Anguilla is an Eden comprised of beautiful white-sand beaches and clear waters. It is the idyllic destination for watersports, especially snorkeling, and it is one of the world’s top choices for kitesurfing.
Food comes close to equaling watersports as an important Anguillan attraction. They take cooking seriously, and many of their chefs are trained in Paris to produce the most exquisite fusion of the Caribbean and French seafood dishes, whether it is a simple grill or a destination restaurant.
It is easy to find beachfront resorts with secluded villas on the island. This creates the ultimate private getaway while still being able to revel in resort luxury. Some of the Anguillan accommodations are the most fabulous anywhere in the Caribbean.
People travel to Anguilla to find something different, untouched, and a bit out of the ordinary. Anguilla is the most northerly island of the Leeward island group in the Caribbean and a neighbor of St. Maarten, which has the nearest airport. It is easily accessible from the Americas, Europe, or by ferry from one of the other islands.
The island is still relatively undiscovered, uncrowded, and filled with charm.
Interestingly, Anguilla is one of the few Caribbean islands mostly ignored by Christopher Columbus, although he did give the island its name, which translates into snake because of its shape. The original inhabitants were the Taino tribe from South America who began arriving here about 4,000 years ago
Anguilla was eventually settled by British natives from the island of Saint Kitts who were under attack by Indians. Anguilla became their home and refuge while coming under British domination.
Like many of the Caribbean islands, Anguilla is a major sugar producer. And like many, it used slave labor on its plantations. However, the industry never developed due to poor soil conditions. This avoided much of the tensions between plantation owners and workers. Slavery was finally abolished in 1834. Many of the plantation owners went back to England, and the plantations were run by the freed slaves. Others freed slaves began work as sailors, fishermen, or small farmers, creating rare opportunities for local entrepreneurism. Anguilla is so small, the islanders naturally bond together, and everyone gets along.
In 1980, Anguilla officially became of one of England’s dependent overseas territories and independent of Saint Kitts. The British influence can be seen in the fact that cars are driven on the left side of the street. Anguilla’s closeness to the United States has contributed to a day-to-day influence through American television and music, and the majority of Anguillans are computer literate.
Modern Anguilla depends a great deal on tourism and its lobster industry. Visitors to the island will see the importance the people here place on good food, especially cuisine with a strong European influence.
The Valley is the capital of Anguilla, and most visitors will either stay here or at least visit. The town is very much like its island – unpretentious, small, and the ideal place to relax. No skyscrapers here. Instead, there are historical buildings such as the old Wallblake House, once a plantation; now a museum.
The Eastern Caribbean Dollar is Anguilla’s official currency, although ATMs do have US dollars, as well.
English is the primary language spoken on the island.
What Is Anguilla Most Known For?
While stunning aquamarine water and white beaches are what makes Anguilla sing as a vacation destination, visitors should get away from the white sand and explore what else the island has to offer.
Anguilla is a foodie’s heaven. Most resorts, and even many smaller eateries, have chefs trained in France. Nothing but the finest cuisine will do here, and it’s a major attraction for visitors. Whether you are dining in a five-star restaurant, a cute café, or at a food truck, the food is sure to please.
On Island Harbor, follow the locals and your nose to the addictive aroma of freshly baked croissants at Le Bon Pain. There will be a line of people waiting for their baguettes and Café au Lait.
For the best French Toast west of Paris, visit Tasty’s Restaurant in the South Hill district for their Grand Marnier French Toast. Or you might prefer their outstanding Eggs Benedict.
Lunch on Anguilla is about the food, but it is also about the ocean view. There are countless eateries with stunning oceanfront scenery. Try the great food and drinks at Straw Hat Restaurant on Meads Bay Beach while watching the dolphins play in the water.
One of Anguilla’s most memorable beaches is Rendezvous Bay Beach, and it has a great place for lunch. The Sunshine Shack has tables and chairs by the water and serves some incredible ribs. Garvey, the owner, is known and revered for his magical, fall-off-the-bone barbeques.
For dinner in Sandy Ground, Veya’s Restaurant serves an elegant meal in an incredible treehouse setting.
Elvis’ Beach Bar in Sandy Ground serves outstanding food and drinks on the beach and is known for his nightly entertainment. The owner’s name is really Elvis, and he has not left the building.
The Bankie Banks’ Dune Preserve beach bar serves its delicious meals accompanied by live music. Banks, a well-known reggae artist, has performed Bob Dylan and Jimmy Buffett. Sunday is the big day at the Dune Preserve, and artists such as John Mayer have been popping up the Bankie Banks’ Moonsplash festival. So has the keyboardist for Bon Jovi, David Brian.
Sprocka, an Anguillan music legend, performs a variety of instruments and can be seen performing at the large resort hotels in Scilly Cay.
