Looking at a map of the Caribbean, Anguilla looks like a tiny, tiny pinprick floating way off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. It's a small island, but don't let its size fool you. Within its borders are fabulous beaches, tons of dining options and the kind of luxury worthy of a bucket-list honeymoon. It can be hard to narrow down the best things to do in Anguilla on a single vacation, so we've done the heavy lifting for you (you're welcome).
Because of its more remote location, Anguilla's world-best beaches are totally unspoiled and uncrowded. Sometimes, it feels like you have the entire island to yourself. Our favourite way to arrive, is to fly into Saint Martin and take a Funtime Charter to Anguilla. The entire journey takes about 15-minutes and yes, there's complimentary rum punch on board.
Once you arrive in Anguilla, you'll probably notice (unless you're Beyoncé) that it's an expensive place to visit; however, you can eat your way through the island without totally breaking the bank, thanks to its 100-plus restaurants. It's impossible to dine at each one, so we've got Anguilla's best restaurants and more you must-try on your next Caribbean escape.
What to do in Anguilla
Anguilla Culinary Experience
Inside this tiny, luxe Caribbean island (it’s only 25 km long) lies a mighty culinary scene. I've always been a "good eater" but checking out Anguilla's 100-plus restaurants in one visit is quite the lofty goal. Enter the Anguilla Culinary Experience, an epicurean festival that takes you from beach shacks to fine dining, rum crawls to ceviche-making with the best of Anguilla's culinary talent — and some noteworthy chefs from abroad, too. I had the opportunity to attend the first ever ACE last spring and left feeling fuller than ever. I'm already dreaming (read: training my appetite) about this year's event taking place May 3–6.
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Before Anguilla's tourism boom in the 80s, the island's largest industry was my all-time favourite seasoning: salt. Take a dip into the island's past with a trip to the tranquil Road Salt Pond with Quest Experience's salt picking excursion. As you wade through the shallow lagoon, which is essentially mother nature's salt bath, your guides will help you get the perfect "salt cake." It's not as easy as it looks. Once you've hammered into the rock-hard bottom with your pick, you have to use both force and delicate hands to successfully lift a solid square of salt. If it crumbles, don't worry, you'll have margarita rim for days as well as the most sparkly skin shimmering with tiny salt crystals.
While it's impossible to find an unsightly beach in Anguilla, Shoal Bay takes the cake as the prettiest one. Nestled along its shores is the boutique resort Zemi Bech House and its Rhum Room, where guests can explore unique small-batch rums and cocktails that bring the drama. "Room" feels like a misnomer — the space looks more like the inside of a very expensive 1960s yacht, all dark wood-paneling, brown leather and Caribbean-Sea-blue velvet (groovy, baby).
Rhum Room is a far cry from tacky though. The inventive and sophisticated cocktails are inspired by the Taino tribe's ancestral Zemi gods and goddesses. Each concoction comes with its own story and detailed presentation — I'll have another Zemivardier (barrel-aged under the sand for six months) served in a smoking treasure chest, please.
Where to eat in Anguilla
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The name says it all. This paint-splattered beach bar on the soft sand of Rendezvous Bay is the definition of happy, sunny vibes, especially with a cup of their killer rum punch in hand. Follow the smell of barbecue ribs and you'll think you stumbled upon a colourful wooden treasure that's washed up along the shore, but instead of pirates you'll be greeted with a big smile by the ever-jovial chef-owner Garvey. Once you've finished licking Garvey's Awesome Sauce from your fingers, grab a marker and leave your mark on the walls covered with a hodgepodge of mementos and sweet notes left by visitors from all over the world.
Perched on top of a bluff overlooking Turtle Cove and the ocean, Celeste's terrace at the stunning Malliouhana resort is prime sunset watching, if you can pry your face away from your plate. Have your fill of Anguilla lobster with their comforting lobster bisque or lobster linguine, or go classic with butter and some good ol' grill marks. With thick fishing ropes strung across the open air ceiling and water-views from each table, Celeste feels like you've stepped aboard a romantic ship, and the flavours here are as bright and deep as the sea. Our fave? The fragrant conch curry stew.
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Nestled amongst the tree tops near Sandy Ground's famous salt pond, you'll find Veya. This lush treehouse hideaway is the brain child of partners Carrie and Jerry Bogar, who packed up their life in Pennsylvania, moved to Anguilla and never looked back.
Chef Carrie's "cuisine of the sun" combines Caribbean ingredients with Indian, North African and Southeast Asian spices and flavours for a meal you'll be thinking about long after the tan lines have faded. Think grilled mahi mahi with a miso-sesame glaze, sticky rice and briney umeboshi. Check out their Moroccan-themed cocktail bar Meze downstairs for after dinner drinks and live music.
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When multiple people tell you to "get the salad," you have to wonder what all the hype is about — a salad, really? Alas, I obliged (begrudgingly) and, wow, were they ever right. The salad in question is Tasty's signature seafood salad, made with generous pieces of fresh-caught Anguilla snapper, conch, crayfish, lobster and shrimp that are spiced and sautéed. It's the opposite of a sad desk salad, and it's no wonder this laid-back eatery, in the heart of "the Valley," is a fave among both locals and tourists.
Where to stay in Anguilla
Zemi Beach House
Most hotels have one infinity pool — but Zemi Beach House isn’t most hotels. Choose one of three, which overlook the soft, white sand and shimmering waves of Shoal Bay East.
Inspired by all the surrounding natural beauty, the earthy, elegant rooms are decorated in soft, warm tones with gorgeous thatched roofs and private balconies that overlook either the ocean or lush gardens. For a taste of the island, go for beachfront dining at 20 Knots, elegant eats at Stone, or get your sushi fix at Bohio Bar and Lounge.