It’s not a bad problem to have, but planning a trip to the Caribbean can be a bit overwhelming.
When you start Googling around, you’ll see a parade of some of the most gorgeous beaches in the entire world. You’ll read about jungles and bioluminescent bays. Warm and friendly people. Dreamy hammocks hanging from palm trees. Piña coladas. Sparkling blue water. And you might think to yourself: how the $%^& am I supposed to choose?!
And that’s why I’m making it easy for you: if you’re looking for a classic, beautiful Caribbean experience, I vote that you choose Anguilla.
Anguilla is a tiny island, only 35 square miles, directly north of Sint Maarten. I only discovered Anguilla this year, but I immediately fell in love with the place. Here are a few of the reasons that the little island stole my heart:
People call Anguilla the ‘Culinary Capitol’ of the Caribbean. And after visiting, it was easy to see why. You can get great local dishes like stew goat, chicken jerk, and Johnny cakes.
There’s also AMAZING barbecue on the beach. Or, romantic fine dining experiences if that’s what you’re looking for.
There’s even an authentic little French bakery called Le Bon Pain. The owners of the bakery speak French and serve amazing, buttery fresh baguettes and the flakiest croissants.
The beaches are actually perfect.
I can’t count how many times I’ve arrived to a beach and thought, “Wow, this is not quite how it looked on the internet.” 😬
Yes, I expect to see heavily-edited photos on Pinterest and Instagram. And Google images. And the entire internet. But isn’t it a tiny bit excessive when the beach is unrecognizable? Filters make brown sand look white. Palm trees get colored green and photoshopped to be alive. And then, of course, the photos are taken at like 4 in the morning before anyone sane gets to the beach. And then get edited afterward to look like it’s afternoon.
Anyway, that was not even close to the case with Anguilla. These beaches are photo-ready all the time. No filter needed. No edits. Not even a nice camera. When I put a quick pan of Mead’s Bay on my Instagram story, I couldn’t believe how many comments I got saying: “Where IS this?”
Every beach you look at in Anguilla appears to be either a postcard or a screensaver. And the best part? A lot of the time, you can find a huge, gorgeous stretch of beach all to yourself. Even when it’s not 4 in the morning. Even during the afternoon.
The best vibes.
Cruises don’t stop at Anguilla, so the island isn’t flooded by tourists hurrying through for an afternoon. And I think just that makes a difference with the way locals view travelers. Even compared with Sint Maarten, which is only a few miles away, I found it much easier to find authentic conversation in Anguilla.
The first time we visited Anguilla, we got a late start to our Airbnb and ended up getting lost. It got dark, we lost cell phone service, and we had pretty much given up hope on ever finding our oceanside villa.
We pulled over at a gas station to ask for directions, but we didn’t even have the address at that point (don’t ask). All we had was a blurry picture of the place, screen capped from the Airbnb listing.
I showed the photo to the man working at the gas station without much hope.
“Umm, does this look familiar to you at all?” I said. “Do you know which way it might be?”
To make a long story short, the gas station owner knew our Airbnb host’s cousin. The gas station owner went and found him, and then the cousin drove us the entire way, up a windy road, and even went and found our host for us when we got there. And THEN, our host greeted us with a bottle of wine and a grand tour, as if we weren’t showing up hours late.
We ended up having a fantastic time at the Airbnb and even wandered into the Anguilla Day party later that night, one of the awesome annual festivals that Anguilla hosts.
With its amazing food, beaches, parties, and people, Anguilla is more than worth visiting!