Hi fellow travelers! My name is Shannon and welcome to my travel guide on the best things to see and do in the beautiful Anguilla of the Caribbean.
I grew up in Northern California to a rather international family. My mom was born and raised in Malta and my dad’s parents were from Malta and El Salvador. We always had a fusion of cultures in our house which probably inspired a bit of my curiosity about the world.
In 2009, I moved to London to pursue my Masters Degree and that sparked my love of travel in a major way. I started my travel blog in 2009 right before moving to Europe. London was the perfect base to travel extensively and explore some European countries. I have kept traveling ever since then.
My husband shares the same love of travel – so it’s a major priority for us. We typically allocate about 10 weeks a year for international adventures. I’m far from a professional photographer but my love of photography came with that love of travel. It was a pretty natural pairing in my opinion.
Many of us want to capture these special memories and moments and great photos/videos are often our way of doing that. You can check out some of my travel adventures around the world on my Instagram or blog.
Managing Frangipani Beach Resort in Anguilla
Anguilla is an absolute Caribbean gem and despite all of its fans (people who love Anguilla really love Anguilla) it seems to fly under the radar.
My husband and I moved to the island eight years ago to manage Frangipani Beach Resort – a luxury hotel on Meads Bay. His family has owned it since 2005 and we’ve run it for half that time. We’ve learned a ton in the process and have met the most amazing guests (now friends).
I describe our property as the ultimate in barefoot luxury but I’d say that describes Anguilla as a whole. Amazing beaches, world-class dining, cool beach bars, wonderful live music and friendly locals. On top of that, we don’t allow cruise ships, jet skis or casinos – so it draws a special crowd.
We’ve made it our mission to explore as many Caribbean islands as possible while living there. While other islands also have amazing attributes, I always return thinking Anguilla really is the whole package.
Exploring the Entire 33 Square Mile Island
Anguilla is tiny – just 33 square miles – so we’ve explored most of the nooks and crannies. That said, we continue to be introduced to local gems that we hadn’t discovered previously so I know there’s room to explore more.
We have a boat which helps with exploring off-island cays and bays only accessible by boat. I just visited Dog Island (an off-island cay) for the first time just a few months ago and there are still a few hikes that I’d like to do.
Favorite Place in Anguilla: Little Bay
It’s so hard to choose a favorite place in Anguilla but Little Bay is still one of my favorite spots. It’s a marine preserve that’s only accessible by boat and when you’re the only boat out there, it’s pretty special!
We’ve made it our tradition to go out there every Christmas with eggnog and Jimmy Buffett’s Christmas album – a far cry from Christmas by the fire. It’s rugged, almost Southeast Asian-inspired, which is a contrast to the rest of the island’s beaches. We’ve seen many sea turtles out there recently too.
I also love taking visitors to the off-island cays. For example, Prickly Pear Island is gorgeous and Scilly Cay always holds special memories for me.
25 Best Things To Do in Anguilla
I’ve written a ton of articles on my blog – www.thewanderlusteffect.com – about experiences on the island. This includes my round up of 25 things to do in Anguilla, as many people think of Anguilla solely for beach time!
And yes, it’s focused around beaches and water but there’s plenty to keep people active – from water sports, sunset sailing expeditions, horseback riding on the beach, kite surfing and amazing dining experiences. Check out a summary of my top 25 things to do in Anguilla (in no particular order):
- Explore Anguilla’s off-island cays such as Scilly Cay and Sandy Island
- Board a West Indian sloop for a sunset sail with Tradition Sailing
- Discover the top 3 beaches: Meads Bay, Rendezvous Bay and Shoal Bay
- Give water sports a go like paddle-boarding and kite surfing
- Try some fan-favorite restaurants at Picante or Straw Hat
- Listen to some live music at Gwen’s Reggae Grill or Sunshine Shack
- Shop at the handful of boutiques on the island of Anguilla
- Enjoy a round of golf at Cuisinart Resort
- Hire an ATV and explore the island as you please
- Fish up a storm with Scilly Cay Fishing Charters
- Tour the island on a boat trip with Calypso Charters
- Go horseback riding at the beach with Seaside Stables
- Visit the stunning little cove called Little Bay
- Learn about Anguillan history at the Heritage Museum
- Relax with a spa day at Zemi Beach House or Four Seasons
- Try the local BBQ scene at The Strip – a row of restaurants and shacks
- Donate to the Anguilla Animal Rescue Foundation (AARF)
- Purchase some art from the various galleries
- Settle into some of the lesser known beaches such as Savannah Bay
- Experience the evening beach bar scene at Sandy Ground
- Head to the beach for a perfect picnic lunch
- Savour a perfect rum cocktail at Sea Spray Boutique
- Partake in a yoga session at your resort or with a private teacher
- Have lunch at the amazing Jacala Beach Restaurant on Meads Bay
- Take in an Anguillan sunset with a few cold drinks in hand
For a full run down of these amazing 25 experiences in Anguilla head to my blog post – 25 Things To Do.
Raw Caribbean Culture of Anguilla
I think one of the things that makes Anguilla such a draw is that it still embodies some of that raw Caribbean culture. Yes, you can have a cocktail at Four Seasons but you can also pull up to a BBQ joint on the side of the road and grab chicken and ribs at a picnic table with Anguillians.
The local population is friendly and welcoming. When you’re out and about at beach bars in Sandy Ground (one of the most popular places for evenings) you’ll see a mix of tourists, locals and expats hanging out.
Visitors don’t really have to seek cultural immersion in Anguilla as much because it sort of naturally happens when you’re out and about. That being said, I always recommend that people rent cars to get out and explore.
If you stay at your hotel for your entire trip, you’ll have a nice beach and good food but not much more. So much of our mission is getting people to discover what Anguilla has to offer. That’s what keeps people coming back!
Exceptional Food Scene in Anguilla
The food scene in Anguilla is exceptional. It’s widely regarded as one of the culinary capitals of the Caribbean and so much of that is owed to the chef-proprietor model. Many restaurants are run by couples who take a ton of pride in the food that they’re putting out for patrons to enjoy.
We have a wonderful selection of fine dining, which the island has become most famous for, but there’s also really wonderful local restaurants as well serving up home-style Anguillian favorites like curried goat with rice and peas or conch soup with johnny cakes. The food options are endless!
As someone who doesn’t eat meat, I have a harder time with local favorites (e.g. chicken, ribs, etc.) but guests rave about local BBQ! For fine dining, Jacala Beach Restaurant is my favorite for a gorgeous drawn out lunch.
For upscale beachy casual places, I love Straw Hat Restaurant which serves elevated Caribbean fare. For more casual spots, Picante Restaurant is one of our go-to’s for Mexican with a Caribbean twist. For local fare, E’s Oven Restaurant is my go-to though there are lots of great options on the island.
Best Accommodation Options of Anguilla
I’m slightly biased when it comes to accommodation in Anguilla. I’m a boutique hotel lover anyway – it’s the way that I choose to travel for more immersive experiences and a better sense of a destination – and I find that having owner/operators on site really makes a difference.
For folks traveling as a couple (the majority of visitors), I suggest a hotel experience where you get the concierge services, amenities, etc. Of course, I’d recommend our property, Frangipani Beach Resort, for those that prefer a luxury boutique option. We’re right in the middle of Meads Bay.
I think it’s the best location in Anguilla with amazing dining and a handful of great hotels within walking distance. For visitors that prefer larger properties and want a more 5-star experience, I’d suggest Cap Juluca which is a Belmond property. It’s gorgeous and I adore the Belmond brand!
That all said, for families or groups traveling together, there is a nice villa market on the island and that can make more sense for communal spaces and possibly for budget as well. Frangipani has a four-bedroom villa on Meads Bay but there are many other gorgeous villas to consider.
There’s Kandara Villa which overlooks Anguilla’s famous arch and Long Bay Villas which are all beautifully appointed. I recommend all these spots!
Tying the Knot with my Husband on Meads Bay
I have many special memories over the past eight years but I have to say that my wedding was my favorite! My husband and I got married in Anguilla and have since helped other couples tie the knot on Meads Bay.
We had 120 friends and family members on the island for the celebration which was incredible. It was a week of celebrating with welcome parties, a rehearsal dinner, the actual wedding and boat days exploring the island.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Anguilla is a step removed which is why people love it. However, if you haven’t been, trying to sort out your logistics can be frustrating. Trying to figure out how to actually get here is hard. Once you’ve done it, it’s simple.
Your main options are to either fly direct into Anguilla via Puerto Rico (that’s less common) or to fly into neighboring St. Maarten (SXM) and then take a ferry or small plane over. SXM has direct flights from Amsterdam, Paris, Toronto, Miami, New York, Panama and so many other places.
From there, there are ferries to Anguilla or you can take a short flight with Anguilla Air Services if preferred! The other thing worth mentioning: the island uses Eastern Caribbean Dollars (ECD) as the currency (pegged at 2.68 ECD to $1 USD) but USD are accepted everywhere.
Restaurants and hotels are all priced in USD but the grocery store is priced in ECD – a good note so you don’t have wild sticker shock when you go grocery shopping! That’s it from me. Thanks for reading my travel guide on the best things to see and do in Anguilla. Hope to see you here one day!