If you long to get away for a secluded, but luxurious Caribbean beach vacation, Anguilla is the island for you. Celebrities flock here for the island's tradition of protecting privacy, its upscale resorts, and selection of more than 70 restaurants. Reef and wreck diving are popular diversions, but you're more likely to spend your night lingering over a fine meal than dancing till dawn.
Anguilla Basic Travel Information
- Location: In the British West Indies, between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, east of Puerto Rico and just a short ferry trip from St. Martin/St. Maarten.
- Size: 16 mi/25 km long, 4 mi/6 km wide. See Map
- Capital: The Valley
- Language: English
- Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant
- Currency: Easter Caribbean Dollar; U.S. dollar widely accepted.
- Weather: Semi-arid year-round; trade winds moderate tropical temperatures.
- Airport: Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (Check Flights)
Honestly, people don't come to Anguilla to "see the sights" — the beaches, resorts and restaurants are the real "attractions." That said, you'll certainly want to visit the historic Olde Valley district in Anguilla's capital; drop in on The Heritage Collection, the best history museum on the island; grab your binoculars and go bird-watching at Anguilla's thriving salt ponds; and get out on the water for fishing, sailing, or diving the local reefs and wrecks.
Tiny Anguilla boasts 33 beaches, all of them free and open to the public. The island's Atlantic-facing north coast has the wilder waves and more remote beaches. Popular spots like Sandy Ground, Shoal Bay, Rendezvous Bay, and Meads Bay, have waterfront restaurants, bars, and resorts to go along with sand and surf. Secluded Little Bay can only be reached by boat. Sandy Island and Scilly Cay are tiny island with beach bars and free launch service from the mainland.
Anguilla Hotels and Resorts
Luxury resorts – often featuring world-class restaurants – often seem to be the rule rather than the exception on Anguilla. Attention-getters include Cap Juluca (Book Now), a Moorish fantasy transplanted to a Caribbean shoreline; Malliouhana, which has a fine spa and eponymous gourmet French restaurant; and the CuisinArt hotel, known for its wellness program (Book Now). But Anguilla also has some moderately priced hotels, inns and villas, even in such popular hotspots as Sandy Ground.
With more than 70 restaurants, Anguilla is a gourmet's paradise. Whether you want pizza, Creole, Asian fusion, or fine French cuisine, you'll have no problem finding it on Anguilla; the only challenge you may have is finding an inexpensive meal. The Koal Keel in the Olde Valley is an island dinner tradition; Pimms at the Cap Juluca resort is a memorable French-Asian experience. For an authentic Caribbean beach barbecue, catch the free launch to Scilly Cay for some grilled lobster and rum punch.
Anguilla Culture and History
The Arawaks first settled Anguilla, leaving petroglyphs at Big Spring Cave. The British and French fought over the island for 150 years. English settlers established a plantation economy; Anguilla's predominantly black population is a reminder of this period. A forced marriage with St. Kitts and Nevis sparked the Anguilla Revolution in 1967, which led to Anguilla becoming a separate British territory. Today, the most heated passions are saved for boat races and cricket matches.
Anguilla Events and Festivals
No matter what time of year you come to Anguilla, chances are there will be a boat race going on — it's the national sport. The Anguilla Cultural Festival and Summer Festival are great opportunities to meet Anguillians and learn about their lives and customs. March's Moonsplash Music Festival features local and international performers, as does the annual Tranquility Jazz Festival. The Anguillan Revolution is celebrated on May 30, Anguilla Day.
Nightlife isn't exactly Anguilla's forte, but you'll find lively beach bars in Shoal Bay, and Sandy Ground has two of Anguilla's most hopping clubs: Johnnos Beach Stop and the Pumphouse. Local reggae legend Bankie Banx and friends play almost nightly at Banx's bar/restaurant/concert venue, the Dune Preserve. South Hill has the island's only true disco, the Red Dragon, as well as the late-night mecca Rafe's.