Dive Into Anguilla
There’s plenty more to do in Anguilla—you’ve got bars, music venues, restaurants and resorts lining the coast. Divers delight in the clear waters, enjoying colorful coral reefs and ancient wrecked ships while foodies love the great selection of restaurants. Other adventures include the island’s rich culture—take your pick from museums, preserved plantations, the music scene and more. Anguilla is a wonderful combination of history, exciting tourist attractions and great beaches. You’ll have to see it all for yourself.
Anguilla vacation packages sweep you away to a top beach destination boasting 33 beaches in its tiny 34 square miles. A laid-back destination with great resorts, restaurants and history, Anguilla is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation and some quiet time on the beach.
Mapping Out Anguilla
In Anguilla, it’s all about the coastline. Restaurants, boating services and island nightlife all flourish near the water. In the northeast corner of the island, you’ll find Captain’s Bay and Island Harbour. The harbor is a launch point for Anguilla’s colorful fishing boats and a home for many restaurants. In the northwest, you’ll find several gorgeous beaches, including the famous and widely acclaimed Shoal Bay Beach, which offers many eateries, boutique shopping, wreck dives and more. In the southwest corner, Cove Bay and Maundays Bay boast gorgeous stretches of sand and water. Once you’ve experienced the coastline, head inland to witness the island’s history in preserved plantation homes, an old jail, a church, and a museum. If the coastline is Anguilla’s face, then the interior is its soul, and the two combined make for one great vacation.
Anguilla in a Nutshell
Anguilla has recently been name-checked in hip-hop songs and featured on reality TV, but the tiny (16 miles long; 3 miles wide) isle of Anguilla has been on chic travelers’ radars for decades, attracting wealthy families and camera-dodging celebrities to its white sand shores. Touch down here, however, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the casual, low-key and unpretentious vibe that prevails, despite the island’s posh reputation, and delighted by the genuine warmth of the locals, who number around 16,000. Driving along rutted roads from the airstrip or ferry dock, you’ll see little evidence of the capital that flows through the island. But as soon as you reach the beach and Anguilla’s multimillion-dollar villas and luxury resorts are revealed, all becomes clear. It's a country you won't soon forget.
Stay in Paradise
Contrary to popular belief, Anguilla offers accommodations for all budgets, from shoestring to stratospheric. For travelers looking to escape the bustle of mega resorts, the Anacaona Boutique Hotel is nestled into Anguilla, right next to Mead's Bay. It's an intimate retreat that offers a no-frills escape into a beautiful paradise. Then there are the island’s pricier “legacy resorts,” that have been drawing a well-heeled and celebrity crowd for decades. Of course, you could always opt for the privacy, convenience and luxury of a villa. Anguilla has more than 300 of them, so you’re sure to find one to suit you.
Play in Sandy Island
On an island blessed with 33 white sand shores–all of them outstanding– spending time on the beach is a no-brainer. And whether you’re in search of seclusion (we recommend the cozy cove at Little Bay, accessible only by rope ladder or boat!) or a buzzing scene (Shoal Bay and Meads Bay are always lively, but never crowded) Anguilla’s got a “shore” thing for you. Another of our favorite ways to spend a day is on one of Anguilla’s offshore islands. There are five, but we’re partial to Sandy Island and Scilly Cay. From Sandy Ground, catch the boat (appropriately named Happiness) to Sandy Island for sun, sea, and a side of succulent, lobster-like local crayfish. Scilly Cay, just five minutes from the dock at Island Harbour, also offers huge, pricey-but-worth-it seafood platters served under beach palapas. But it is most famous for its rum punches, guaranteed to put you in an island state of mind. At only $5 each, they’re a rare Anguilla bargain. Love the nightlife? On Thursday nights, groove to live bands at The Pumphouse in Sandy Ground, saunter across the street to Elvis’ Beach Bar for a rum punch (or three), and then stagger home.
Try the Island's Best Cuisine
With more than 50 restaurants, you’ll never go hungry on Anguilla. In fact, and you’ll probably return home a few pounds heavier, but trust us, the cuisine is worth every calorie. Start the evening with cocktails at Viceroy resort’s Sunset Lounge, where an international DJ spins the soundtrack for a jet-setting crowd of beautiful people. Then, for local eats, sample the Thursday-night buffet (and folkloric show) at Anacaona hotel, or swing by Tasty’s, where Anguillian chef Dale Carty whips up fresh-from-the sea goodies such as spicy conch ceviche with fried plantain. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more inventive cuisine than at Island Harbour’s Hibernia, which features Indonesian, Caribbean and French flavors melded to mouthwatering result. Beachfront dining, is of course, a big thing here, and some of our favorites include Straw Hat on breathtaking Mead’s Bay; Smokey’s at The Cove for delish barbecue; and Sandbar in Sandy Ground, where absolutely amazing tapas are issued from the kitchen in no time flat!
