I write this post to share with you a hidden gem of an island in the Caribbean. It’s one of those places that is so lovely that you want to tell the world and at the same time you want to keep it secret and return again and again and not tell a soul of your find. I have decided to share my knowledge with you. 🙂
I am talking about the Caribbean island of Anguilla. It is a small island that is 35 square miles and 16 miles long. From West Canada it is easy to get to. Fly into the island St. Maarten (best routing from Calgary is Calgary-Toronto-St. Maarten). From the Dutch St. Maarten airport the best ways – that I love – to get to Anguilla is take a 30 minute private sea shuttle to Anguilla (from 60 USD pp) or fly 7.5 minutes to Anguilla (from 80 USD pp).
Who goes to Anguilla?
Those who are looking for a unique experience; those who have traveled to the ‘all inclusive Caribbean’ and want the authentic Caribbean, those wanting the best beaches in the world; honeymooners will rejoice here; destination weddings are picture perfect; and family vacations and reunions will be forever be reminisced.
Who else vacations in Anguilla?
It is a desired retreat for celebrities with no paparazzi and is very private. You may run into the rich and famous or find that they are in the villa next to you. But…don’t run up for an autograph, everyone is here to have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. Some of the stars who have vacationed here are Robin Williams, Robert de Niro, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Jay-Z + Beyonce, Kevin Kline, Janet Jackson, Paul McCartney, Denzel Washington…
What is the appeal?
- It is Anguilla’s 33 pristine beaches with soft, white sand that is the largest draw. Anguilla’s beaches constantly win awards for the best beaches in the world. Shoal Bay is one of the best beaches (voted by the Travel Channel).
- The island is small and there are only 14, 866 people who live here who are very warm, sincere and hospitable. There is no unemployment or poverty. Anguillians are happy and you feel it. When you visit, you become part of the culture and that doesn’t happen in many Caribbean islands anymore.
- Moorish Architecture…the white buildings with blue sky and turquoise sea is just stunning.
- The weather is excellent all year long. Because of its location near the equator, temperatures here don’t vary drastically throughout the year. Anguilla’s seasons are based on the amount of rain, resulting in a dry and a rainy season. There is more rain in the summer but rainstorms last only a few minutes. Average daily temperatures year round are between 25 – 30°C. Average yearly rainfall is 35 inches which is great news for travelers!
Where to stay in Anguilla… sounds expensive?
That is a common misconception. You can spend $200 USD a night in a charming resort or villa that is steps from the best beaches in the world or you can spend $500 – $1500 a night or spend a small fortune in some of world’s finest beachfront hotels depending if you enjoying a junior suite or the expansive penthouse. Or rent a large 4 (or more) bedroom private villas for your group event with private pools, chef and more. A holiday to Anguilla will suit any budget. Read my post on where to stay in Anguilla!
What is there to do in Anguilla?
Diving, snorkeling, fishing, golfing, hiking, playing tennis, biking, horse riding, sailing, Pelican Trail at Little Bay, 20 art galleries, shopping, spa at CuisinArt Resort (and many more spa opportunities), excursion to Sandy Island, excursion to Prickly Pear Island, or take a helicopter to private island for picnic and for cliff diving.
Where to eat and drink?
There are so many choices on the island. Anguilla has more restaurants than you will find in New York City or in Toronto! For real! You will find no McDonalds, no KFC, no chain restaurants. The Malliouhana Hotel has the only 2 star Michelin Restaurant in all the Caribbean. Or try the famous Johnno’s Place for a casual lunch and for a night club atmosphere that is loud and fun, you must go to the Pumphouse. Chefs from Anguilla are constantly winning awards for their cuisine.
The cost for casual dining to fine dining is very relative to the costs in Canada. If you are renting a villa, you also have the ability to cook for yourself. There are grocery shops and markets all around the island that you can shop at. US dollar is accepted everywhere or the Eastern Caribbean Dollar is accepted.
Festivals: The residents of Anguilla know how to party.
Jazz Festival – every year in November.
Summer Fest – every year in August and is an explosion of art, local culture, music and boat racing.
Moon Splash – traditionally in March (date may change) and is a reggae music festival that brings in very well known artists and performers.
If you are not in Anguilla for one of their festivals, have no fear. Anguilla is full of island beats for you to enjoy any day of the year.
It is best to rent a car and its very easy to drive around. Driving is on the left side of the road (as the island is a British overseas territory). There are taxis available and if you are walking along the road, the friendly locals will often give you a lift.