Anguilla is a perfect destination for uncrowded, clean beaches and safe environment. It is possible to stay on the beach in Anguilla, and not see another person for hours at the time. (It is quite a contrast to St.Martin, located seven miles southeast of Anguilla.) Anguilla is home to number of very high end resorts, including Cuisinart, Cap Juluca and Cove Castles. The island is one of the favorite destinations for rich and famous who are trying to avoid the spotlight. Unfortunately, there is a downside related to this - everything is very expensive, and during the whole stay you might feel like somebody has their hand in your pocket at all times. Everything brought to the island is subject to 25% import tax, which tends to drive prices high. Anguilla is as quiet as Caribbean destinations get. Most of the nightlife guides for Anguilla start with words "there is really no nightlife on Anguilla" :) Below is more specific information about traveling to the island, and selected beaches and hotels are covered in Beaches/Hotels section. Check out Anguilla Experience website for complete listing of all resorts and beaches on the island.
Day Trip outside Anguilla:
Traveling to Anguilla
By air: Anguilla airport (code:AXA) is small enough to only accept turboprop planes and small jets. Most of flights come in either via San Juan, Puerto Rico or Antigua. Two main airlines serving the island are American Airlines and LIAT Caribbean Ailines
The cheapest tickets 70% of the time are found directly on the airline web sites (meaning American Airlines), especially if your itinerary is flexible. Other 30% of time major travle web site (like Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz )will have a combination of different carrier flights that ends up being cheaper. Expect to pay about $400-$800, depending on your gateway city in US. Occasionally, American Airlines will have a great deal using the miles for their Citibank AAdvantage card members - you can fly to the island for as little as 22,500 miles from anywhere in US.
Another way of getting to the island is via St.Martin, by flying into St.Martin's Juliana airport (airport code: SXM), taking taxi cab over to Marigot port on French side of St.Martin, and taking Link ferry over to Anguilla. Link ferries also offer the service from Julliana airport, check out their web site for more detail. The web site is little outdated, ferries currently run every half an hour between 8am and 6pm (island time), and the fare is $12/person, payable in cash. Ferry directly from Juliana airport is about $20/person.
Departure taxes for Anguilla:
- Anguilla to Marigot: $5/person
- Marigot to Anguilla: 2 euros/person
- Plane departure tax (any flight from Anguilla): $20/person
The best mode of transport within Anguilla is rental car, with possibility of getting by using taxis. There are several car rental places on the island, some of the resorts maintain a rental fleet on their grounds for guest use as well. Expect to pay about $40/day. You also have to buy Anguillan driving permit, which costs $20 (another example of nickel& diming).
Car rental pointers:
- Note closely any scratches and dents BEFORE leaving the rental lot. Even better, take a picture.
- Drive on the left - it is surprisingly easy to get used to it, especially with light traffic found throughout the island.
- Credit cards are accepted at most establishments, although some places must do it by mail pigeon (judging by the speed of their connection). Be prepared to pay in cash if you want to leave store within 30 minutes of completing your purchase.
- English is a spoken language, with island slang sometimes hard to understand.
- Expect to pay $30-$40/plate during lunch at any of the island restaurants, and $60-80/plate for dinner.
- The selection in island stores is limited, so be prepared to buy whatever is available.
All of the dive sites are on the north side of the island, with several wreck dives. The Dog Island, about 30 minute boat ride north of island has some nice wall dives. There are two diving outfits on the island. If you are staying in southern part of the island, Anguillian Divers are your guys, leaving from Cove Bay (with possible pickup at nearby hotels.) In north part of the island, Shoal Bay Scuba is your only reasonable choice.
Best time to visit is the end of December through middle of May. The one curiosity of island being on same time zone as Miami is that sun rises very early in the morning, and sets early in the evening. Be prepared for darkness by 7 pm, even during summer months. Island gets constant trade winds from the east, except for occasional wind storms coming in from the north during winter. Which means anything from breeze to stiff wind on any of the south-east facing beaches most of the time. The north-west facing beaches get a breeze coming over the island as well. Of course there is a possibility of hurricane, so keep your eyes open before traveling. Finally, bring mosquito repellent, especially during wet season, to avoid being attacked in the evenings. Nothing ruins romantic dinner on the beach faster than couple well placed bites :(