5 Things you need to know about Anguilla - Macleans.ca

5 Things you need to know about Anguilla

Succumb to this island’s charms


Take off eh.comShe’s not much to look at… a long thin scruffy strip of an island off the north shore of St. Maarten. But you can feel yourself succumbing to Anguilla’s charms almost immediately. The island’s warm hospitable people, crystal clear turquoise waters and relaxed vibe are a tonic for the soul. There’s not a lot to do on Anguillla — and that’s the key to her success. It’s a place to relax and renew.

Here’s a quick rundown of 5 ‘need-to-knows’ about Anguilla:

If you don’t arrive on your own yacht or your own jet, you’ll have to travel via St. Maarten (Air Transat, Air Canada and WestJet are offering flights this winter) then catch a ferry ride or air shuttle on Winn Air or Trans Anguilla Airways for the 7 min. hop to Walblake Airport’s air strip.

It’s Exclusive
Anguilla is not a mainstream, mass market type of island. The hotels are quite small and private villas are popular with the wealthy celebrities who frequent this quiet little slice of paradise. But even the super rich, or perhaps especially the super rich, are not travelling the way they used to, so Anguilla is hungry for clientele to fill their resorts and over 300 private villas. Rates have dropped from high season rack rates of $500 – $1,000 per night to special offers at around $400 per night, including lots of extras. Weekly rates at some of the most deluxe 5 – 9 bedroom villas can run to $27,000 in peak season, but are going for less than half.

There are no fast food joints or chain restaurants on Anguilla. The food is excellent whether you are eating at an upscale resort or private restaurant or a simple open air spot on one ofAnguilla’s many white sand beaches. Fresh caught fish and seafood, especially the local Anguillan spiny lobster and crayfish, are plentiful, but menus offer a surprising variety of culinary styles and fresh ingredients. Whether you dine barefoot on the beach under the stars, at a picnic table in an open air hut, in an elegant restaurant or at an outdoor patio – the quality is always superb. The culinary team from Anguilla led by Chef Glendon Carty recently took home top medals in every category at the Taste of the Caribbean competition. Carty himself (of Ripples Restaurant and the Cap Juluca resort) was voted the Caribbean’s Top Chef.

There isn’t a lot to do – but that’s the point. Boat racing is the national sport and draws sailing types to the island. Sport fishing and scuba diving excursions are easily arranged. Snorkelling, walking and bird watching are wonderful leisure activities. Although eating and listening to the local live music seems to be everyone’s favourite pastime. Most islanders are always ready to grab a guitar, keyboard and microphone and start to play. Especially Anguilla’s most famous musician and local legend, Bankie Banx. Bankie’s Dune Preserve is the most eclectic spot you are likely to happen upon anywhere. The legend himself plays each Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. A loyal entourage is always on hand and newcomers are welcomed like old friends.

The People
Anguillans value their relationship with visitors – the island’s largest industry by far. And Anguilla also values its people. Island policies help ensure employment for locals and the balance seems to result in a relatively prosperous population with a good education system and proud heritage. The people are welcoming and crime certainly doesn’t seem to be much of a factor. When the topic came up, it was revealed how embarrassing a rash of petty crimes a few years back involving a few break-ins and minor thefts were to the island’s reputation. A young person was arrested and the community was so disapproving of the perp’s misguided crime spree it may have served as a lesson to anyone else with similar intent. Let’s hope that the lure of bigger developments chasing more dollars doesn’t upset the wonderful balance visitors currently enjoy.

Photo credits: Suzanne Christie

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5 Things you need to know about Anguilla

  1. I get really angry when I read an uninformed tourism promotion article about Anguilla. If you are a real Anguillian, visit this stupid article. In the breathless prose we expect from tourism industry advertising hacks, we are invited to “succumb to this island's charms.” There follows all the usual rubbish about “crystal clear turquoise waters”.

    Perhaps the most annoying part of the article is the nonsense about The People. Apparently, our island policies have resulted in a prosperous population in Anguilla with a good education system and a proud heritage. Yuck! Yuck! For those of us on the front line, the one thing you notice in our schools is how totally uneducated our school population is. There is no good education system “with a proud heritage” in Anguilla. Our graduating children can hardly read or write. That is a fact. As for the prosperous population, I have a few unemployed friends I would like to introduce you to.
    The author blithely reports that there is only one criminal in Anguilla, and he has been caught. She writes that the last crime wave in Anguilla involved one young person who was responsible for a few break-ins and minor thefts that were a challenge to the island's reputation. His arrest, and the community's disapproval, served as a lesson to anyone with similar intent. Please, I want to puke! Who fed this author on free meals and drinks?

    This would be embarrassing if it was written by a blogger. But it was published by Macleans. This is the Time Magazine of Canada. It is embarrassing and unprofessional, and the author does not spel so good either!

    The only thing that makes sense in the article is the advice that “if you don't arrive on your own yacht or your own jet, you'll have to travel via St Maarten”. I can only conclude that Donna must be doing a great job of promoting our subsidized, very expensive, alternative transportation to Anguilla.

  2. Don Mitchell cannot stand to have anyone say anything good about Anguilla and Anguillians.

    How is it possible then, for an Anguillian student to be the best in the Caribbean and achieve the CAPE Prize for History?

    I have a few unemployed persons I would like to introduce him to in Britain, 3 million of them!

    Anguillians are proud of our heritage and we have a proud heritage of education. Problems with our education system need fixing, the same as every other country in the world.

    Even our crystal clear turquoise waters he seems to be denying. Hell, he will soon tell the tourists that our beaches are not among the best, if not the best in the world.

    The truth is that Anguilla is as close to Paradise as anyone can get, in terms of beautiful beaches, sunshine, crystal clear waters, low crime, good food and friendly people.

  3. I'm not sure, Don, you help the island by slamming it. Your comments are so negative. The bottom line is that Anguilla is a sensational and safe place to visit… the best beaches, outstanding restaurants, easy access via St. Martin — a non-stop to St. Martin is easier, faster, and cheaper, always has been for many major cities (ex., New York).

    It is really hard to understand why you have to bring your anti-AXA stuff to a wider forum than your blog. No country is perfect. I agree with "concerned Anguillian" — as former visitors who became residents, Anguilla really is paradise.

  4. With all due respect, I have been following this blog for some time now. The value of constructive criticism in an open and free society is undeniable. Mr. Mitchell has brought to light many issues worthy of discussion over the years, however, he has become increasingly bitter lately and is starting to spew venomous attacks on everything and everyone associated with the island. The result of his unbridles, one sided fury is that in my eyes, he has lost all credibility. His attacks are rarely balanced or fair. He just sounds like a bitter old man. Sadly, he reminds me of Rush Limbaugh, a man who is so angry and one sided that he has become comical. I'm not one of those love it or leave it types, but in this case I really can't understand why he stays in Anguilla one more day, if he can't appreciate a magazines attempt to promote Anguilla in a positive light. He wants a better economy, better schools, better healthcare, better everything…so does everyone else. But by relentlessly bashing everything good, bad and indifferent about the island, how do you expect anyone to come and visit. I have been to Anguilla dozens of times and have never once felt threatened. There is an increasing crime problem and it must be dealt with aggressively, however, I also know people who have stopped coming to the island because of your negativity has scared them away. This island will die a painful death without tourism. Be critical, but be critical in a constructive fashion and your increased credibility achieved by being more balance and less angry, will give you a wider audience and a better chance to achieve your goals.

  5. Dear Mr Mitchell,

    I am interested in your comments on education in Anguilla. What can we do to help? How can it be made better? What is needed? How an crime be addressed? What is at the root of these problems? What can you offer to aid in their resolution?

