The Best Things to Do in Anguilla

Exploring Anguilla’s multiple beaches is an adventure in itself, with each one offering a distinct atmosphere and activities. But there’s also lots to do away from the white sand—you can delve into the island’s history, hike the rocky eastern edge, and shop for local crafts.

One of Anguilla’s top three beaches, Meads Bay is home to a handful of the best boutique hotels as well as beloved beach restaurants like the Four Seasons, Jacala, and Straw Hat. It rarely feels crowded, and the stunning, near-mile-long white stretch is ultrawide and spacious. Facing turquoise-clear Anguilla waters and a partly rocky landscape on its edges, it’s a favorite for long quiet walks, swimming, and snorkeling, or as a place to enjoy a meal and a drink until the sun sets directly over the sea. Waves can get high in the summer; exercise caution.
Route 1
Anguilla’s most social beach is full of local flavor. From visiting boats to residents who flock here for the best island-style bar-and-nightlife atmosphere—home to Johnno’s, Elvis’ Beach Bar, and the Pumphouse—there’s never a dull moment on Sandy Ground’s long, soft strand. The water here is calm, making it an ideal stretch of sand for families as well. Sandy Ground is also the site of Anguilla’s August Monday, the most important day of the summer carnival season, when the entire country seems to be in the same location to celebrate J’ouvert: some folks on the beach, some on boats blasting music. By 1 p.m., the August Monday sailboat race kicks off—the first round of qualifying for the final carnival boat race at week’s end.
Southwest of Anguilla is one of the island’s top three beach areas: the two-mile-long brilliantly white stretch at Rendezvous Bay. Its long shore, steady breeze, and calm Caribbean waters provide a break from the crowds at Shoal Bay and Sandy Ground. The western end does offer some fun daytime beach-bar action, which grows rowdier at night and on the weekends, when the famous Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve venue attracts residents and visitors for live music. You can view St. Martin, across the channel, from shore.
Consistently ranked among the world’s top beaches, and easily among the most popular and visited ones in Anguilla, the white and light pink sands of Shoal Bay host a casual and social atmosphere, with a plethora of bars and eats. The bright turquoise water is what Anguillan dreams are made of; water-sports options abound, from snorkeling right off the beach to parasailing and diving. Weekends get busy, with families flocking here and music echoing along the strand, especially from Gwen’s Reggae Grill. But if you just want to rent a chair and relax for the day, you can normally find a spot of Shoal Bay to call your own.
5218 Sandy Ground, Sandy Ground 2640, Anguilla
Sailing is Anguilla’s national sport, but it’s also the best way to explore the island’s dreamy Caribbean shores—and the best way to explore its marine life while in transit. Spend the day with Tradition Sailing Charters, gliding across iridescent blue waters on a 1978 50-foot sloop, drifting from one cay to another. You’re welcome to watch and learn how to sail if you’re a newbie, or to participate if you have experience. After a lunch stop at the only restaurant in Prickly Pear Cays, get underwater to check out this reef-protected bay where sea turtles, blue tang, and numerous other tropical critters thrive. There’s also a brown booby colony on land here.
Unnamed Road
On the island’s easternmost point, this undeveloped, rugged area of Anguilla is great for hiking, exploring nature, and taking a break from sunbathing. Begin your trek at Windward Point Bay, on the southern side of the beach, then hike up toward a rocky landscape dotted with Melocactus and various sharp rock formations, while the rough open sea crashes in the distance and pelicans glide overhead. As the climb continues to the top of the hill, you’ll get views of Scrub Island, St. Martin, and St. Barths ahead on a clear day, and a well-deserved 360-degree panorama.
Coronation Avenue
Said to be the oldest structure on the island, Wallblake House is also the only surviving 18th-century plantation home that has been restored and that can be toured. Located in the Valley, capital of Anguilla, the 1787 property was once part of a 97-acre sugar and cotton plantation. Bestowed to the Catholic Church in 1976, it was abandoned until it was finally refurbished in 2004. The main home, which suffered a fire at the hands of the invading French forces, and the outbuildings are intact in design. Though the house is currently used as a rectory, tours can be arranged by emailing in advance.
Crocus Hill 2640, Anguilla
One of Anguilla’s most secluded beaches, Little Bay is tucked beneath a series of bluffs on the island’s northwest. Usually reached by boat or kayak from Crocus Bay, this tiny, undeveloped stretch of sand hugs a cove with calm turquoise waters filled with small tropical fish, sea turtles, and starfish. Bring drinks and snacks, rent gear from Da Vida Restaurant, and kayak (or boat taxi) over in the morning to avoid the crowds and spend a couple of blissful hours away from it all.
East End Village 2640, Anguilla
Located in East End Village and painted in Anguillan flag colors, the Heritage Collection is Anguilla’s only museum. It showcases the island’s history and geology from the time of the Arawaks to the 1969 Anguillan revolution, with additional displays on the British invasion (derisively called the “Bay of Piglets” by the press) as well as on Queen Elizabeth II’s royal visit. Established in 1996, its collection includes photographs and artifacts from the island’s major eras, including the days of slavery and the phosphate trade. If you’re lucky you’ll meet Colville Petty, the museum curator and founder, and garner some of his unique insight on Anguillan history.
2640, Anguilla
Anguilla is blessed with numerous talented artists, but Cheddie Richardson has long been a standout on the island for his carvings. A craftsman since his childhood days and with no formal training, he grew famous over the years—both locally and internationally—for his unique pieces depicting various types of Anguillan flora and fauna, including birds, fish, and turtles. His studio is filled with them, fashioned from driftwood, mahogany, walnut, coral, or stone; there are a few bronze pieces as well. In 1994, one of Cheddie’s carvings was given to Queen Elizabeth II during her official visit to Anguilla, and it now sits in the Royal Collection.
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