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  • beach-scene-Anguilla - A beach scene in Anguilla.
  • ships-Rendezvous-Bay-Anguilla - Ships in Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla.
  • Scilly-Cay-Anguilla - Scilly Cay, a small coral isle in the village of Island Harbor, is a popular destination for travelers to Anguilla.
  • Hobie-in-Anguilla - A Hobie Cat catamaran sailboat plies the pristine waters of Anguilla in the Caribbean.
  • Group-boating-in-Anguilla - A group of water enthusiasts enjoys an outing on a pleasure craft in Anguilla.
  • sailboats-in-Anguilla - Sailing in a bay off the coast of Anguilla.
  • view-of-Anguilla-beach - A lagoon and beach in Anguilla. Beach scenes like this take a little planning.
  • Elvis-Beach-Bar-view-Anguilla - The view of the bay from Elvis' Beach Bar in Sandy Ground Village, Anguilla.
  • Little-Bay-Rock-Anguilla - Diving into the water from Little Bay Rock in Anguilla. Little Rock is a great, secluded spot for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Carnaval-dancer-Anguilla - A dancer in Anguilla during the annual Carnival.
  • Sandy-Ground-Harbor-Anguilla - Sandy Ground Harbor on Anguilla features a luxurious stretch of white sand.
  • romance-dinner-Anguilla - A romantic dinner on the beach at dusk in Anguilla.
  • Couple-Meads-Bay-Anguilla - A couple in Meads Bay, a wide, pretty, popular beach on the Caribbean island of Anguilla.
  • Sandy-Point-Anguilla - One of the pristine white sand beaches that graces Anguilla.
  • Anguilla-coastline - The azure coastline of Anguilla.
  • Chair-on-beach-Anguilla - Imagine yourself here: in a chair facing the warm tropical waters of Anguilla.
  • Moonsplash-Dune-Preserve-Anguilla - Performers at the MoonSplash Music Festival, a three-day music festival of music, food and fun held every March at Dune Preserve beach bar on Anguilla.
  • Shoal-Bay-Anguilla - Shoal Bay on Anguilla is known for its two-mile expanse of pink-hued sand and great snorkeling.
  • cuisine-Anguilla - A shrimp dish with a glass of wine makes for a nice lunch at an Anguilla restaurant.
  • beach-and-sea-Anguilla - Beach meets the sparkling waters of Anguilla. Travelers visit for its natural beauty, quiet atmosphere and 33 pristine beaches.
  • Elvis-Beach-Bar-Anguilla - At Elvis' Beach Bar in Sandy Ground Village, Anguilla.
  • Seadream-Prickly-Pear-Cay.jpg - Prickly Pear Cays in Anguilla features warm waters and soft beaches.
  • ultramodern-yacht-in-Anguilla - An ultramodern yacht on the coast of Anguilla.
  • Smokey-Cove-Bay-Anguilla.jpg - The scene at Smokey's at Cove Bay on Anguilla, which often features music on the weekends.
  • rendezvous-bay.jpg - The quiet scene at the Sunshine Shack, a charming eatery along a gorgeous long stretch of beach on Rendezvous Bay on Anguilla.

Anguilla travel guide: Barefoot luxury for sun worshippers

our guide

The vibe

Welcome to one of the Caribbean's best kept secrets! A born and bred Californian, fate helped me fall into life in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the small Caribbean island of Anguilla. 

As guests to the island will attest, Anguilla (pronounced an-GWILL-uh) is a veritable gem within the Caribbean landscape. Visitors feel as though they’ve stepped into a Photoshopped beach scene the first time they step ashore in Anguilla, located 200 miles east of Puerto Rico and just seven miles from neighboring St. Maarten. Revered for its vivid turquoise waters and blindingly white sand, this small Caribbean island nation is famed for its 33 pristine beaches, exceptional dining scene and its reputation as a playground for celebrities looking to fly under the radar.

Smaller, high-end cruise lines call on Anguilla — Seabourn, SeaDream, Star Clippers — while you won't find the likes of Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Unlike its glitzy neighbor St. Barths to the south, Anguilla is all about barefoot luxury and relishing in the simple pleasures of sun, sand and the ever-present rum punch.

Anguilla was severely hit by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, but the island quickly recovered, and most venues catering to tourists are now up and running again. 

Cruise ships that call on Anguilla

Top reasons to go

  • 33 pristine, world-class beaches that remain remarkably uncrowded and relaxed — so kick off your shoes!
  • Watersports are big, including several types of boat excursions designed to let you bask in the scenery.
  • The island has seven marine parks and offers great snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • An extraordinary dining scene for foodies
  • An authentic, enlivened culture complemented by a thriving local music scene

A local videoblogger describes her five favorite beaches in Anguilla in this 3½-minute video.

