Barely 35 square miles in size, and rising to a highest
point of just over two hundred feet, Anguilla
has an interior that is dry, dusty and covered in scrubby vegetation. However,
this fact is largely ignored by an increasing stream of visitors who beat their
way here for the glorious turquoise waters and truly stunning
. Some of these, particularly Rendezvous
in the southwest and Shoal
in the northeast, are among the finest in the Caribbean.
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Long ignored by tourists, tiny Anguilla has benefited from careful study of
the planning mistakes that have badly damaged neighbours like St Martin/St
, where runaway development has led to rising
and serious social problems. By contrast, Anguilla has
eschewed large-scale tourist complexes
, successfully aiming for
relatively limited impact on the island's scarce resources. As a result, the
island feels very safe
. If you're happy with beach wandering, watersports and
plenty of good restaurants, Anguilla is hard to beat.
Like other Caribbean
is a year-round destination;
however, the best time to visit is between mid-December
when rainfall is low and the heat is tempered by cooling trade
Anguilla is centred around its
, from which roads head both east and west to the
island's fine beaches and natural attractions, chief among them shimmering
Shoal Bay East
. There are no towns or villages
as such on the island, and the closest thing you'll find are the small clusters
of houses found in areas such as Sandy
and Island Harbour
Anguilla's climate is tropical, with
little seasonal variation. Temperatures range from 22°C to 30°C. Rainfall is
low, averaging 100 centimeters annually, with substantial variation from year to
year. Hurricanes are a threat in the summer or fall. The scant rainfall and poor
soil allow for only low scrub vegetation.
Much as in other former
British colonies, the official language of Anguilla is English
The official currency of Anguilla is the Eastern
, although US dollars are widely accepted. The EC$ is
divided into 100 cents. Bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 EC
dollars; coins in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents. At the time of writing, the rate
EC$2.70 to US$1.
Credit cards are taken at most hotels and restaurants.
Most of the banks are in The Valley and
include Barclays, Scotia and National Bank of Anguilla, normally open from
Monday to Thursday 8am-2pm and Friday 8am-4pm.
Seafood aside, almost everything is imported, so prices are relatively high.
To compound matters, a 15 percent service charge is added to your bill at
many restaurants, and 18 percent in tax and service
charges at most hotels
Local time is GMT -4.
are scattered around the island; most take phonecards, sold at many shops and
hotels or at the Cable and Wireless office in The Valley.
The post office
is in The Valley and open Monday to
Most hotels will let you hook up to their internet
minimal or no charge, and there's an internet cafe at Ripples
restaurant in Sandy
The country code for Anguilla is 264.
A 10% to 15%
service charge is added to all hotel bills, though it doesn't always go to
It's usually expected that you will tip more -- $5 per person
per day for the housekeeping staff, $20 for a helpful concierge, and $10 per day
for the group to beach attendants. It is not uncommon to tip more generously,
particularly at higher-end resorts.
Many restaurants include a
service charge of 10% to 15% on the bill; it is your choice to tip more if you feel the service is
deserving. If there is no surcharge, tip about 15%. If you have taken most meals
at your hotel's dining room, approximately $100 per week can be handed to the
restaurant manager in an envelope to be divided among the staff.
Taxi drivers should receive 10% of the
is a quiet, relatively safe island, but there's no sense in tempting fate by leaving your
valuables unattended in your hotel room, on the beach, or in your car. Most
hotel rooms are equipped with a safe to stash your valuables.
The current is 110
volts, the same as in North America; U.S.-standard two-prong plugs will work
There is only one hospital in Anguilla and facilities are limited. Private medical services are available at
Medical Centre , t 497 3053. Prescriptions can be filled at the
Princess Alexandra Pharmacy, the Valley or
Paramount Pharmacy in Water Swamp. It is advisable to travel with sufficient
medication for your stay.
Check that your coverage for polio and tetanus
is up to date. There is no malaria in Anguilla. You should take normal
precautions against mosquito bites. If you are susceptible then make sure to use
insect repellent during daylight hours and after sunset.
