WHEN TO GO
The tropical temperature—which averages 80 F—remains fairly constant all year. The only consideration is hurricane season, which runs from June through November, with the greatest incidence of hurricanes usually in September and October. Many hotels and restaurants on the island close for maintenance during these two months. While the weather is slightly warmer and more humid, summer savings can be considerable: Hotel rates drop as much as 50 percent mid-April to mid-December.
HOW TO GET THERE
Flights from the nearest international gateways—San Juan (45 minutes away) and Sint Maarten (SXM seven minutes away)—arrive at Anguilla's Wallblake Airport. There's also regular ferry service every half hour during the day between Marigot on French St. Martin and Blowing Point, Anguilla. It's a good half hour taxi ride from the airport to Marigot, depending on traffic, and usually a 20-minute crossing. More convenient and more expensive is the new shuttle boat service two or three times daily between the dock by the airport on Dutch Sint Maarten and Blowing Point, Anguilla (FunTime Charters, 264-497-6812). Most of the luxury hotels offer to make this transfer arrangement for you. Including assistance at either end, the one-way fare runs approximately $70, plus a $20 departure tax from Anguilla (unless you're going for a day to St. Martin, in which case it is only $5). If you're inclined to get seasick, though, be warned: It can be a rough passage on windy days.
Visitors can rent cars, Jeeps, or scooters with a valid driver's license from their home country plus a temporary Anguilla license, available at car-rental agencies for $20. It can be cheaper to book your car with a major U.S. company before departure, but be sure to get the telephone number of the local agency in Anguilla. Driving is on the left side of the road, as Anguilla is one of the few remaining Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom. And watch out for goats on the road—Anguilla was once described as the "Goat d'Azur." Taxis are plentiful, rates fixed, and the drivers particularly knowledgeable and opinionated about the island.
Anguilla Tourist Board
Tel: 264 497 2759
Tel: 800 553 4939 (toll free)
Anguilla Tourist Board
246 Central Avenue
White Plains, NY
Tel: 914 287 2400
Tel: 877 426 4845 (toll free)
Despite its diminutive size and laid-back vibe, Anguilla is home to over 85 restaurants, ranging from temples of haute cuisine with variations of Caribbean/Asian fusion to traditional French, Italian, and Mexican; to classic beachfront barbeque grills. Although Anguilla means "eel" in Italian, the island probably should have been named Aragosta after its local lobster, practically the island staple and its most touted culinary treasure. Both the common spiny lobster and the smaller sweeter spotted spiny lobster known here as "crayfish," are found in various guises at restaurants and beach bars everywhere in season. Other Anguillian specialties include conch chowder and fritters, bullfoot soup (believed to be a hangover cure), curried or stewed goat, and fresh local snapper and grouper prepared Creole style with tomatoes, onions, lemon, butter, and fresh thyme.
Paradise that it may be, Anguilla leaves something to be desired when it comes to shopping. Some of the five-star hotels have five-star boutiques, but if you're looking to stock up on designer threads and duty-free jewelry, your best bet is a day trip to nearby St. Martin. Shopaholics shouldn't despair, though: The island's natural beauty inspires many a local artist, whose works are displayed in galleries and hotels. Local handicrafts are also on sale at the Anguilla Arts & Crafts center in The Valley. Or sample some delicious local Pyrat Rum, a rare golden elixir that'll have you double-checking those U.S. Customs import rules (each American citizen may carry only four bottles back home).
Most of the hotels tack on a hefty charges by the minute even for local calls. If you have an unlocked cellphone, you can save considerably by buying a prepaid SIM card locally from Digicel in the Valley (264-498-7500-2; www.digicelanguilla.com). Caribbean Cable Communications now also offers a phone card called Caribbean Chataway available at their offices on George Hill. Most of these offices are open from 8 to 5 PM weekdays.
NEED TO KNOW
Capital City: The Valley
Area: 35 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 1
Electricity: 110V, 60 Hz
Currency: As of Dec 30, 2008:
1 East Caribbean Dollars = $0.37 US Calculate Other Amounts
Anguilla does not require visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for a three-month stay.
GOOD TO KNOW
Despite its diminutive size and laid-back vibe, Anguilla is home to nearly 100 restaurants, ranging from temples of haute cuisine to classic beachfront grills. But don't expect to find much jerk chicken on local menus; most places here tend more toward langoustines and foie gras.
Paradise that it may be, Anguilla leaves something to be desired when it comes to its shopping potential. In fact, if your suitcase is lost, you may be hard-pressed to replace even the basics. And that's just how the people of Anguilla like it. If you're looking to stock up on designer threads and duty-free jewelry, a day trip to nearby St. Martin will have to suffice. Shopaholics shouldn't despair, though: The island's natural beauty inspires many a local artist, whose works are displayed in galleries and hotels. Or sample some delicious local Pyrat Rum—it's a rare golden elixir that'll have you double-checking those U.S. Customs liquor import rules (each American citizen may carry four bottles back home).
January: 1, New Year's Day
May: 1, Labor Day; 30, Anguilla Day
June: 5, Whit Monday; Second Monday, Queen's Birthday
August: First Monday, Summer Bank Holiday; First Thursday, August Thursday; First Friday, Constitution Day
December: Third Friday, Separation Day; 25, Christmas Day; 26, Boxing Day
Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter; Day after Easter, Easter Monday; sixth Thursday after Easter, Ascension; eighth Monday after Easter, Pentecost Monday