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A first-timer's guide to holidaying in Anguilla
Anguilla is a small island in the Caribbean that lies just a few miles north of St. Maarten. As it is not high on the list of popular Caribbean islands, you will be able to enjoy it unencumbered by the usual tourist crowds.
As the culinary capital of the Caribbean with a thriving foodie scene, amazing hospitality, fantastic festivals and some of the world’s most stunning beaches, Anguilla is an island that offers it all – and then some – you just need to know how to make the most of it and we’re here to help.
When to go to Anguilla
Peak season in Anguilla is December through to April, a time when airfares and hotel rates are highest and crowds are their largest. Unless you need to escape during this period there’s no reason to follow the herd.
There are few temperature variations throughout the year in Anguilla and even the rainy season doesn’t bring too much rain. For the lowest rates, visit in September and October when there are fewer hotels open as it is peak hurricane season. If you are looking for the sweet spot with the best weather, the lowest rates and the fewest crowds, plan to visit from late April to July.
Weather in Anguilla
Temperatures typically hover in the upper 20s celsius throughout the year. Rainfall is minimal, with the rainy season from mid-May to mid-November. During the rainy season the showers are brief, leaving just as quickly as they arrived. While hurricane season is from June to late November, the peak time for tropical storms is September and October.
Anguilla flights and transfers
There are no direct flights to Anguilla so you will need to fly via. Antigua or St. Maarten.
Flying via. Antigua: direct flights are available to Antigua with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. From Antigua there are onward connections with multiple airlines to Anguilla.
Flying via. St. Maarten: fly from London to Paris with Air France and then direct to St. Maarten. Air Caraibes also fly weekly to St. Maarten during peak season. From St. Maarten you will need to take a boat which departs from the pier just a few minutes away from the airport. There are scheduled trips as late as 11:30pm but you will need to book in advance.
While it may take a little longer to get to Anguilla the upside is that it will be easier to island-hop while you're there. Anguilla is part of the Leeward Islands which include:
• St. Thomas
• Virgin Gorda
• St. Maarten
• St. Barts
• St. Eustatius
• St. Kitts
The Leeward islands spread far and wide therefore there’s no logical route around them but half of them are within each reach of St. Maarten. As St. Maarten is only a 30 minute boat ride from Anguilla it's relatively easy to squeeze in at least a couple of other islands.
Visa, passport and entry requirements
British citizens who are travelling to Anguilla do not need a visa provided they’re staying no more than three months. They will need a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of entry into the country and proof of a return or onward journey.
English is the official language of Anguilla.
Driving: hiring a car and driving is our favourite way to get around Anguilla and arguably the best. You will find multiple rental options available at the airport. Driving speeds are slow and it is fairly easy to find your way around with few traffic lights and roundabouts. Motorists drive on the left-hand side so provided you keep left, give way to the right and pay close attention you shouldn't have any problems.
Bikes or mopeds: hiring bikes or mopeds is possible although there are many unpaved roads on Anguilla.
Taxi: Taxis are typically more expensive than renting a car but still a good option for getting around. Many drivers will also act as a personal tour guide and there are plenty of taxis available at the airport or ferry dock. You can also call ahead or ask a restaurant or hotel to call a taxi for you. The service is unmetered with set rates and payable by credit card or cash.
The East Caribbean Dollar (XCD) is the local currency on Anguilla although US dollars (USD) are generally preferred. Most prices in restaurants, hotels and shops are in USD but you may receive small change in a mix of XCD and USD. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most places although few will accept American Express. Many beach bars and small, local vendors are cash only.
When you need cash we advise you use an ATM but the transaction fees are higher than you pay at home. We would suggest you check ATM cash withdrawal charges with your bank before you leave. You can find ATM machines throughout the island but they sometimes run out of cash toward the end of a weekend. We would suggest you withdraw slightly more on a Friday, just in case.
Electricity runs on 110 volts AC therefore UK travellers will need adaptors.
Vaccinations and health
Most travellers from the UK do not require any vaccinations for Anguilla. However, if you have visited a country with a high rate of yellow fever before you arrive in Anguilla you may need to provide proof of a yellow fever vaccination.
Heatstroke and sunburn are the biggest health and safety concerns. We suggest you bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. Also ensure you drink plenty of water during your stay.
The island is virtually free of petty crime but we suggest you keep your valuables locked in a safe place and take the same precautions you would at home.
Mosquitoes do not carry diseases in Anguilla.
The UK is five hours ahead of Anguilla.
Festivals and events
There is almost always an event, festival or party going on in Anguilla although the biggest celebration of the year is the Anguilla Summer Festival, which is held around the first Monday in August and lasts for two weeks. Somewhat akin to a Carnival, it is a great way to mingle with the locals and get to know more about their lives and customs.
Boat racing is Anguilla’s national sport and races take place all year round, the largest of these being the three-day Anguilla Regatta.
While not highly religious, general English customs prevail. Nude and topless bathing are not allowed and skimpy beachwear confined to resorts.
Food, drink and nightlife
You will find everything from traditional local fare, influenced by Caribbean, Spanish, French, English and African cuisines to international delights including Italian and Mexican.
Local lobster and crayfish are popular and salt cod is a staple; this is eaten alone as well as in soups, stews and casseroles.
You can also find incredibly delicious and inexpensive street food which serve everything from crayfish to plantains. Head to Jacala for authentic French fare, Dolce Vita for authentic Italian, Strawhat for gourmet Caribbean and Mango’s for a romantic dinner with delicious seafood.
When it comes to nightlife, Anguilla is no Miami or New York but it does offer a lively music scene that’s great for hanging out with other local, music lovers.
You’ll find most of the action at the beach bars in Sandy Ground, like the Elvis Beach Bar which is built from a wooden boat. The Pumphouse is also located in this area and is one of the island’s top bars. Visit The Pumphouse on a Thursday night after 10pm when the Musical Brothers hit the stage.
Dancing the night away is a common thread no matter where you go, often not winding down until 2am. Check the latest listings in Anguilla Life to find out what’s happening while you’re on the island or ask one of the locals.