Our Best Caribbean Islands Are Anguilla & Eleuthera
by Stephen Bailey
Picture taken from CuisinArtResort.com
Of all the Caribbean islands we have visited, Anguilla is, I think, most similar to Eleuthera. In fact, it can reasonably be described as a cross between Harbour Island - 2 miles east of North Eleuthera - and the "main" island of Eleuthera.
Anguilla that we visited in February of 2009 has lots of great beaches. Probably not quite as many beaches as Eleuthera although one Anguilla Web site claims the island has 33 beaches.
A few of the beaches on Anguilla are home to one or two top-end resorts. But most of the resorts are small and many of the beaches are large and beautiful. Most of the beaches we visited had half a dozen people on them, or less.
For a change of pace, however, one beach - Shoal Bay East - is home to several beach restaurants and bars with beach equipment for rent. When we visited Shoal Bay, it was popular but not crowded... And this was pretty much "high season". And if you like night life and music, we were told that Sandy Ground is "the place".
Anguilla is a more convenient size than Eleuthera and with better roads. Perhaps 25 miles - or about 40 minutes drive - from one end of the island to the other. If you stay anywhere near the middle of the island, as we did, you can get up in the morning and say... "Which beach shall we go to today?" and be there in 15 to 30 minutes.
Because of the small top-end resorts, there is a choice of at least a dozen enjoyable restaurants, ranging from excellent to fair. And from very expensive to reasonable.
One restaurant in particular, at the CuisinArt resort, rates as one of the very best restaurants we have visited in the Caribbean, largely because of its industrial sized hurricane resistant greenhouse, where they grow most of the produce they serve.
The locations of Anguilla restaurants, while often very attractive and often with a sea view, are not quite as stunning as several of the right-on-the-beach restaurants we enjoyed on Eleuthera.
Wine selection and prices are a bit better than in Eleuthera, probably because Anguilla is just a short ferry ride from (French) Saint Martin.
There is at least one great deli that serves coffee and croissants in the morning, bakes its own bread, stocks a limited selection of imported cured meats and cheese and offers a small selection of take-away food.
Accommodation is difficult to find in our bargain price range. After an extensive Internet search, we found a simple apartment, right on a small beach within a stone's throw - almost literally - of the island's main dock in Blowing Point Village.
The apartment was adequate and clean but very simple and with old but working appliances in the kitchen. The air-conditioning did not work and we found that in practice we did not need it. Nowhere near as good as Orchid Cottage and for a similar price.
Our welcome was memorably friendly, especially as - quite by luck - one extended family ran the apartment we rented and the local car-hire and the ferry we arrived on! So we were taken care of from the time we left the dock in Saint Martin until the time we returned there.
Anguilla is not "a walking island", except on the beaches, where the walking is great. Several of the beaches are over a mile long.
We got to Anguilla from New York by flying direct to St. Maartin and then taking the 30-minute ferry ride direct from the Dutch side of St. Maartin to Anguilla.
Caribbean Islands we have visited previously are...
- Anguilla in the British West Indies, about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) south-east of Florida.
- Abacos in the Bahamas, i.e. Marsh Harbour, Hope Town (Elbow Cay), Lubber’s Quarter’s Cay
- British Virgin Islands
- St Maarten - St Martin
- US Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, St. Croix
In summary... To us Anguilla is the best Caribbean Island.