Tops things to do & see in Anguilla

Beaches 

Anguilla’s beaches are its claim to fame, and relaxing beachfront under a thatched palapa certainly counts as an activity on the island. Take a stroll down Meads Bay, Shoal Bay East (the island's most popular beach) or Rendezvous Bay for vast stretches of powdery white sand and turquoise hues that will take your breath away. Another beach option is Cove Bay, with long curved strands of sand.

Snorkeling 

Top choices for snorkelers include Limestone Bay, lined with pocket beaches, and Little Bay, reached only by boat. Scrub Island, Prickly Pear and Dog Island are other great snorkeling destinations. 

Ships in Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla.
William A. Boyd Jr. / Courtesy of Anguilla Tourist BoardShips in Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla.

In & around the water

Accessible by boat, tourists and locals will attest to the fact that Little Bay is one of Anguilla’s gems. A marine preserve surrounded by dramatic cliffs and super-tranquil waters, it’s the perfect place for snorkeling or for watching the sunset. For the more adventurous, climb up Little Bay’s famed rock and take the plunge.

What better to do on an island than get involved with water sports? Jet skis may be banned in Anguilla (they’ve been deemed too noisy for this tranquil island), but you can get involved with water activities from kite surfing and tubing to stand up paddle-boarding and sailing.

Hop on a boat to explore Anguilla’s off-island cays and you’ll feel like you’ve fallen into a postcard. Perfectly placed slices of sand off of Anguilla’s north side, Prickly Pear Cays, Sandy Island and Scilly Cay all offer a place to snorkel, lounge and dine. Visit Scilly Cay on a Sunday for a perfect blend of live music and mind-blowing cuisine.

Sightseeing & culture

Activities on land include horseback riding, bird watching (there are 136 species), biking and stand-up paddle boarding along the vivid coastal waters.  

Art aficionados will enjoy touring Anguilla’s 16 galleries, which feature a mix of local and Caribbean crafts, woodcarving, hand-blown glass and fine art. Visit Anguilla’s Heritage Museum for insight into the island’s rich history. Founded by Anguilla historian Colville Petty, the museum displays 1,000-year-old Amerindian/Arawak artifacts and chronicles the 1967 (peaceful) revolution, which eventually resulted in its status as a British Overseas Territory. Pop in for a chance to talk with Petty and glean some local knowledge.

Nightlife

No visit to Anguilla is complete without a night in Sandy Ground, Anguilla’s unofficial nightlife capital. Dine on the beach and then head to Elvis’ Beach Bar and The Pumphouse for the ultimate in beach bar experiences. Other options in Sandy Ground include Johnno’s and Dad's for Caribbean tunes and a local crowd. Further out, there's Bankie Banx's world-famous Dune Preserve on Rendezvous Bay. 

Diving into the water from Little Bay Rock, a great, secluded spot for swimming and snorkeling.
Chris Werner Photography / Courtesy of Anguilla Tourist BoardDiving into the water from Little Bay Rock, a great, secluded spot for swimming and snorkeling.

Best bets for dining

Anguilla’s dining scene offers travelers a wide variety of choices, with more than 70 dining experiences ranging from elegant, intimate gourmet seaside restaurants to casually chic beachfront bistros and festive, affordable roadside grills.

  • If money is no object, Anguilla has a number of fine-dining restaurants that will tantalize even the foodiest of foodies. Try Veya for a Moroccan twist on Caribbean fare or head to Jacala for the ultimate in French cuisine.
  • Want to indulge in Caribbean fare while on the island? Head to Tasty’s, where options like coconut-crusted snapper and curried goat are stars. For gourmet Caribbean on the beach, make a reservation at Straw Hat Restaurant, where nightly specials offer the option of including crayfish, a local delicacy.
  • Malliouhana serves specialty dishes and fresh, sea-to-table offerings inspired by Mediterranean cuisine amid an exquisite setting.
  • On a budget? Head to Blanchard’s Beach Shack to nosh on favorites like street tacos and burgers or try Picante for a Caribbean twist on Mexican cuisine. At Sandy Island, enjoy grilled lobster with your toes splayed in the sand. For the ultimate in local, try B&D's BBQ on the weekend where local favorites like chicken and ribs are served right out of a resident’s front yard.

Don’t miss

  • Nightlife in Sandy Ground. Thursday is the new Saturday in Anguilla. After dinner, head to the Pumphouse where the local band the Musical Brothers play a mix of original music as well as popular tunes that keep locals and visitors dancing until past midnight.
  • Beach BBQ. If you’re looking for a local dining experience, skip the many high-end dining establishments and opt for a more rustic experience with chicken, ribs or fish grilled to perfection. Wash it down with an ice-cold rum punch or regional brew.
  • Rum punch is ubiquitous on Anguilla and has become the unofficial drink of the island. Nearly every establishment has honed its signature variety — go on a personal rum-punch tasting tour to pinpoint your favorite.

