With pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and resorts that cater to your every need, the Caribbean appeals to a lot of travellers. When picking an island, most people naturally gravitate towards the well-established players such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, but head to Anguilla and you may find your own little private paradise.
Although there are no direct flights to Anguilla from Canada, the extra travel time is well worth it. The azure waters, white sand and rum may sound cliché, but Anguilla is the Caribbean’s best kept secret and has started to attract the attention of many travellers.
Things to do in Anguilla
Shoal Bay is arguably the top attraction in Anguilla since it was named the number one beach in the world by the Travel Channel. There are actually 33 beaches on this 26-kilometre stretch, but it really doesn’t matter where you spend the day here since they all have white sand and turquoise water. There are many restaurants nearby and you can also rent equipment if you want to head out on the water. Access to the beaches are free while a two-seat glass bottom kayak rental will cost you about USD $120 for a day.
If you’re looking for nightlife, then you’ll need to head to the Sandy Ground district. The Elvis Beach Bar is known as party central and has a restaurant with a rooftop patio (be sure to order the Elvis rum punch). If you want to hear live music, head to The Pumphouse where they play it five nights a week. This bar/restaurant is a favourite with locals and tourists. Reggae night is the most popular, but they also play Spanish and Rock music for variety. A beer will cost you about USD $4-5 in a bar, but keep in mind they are sold in grocery stores for much cheaper.
Dive fans will definitely be interested in the six marine parks and nine dive wrecks available. If you have time for just one dive, head for the wreck of the Spanish Galleon, El Buen Consejo where coral have grown onto the cannons and anchors. Snorkeling is also an option since there are many calm bays and beaches that are perfect for first-timers. Renting snorkeling gear is quite cheap at USD $10-20 a day.
If you want to learn about the history of Anguilla, make your way to Wallblake House, one of the oldest buildings on the island. Although the site is small, it’s interesting to see the only standing plantation home left on the island. The free tour will take you through kitchen, stables, and slave quarters where you’ll learn how life was back in the late 1700’s. While the tours are free, donations are encouraged.
Romance in Anguilla
Anguilla is just 26 km long and 5 km wide so real estate is at a premium. As a result, the island has mostly catered towards luxury travellers who are looking for getaway that’s off the beaten path. Once you’re on the island, you’ll find that many of the activities are perfect for couples.
Over in Cove Bay, you can go for a seaside horseback ride along an untouched, natural beach. Rides need to be booked in advance and are available from sunset to sunrise, but if timing works out, reserve your ride during a full moon. Safety of the horses and guests are a priority, but no previous riding experience is required. Rides range from USD $50 – $180 depending on the length and type of ride you want.
As weird as it sounds, after you’ve arrived in your private paradise, you can journey to an even more remote paradise on Sandy Island. The island is tiny at 250×75 meters but you probably wouldn’t mind if you and your partner were stranded here. There’s a single restaurant on the island that will serve you some amazing local dishes and mix you some drinks you won’t want to put down. But it’s the turquoise water that surrounds you that will have you thinking that you’ve really found paradise. The cost for the shuttle to Sandy Island is USD $10 roundtrip per person.
Anguilla may be a small island, but it’s impossible to see it all. One way to explore all the secret spots with your significant other is by hiring a private boat. Companies like Calypso Charters Anguilla provide a memorable experience. You can take a cruise or a customized sightseeing trip. Cruises operate twice a week and cost either $95 per person or a private excursion will cost $350 for the first four passengers.
Where to stay
Paradise Cove – Anguilla is an expensive island to visit with rooms starting at USD $250 a night, while luxe accommodations can cost more than $500 a night. Paradise Cove offers slightly more reasonably priced lodging compared to the rest of the island without sacrificing on the amenities. All suites are spacious and come with a kitchen or kitchenette so you have the option of cooking your own meals. There is a pool on site, but you’ll have to take a short walk to get to the beach.
CeBlue Villas & Beach Resort – If you’re headed to Anguilla for a luxury vacation, you can go all out at the CeBlue Villas & Beach Resort. Located on a hillside overlooking Crocus Bay, the property has just eight villas (each sleeping up to 12 guests) so you’ll be getting a pretty private experience. Every villa has their own private pool and you also have direct access to the beach from the resort.
Although Anguilla has a small airport, the best (and cheapest) way to get there is to fly into Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten first. From there, most people catch the ferry over to Anguilla. On average, flights during the low season (June, July, & August) are around $700.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at Moneywehave.com
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