Anguilla See And Do
There are at least 33 talcum white beaches encircling the 35 square miles of Anguilla, but even at the height of the tourist season, you'll find dozens of deserted strands and a beach for every mood: long for walking, calm for snorkeling, secluded for snuggling, quiet for meditating. Others are bustling with bistros, beach bars, live music, and water sports facilities. Mercifully though, jet skis are not allowed. The most popular beach is Shoal Bay on the northeast coast, two miles of gently sloping white sand and turquoise waters with a coral reef sprouting from one end, numerous beach bars and several reasonably priced hotels. Although large cruise ships are banned, Shoal Bay East is the busiest of Anguilla s beaches, as day trippers from St. Martin often fill the chairs, mainly around Uncle Ernie's and Madeariman restaurants next to the Ku hotel and watersports center. But take a leisurely walk east to discover more quiet shores beyond Elodia's Bar & Grill and the point as far as Gwen's. Center island on the east coast, Road Bay hosts the busy commercial port and village of Sandy Ground, especially lively weekends with its string of beach bars and casual restaurants from Johnno's and Elvis', to Roy's and the Barrel Stay, and for night owls the Pumphouse across the road. On the southwest coast is the long, wide stretch of Maundays Bay with calm waters perfect for water skiing and smooth sails. Although it's home to luxury resort Cap Juluca, Anguillan law requires all beaches to have public access. Also along the southwest coast with views of St. Martin are Rendezvous Bay (the island's longest), Merrywing, and Shoal Bay West, the last two busily undergoing construction. Along the northwest coast is Meads Bay, another long silky strand. Sandy Hill, on the west coast above The Valley, and Little Bay, to the east, are small coves good for snorkeling, the first easily reached by road, the latter only accessible by boat or down a steep cliff at the road's edge. The crashing waves, karst rock, and wild frangipani at the far eastern end of the island make Captain's Bay and Windward Point dramatic and scenic, but dangerous for swimming.
Anguilla is the only British island in the Caribbean where boat racing beats cricket as the national sport. The island's seafaring legacy is such that even directions given on land relate to the winds—east is "up," west is "down," and both north and south are "over"—and every holiday is an occasion for a boat race. Plan a trip around Easter Monday, Anguilla Day (May 30th), and during August Carnival to join in the race festivities, from heavy betting to animated cheering, family gatherings to beach picnics. To get out on the island's clear, sparkling waters yourself, plan a day sail or an excursion around the coast to offshore cays such as Prickly Pear, Scrub, and Sandy Island. Here are our recommendations for charter companies: Sail Chocolat runs excellent day sails (264 -497-3394); Garfield's Sea Tours (264-235-7902; www.gotcha-garfields-sea-tours-anguilla.com), Sandy Island Enterprises (264-772-0542), and Footprints Charters (264-729-5179; www.footprintscharters.com) have motorboats. At Shoal Bay East look for Junior's Glassbottom Boat (264-235-1008; junior.ai) for guided snorkeling, and to get to Little Bay from Crocus Bay call Little Bay Boat Service (264-497-3939).
Across from the East End Pond
Tel: 264 497 4092
This private museum, the result of curator/owner Colville Petty's passion for the history of Anguilla, displays artifacts from the island's early Arawak inhabitants, as well as documents from 19th-century plantations and photographs of the island from the early 20th century. Tens of hundreds of Amerindian artifacts have been uncovered by the Petty including archaic stone and shell tools and masks, pottery shards, and ceremonial zemis. There's also a room devoted to the 1967 revolution, in which islanders rebelled against gaining independence under St. Kitts. This may be the only case of rebellion in the colonies in which the rebels fought to remain colonized. Anguilla is now a British Overseas Territory with its own elected officials and a governor appointed by the Queen.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm. Closed September through October.
For a small island—only sixteen miles long and three miles wide—Anguilla has an amazingly active music scene. Don't miss the island's own reggae star Bankie Banx (www.bankiebanx.net), who has played with such legends as Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Jimmy Buffett. When Buffett turned up last year at Banx's funky bar/restaurant Dune Preserve on Rendezvous Bay a week before the Moonsplash Annual Music Festival (usually held in March), thousands swarmed the beach. Banx regularly draws his own crowds several nights a week and Sunday afternoons, especially since the addition of a restaurant by talented local chef Dale Carty of Tasty's. Saturdays there is usually music at Smokey's at the Cove on Cove Bay or Nat's Palm Grove Bar & Grill on Savannah Bay at Junks Hole. On Sundays, locals and tourists alike bar hop from Johnno's Sunday jazz lunch in Sandy Ground or Scilly Cay's lunch and punch with local scratch band Happy Hits, to Shoal Bay East for afternoon reggae at Gwen's, Elodia's, and Uncle Ernie's. Ask around to find out when local favorites like Sprocka, Keith Gumbs, the Mussingtons, and Asher & Shyrone are playing. In season you'll find live music somewhere daily, and inescapably everywhere during Carnival the first week of August.