2021 Anguilla Vacation Guide
With more than 30 beaches on 12 miles of coastline and some of the Caribbean’s best resorts and restaurants, Anguilla and its resorts continually sit on the top of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure award lists. Part of the British West Indies, Anguilla is home to the Caribbean’s highest concentration of luxury properties. Most of them are on the western half in Shoal Bay West, Rendezvous Bay, and Meads Bay.
Although still a long way from being overdeveloped (in 1980, the government decided to limit development to discreet, small hotels and elegant, upscale resorts), Anguilla is becoming more sophisticated with each season. The island is booming with recent hotel and restaurant openings and its airport runway is growing to accommodate larger commercial planes in addition to private jets. But the lure remains: great beaches, elegant resorts, and fabulous dining
History of Anguilla
Inhabited from around 2,000BC by an Arawak-speaking Amerindian people who originated from South America, Anguilla was first known as Malliouhana, the sea serpent. The British colonized Anguilla in 1650, but the stay was short-lived as, in 1656, Amerindians from a neighboring island wiped out their settlement. For around 150 years, the British and French fought each other for control of the island, causing huge disruption to its people and its economy.
In 1825, the British maneuvered Anguilla into a union with St Kitts-Nevis. This resulted in great resentment among the Anguillans, who were not dealt a fair hand under the new administration. Tensions built up over the following 145 years, during which time the Anguillans battled for direct administration from Britain. In 1967, the situation came to a head when the islanders forcefully expelled the police authorities from the island effectively bringing to an end the formal relationship with the three islands. It took until 19 December 1980 before Anguilla finally became a British Dependent Territory.
Anguilla is located in the Eastern Caribbean just one-hour east of Puerto Rico by air and seven minutes north of St. Maarten by air, and 20 minutes north from French St. Martin by ferry.
Currently, there are no direct international flights for Anguilla travel. However, American Airlines offers several daily flights from the major U.S. gateways into Puerto Rico with connecting service on American Eagle into Anguilla; Continental Airlines provides service from Newark into St. Maarten & Antigua; US Airways, Delta and American also provide service into St. Maarten and a short 20 minute ferry ride will take you from St. Martin into Anguilla. Air Jamaica offers service into Antigua with connecting service on Caribbean Star into Anguilla.
A ferry service also operates from Marigot Bay on St Martin to Blowing Point in Anguilla, a trip that takes approximately 20 minutes.
- Entry Requirements: A valid passport and onward or return ticket are required for entry for your Anguilla vacation. A departure tax of US $20 is charged at the airport and US$3 at the ferry port.
- Language: English is the mother tongue.
- Currency: The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is the official currency, although US dollars are also accepted. Anguilla is a tax-free island and there are no foreign exchange restrictions.
- Population: Approximately 12,300.
- Electricity: 110 volts AC.
On Water: Every resort has sailing, windsurfing, and water skiing. The island is not great for snorkeling, but a boat trip to Sandy Cay is the best bet.
On Land: Art Gallery Tours, Museum Tours, Horseback Riding, biking, tennis, spa & wellness, hiking, bird watching, and Photography Tours.
Spas: Anguilla is definitely a retreat for the weary with incredible innovative spas to calm and soothe the overworked. The best on the island is the Spa at Malliouhana. Its 15,000-square-foot building offers aromatherapies, facials, polishes, wraps, scrubs, and a variety of massages. Venus Spa offers a mean physical fitness menu with everything from Killer Abs to Fitness Over 50 programs and yoga sessions held in a thatched pavilion under the palm trees. Cap Juluca has just opened a fitness center, a yoga and Pilates studio, and six spa treatment rooms.
Nightlife: Anguilla also has an eclectic nightlife with plenty of live music and dancing options. Classical pianists and guitarists, a quiet saxophone, reggae, steel drum, and calypso bands are just a few styles heard on the island nightly at bars, restaurants, and hotels. Sandy Ground is great for nightlife and music on the weekends and during the week entertainment is found in Shoal Bay East.
Sightseeing: Sixteen miles long and three miles wide, Anguilla is to explore. One major road runs from the East End to the West End, with smaller roads branching off. Whether you’re seeing the island by taxi, bike, scooter or car, there is plenty to see and many gorgeous resorts to navigate. Bikes are available for about $10/day and scooters for $20/day. Try one of these local shops for rentals.
Anguilla resorts, hotels, and villas
Predominantly associated with world-class hotels and luxury resorts, Anguilla vacation also offers accommodation in guest houses, self-catering apartments, seaside villas, and cottages to suit a variety of different tastes and budgets. Families, couples and groups are all welcome at all Anguilla resorts. Anguilla might seem like a quiet, out of the way place. It is… but it’s also home to some of the Caribbean’s fanciest resorts. It’s also got terrific food, so it has become a hot spot for celebrities. Cap Juluca, Malliouhana, and CusinArt are three of the top resorts in all of the Caribbean. All feature beautiful facilities, right on the beach with excellent food. But there are also some affordable places. Anguilla Tourist has the details:
Cap Juluca (pictured on right; 888/858-5822 or 264/497-6666; www.capjuluca.com; doubles from $780, including breakfast, water sports, and afternoon tea), on mile-long Maundays Bay Beach, Cap Juluca is on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List year after year and was the No. 1 hotel in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas on Travel + Leisure’s 2004 World’s Best Awards. Rooms have Italian tile floors, Frette linens and private walled terrace. The staff cater to and pamper guests. It offers what some call the most beautiful restaurant on the island, Pimms.
