We really enjoyed Anguilla. It is a flat (Coral) Island and is known for its great beaches and fine dining options. Anguilla is relatively “new” in terms of Caribbean tourism, so it is not overly developed – which is nice.
We went in May, which is actually the beginning of low season in Anguilla (and the Caribbean in general). I like going at that time of the year because it is before hurricane season (and heart of summer) – so you don’t have to worry about that. But it is low season, so you avoid the high season rates.
Getting there & Getting around
We flew in to St. Martin, which is one of the larger airports in the Caribbean…waiting for our departing flight, we watched a 747 heading to Europe take off, which was pretty cool. From there we caught a cab to the public ferry dock and took the public ferry. There are some privately operated ferries that go straight to Anguilla from the airport, but they were more expensive and ran less frequently than the public ferries. From there we ferried over to Anguilla, where our prearranged rental car was waiting. Heading back, we did take the ferry directly to the airport, just so that there would be no issues with getting to our flight on time.
I’d highly recommend renting a car in Anguilla unless you plan on going to your resort and not leaving the entire week (which would be a waste IMO). Driving is pretty easy and renting a car is cheaper and easier than catching a cab anytime you want to head out. We used Ronnie Bryan who was reasonably priced and extremely easy to work with,
Some general thoughts on travel: I believe you can fly directly in to Anguilla (via San Juan). I don’t know that I’d take that route though. I have read some bad reviews of the San Juan airport and the ferry is only a painless 30 minute ride from St. Martin. Also, I would never pre-buy my ferry tickets (anywhere in the Caribbean). There are always plenty of available options at the ferry docks, and you can just hop on the next departing ferry – as opposed to having to wait for your particular pre-booked ferry.
We stayed at Cuisinart. The rooms there were very nice, as well as large. Every room had a balcony over looking the beach, and the bathrooms were also very large. TV & Internet were available in the room and were included in the price. Also included was a hot breakfast, water & towels at the beach, beach service, and an afternoon sorbet snack. The beach at Cuisinart was very nice, which was the case for pretty much all the beaches on Anguilla.
The other place we considered staying was Cap Juluca, which we visited, It appeared to be a very nice resort as well. The reason we ultimately ended up going with Cuisinart was that Cuisinart just had a much, much better deal when we went. We also saw Frangiapani, which also looked like a fine place to stay.
A couple general words on eating out…We had our reservations set for 7:00 each night (I’d recommend making reservations, especially during the high season). This is right around when the sun was setting, so you could see the restaurant locations (briefly) in the light of day. That said, we were usually the first ones at the restaurants – apparently Anguilla is a late eating crowd. The restaurants did say that they sat people earlier during high season. Still, I’d recommend that time because getting there early, we always got the best tables…And in general, all of our meals were excellent. I knew Anguilla had a reputation for good restaurants, but it exceeded my expectations. That said, nothing was cheap.
The first night we just ate at the Cuisinart beach bar. The food was good, but nothing to really write home about.
Straw hat – The second night we ate at straw hat. The food at Straw Hat was very good (a common theme), but the setting was really neat. We were right on the edge of the beach at end of the day…A really cool spot and very good food, while probably being the most reasonably priced restaurant.
Veya – Veya was the only restaurant we ate at that was not located directly on the beach; it had more of a jungle type feel. So to get away with not being on the beach, they better have good food…and they delivered. Possibly our favorite food of the trip, though it is hard to distinguish between the restaurants.
Santorini (at Cuisinart) – The “Lobster BBQ” – Twice a week they have Buffet setups at the main Cuisinart restaurant, though this is not a standard buffet. They had all you can eat lobster, lamb, seared tuna, etc. The food was good, but not as good as our other nights. Plus, it was expensive ($100 per person). We ate their because we had $100/day resort credit to spend, so it was essentially free. If I was spending my own money out of pocket, I would go to another restaurant on the island. That said, if you want to stuff your self on lobster, this is hard to beat.
Blanchard’s – Another fantastic meal. The setting and food here were both great. This was maybe our favorite overall spot. Side note: the owner’s of this joint are American’s who moved down here and opened the restaurant then wrote a book about it.
Pimm’s – Pimm’s is the main Cap Juluca restaurant and was the fanciest location we went to. The setting was really cool (on the edge of the beach) and the food was very good…maybe slightly fancier/upscale than the other places, but you also paid more as this was our most expensive meal. But it was definitely worth it.
Barrel Stay – Barrel Stay was another restaurant located right on the beach with good food. Not too much else to add outside of the fact that I had snails (escargot) for my appetizer…and really liked it.
Santorini – Beach Dinner – Another splurge because of the resort credit we had, though we didn’t actually make it out to the beach because of the wind that day, so they set us up in a gazebo…but that didn’t really bother us. The food was very good (I preferred it to the lobster BBQ food). I don’t think I would spend the extra money for the private dining – even with the resort credit. That said, I’d have no problem recommending Santorini for a regular dining experience as our food was very good.
Smokey’s (lunch) – Good lunch food (burgers, etc.) on a very nice beach. I’d recommend it.
Tasty’s (lunch) – A restaurant for more of the local cuisine experience. The diners here were probably half locals, half tourists. Still the food was very good and reasonably priced (I had a goat dish, which was very good).
We dove with Special D’s diving. Douglas is “Special D” – he owns and runs the diving operation and is a local Anguillan. He also had an assistant that stayed on the boat while we dove (Punkay).
We were the only divers on the boat every time we went (we dove on 4 days). Douglas said that it is much more crowded during their high season. I would definitely recommend diving with Douglas; he was very friendly and relaxed and he did a good job pointing stuff out under water. Also, his prices were very reasonable.
The diving in Anguilla was pretty good. It is pretty standard as a Caribbean island for diving…Much better than most of the state-side options, but not a diving destination either. Overall, we saw some good stuff and had some nice dives.
These were some sites that were helpful in planning the trip:
These were some other restaurants we were considering: