The half-a-boat picture above for me sums up Anguilla.   The island felt . . worn out.  I lost count of the number of vacant or abandoned or unfinished homes I saw. Half of the island seemed that way.  I can’t decide whether to call it half empty or half full.  There are some beautiful sections of turquoise water to experience (and the occasional abandoned boat in the water), but there is not much to actually do.

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Secluded Captain’s Bay beach on northeast side of Anguilla. Dirt road, high clearance access only. July 2015. Photo by Tristan Nelson.
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One of the many unfinished/abandoned/vacant homes in Anguilla. July 2015. Photo by Tristan Nelson

Accommodations/Lodging

Relatively few real resorts are located here.  During my time here even the resorts looked possibly abandoned due to it being the low tourist season (I was there in July).  I imagine they spruce things up a bit come high season.  There is one golf course, didn’t look like anyone was playing it, on the CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa.  Other resorts that may cost more than the island is worth include: Shoal Bay Villas, Viceroy, and others.  Remember there are also hotels that have a “resort” in their name but they are still just hotels.

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A taxi ride from the ferry dock got us to the car rental place (we had a reservation with Hertz).  It was locked.  The boy on the bicycle rode up the street to get one of the employees for us. July 2015. Photo by Tristan Nelson

Not many hotels to choose from outside the normal expensive resorts.  I did find Hotel La Vue to be a great location with a nice French restaurant on site. I would stay here again. Just below the hotel down the path to the beach is the “half-boat” pictured above at the top of the post.

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Hotel La Vue, Anguilla.  Overlooking Sandy Bay. A French restaurant is also on site.  July 2015. Photo by Tristan Nelson

Dining

The French restaurant at Hotel La Vue is worth eating at.  There are several other restaurants along the main road to The Valley. For less formality, there are food trucks in the middle of town, The Valley.

Transportation

There are taxis available to get around, but to explore any beaches you need to rent a car.  Preferably a high clearance, SUV type vehicle.  Renting a car can be tricky.  After arriving on the island via the ferry from St Martin, we had to take a taxi to the Hertz car rental agency.  The small building was located by the airport.  It happened to be locked when we got there.  A small boy rode up the road on his bicycle and soon thereafter an employee came and we were able to rent the car.  They also charge you for a temporary driver’s license.  Driving is on the left side of the road in Anguilla. Grab this GPS map I helped create to help you navigate the island.

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Rural residential section of Anguilla.  Not much going on. July 2015. Photo by Tristan Nelson.

Geography 

Fairly dry island.  Flat.  No mountains or major hills.  Mostly dry shrubs.  There are signs posted around the island indicating evacuation routes for tsunamis. Anguilla is a former British colony so they speak English.  There is some history on the island.  A “trail” of signs around the island take you on a tour visiting sites of old sugar plantations, etc.

Summary

Anguilla would be a fulfilling trip and destination if you’re looking for:

-No crowds

-Easy to get around and not get lost.  The island is not that big.

-Local culture

-Remote beaches

-Something different to see and do while visiting St Martin. Just a 30 minute ferry ride away.

-Homes that are unfinished that you want to finish.

Ultimately, there are many other islands that I would choose to visit first before Anguilla. It seems a lot of people agree, as this island is not on the radar for most people.  Anguilla reminds me of some of the lesser islands in the Bahamas and also Turks and Caicos, but these islands have better access to better beaches in my opinion.  Abacos Island in the Bahamas and Provo Island in Turks and Caicos are the two that come closest to looking like Anguilla, but they ultimately have better access and better all around beaches.

See my post Why Outside the Resort to know the story behind the content.