Anguilla is one of the most beautiful islands in the Eastern Caribbean. The British Overseas Territory is the northernmost of the Leeward Islands, about 150 miles east of Puerto Rico and 7 miles north of St. Maarten. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit this slice of heaven, you know Anguilla is famous for its turquoise blue water, pristine white sand beaches, and bountiful coral reefs–perfect for snorkeling.
You might also have an opinion about which is the best beach out of all 33, where you can swim in water with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Ask the locals and you will get a myriad of answers. In short, whatever beach you choose, the others are just as incredible, and you can’t go wrong spending your time on any of them. Many have calm surf unless you are on the side facing the Atlantic Ocean. The surf gets active during the winter months there.
This paradise is small, only a total of 35 square miles, and all the beaches are public and offer ample parking. Anguilla is 16 miles long and 3 miles across at its widest. The weather is sunny and dry except during the rainy season (September through October). The most popular time to visit is during late fall through the holidays, but it’s more expensive then. The spring is a lovely option as well.
With several luxury and mid-range resorts or private homes to rent steps from the water’s edge, you will find yourself on some of the best beaches in the world, including one that has been called “the very best in the Caribbean.” It’s even easier to reach Anguilla by air because as of April 2022, American Airlines flies daily direct flights to Clayton J. Lloyd Airport (AXA) from Miami, Florida. After you settle in, here are seven spectacular stretches of sand (in any order) where you can spend your time.
I was a guest of the Anguilla Tourist Board for these experiences, but all opinions are my own.
1. Meads Bay
With a little over 2 miles of soft white sand, azure water, and beach chairs for rent, Meads Bay is incredible. A stroll along this beach on the island’s northwestern side affords you views of some of the best resorts and dining on the island, plus the sunsets are breathtaking. Justin Bieber and LeBron James both stayed in the same stunning waterfront villa here.
In the summer, the beach is wonderful for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. The winter months bring rougher waves for body boarding or surfing. If you walk the entire stretch (like I did), start at The Four Seasons Hotel and past the award-winning Frangipani Beach Resort, home to one of the island’s best restaurants, Straw Hat. Further down you’ll pass the delicious beach restaurant with a fine dining option in the evening, Blanchard’s Beach Shack.
If you keep walking, you’ll spy Malliouhana Auberge Resort, the luxury hotel that put Anguilla on the map. Past Malliouhana, along Long Bay, is Quintessence Hotel, Relais & Châteaux. This luxurious property has a casual beach restaurant Coral, where you can dine in your bathing suit and order a burger, Margherita pizza, or tuna tartare while watching the lazy, lapping waves roll in during your meal.
2. Shoal Bay East
Shoal Bay in northeast Anguilla is consistently rated a “Best Beach” throughout the Caribbean and considered one of the world’s best. It’s stunning and popular, but never crowded. The water is the most incredible shade of blue, and the sand is pale pink. Arrive early and you’ll get a prime spot to rent a chair and umbrella combo.
Since the island is extremely safe, feel free to leave your things to walk, snorkel, or visit one of the wonderful beach bars for refreshments. Madeariman is a great lunch or dinner restaurant, serving French-inspired fresh seafood, salads, burgers, and killer frozen drinks. I had a passion fruit and mango daiquiri that was to die for. You can also rent paddleboards and other equipment or stop by their boutique. It’s casual, so come as you are for toes in the sand dining and live music most days.
Better yet, stay a few days at Manoah Boutique Hotel. Here you’ll step out of your room and onto the sand. They also have a beachfront bar and restaurant for jaw-dropping views. If you want an incredible spa experience, visit or stay at Zemi Beach House, which has an authentic 300-year-old Thai house transported from Thailand to Anguilla in the 80s.
3. Maundays Bay
Maundays Bay is secluded, small, and special. It curves into a crescent with the mountains of St. Martin in full view across the sparkling water. Due to its half-moon shape, the water is calm and great for floating. It feels like you are all alone in an intimate cove, but it’s the home of the beautiful Belmond Cap Juluca.
Even though you must enter through a security gate to have access to Maundays Bay, it doesn’t belong solely to the resort; all the beaches are public and there’s free parking. There’s a grouping of palm trees as you step onto the sand that offers shade where you can set up your towel. If you want an elegant lunch step off the sand and head to Cip’s by Cipriani at Cap Juluca for the perfect alfresco meal.
4. Little Bay
Little Bay is a well-known secret beach carved into a limestone cove in northwest Anguilla. There used to be a rope attached to the western cliff that locals and tourists would climb down, but it was removed for safety concerns. Now the only way to reach it is by boat. If you stop by Crocus Bay (Da’Vida Resort, Restaurant, and Spa is on this beach) there’s a boat captain (or a sign with his phone number) who will take you there and back for a fee.
Once there, you could find yourself completely alone, but chartered boats may drop by and let off guests for snorkeling. There are no facilities, so rent snorkel equipment beforehand and bring a towel to enjoy your own private paradise. Turtles and rays frolic here, plus there’s a rock that’s famous for cliff-jumping. The rock is located under the Ani Villas property and is scary high but safe for all the thrill seekers who attempt the feat. If you are a thrill seeker, bring water shoes to protect your feet when you land.
5. Sandy Ground
If you have the chance to visit Sandy Ground, you will enjoy some of the best beach bars and local restaurants on the island. The name “Sandy Ground” refers to the stretch of sand between the Salt Pond and the sea. This beach is full of energy all day long. You’ll notice the fisherman coming back with hauls of fresh fish at the dock. This is where the fisherman and boats from around the world hang out.
Affordable villas are for rent here and the world-famous Elvis Beach Bar and Lit Lounge nightclub are steps from the water. Sandy Ground also has small boats called “Tiger” boats for rent so that you can get out on the water a jet around. The water taxi over to Sandy Island runs from an office next to Johnno’s, one of the island’s original beach bars.
6. Rendezvous Beach
If you like to walk on the beach, you’ll love Rendezvous Beach. It’s on the Caribbean side with views of St. Martin and is the favorite for beach walks. The newly refurbished Aurora Anguilla, Resort and Golf Club calls this sugary sand home, as does Garvey’s Sunshine Shack, a local favorite for barbecue.
You can rent chairs and play games at the shack or dance to some incredible jams at the Dune Preserve, a cool bar owned by Mr. Bankie Banx, a famous Anguillan reggae artist. The Dune Preserve was named the “Number One Beach Bar in the World” by CNN because of its funky driftwood shack vibe, music, and awesome drinks.
7. Sandy Island
Sandy Island is not technically in Anguilla; it is a sand bar in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, but it’s not to be missed. Head to Sandy Ground and get a spot on the taxi boat with Captain Punky. He will drive you out there and back for one roundtrip price. Once you step onto this paradise, you won’t want to get off.
The bar serves a fantastic rum punch, and the grill is always fired up cooking awesome ribs, seafood, and chicken. You can hang in the shade under the wooden tent or soak up the sun on a lovely lounge chair. Bring snorkel equipment because the reefs circle the cay and are home to vibrant fish. The vibe here is classic Caribbean, and in my opinion, it’s a great way to spend the day.
Pro Tip: The best way to get around the island (which takes 30 minutes in total) is to rent a car, but a driver’s license is needed. Since it’s a British territory, the driver’s seat is on the opposite side, and Anguillans drive on the left side of the road. Taxis are plentiful on the island and are the perfect way to travel. Plus, you can enjoy the sights while someone else is driving.
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