Anguilla at a glance
ANGUILLA is fashionable but low key, with ice-cool islanders and an unhurried pace of life, generally expensive but also some depth; not that easily accessible (but this keeps the crowds away); truly magnificent white sand beaches, some with beach bars, others barely developed; a small number of excellent and architecturally striking hotels, good service, some less expensive places to stay, also good villas; excellent restaurants; good day sails, good spas.
Read about Anguilla history, population and politics in Island Essentials.
The Definitive Anguilla Island Guide gives you independent reviews, listings, and information from top travel journalists and Anguilla specialists with particular thanks to Tess Hokin for her contributions and 2011 edit.
- Best for:
- Outstanding beaches, gourmet dining, top-end contemporary style
- What for:
- Art, Family, Golf, Spa & Wellness, Weddings & Romance
- Not for:
- All-inclusive, Backpackers, Camping, Naturist, Flowers & Gardens
- How to get there:
- via Antigua, St Martin/St Maarten, St Kitts
- Top tip:
- Take a day trip to St Martin and sample the French Caribbean, or to St Maarten for a spot of Casino life
Anguilla in depth
Anguilla has some of the loveliest beaches in an area that is known for its beaches. Strands of pearl white sand, offset by jade and turquoise shallows and a cerulean sky, stretch around the island. There are half moon curves, meandering strands and tiny cliff-enclosed coves. There are active beaches and deserted ones. The sand is sometimes so soft and deep that walking becomes aerobic exercise. And at night it can sparkle with luminescence. Even the island’s ports are on beaches most islands would sup with the devil for.
Anguilla is one of the Caribbean’s most prestigious destinations at the moment. Besides its superb beaches and sea, it has a string of excellent restaurants, a small crop of luxurious and reliable hotels and some top-notch villas. The island is not as stylish (nor as pretentious, some might say) as nearby St Barths and nor does it have the depth of Barbados. In fact there isn’t so much to do there. But it offers an easy Caribbean life that many visitors come to love. It is expensive, and a touch exclusive, and has pitched itself, wavering momentarily from time to time, successfully at the top of the market.
Anguilla is the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles and it lies around 200 miles east of Puerto Rico, just a few miles north of the French side of St Martin. It is 16 miles long and between one and three and a half miles across, with its highest point, Crocus Hill, at just 213 feet. The island is made of coral limestone, which explains Anguilla’s fabulous white sand, and it has a number of offshore cays. These are uninhabited but make an excellent day out on a sailing trip.
On land Anguilla is not particularly attractive. Its rocky substrate is gnarled and scrub-covered and the buildings are resolutely modern and concrete. But to worry about this is to miss the point of the island, because it also has immense charm. This is mainly due to the Anguillians themselves, who are independent, easy-going and charming and happy to share their easy life with all comers.
Tourism in Anguilla is something of a success story. Since the early 1980s the island has gone from a neglected coral outcrop with literally nothing to its name to one of the Caribbean’s leading destinations. Once it finally wrested political control from an inappropriate colonial arrangement with St Kitts and Nevis (some eighty miles to the south) at the beginning of the eighties, it was able to join a new wave of Caribbean tourism.
A couple of excellent hotels appeared on the pristine beaches. Then, with a wealthy clientele keen to eat out, an unexpected string of excellent restaurants developed. With the help of a few French chefs, a canny island government and the extraordinary system of supply direct from France and Florida via St Maarten next door, this barren, British island has ended up with some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the Caribbean. You can stay in great style and eat out well at a different place each night in Anguilla for ten days.
For all the changes since the early 1980s, going about Anguilla you'll discover it has not lost its easy-going nature and has not yet been swamped by building. There is enough development of high enough quality to give it a good buzz, but there are still hidden, natural corners to escape to and cool, local hangouts to while away some time in. Many of them, of course, on the island’s spectacular beaches.
This Definitive Anguilla Guide is maintained by a team of top travel writers and our own in-house team of Caribbean specialists. The guide contains independent reviews about Anguilla, its accommodation, things to do, places to see, getting around, how to get there and links for travel to Anguilla.
Contributors include Jane Anderson, Deana Bellamy, Feona Gray, Peter Ellegard, Tess Hokin, and Sara Macefield. Picture editor, Holly Cocker. Senior Picture Editor, Alexander Gray.
Or read our other island guides
Anguilla | Antigua | Aruba | Bahamas | Barbados | Bermuda | Bonaire | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Cuba | Curacao | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada and Carriacou | Guadeloupe | Haiti | Jamaica | Martinique | Montserrat | Nevis | Puerto Rico | Saba | St Barthélemy | St Eustatius | St Kitts | St Lucia | St Martin/St Maarten | St Vincent and the Grenadines | Tobago | Trinidad | Turks & Caicos Islands | US Virgin Islands
Looking for inspiration?
- Try Cove Bay for one of the Caribbean's best white sand beaches
- Dine at the fantastic Blanchard's
- Stay at the beautiful Cap Juluca
- Play at the Temenos Golf Club, designed by Greg Norman
- Take a boat trip to the stunning unihabited Prickly Pear Cay