We have been to Anguilla before (and loved it!) but it was a short visit. At that time, in 2012, we went to Anguilla while vacationing in St. Maarten. You may read about that trip here.
This time, the plan was to go straight to Anguilla, and to avoid an exhaustive trip from Vancouver, we stopped for a few days in New York City before and after reaching Anguilla. Read about the New York part of this trip clicking here.
We flew from New York to St. Maarten on March 31st. Princess Juliana International Airport was still recovering from the hurricane Irma, that devastated the island on the previous year.
I have booked a driver before living home, but this is totally unnecessary. The driver simply didn’t show up, and we were like silly people looking for the drivers carrying signs trying to find our last name written somewhere. No sign. No name. No driver. I was planning on not using my mobile phone but I had no other option than turn the airplane mode to “off ” and call the guy. Guess what? He had forgotten and told me to take a cab! If you are visiting the island or going to take the ferry, don’t bother to book a driver. There are several cabs waiting for passengers and the price was the same the driver would charge us (around USD 18.00).
If your destination is Anguilla, the cab will drop you off at the ferry terminal in Marigot. There are other ways to get to Anguilla, including private boats that leave close to the airport, but I have crossed the channel between the islands before, and I know the waves can be huge. I think the public ferry is larger and safer, and probably the pilots are more experienced than the ones driving small boats.
The public ferry runs every day in 45-minute intervals. There’s no need to book, as there’s plenty of space. You will go through passport control at the ferry terminal before embarking and again after disembarking . The fare is only USD 20.00 per adult and the scenic trip takes about 30 minutes.
Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, and the rules for driving are the same as in the UK, meaning that we drive on “the left side of the road”. I was afraid to start driving on “the wrong side of the road” as soon as arriving, so my car was reserved for the following day, where Avis would take the car to our hotel.
By the way: Do not book with Avis! You will see the reason later.
It’s a short distance between Anguilla ferry terminal (called “Point Terminal”) to the hotel were we stayed, but taxis on the island are expensive, so be prepared to pay almost USD 20.00 for a very short ride.
We stayed at “Rendezvous Bay Hotel” after reading many positive reviews on the web. We truly enjoyed our staying, although I found the place a little bit “isolated”, specially for going out for dinner, as I don’t like to drive after dark. The Rendezvous Bay Hotel has a restaurant, with very good food, but I prefer to stay in hotels with bars, restaurants and shopping close by. That’s not the case there.
So, if you ask me if we would stay there again I would say hhhmmm…. probably not, despite the great room, excellent breakfast and friendly service. I really prefer to be close to the “center of action”. Although there’s not much “action” on Anguilla Island, when we return I will probably book The Four Seasons or the Malliouhana as they share the best beach and there are several places to hang out around.
The check-in at Rendezvous Bay Hotel was very friendly, with cold drinks and fresh towels. The room was huge, with a brand new kitchen (never used as there are excellent restaurants in Anguilla). All doors and windows were protected with mosquito nets, we had a large veranda and the sea was a stone through away.
The view from our room, with our “private sunbeds”, huge bedroom, huge and modern kitchen and killing sunsets.
One of the great advantages of choosing Anguilla as a beach destination is that, despite being a “picture perfect island” with soft and white sands and turquoise waters, it remains relatively untouched by mass tourism. Maybe the steep prices charged there are a component of this equation? 🙂
Even if you don’t like the idea of driving on the left side of the road, a car is mandatory when visiting Anguilla. There are 33 beaches ready to be explored, dozens of restaurants, and, unlike some European beach destinations, like Mykonos with buses running “everywhere”, there is no public transportation on Anguilla to rely on. So… practice your skills, deep breath, keep to the left and good luck!
We initially reserved a car through Avis and although on they confirmed to deliver the car at our hotel they simply didn’t. They “forgot” our initial day would be a Sunday, when their office is not operating. We gave countless phone calls and no one would pick up the phone.
It was difficult to find a car at the “last minute” and the owner of our hotel was super sweet in calling several local companies (most of them already sold out) until she found a car available. One of her staff members took us to the ferry terminal where we did the paperwork.
Of course I sent an email to Avis telling them how unhappy I was with their lack of service and they replied with an apology stating that unfortunately they didn’t notice the first day would be on a Sunday.