Hospital , The Valley, t 497
In-and-out patient care and a 24 hour
emergency room. Serious medical cases/those requiring surgery need to be flown
to the nearest suitable facilities which in many cases will be in Miami.
Anguilla has something of a reputation in
certain circles for its medical tourism, particularly in
plastic surgery, through the Hughes Medical Centre
owned by Dr Lowell Hughes, a blue building on the
West End Road .
With the exception of Yellow
Fever , where a
vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year of age coming
from infected areas, no vaccinations are required for entry into Anguilla,
however please check with your GP prior to travelling.
January 1- New Year's Day
May 1- Labour Day
Dec 25- Christmas Day
Dec 26- Boxing Day
As well as the public holidays we've listed above, Anguilla celebrates
Anguilla Day on May 30, Constitution Day on August 6 and
Separation Day on December 19.
There's a fun but fairly low-key summer carnival , normally
during the first week of August, with boat races, live bands, a Miss
Anguilla pageant and a calypso show. Boat races are also held over Easter weekend and during the run-up
to the carnival - keep an eye out in the newspapers and free tourist magazines
for locations and times.
For ambulance, fire and police dial 911
Food and Drink
There are many good
restaurants in Anguilla, many focusing on local
seafood such as snapper, grouper,
conch and lobster. Island specialities include
pumpkin soup, conch salad and goat
stew, though you'll rarely find these at the more upmarket joints.
Nightlife is pretty quiet, with the occasional live band at one
of the bars in Sandy
Ground or Shoal Bay East. To see what's on, pick up the free monthly What We Do in
Anguilla, available from the
tourist office, airport and most hotels.
Rendezvous Bay Hotel
tel 264/497-6549. Excellent hotel restaurant
on the southwest coast, where you can eat on the terrace or in the garden
overlooking the magnificent bay. Evenings sees the chef serving
up a more formal menu of gumbo soup, interesting
salads and fresh, tasty seafood. There's
live music every Sunday from 7pm. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Shoal Bay West tel 264/497-6801. Top-quality French- and
Caribbean-style food, from starters such as sauteed snails with
garlic butter, through mains of lobster laced
with fresh truffle cream sauce to unforgettable
black-and-white chocolate mousse cake with raspberry
sauce. Expect to pay for the privilege, around US$60 for three courses. Dinner only, closed
Ground tel 264/497-2728. Easy-going open-plan
bar and restaurant on the beach at Sandy Ground,
dishing up tasty and inexpensive meals of pumpkin
soup, grouper, snapper,
curried goat and burgers for US$8-12 per
person. Occasional live music on Saturday and Sunday. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Keel The Valley tel 264/497-2930. Probably the place to go if you're feeling in the
money, with a fine hand in the kitchen behind exquisite dishes like
crayfish ravioli, seared foie gras with
truffles and lightly curried lobster. Starters run US$10-20, main courses US$25-40, and there's a
seven-course tasting menu for US$100. Open Friday to Monday, dinner only.
Beach Bar Shoal
Bay Villas tel 264/497-5598. One of a series of beachfront
bars along glorious Shoal Bay, all fairly similar in price and
quality , Le Beach offers simple meals all
day, ranging from sandwiches, burgers and
pizza for lunch (US$5-10 per person) to fish
and chicken meals in the evening at double those prices.
There's also a West Indian buffet on Wednesday from 6.30pm for US$20 per person,
with live music. A good place, too, to just chill out after
exerting yourself in the sea (you can rent snorkels nearby). Open daily for
lunch and dinner.
Old Cotton Gin Ice Cream Parlour The Valley tel 264/497-3328.
Fantastic variety of delicious ice creams
(coconut, mango, ginger and the like) as well as soft drinks, coffee and
home-made cakes. Open daily except Tues, 10am-8pm.
Ripples Sandy Ground tel
264/497-3380. Delicious food dished up all day, specializing in local seafood
dishes like creole snapper or coconut shrimp as well as pasta and burgers.
