.
The evening ends with live musical performances that run until close to midnight. Now that is what I call a full day!
As the sun goes down, the night-time crowd prepares for an evening of live music.
Festival del Mar truly is the essence of Anguilla's culture.
If you haven't yet seen the sea around Anguilla, better put it on your list! It is beautiful and Festival del Mar does a wonderful job of celebrating exactly how special it is.
Directions: Island Harbour beach in East End.
For a list of this year's events, visit Festival del Mar on Facebook.