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After flying from Indianapolis to St. Maarten with a layover in Miami, my husband and I arrived in Anguilla via a private boat transfer. From there, we were taken to our first hotel on Mead’s Bay.
Funny enough, our rental car was waiting at the hotel with a key and temporary license. The rental agency hadn’t bothered to gather more information from us other than our names, nor did they ask to see my husband’s driver license.
A local I spoke to said this is pretty much par for the course in Anguilla, and that it was no big deal. “They probably wouldn’t even say anything if you put a dent in your car,” he said. “They may not even notice.”
Over the next four days, I came to understand what he meant when he said it was “no big deal.”
Anguilla is the kind of island where anything goes as long as you’re not hurting anyone. Nobody pays attention to what you’re doing, they certainly don’t judge, and they expect the same treatment in return.
I loved the laid-back vibe on this island, but there was something I loved even more – Anguilla’s beaches, which are some of the most beautiful in the world.
If you get the chance to visit Anguilla, you should jump on it — and for more reasons than one. Here are six reasons you should put Anguilla on your travel bucket list and get there as soon as you can!
#1: Anguilla Beaches are Insane
One of the biggest draws to this island are its beaches, and I immediately learned exactly why tourists rave about them so much. Anguilla’s beaches are filled with some of the softest white sand you’ve ever walked on, and the water is so clear and crazy-blue you won’t even believe it’s real!
I have been to almost every major island in the Caribbean and visited some of the world’s most beautiful beaches; there’s not a single beach that compares to Anguilla’s Shoal Bay or Rendezvous Bay. Imagine a beach with the white sand of the Gulf Coast in Alabama but the clear turquoise waters of Aruba. Add in the fact that the beaches are almost deserted and you have a recipe for the most beautiful beaches in the world.
My favorite beach, Rendezvous Bay, is so gorgeous it rivals the scenery and feel of the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora. Yes, I went there — and I feel this is a factually accurate statement. I mean, look at these pics!
I’m also obsessed with a small beach called Little Bay. This beach is only accessible via boat unless you want to climb directly down the side of a cliff. I can’t wait to spend the day on this beach. Next year when we go, I am going to book a little boat ride over and take a picnic.
I am a Caribbean enthusiast to the core, and I loooooooooooooove a good beach more than almost anyone else. Anguilla beaches are some of the best around, and it’s not even close.
#2: Anguilla Food is Tops
Anguilla’s cuisine is also on point – especially for the Caribbean. The food we had during our stay was somewhere between really good and the best thing I have ever eaten, and there were no exceptions.
One night, we went to the Sunset Bar at the Four Seasons for a sushi dinner and some appetizers. I highly suggest you go, not just for the food but for the ambiance and live music. Either way, the sushi was some of the best I have ever had — especially their famous Mona Lisa roll!
Another favorite meal we had was at da’Vida in their beach bar. They had an extensive menu with seafood and pizza and all kinds of side dishes. We listened to local reggae singer Omari Banks and had the most delicious lunch! The restaurant also has beautiful scenery, so you should definitely go if you get the chance.
Other notable meals included Ocean Echo, which was right down the beach from one of our hotels. Greg had Mahi and I had a salad, and both were out of this world.
Finally, we took a boat ride out to Sandy Island, which I definitely suggest if you get the chance. This island is only 5 minutes from the shore and you can take a boat for $10 per way. Once there, you can order drinks and amazing meals, including the biggest lobster I have ever seen!
If you are a foodie, you should absolutely go to Anguilla and try their cuisine. There are tons of high-end restaurants, but you can also stop on the side of the road and pick up local seafood or delicacies like Johnny Cakes. No matter your price range or spending style, you will not go hungry here.
#3: The Island is So Safe
I always like to rent a car when we travel somewhere new, and Anguilla is the perfect island to get out and explore. There is basically only one major road that loops around the entire island, so you couldn’t really get lost if you tried. Anguilla is also super safe, so you will never feel weird or out of place.
Heck, we drove all around on several different days and nobody even looked at us twice. I felt completely safe everywhere we went on the island, which is a huge departure from many other islands in the Caribbean.
Related: MSC Divina Cruise Review
#4: Anguilla Hotels are Amazing
We visited several different hotels in Anguilla and we stayed in two. Our first hotel was Mead’s Bay Beach Villas, which is actually a four-villa property instead of a traditional hotel. Each villa featured two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a huge kitchen, and a living area. Oh, and let’s not forget the private plunge pool for each one!