Buy Signature Souvenirs
For such a diminutive destination, Anguilla boasts a surprisingly diverse selection of stores and souvenir-snagging opportunities. If money is no object, hit the boutique at the Viceroy resort for designer beach and evening-wear and their signature customized James Perse T-shirts. The island’s coolest tees, however, come from Irie Life boutique in South Hill, which carries fashion-forward toppers in on-trend colors and styles; no boring, boxy crew-necks here! ZaZaa’s trio of stores (at Anacaona hotel, and in South Hill and Shoal Bay) are a must for an eclectic assortment of beachwear and jewelry sourced from all over the world. Stop by Seaspray Boutique, also in South Hill, for locally produced craft items. (Look out for the whimsical “rasta head” bottle openers, which make inexpensive and useful souvenirs.) And late-night shoppers will love Bijoux Boutique in Sandy Ground, which sells an impressive array of silver jewelry and stays open until 10pm.
Anguilla Quick Facts
A British-influenced English.
Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar is official, but the USD is widely accepted.
110 volt outlets, no adapter is required for American electronics.
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Anguilla.
Unless you’re at a resort that explicitly tells you that it supplies its own desalinated or chlorinated water, stick to bottled water.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
Mid-December – mid-April
Tips & Transportation
Buy Art at the International Arts Festival
Anguilla is also home to the International Arts Festival at the end of July. Artists come from all over the world to show off their work and discuss the art world. For the art enthusiast, this can be a magical time to be on the island. You'll get an opportunity to peruse the works of up-and-coming artists. Plus, you'll get a glimpse into the Caribbean art world. If you're the cultural maven who'll appreciate time up close and personal with art, check out this festival.
See the Fairest Beach of All at Shoal Bay
Many consider the beach at Shoal Bay the most beautiful on the island and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A stretch of powdery, white sand spans the distance between coconut trees and turquoise water. The wide beach and gentle water make this a perfect family destination. There are also restaurants nearby that offer places to park. This means you won't have to walk far, and amenities are nearby. Adding to the perfection is a coral reef that is relatively close to the shore. Bring your snorkel gear, and explore an underwater ecosystem in the crystal clear surf. However you spend your time at Shoal Bay, you'll spend it on one of the most remarkable beaches in the world.
Celebrate Carnival in August
Anguilla celebrates its own Carnival, which starts on the first Monday of August and continues for 10 days. These are 10 days of arts and craft shows, bands playing all hours of the day, local cuisine, and brilliantly colored parades. The boat races during Carnival are a thing of adrenaline-fueled beauty. Anguilla's Carnival is not as large as other islands', and this suits many people better. You get all the Carnival experiences without dealing with an overwhelmingly large celebration. Get the full Carnival experience, and visit Anguilla's trademark boat racing during this exciting, annual celebration.
Speed Up to the Carnival Boat Races
While you’re at Carnival, make sure to be there for the boat races. Sailing is the national sport of Anguilla, and the locals take it very seriously, and Carnival makes everything bigger. So the boat races are even more important. There are multiple opportunities to see races throughout the 10 days of Carnival, and you should definitely take advantage of them. The boats are built on the island, and they are things of beauty and efficiency. Painted in bright colors, they aren't built with decks, so the sailors use different materials to keep the boats stable. As the boats near the finish line, sailors will start throwing that material overboard to gain more speed. The spectators get really into the races, and their enthusiasm is contagious. You don't even have to pick a boat to cheer for to get swept up in the excitement.
In addition to the BET sponsored Jazz festival, Anguilla hosts another, lesser-recognized festival: Moonsplash. This reggae festival is put on in late February or early March, for the three days around the full moon. While it may not draw the same big names, the festival has seen some celebrities and popular musicians make appearances. The whole festival is driven by the energy and star power of local celebrity Bankie Banx. It is a valuable event and venue for veteran and emerging reggae acts alike. Hosted at Bankie Banx's Dune Preserve on the beach of Rendezvous Bay, this reggae institution is going strong after more than 20 years.
There are no direct flights from the US to Anguilla, so you will stop at one of the larger airports, such as San Juan, Puerto Rico or St. Maarten/St.Martin. From there, you will fly into Anguilla’s Clayton J. Lloyd Airport. Or, you may travel by ferry boat service or water taxi from St. Maarten. Should you fly into Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport, know that it is small, with one small terminal and no jet ways. Simply regard to the signs, or ask one of the friendly gate agents. The way out won’t be hard to find.
Immigration & Customs
A valid passport (with at least 6 months before expiration) and a return or onward tickets are required for all visitors to Anguilla. You’ll also need to complete an ICAO Embarkation/Disembarkation Card.
Getting to Your Hotel
There are taxis and shuttles outside the airport, which is on the outskirts of The Valley, Anguilla’s capital. The airport is in the middle of the island, about 8 miles from the east and west ends.
Getting Around Anguilla
Outside, there’s a taxi stand where clients join a short queue and a dispatcher asks the guest which resort they will be visiting. The next available taxi will take the client to the resort. There will be a cost notification or an indication of the cost to be charged.