My advice: Book the car through your local accommodation and use local companies. There are plenty to choose from. You will also be helping the local business!
After Avis “forgetting” to deliver the car we had booked online, we got a car from Andy’s and everything was perfect. Andy’s offer an awesome service.
Beaches not to be missed:
There are 33 beaches on the island and it’s great that we can visit a new beach every day! Here are my favorites:
Shoal Bay has plenty of beachside restaurants and cafes and is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand is soft and “bleached white”. Really spectacular!
Meads Bay is one of my favorites on the island!
Island Harbour is one of Anguilla’s fishing villages. It’s a delightful place to go in order to admire the sea with deep shades of greens & blues, and also the place to one of the best deal for seafood in all of Anguilla: Falcon Nest
Sandy Hill Beach
Like Harbour Bay, Sandy Hill Beach is a beach that we visit to admire the sea and to walk along the shore, but not to “stay”. For those who want a fantastic “beach experience” laying on a sunbed while drinking rum punch, there are better options than this one, as there are no restaurants or accommodations along the beach.
Long Pond Bay
If you enjoy watching different birds while they catch fish, don’t miss “Long Pond Bay”, an important bird area.
Where to eat
There are dozens of options around the island and we had never had a “reasonable experience”. Everywhere we went was top notch! I wish we could have two lunches and two dinners every day, in order to taste more options!
Located in Shoal Bay East, this restaurant besides having outstanding food, has also comfortable sunbeds and umbrellas for their guests. It’s a “must go”, for sure.
Giant crayfish, spring rolls, friend shrimps, delicious profiteroles for dessert and two sunbeds + sunbrella: The perfect combination!
Large veranda overlooking the ocean, with good food and super cold beer.
Tasty’s (+1 264 584 2737) is an ABSOLUTE MUST-DO! In my opinion, it’s the best food on the island with Sharky’s coming close in second place.
Roy’s – Best rum punch and the food is great as well!
Their reputation is “one of the best restaurants in Anguilla”. It’s hard to get a table, you must make reservations away in advance, if you get the recorded message on the answering machine no one will return your calls, and we got to call dozens of times in order to book it.
Yes, the food was very good but the white wine (expensive) came to our table WARM, as if coming from a shelf of a supermarket that gets the afternoon sun. The waitress brought a bucket of ice but the wine was so “hot” that if we waited it to cool, we would have had our meal accompanied only by water, as the wine would take at least two hours to cool down. That being said, we committed the “sacrilege” of adding ice INTO our wine glasses, in order to be able to drink the wine at the right temperature.
The restaurant should never ever bring warm wine to the table, or even so, when there was a complain they should have replaced the bottle immediately.
Jacala will never see us again, that’s for sure. It’s a pity because the food was tasty.
Falcon Nest (they don’t have a website but you should go there anyway)
This is a real gem! Located at a shark at Harbour Bay (one of the oldest fishing villages in Anguilla), you will find delicious and fresh seafood.
Falcon Nest also offers a rum punch that is “to die for”! 🙂
Sharky’s (+1 264 729 0059) is my second favorite on the island (my #1 favorite is Tasty’s). It’s mandatory to make reservations well in advance. The food is perfect, the wine selection is wonderful. It’s a top restaurant that must be included in everyone’s itinerary.
Ember – You must go to this restaurant for the views, for the food, for the service and for the chef. Really amazing place!
Other attractions besides the glorious beaches:
The Arch – There aren’t many signs in how to get there, but after getting lost for a while we finally managed to see this beautiful landscape.
To make your life easier than it was for us, here are the instructions to get to “The Arch”: Take Albert Hughes Dr west. Stay straight (turns into dirt road). This leads into Indigo Reef. Take your third right. At that time it was just in front of a construction site. Then make your first left. Arch is ahead.
The Pink House – This is one of the most photographed houses in Anguilla. It’s really cute and I think everyone who goes to the island take at least one picture there! Looks like a kid’s draw but it’s real! Go there and see it! 🙂
Time to say “Good Bye”
After nine amazing days, it was time to get on the line to get the public ferry back to Marigot and from there a taxi to Princess Juliana Airport (SXM). We flew from Sint Maarten to New York, in order o break the long itinerary.