This place was heaven, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve seen prices as low as $450 per night for this property on Expedia, which is an absolute steal. Not only do you have your own private house, but you are on one of the most beautiful Anguilla beaches, Mead’s Bay. And since there are only four villas, the beach is practically empty when you’re there.
I could live at this place, and Greg and I actually considered it while we were there. If you have the chance to stay at this property, do it. It’s like renting an Airbnb except you have the help of an on-site staff and people to make your bed up every day. You won’t regret it.
Our second hotel was Zemi Beach House, and I have to tell you that I’m obsessed with this place. Zemi sits on Shoal Bay, which is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I can’t even get over how much we liked this place. Some of the highlights include:
- A giant pool that was the perfect temperature
- Separate adults-only quiet pool plus lap pool area
- The beach – OMG!
- Beach attendants will set up a chair and umbrella no matter where you want, so there’s no getting up at 5:00 a.m. to save a seat
- Great free breakfast buffet included in your nightly rate
- Huge rooms with a giant soaking tub
The food and drink at the Zemi Beach House were also superb. We had plenty of cocktails (Duh!), but my favorite was called Cucumber Refresh. It was cucumber and vodka with soda or something, and it was delicious.
We also dined at the property’s fine dining restaurant, The Stone. This Asian Fusion seafood restaurant did not disappoint.
Please, if you go to Anguilla, book at least a few nights at Zemi Beach House! You will not regret it.
#5: Anguilla is So Chill
The story I shared about the rental car was meant to illustrate just how laid back this island is, but that’s just the beginning. I loved Anguilla because nobody cared what you were doing, and they didn’t ask or bother you. Tourism is the main industry there, so they are mostly just glad you’re on the island and spending your money.
Here’s another story that will explain even more:
Picture myself and my husband, two middle-aged white people, approaching a beach bar we happened to pass by. We had just had 4 or 5 beers with dinner at the Four Seasons, so we were a little buzzed. We sit down at this bar and get ready to order a drink, all the while marveling just how cool it is that the entire seating section is actually in the sand.
All of a sudden, we realize that people are blazing up all around us and not really trying to hide it. A few minutes later, we realize it’s April 20th (420, ha!) and totally get what’s going on. Some rappers come out and rap about booze, bitches, weed, and some other stuff. Nobody looks at us and we don’t look at them. Then we go home.
I can tell you that I have been to most Caribbean countries, and I have never seen weed on display in this way. The only exception is one time at a Sandals in Jamaica where people were getting high right in the bar.
Anyway, I am not advocating the recreational use of marijuana and don’t actually use it myself. Still, I support its legalization in the U.S. and can appreciate it when adults are allowed to do what they want here and abroad.
Anguilla is the kind of place where you can go and have fun in your own way, and people will leave you alone. The locals mind their own business and expect you to mind yours. Personally, I prefer it that way.
#6: It’s Not That Hard to Get To
Last but not least, Anguilla is not that hard to get to — even though you can’t book a commercial flight directly to the island. The process is pretty seamless, and you can even get there with airline miles. There are only a few extra steps involved.
First, you’ll fly to St. Maarten’s airport, SXM. From there, you’ll book a ferry to Anguilla. While you can pay for a private boat transfer, a round-trip ferry can be booked for as little as $60 per person round-trip.
The ferry to Anguilla takes around 30 minutes, which is no big deal at all. From there, you can either have your rental car waiting for you at the ferry terminal or have a taxi waiting to take you to your hotel.
It’s not that hard, and it doesn’t add that much expense. Don’t forget, however, that you do have to pay a $23 per person departure tax to leave the island. This amount must be paid in cash.
I’m sure you’re wondering why you should bother going to Anguilla if you fly into St. Maarten. The answer is simple: If you love beaches, the beaches in Anguilla are superior in every way. St. Maarten is still recovering from the recent hurricanes as well, so a lot of their hotels are still closed. If you want, you can consider spending some time in St. Maarten to help with the recovery efforts and spending some time in Anguilla.
You can also get to Anguilla from other islands if you are in the Caribbean already. For example, you can fly from San Juan in Puerto Rico to Anguilla. You can also take a quick nine-seater flight to or from nearby St. Barts.
Start Booking Your Trip to Anguilla…Now
There are plenty of reasons to visit Anguilla, but – if you’re a beach lover – you absolutely have to come here. Anguilla beaches are the absolute best, and there’s not a lot (in the Caribbean, at least) that compares. If you’re looking for a low-key island where you can relax and forget about life while enjoying a gorgeous beach, start planning a trip to Anguilla today!
Related: Anguilla Travel Guide