There's a half-price happy hour every evening 5-7pm and you can expect to pay
US$25-40 for three courses (drinks not included). Open daily noon-midnight.
Roy's Crocus Bay tel 264/497-2470. English-style
pub on the beach, offering good and reasonably priced sandwiches and fish and chips at
lunch, a more formal menu including seafood
, sirloin steaks and prime rib in the evening, with starters
from US$5 and main courses from US$20. Daily happy hour with half-price drinks
and cheap food 5-7pm and live music on Saturday evening. Open daily for lunch
Cay opposite Island Harbour tel
264/497-5123. Flag down the boat that crosses between the harbour and the cay
just offshore, and settle down for tasty food in a great beachside location.
Grilled chicken and lobster are the main
ingredients on the menu (expect to pay US$25-35 per person) and there's
live music on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Worth phoning ahead to reserve a table. Open noon-4pm, closed
Smitty's Island Harbour tel 264/497-4300. Friendly little bar
and restaurant on the beach, with fish and lobster fresh off the boats as well
as barbecued chicken, ribs and
courses start at around US$6. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Amerindians are thought to have settled in Anguilla around 1500 BC, living
in small settlements dotted around the island. Major remains have been found at
twenty sites including the Fountain, the island's only natural spring, near
Bay. Columbus missed the island on his
trips to the New World in the 1490s, but Spanish explorers who
passed by shortly afterwards named the island Anguilla (Spanish for eel) for its long thin shape.
The first Europeans to establish a permanent base here were the
British, who arrived in 1650 and began growing tobacco and cotton, and raising livestock
with a small number of imported slaves. Short on rainfall, and without the size
or the quality of soil to enable its plantations to compete with nearby islands,
Anguilla never really flourished. Those who could afford to leave made off for
more prosperous islands.
For centuries the islanders who remained managed on little more than
subsistence farming and fishing . Furthermore, they developed a reputation for
boat building and seamanship, running boats that exported salt and fish and
carried local men off for seasonal work in the sugar fields of Santo Domingo
(present-day Dominican Republic) and the oil refineries of Aruba and
After World War II, with its major Caribbean colonies pressing for
independence, Britain showed little interest in continuing to maintain Anguilla.
For convenience, it was decided in the 1960s that the island should be
administered alongside nearby St Kitts and Nevis , and a
union of the islands was put in place. Anguillans, who regarded the politicians
on St Kitts as arrogant and bullying, were outraged and demonstrated against the
union. They declared independence, sending home the policemen installed by St
Kitts and calling in a Harvard law professor to draft a national constitution.
Showing a wholly disproportionate reaction, British troops decided to invade
and crush "The Rebellion" . In March 1969 a crack battalion of
over three hundred stormed ashore, only to be met by local citizens waving flags
and demanding to be put back directly under British rule. Not a shot was fired,
and the event was dubbed Britain's Bay of Piglets.
Shame-faced, Britain resumed direct responsibility for Anguilla, which it has
maintained to this day, with the island run by an elected government but the
British-appointed Governor in charge of matters of defence and foreign policy.
Tourism took off in the 1980s, when day-trippers from
nearby St Martin/St Maarten began to arrive in droves. Today the industry drives
the local economy, leaving fewer and fewer of its nearly 10,000 inhabitants
dependent on the trade in lobster and fish that sustained previous
One of the region's greatest beaches, big enough
that you'll find your own quiet spot away from the crowds, and dotted with
several good restaurants.
Take the ferry out to this tiny island and snack on
tasty fresh lobster, grilled for you right by the beach.
There is no public transportation system,
so you'll need to rent a car if you want to explore the island. Options
include Carib (tel 264/497-6020), Connor's (tel 264/497-6433) or Triple K (tel
264/497-2934) and you can expect to pay US$45-50 a day. Most of the rental
companies are based in The Valley, but will normally either deliver to your
hotel or pick you up and bring you to their offices. Temporary licences cost US$20 and are supplied by the
car rental company. Vehicles drive on the left.