Family-friendly options

The beaches are all extraordinarily family-friendly in Anguilla — swimsuits are not optional on the island, they’re required — and are perfect for little ones looking to splash around. For non-beach options, head to the Heritage Museum or Dolphin Discovery Center.

YOLO (You only live once!)

Round up your friends and charter Tradition, a traditional West Indian sailboat that sets sail out of Sandy Ground. A private charter allows you to choose your Anguillan adventure, cutting across the Caribbean to visit off-island cays or idling at sunset while sipping cocktails on the deck.

Best time to go

Anguilla is warm year-round with summer bringing slightly higher temperatures and humidity.

  • High season on the island is mid-December through mid-April with a spike in visitors from mid-December through early January.
  • Low season: Mid-April through mid-December
  • Off season: For planning purposes, consider Anguilla ‘‘closed’’ during September and October when nearly all resorts and restaurants close down for hurricane season.

Inside tip

Anguilla jettisons the notion of a luxury destination requiring you to don your finest when stepping out. While a fine-dining establishment gives you the opportunity to play dress up, sundresses or nice shorts are perfectly accepted attire. For men, a nice pair of shorts and a button down will get you into even the poshest of restaurants.

Fun facts

  • Boat racing is Anguilla’s national sport, and the island hosts a series of regattas each year. Locals take sailing seriously: Most islanders have a boat that they support, and race days bring everyone to the beach or a vista point to root on their ‘‘home team.’’
  • Anguilla was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named for its eel-like shape. The word ‘‘Anguilla’’ means eel in Spanish and Italian, an apt description of this long, thin island, which measures 16 miles by three miles.
  • Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory, a fact that is barely noticeable except when navigating the island’s roads. Driving in Anguilla is on the left.
  • The island's capital is The Valley, with a population of about 1,000 people.
Sandy Ground Harbor on Anguilla features a luxurious stretch of white sand.
William A. Boyd Jr. / Courtesy of Anguilla Tourist BoardSandy Ground Harbor on Anguilla features a luxurious stretch of white sand.

When you arrive

Docking information

Anguilla is home to a small port, Road Bay, in Sandy Ground, where ships dock. Only the smallest ships can pull in and tenders are required.

Getting around

Taxis are available from Sandy Ground for those looking to explore other areas of the island. Rental cars are available for visitors and can be delivered directly to Sandy Ground for guests. In addition to the rental fee, rentals require the purchase of a temporary driver's license ($20) to legally navigate Anguilla’s roads. Have your driver’s license ready to show the rental agency.

Free Wi-Fi

Many of the cafes on Anguilla have free Wi-Fi. Just look for the signs.

Need to know

Documents needed: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a passport.

Language: English, with West Indian flair.

Currency: The Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD) is the official currency though the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere.

Safety: Crime is virtually nonexistent in Anguilla but visitors should take standard precautions.

Your take

Have you been to Anguilla? Tell me about your experience with a comment or write a short article. If you'll be visiting, drop me a line!

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

miles to go!

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Shannon Kircher
Shannon Kircher is the Chief Curator at Cruiseable, hotel marketer and travel blogger based on the Caribbean island of Anguilla.

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Overheard

 ‘‘(Anguilla) doesn't offer a lot of the usual volcanic, green Caribbean scenery, but its 30-some beaches are world-class beauties and many of them remain undeveloped.’’

San Francisco Chronicle

Happiness is the sea shuttle from Sandy Ground to Sandy Island. The island has a beach and a little beach shack where the thing to get is the crayfish. That and JoJo's rum punch.”

Islands magazine

‘‘Unlike its volcanic neighbors, Anguilla’s flat, limestone landscape gives way to some incredible beaches. Our favorites are Shoal Bay, Meads Bay, and the wild, blustery Junks Hole, where you’ll find offshore reefs that evoke Robinson Crusoe fantasies.’’

Travel + Leisure

“This British West Indies Isle is glam, no doubt. It's a go-to haven for celebs escaping the limelight, and know for its gourmet scene at resorts like CuisinArt. But even  the former sous chef at Cap Jaluca likes to keep it real, which he now does on a daily basis, serving some of the island's best food out of a truck near the post office in the Valley. The $14 lobster quesadilla at Hungry's Good Food rivals other showier preparations, and the goat soup (which I ordered only after a strong nudge from a local behind me in line) was surprisingly tender. Best part, though? Taking all of it with me to the beach and plopping down on the sand.”

Islands magazine

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