Enjoy lunch by the beach at Gwen’s at Shoal Bay to the beat of its reggae tunes.
Charter boats are the best way to see Anguilla and its neighboring islands. Calypso Charters sails from Anguilla to nearby St. Barths island for great day trips. Spend the day exploring St. Barths before returning to peaceful Anguilla in the evening.
Gotcha Charter Tours provides lively tours to islands such as St. Barts and St. Maarten as well as fishing trips. They’ll take requests if there is a specific island a visitor would like to see. Their usual response is, “We gotcha covered.” Favorite destination islands are Dog Island, Prickly Pear, and Sandy Island. Dog Island is a private, untouched island without buildings. People come here just to lounge on the quiet, peaceful beach before returning home.
When on Prickly Pear, laze at the Tiki Hut Bar located mere yards from the shore, or enjoy a meal at the Prickly Pear Restaurant, also on the beach.
Best Regions to Visit In Anguilla
Anguilla is all about stunning beaches. It is such a small island, visitors can enjoy many of them during one visit.
Shoal Bay East
This is one of the most popular beaches in Anguilla. Visitors usually spend the day here enjoying the bars and restaurants, snorkeling, scuba diving, and simply renting chairs to lounge on the white sand. While the beach can get crowded, it is large enough to always have a quiet area.
Meads Bay Beach
This beach is on the island’s west side. It is relatively uncrowded and ideal for a beach getaway. The beach is lined with vacation villas and several luxury resorts.
Rendezvous Bay is on the south end of Antigua. It is probably one of the last totally undisturbed places in the civilized world. The bay is surrounded by lush green hills and a few mountains. The Papaya Hotel and Spa offers privacy and seclusion and is the starting point to great hiking trails and watersports. English Harbor and its many restaurants is just a short drive from Rendezvous Bay.
This is a small fishing village that has been home to fishermen for generations. Here, the past and the present blend effortlessly. (Island Harbor is much quieter than the fishing village of Sandy Ground.) There is some splendid hiking nearby.
The harbor is absolutely gorgeous. In addition, it has a number of superior restaurants (of course, in Anguilla, every restaurant is superior). Falcon Nest specializes in seafood. It is right by the fishing boats, and if you order lobster, you might see your dinner being unloaded.
If you are on Island Harbor during Easter Weekend, prepare for the sleeping village to awaken to the annual Festival del Mar, a fest in celebration of the sea that has been their life. The fest includes boat races and fishing competitions while the kids get to race crabs.
Scilly Cay is a small beach, fine for swimming and snorkeling, but it is unforgettable. Located within whistling distance from Harbor Island and accessible by boat, it is like stepping outside of the known world. There is only one building on the Cay – a restaurant – and it doesn’t even have electricity! Their lethal rum punch will make visitors forget all about the lack of electricity. The food consists of freshly grilled seafood and salad. The seafood was probably just caught before being served. Scilly Cay is one of Anguilla’s most unique dining experiences. Before taking the boat back to Island Harbor, visitors can enjoy a swim, dance to the beat of the steel drums, or simply snooze on the beach.
The view of Island Harbor is breathtaking.
Best Resort or Hotel in Anguilla
Aurora Anguilla Resort
Located by the famed Rendezvous Bay, the Aurora Anguilla offers one-of-a-kind accommodations, from luxurious beach view suites to villas with butler service. The wide array of activities includes snorkeling at Prickly Pear Cay, guided hikes around the coast, golf, tennis, movie night on the beach, wine tastings and pairings, cave explorations, and marshmallow roasts by a bonfire. Guests get to enjoy the resort’s many dining options and total spa treatment menu.
Take advantage of the Aurora Anguilla Resort’s Wellness package, which includes breakfast for two each day, two one-hour massages, two manicures and pedicures, and nightly turndown service.
Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in Anguilla
Cap Juluca on Maundays Bay had a wonderful view of St. Maarten. Here, romantic pampering is the norm. Guests have their own reserved loungers on the beach, where they are served drinks and meals by their own beach attendant. For indoor dining, there are four restaurants, a lounge, and a bar. Cap Juluca offers golf, tennis, and all watersports.
Each room and suite comes with a terrace and some have a private pool. For larger groups – say a wedding party – a secluded villa offers luxury, space, and privacy with a non-stop ocean view. Guests at the villa can enjoy a special daily breakfast and 24-hour butler service.
Best Resort or Hotel for Families in Anguilla
Carimar Beach Club
Enjoy the villas at the Carimar Beach Club on Meads Bay and indulge in idyllic while being just feet from the ocean. The Beach Club was awarded two TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2019, including the number one family-friendly hotel. It offers scuba diving and snorkeling, boat cruises, horseback riding, and yoga classes, as well as an 18-hole golf course.
Parents can avail themselves of the Club’s babysitting services, cribs, and highchairs. The children will enjoy the available beach toys and games.