Taxis are available
on 264/497-5054 and 497-6089.
EAST OF THE VALLEY
Wherever you're staying on Anguilla, it's
worth making the journey out to Shoal Bay East on the island's northeastern coast, where you'll find one of the
finest beaches in the Eastern Caribbean, backed by coconut palms and sea grape.
The pristine white sand
shelves gently down to the turquoise waters and, though it's often busy, you can
always find your own patch of beach and water. Snorkelling gear, lounge chairs
and towels can be rented from outlets around the Shoal Bay Villas resort where
you'll also find a series of laid-back bars and cafes.
At the west end of Shoal Bay, a dirt track leads to
- a cave that is the island's most
important archeological site, where many Amerindian petroglyphs were found in
1979. The petroglyphs include rare depictions of deities - including a
2000-year-old carving of Jocahu, their supreme God - and the site may well have
been a religious or ceremonial centre and even a place for pilgrimage from other
islands. Sadly, although the government has long had plans to develop the area
as a national park, the Fountain remains closed in order to preserve the
Further east, Island Harbour is home to much of
Anguilla's fishing fleet, along with a touch of tourist development. While it's
not especially pretty, it's one of the most engaging parts of the island with
its brightly painted boats and fishermen laying out their catch for sale. It's
also worth making the trip to the harbour to catch a boat out to tiny Scilly
Cay , where you
can have an excellent lunch at the restaurant and swim and snorkel in the clear
At the extreme east end of the island, the appealingly named
Scrub Island is
also only accessible by boat (don't try to swim it as the currents will drag you
off to St Martin). Home to a colony of goats, a garden of frangipani trees and
an abandoned hotel and airstrip, it offers a couple of good snorkelling patches
but no food or drink so bring your own. Boats make the trip when needed for
around US$60 round-trip; ask at one of the bars in Island
Harbour for details.
A couple of minutes' drive from the airport and pretty much in the dead centre of the
island, THE VALLEY is Anguilla's only town but not a
place where you'll want to spend a great deal of time. It's a functional rather
than inspiring place, home to government, banks and the main shops, and with
little of historic or architectural interest.
The main sight of note is Wallblake House (Tues-Fri 10am-noon; US$5), built in
1787 by a local sugar planter and one of the oldest buildings on
Anguilla. The house and its outbuildings of stables and kitchens are
not on the scale of plantation houses to be found elsewhere in the Caribbean - a
sign that planters here were less successful - but the combination of thick-cut
stone and intricately carved timber is undeniably attractive. Donated to the
Catholic Church in 1959, the house proved too small for holding services and the
adjoining St Gerard's Catholic Church with its peculiar cobbled stone frontage
was therefore built in 1966.
WEST OF THE VALLEY
A mile west of The Valley,
is the island's main low-budget hang-out area, with a number of
to stay and eat and a friendly and
. There's a nice beach, and the tiny village backs
onto a large salt pond popular with local birdlife
; islanders used to rake salt here for export to the Americas
until the costs became prohibitive. Offshore, visible from Sandy Ground,
is a tiny deserted isle with a handful of palm
, just six hundred feet long and a great place for
. If you go in the
early morning, before any of the day-trippers from St
arrive, you may well have the
island to yourself. Boats (US$10 round-trip) leave from the pier between about
9.30am and 4pm whenever there's demand and there's a beach bar on the island
that sells lunch and drinks.
South of Sandy Ground the road leads down through the
residential area of South Hill to Blowing Point, where the ferries from St
Martin dock. There's little to see in either of these places, but just east of
Blowing Point, the sparkling white sand that fringes
offers one of the island's most spectacular beaches - the two-mile crescent is a
great place to find shells. Head past the
Anguilla Great House Beach Resort
for public access to the beach.
Further west still, there's more blindingly white sand at
, home to exclusive Cap Juluca
, one of
the island's top-notch resorts
, while west of here Shoal Bay
West is another curve of lovely white sand
that's worth a visit if you're touring the island.
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