Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory in the Eastern Caribbean, comprises a small main island and several offshore islets. Its beaches range from long sandy stretches like Rendezvous Bay, overlooking neighboring Saint Martin island, to secluded coves reached by boat, such as at Little Bay. Protected areas include Big Spring Cave, known for its prehistoric petroglyphs, and East End Pond, a wildlife conservation site.
Considered by many to be one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, spend any amount of time here and it’ll be no secret as to why. Anguilla has become an oasis for solo travelers, couples, families and business travellers alike. Renowned for 33 powder-white beaches, turquoise waters and a culinary scene helmed by some of the Caribbean’s most talented chefs. However, the truest spirit of the island lives within its people. Proud, warm, and welcoming.
Compared to some Caribbean islands masquerading as tourist traps, you’ll find something a little more authentic on Anguilla. There’s an embargo on cruise ships, casinos and high-rise hotels, but a surplus of clear, coral-filled waters, unmarked and unpaved roads and low-key beachfront villas. Pampering is also at a premium, from the grandiose resorts to the sophisticated alfresco dining. With little to do but relax, the days here are long. But once the sun does go down, you’ll be treated to one of the best live music scenes in the Western Hemisphere. Everyone from Quincy Jones to Bankie Banx and Jimmy Buffett has stopped by Anguilla’s ashen shores to perform.
The low-lying limestone island of Anguilla is small and serene, a perfect spot for vacationers looking to enjoy the privacy of small-island life. Just 16 miles long and 3 miles wide, Anguilla is associated with fine dining, luxurious hotels and brilliant beaches. Vacationers more interested in shopping or activity should make the 10-mile trip south to St. Martin-St. Maarten.
The best time to visit Anguilla is between May and August, when you stand the best chance of getting a good package deal and also avoiding the worst of the hurricane season (which generally runs from June 1 to November 30). Hotel prices are low from September to October, but selection is sparse – many properties close down during these months. The most expensive time to visit is from the early winter until spring when the weather is ideal.
Anguillans are known to be some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean, and the island itself is one of the more relaxed island locales you could visit. But Anguillans are also conservative and polite. Wearing beachwear anywhere besides the beach is frowned upon. The local newspaper even reminds you to “Please shop with your clothes on.” Casual attire is generally accepted everywhere, but call ahead to the fancier dining establishments to determine whether there’s a dress code.
As far as tipping goes, most restaurants have a 15 percent gratuity already added on to the bill, so there is no need to give more unless you found the service to be exceptional. The standard tip for a taxi fare is 10 percent, though some drivers will go above and beyond and serve as your tour guide, warranting a larger tip. Keep in mind, Anguilla uses the East Caribbean dollar: $1 USD is about to $2.70 XCD.
Considering its small size, Anguilla has a good number of restaurants scattered throughout the island, though most are pricey. For a special occassion, make a reservation at Veya, an acclaimed restaurant that serves international cuisine within a treehouse-style setting.
Budget-minded travelers should visit The Valley’s smaller roadside establishments, which serve authentic Caribbean fare, or try shopping at a local grocery store. And for a fun night out, head to the popular The Pumphouse for its well-known rum punch, or local legend Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve, a beachside hot-spot known for its live music.
Anguilla is one of the safest islands in the Eastern Caribbean. The same general tips that apply to any beach vacation – such as using the hotel safe to guard your valuables instead of bringing them with you to the shore – apply to enjoying your time here as well.
Many resorts have a physician on call should you feel ill. Otherwise, Anguilla’s main hospital is centrally located in The Valley. Serious medical emergencies generally require emergency evacuation to another island.
The best way to get around Anguilla is in a taxi, as the island is too spread out to explore on foot. You’ll find the drivers make excellent tour guides, and driving yourself around town could be problematic, given the unpaved roads and virtually nonexistent street signs. Both taxis and rental agencies are easy to find at the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (AXA), although you’re more likely to fly into the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on St. Martin-St. Maarten and then ferry over.
Keep in mind there are no direct flights into Anguilla from the United States. If you arrive at the Anguilla airport, it will most likely be on a connection from Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). You can also fly to Anguilla from Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and occasionally from V.C. Bird International Airport (ANU) on Antigua or Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) on St. Kitts.