Malliouhana Hotel & Spa (800/835-0796 or 264/497-6111; www.malliouhana.com; doubles from $620) sits on the cliffs above Meads Bay surrounded by lush grounds and two miles of beach. The Mediterranean designed hotel is famous for its French cuisine and incredible wine cellar in the Main House restaurant and its 15,000 square foot ocean-side spa.
CuisinArt Resort & Spa (Rendezvous Bay; 800/943-3210 or 264/498-2000; www.cuisinartresort.com; doubles from $550) is an exquisite Grecian resort on two miles of white sand. Also listed in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2005 Gold List, CuisinArt features spacious beautifully appointed rooms and a great staff taking care of your every need. The grounds also have a hydroponic farm that enables the resort to grow much of its own produce. Chef Daniel Orr, formerly of Guastavino’s in New York, was brought in last year to oversee the resort’s three restaurants, which feature Mediterranean cuisine.
Covecastles (Shoal Bay West; 800/223-1108 or 264/497-6801; www.covecastles.com; from $1,095 per day), has two- to five-bedroom beach houses and villas which feature enormous rooms with tropical minimalist interiors, the latest electronics, and full hotel amenities (concierge, 24/7 room service). Covecastles offers interesting modern architecture overlooking an unspoiled beach with plenty of privacy.
Frangipani Beach Club (Meads Bay; 800/892-4564; www.frangipani.ai; from $300 for a guest room high season) is a Spanish style resort with beautiful one to three-bedroom suites decorated with an island flair. There is a restaurant on the grounds.
Altamer (www.altamer.com) is where the fancy-schmancy people stay. Villas start at the $20,000 per week range. This is where Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt reportedly stayed right before their breakup.
Tip: Lloyd’s Bed and Breakfast (http://188.8.131.52/index.cfm) is an inexpensive alternative. It was favorably reviewed by the NY Times Sunday Travel section
Caribbean flavors have been combined with those from Europe and the Americas to create a wide range of dishes. Seafood features heavily on Anguillan menus, with local crayfish and whole lobster or grilled Snapper, Swordfish and Mahi Mahi prepared with blackened garlic or mustard seed sauce among the specialties. Restaurants are plentiful on the island and there is something to suit every palate.
There are more than sixty miles of roads on Anguilla, the majority of them with a sealed surface. Car, bike, jeep and taxi hire are available. Driving is on the left and the speed limit is 30mph.
The Anguilla National Trust was established in 1993 to protect the island’s natural environment and to preserve its archaeological, historical and cultural resources. Among its current on-going projects is the rehabilitation of the island’s sand dunes, together with a number of conservation programs designed to ensure the protection of Sea Turtles and Iguanas. There are six marine parks within Anguillan waters.
Anguilla is renowned for its unspoiled, tranquil, white-sand beaches – arguably among the best in the world. There are 33 Anguilla beaches on this small island, which measures just 35 square miles. They range from Shoal Bay East with its one-mile stretch of sand, watersports facilities, and restaurants, to the secluded Captain’s Bay which is accessed along a dirt track.
Generally, the beaches are all great in Anguilla. It’s a mostly flat island and the beaches are short, clean and have a beautifully soft feel. And they are plentiful. You won’t have trouble finding a great place to sit. The beaches along the southwest, facing St. Maarten are particularly great. This would mean Cap Juluca and Altamer resorts. If you are not staying here — that’s fine. Just go for lunch and sit along the beach after you dine. The beach along the northwest coast (see picture at right) is also fabulous and a little more public. This is near the Malliouhana.
Don’t miss a trip to Sandy Cay. It’s just as it says… a small sandy beach located about 1/4 mile off the north coast of Anguilla. Bring a lunch and some red stripes. Perfect.
Among the major events on the Anguillan calendar are:
- Anguilla Cultural Festival (February) – events include live music, sponsored by the National Trust;
- The Moonsplash Music Festival at Rendezvous Bay (March) – a showcase of the Caribbean and international talent under the first full moon of March;
- Anguilla Day (May 30) – commemorating the Anguillan Revolution;
- Summer Festival (August) – music, dancing, competitions, fairs, and street parades ;
Boat races are held throughout the year – boat racing is the national sport!
- Festival Del Mar – (May) yacht regatta, fish tournaments, beachside fish fry everything to celebrate the sea
- Tranquility Jazz Festival – a three-day homage to Jazz at historic Sandy Ground