They call Anguilla tranquility wrapped in blue, and as you fly over the tiny island approaching the airport, you immediately understand why. The brilliant blue of the water is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Simply put, Anguilla is paradise. Located in the Caribbean, a short ferry ride from the more well-known island of St. Maarten, the island that is about the size of Manhattan is home to 33 different beaches, each more perfect than the last. No cruise ships are allowed here, so it’s quiet. Throw in some of the best food you’ll ever eat, the kindest local people and stunning resorts, and Anguilla will be your new favorite destination. It is known for offering some of the most luxurious amenities in the Caribbean. (That may be why celebrities like George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock are all fans.) It’s great for a girlfriend getaway, a romantic weekend or a trip with the whole family. There is truly something for everyone here.
The only drawback is that it is slightly harder to get there than it used to be because the island was hit by Hurricane Irma last summer. While most of the island has recovered, the airlines have scaled back on the number of flights they’re offering to the area, and getting there can take a little bit of strategy and maneuvering. But don’t worry – we’re told that’s expected to change in the next few months, and trust us … it’s worth it to experience this incredible island paradise.
Pre-hurricane, many cities offered direct flights to neighboring St. Maarten, where you could take a quick scenic ferry ride and be on a beach in Anguilla in under five hours. Fingers crossed that’s the case again soon!
The Ultimate Anguilla Guide
Where to Stay:
Frangipani Beach Resort is a charming boutique hotel that features 19 rooms and suites offering an intimate experience with the luxury and amenities for which Anguilla is known. The young California couple that owns and runs the resort is so adorable they were recently featured as the cover models for the Vineyard Vines catalog. The resort itself is lovely and elegant – not to mention stunning.
The gorgeous infinity pool is surrounded by comfy lounge chairs and looks out at the beach, which is just a few steps away.
If you want to bring the whole family or a group of girls, the newly added 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom villa is the ultimate in luxury with tons of space, a fully equipped kitchen and the option to hire a private chef for a one-off dinner experience or an entire week of meals at home.
They also have an adorable boutique that the owner has carefully curated with a great mix of stylish dresses, accessories and beachwear for men and women.
If you prefer more of a large resort feel, the Four Seasons Anguilla also offers a luxury experience. You can stay in anything from a traditional guest room to a townhouse or villa. Many have their own plunge pools on the patio, marble bathrooms and gourmet kitchens. There are three pools on the property — two reserved for adults only. This is definitely the place for a couples vacation – the resort has a very sexy vibe!
They also have a beautiful boutique on the property, with everything from James Perse t-shirts to candles, swimsuits and evening wear. Just bring your credit card – nothing here is cheap.
Where to Eat:
Anguilla may be small, but as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the island is home to more than 100 restaurants, some world-renowned chefs and, of course, the island’s signature drink: rum punch.
The Straw Hat restaurant is beachfront on beautiful Meads Bay (adjacent to the Frangipani resort). Named one of the Top 50 Hot New Restaurants of the World by Condé Nast Traveler, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. And everything is delicious. Seriously.
The Pennsylvania chef/owners at Veya call their food the “cuisine of the sun,” and it’s a minxy fusion of exotic flavors from hot spots around the globe. The food and the décor are both visually stunning. Plan on dining here for a special evening out.
Blanchards has long been a staple and a favorite in Anguilla since the Vermont couple that owns it opened their doors in 1995. The restaurant is built around lush tropical gardens and is just feet from the sea. The food is so good, the duo wrote a successful cookbook and opened up Blanchards Beach Shack for a more laid-back lunch crowd. Sadly, both were hit hard in the hurricane and have been closed since last summer. They are hoping to re-open both the Beach Shack and main restaurant soon. Check the website for updates.
Cobà is an open-air seafood restaurant on the Four Seasons property that sits where Barnes Bay and Meads Bay come together. The bluff-top location offers sweeping views of the sea that are truly breathtaking. SB TIP: Order the crayfish (not crawfish). Similar to lobster, it is a local specialty, and it is divine!
Falcon Nest Bar and Grill is the ultimate beach bar. This might be the best lobster on the island, and not many tourists seem to know about it. It’s pretty much just a wood shack and some picnic tables on the beach … but that’s all you need.
Don’t miss happy hour at Picante. Owned by high school sweethearts from California, this was the first Mexican restaurant on the island, and you’ll find a mix of locals and expats regularly enjoying a good margarita and some great food.
The on-site bar at Four Seasons, the Sunset Lounge, is one of the best on the island, appropriately named as it offers stunning views of the sunset. Guests gather here nightly to take it all in. With an adults-only saltwater infinity pool that overlooks the setting sun and a DJ mixing tranquil European and reggae-tinged sounds, it’s the ideal island lounge setting for relaxing during the day and unwinding at night.
SunShine Shack is located on Rendezvous Bay and offers a full day of fun on the beach – and some of the best food on the island. Bring your beach towel and plan to spend the day enjoying water sports, playing cornhole on the beach or just lounging under an umbrella.
Almost all of the restaurants offer al fresco dining, which is amazing. Just pack a denim jacket or light sweater because it cools off (just enough!) at night.
What to Do:
Make sure you take advantage of some of the best beaches in the world. (They are literally ranked some of the best beaches in the world.) Spend the day snorkeling, scuba diving or just sunning. You can also hop a boat to spend the day at one of the small nearby islands, or take the ferry over to St. Maarten for the day.
If you’re staying for a while and you’ll have a kitchen, make sure you stop by Best Buy. That’s the biggest grocery store on the island, and you can stock up on water … and wine.
If you want to get out and explore (and you should!), rent a car. They drive on the other side of the road, but you can request a typical American car where the driver side is where we’re accustomed to. Getting around is fairly easy, and the locals are great about giving directions.
Bottom line, soak it in … Anguilla is truly paradise!
To start planning your trip to Anguilla, visit the Anguilla Tourist Board website at ivisitanguilla.com.
Longing for a getaway? Check out even more amazing destinations in our travel section.