What you need to know about Festival Del Mar Anguilla
Festival Del Mar means so much to the seafaring ancestry of Anguillians who plyed the sea in search of her abundance, built the boats that carried them and used their instinct to find their food. We owe so much to those who continue to make their living from the sea as it is no less expensive as it is risky.
Anguilla’s Fishing Communities
Anguilla’s main fishing communities are Blowing Point, Sandy Ground and Island Harbour. These communities have developed their talents in all things sea – swimming, fishing, captaining, boat building, you name it! And, it’s no less of a surprise that all these communities are close the the sea, have a beach and their own wharfs.
Anguilla’s National Sport, Boat Racing, also has its roots in fishing, as fishermen once used similarly built sail boats to go out to the fishing grounds. But, the race itself came as a result of the movement of Anguillians between the Dominican Republic and Anguilla for work.
Today, majority of the boats are motorised and hand-built in Anguilla. Anguilla has a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone due to there being no land masses directly North of Anguilla – that is, until you reach Nova Scotia, Canada. Fishermen, however, take advantage of mainly between 50 – 100 nautical miles where they catch yellow fin tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi, and a range of other pelagic fish.
They also engage in deep sea fishing bringing in snappers, silks and groupers, to name a few. Pot fishing is also common for reef fish like parrots, old wife and even hines and, traps are also set for lobsters and crayfish.
Why people love Festival Del Mar
Held over the Easter weekend, Festival Del Mar gives locals and tourists the opportunity to mingle with each other while enjoying tasty sea food – my first time trying Conch Fritters was at Festival Del Mar!
But, not only for the food, Festival Del Mar is an opportunity to pay homage to the sea for her abundance and to recognise the efforts of fishermen – past and present – who provided and continue to provide fresh sea food for locals, restaurants and lovers of Anguilla’s seafood.
One of the highlights is the deep sea fishing competition where fishermen from Anguilla, St Maarten and even St Barths compete for who can bring in the biggest fish, the most fish, etc. It’s a spectacle to see them bringing the huge coolers from their boats and seeing them weigh their catch – which, at times, are big as or bigger than they are.
Where is Festival Del Mar held?
Festival Del Mar is held annually in the beautiful fishing village of Island Harbour, which is located on the eastern tip of the island. This little fishing village has remained largely untouched by tourism and still maintains its local vibe. With colorful boats bobbing in the blue harbour and a fishing pier jutting out to catch schooners and fishing boats, it is much as it was in the early 1900s.
What happens at Festival Del Mar?
Traditional cooking and culinary competitions, deep sea fishing competitions, swimming races, volley ball exhibitions and crab races are all “on the menu” for this fun-filled celebration. Also enjoy two days of live music and boat racing, the island’s national pastime. Local lobster features prominently, as do crab, crayfish, octopus (sea cat), fried fish, and grilled fish of many varieties are all and integral part of Festival Del Mar.
The atmosphere is relaxed and visitors are invited to wear their swimsuits in case they want to take a dip in the sea. There are also plenty of tented areas for lounging out of the sun, and domino games are played throughout the afternoons.
What happens at Festival Del Mar shouldn’t stay at Festival Del Mar. Bring a friend to the 2018 Festival Del Mar!