    Let's start to fix the problems you are concerned about. Today. Perhaps we can develop some technology to solve some problems, propose put in place better systems, software, opportunities and enhance learning. I'm prepared to offer my help, if you really want to address these issues? Can you offer me yours?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours kindly,

    Lloyd Hardy

  6. I really am at a loss to understand why Don Mitchell has been so hard on this obvious "commercial" for Anguilla.
    What would he prefer they write to attract visitors? About the crime? About the lack of proper parenting? About the corrupt government? About the less-than creditable police force? About that dolphin prison disgrace?
    Would all this sell the island to people?
    And then what would become of Anguilla and, more importantly, its people?
    Because all that rose-colored guests are really interested in is what Anguilla has to offer them in the way of sunny skies, beautiful beaches, fine dining, and friendly locals.
    They don't live there and most likely wouldn't want to.
    Anguilla has their beautiful island to offer guests for privacy, relaxation and rest. Guests want to accept that offer without having to hear about the deep down dirty innards just as an Anguillian visiting New York etc. isn't interested in hearing all the inside horrors about its city.
    Mr. Mitchell has become a sort of Bah Humbugger of late.
    What in the world has happened to him?

  7. IMO this is a throw away article with no real helpful content. I'd read it and 5 minutes later forget it. Is it me, or does the article imply that commercial jets don't land on Anguilla? I find the closing comments about crime interesting. While it's true crime isn't much of a factor on the island I wondered who the author was trying to convince of it. The comment "the community was so disapproving of the perp's misguided crime spree it may have served as a lesson to anyone else with similar intent" was unnecessary, and, like the comment about the airport misleading and it makes Anguilla sound like the mythical Mayberry.

    This article is full of fluff, which travel articles are supposed to be. People traveling to Anguilla aren't going to make plans or decisions based on this or any other travel article, so I don't see the harm in it.

  8. Truth in travel writing is important. It was not too long ago that people were arriving in Anguilla with their golf clubs, only to find that contrary to information in the travel articles, the golf course had not yet been completed and was in fact in a state of ruin. Anguilla is experiencing many of the same problems that are being experienced all over the world. If Ms. Christie had been a part of some of the open discussions that have been occurring on Anguilla, she might have written positively about these too. That is a good thing. But no island can survive on well-meaning fluff-n-stuff. Real problems need attention, as Don Mitchell points out. An island that encourages the free voice of its people is one that will identify and grapple with its problems and so always improve. Anguilla's people are not inclined to place their heads into the beautiful tropical sand. Three cheers for them. And three cheers for the fresh air you will find if you visit Anguilla, an island where good discussions and truth-seeking are encouraged.

  9. Handy Jim – thank you for sharing some facts. And, tourists have been the victims of many crimes! What about the visiting couple at Bow Green a few years back? What about the couple staying in the Cul de Sac area? Both, of these tourists attached in the night. Many others robbed in the night. No one is caught.

  10. The education system has not failed anyone, the children that are uneducated are because they don´t pay attention in class, and that the parents at home did not instill in them the value of a good sound education. As far as I can see, this in neither the place or time to be addressing these issues, this is an article to promote Anguilla as a great tourist destination, and quite frankly I believe they did a way better job than you have, displaying us, including myself… fellow Anguillian, in a good light. Anguilla is by no means perfect, but it´s still a rather laid back relaxing place to come and visit, and as with other destinations, tourists just need to be aware and take the necessary precautions.

  11. Completely Agree with CONCERNED ANGUILLIAN above

  12. There is great diving in Anguilla. Snorkeling too. Beautiful beaches. Try to take the ferry to St Maarten, both the Dutch and the French site and if you like exclusive shops go to St. Barths. Saba is beautiful if you like to hike.

  13. lots of crime and shootin in Anguilla now. we dont want no white people here. bring your money and leave that and go now. we dont care about you. if we be out and see what we want we gonna take it

  14. Criminal activity and shootings are on the rise! I spent 3 mounth there the police are useless. Skip the Carribbean no longer safe. Go to the Bahammas instead much cleaner more educated, and safe ( Eluthra Island) is safe and more beautiful than Anguila. It is also very quiet great diving and fishing and realy friendly atmosphere where ever you go. I never had to worry about locking our car. Therse not much to do , great bone fishing , many wonderful places to explore on this narrow and 100 mile long Island. Rent a house near the central part of the Island you won’t go wrong.

  15. tranquility wrapped in hate, jealousy and corruption.