It’s often said that the harder a place is to get to, the better it is once you’re there. While that has long held true for Anguilla—the 16-mile-long island just 12 miles north of St. Maarten in the Caribbean—the fact that it’s now easier than ever to get there is only making the island more desirable, with a slew of new openings, renovations, and improvements, plus its prized powdery sand and turquoise waters.
Last December, American Airlines launched a new direct flight to the island from Miami, operating every day come April and reducing the total travel time for those coming from LAX from three legs and upward of 13 hours to just 9 hours and 20 minutes with one stopover.
Comprised of long expanses of coral-sand beaches and shallow, swimmable waters, Anguilla offers a paradise free of crowds and full of luxe resorts, each offering an entire vacation experience without having to step off its grounds. Don’t expect a bustling town or much in the way of souvenirs to bring home, but do plan to explore many feet-in-the-sand bars and restaurants, as the island boasts more than 100 culinary venues (whether you’re at a barbeque shack on the beach or enjoying a six-course tasting menu, it’s a challenge to find a subpar meal here). Divide your stay between a couple of properties and plan to spend a week enjoying the island’s treasures.
View this post on Instagram
Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel
First founded in 1988, the property is defined by its iconic white, Greco-Moorish architecture throughout the 23 villas that house 108 rooms and suites, spread across its expansive stretch of Maundays Bay. Hands down, it’s the best hotel beach on the island and easily one of the top in the Caribbean. The water is always calm and clear, and you’ll never have to worry about anyone eavesdropping on your conversation—let alone compete for a beach chair. Each villa rests steps from the sand, which is always set up with ample chairs and umbrellas, and fully serviced. The property became part of the Belmond collection in 2017 and underwent a $130 million renovation in 2018, led by Lauren Rottet of Rottet Studio. All accommodations face the sea and start at 677 square feet, with the option to combine rooms to create multi-bedroom accommodations, some with private pools. Additional private pool villas of up to 5,500 square feet are available should you desire to bring an extended crew. Four dining venues include the Peruvian-inspired Uchu, the Caribbean-themed, waterfront Pimms (so close you might catch some sea spray), the Italian Cip’s by Cipriani, and the just debuted Cap Shack, located at the far end of the resort, directly on the sand, and featuring calypso and reggae music. An expansive new spa is set to break ground soon. In the meantime, come here to disappear, relax, and unwind.
View this post on Instagram
Formerly the Cuisinart Resort, this tk-room resort just reopened in December after a massive $TK million renovation that saw a new owner taking over the 300-acre property to create the most forward-thinking resort on the island. The contemporary-styled rooms, mostly in monochromatic white, are well appointed, but the resort’s greatest strength is its five restaurants. Chef Abram Bissel hails from Eleven Madison Park and has created compelling menus that are not to be missed, whether you’re staying on property or not. At Eventide, overlook Rendezvous Bay while you enjoy the six-course tasting menu that ends with dessert from pastry chef Rebecca Isbell (formerly of Eleven Madison Park, The Nomad, and Betony). At the all-day dining venue Kitchen Table, expect delicate, French-style omelets with fresh-baked breads for breakfast, and lunches and dinners that incorporate the property’s fruits and vegetables from its hydroponic farm. Or mix things up and take a walk down the beach—off property—to the Sunshine Shack for beach barbeque and friendly games of cornhole. When it comes to activities, Aurora has the only golf course on the island, a newly renovated championship course by Greg Norman, who will also debut a nine-hole short course this summer. Should you find yourself needing to fly through New York, consider taking the property’s private jet, which goes to/from Teterboro on Saturdays.
View this post on Instagram
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla
When the property first opened as a Viceroy in 2009, its endless swaths of limestone, striking sculptural furniture, and over-the-top guestrooms with private balcony plunge pools quickly caught the eyes of design-hotel junkies. Flash forward, and Kelly Wearstler’s iconic creation still exudes fresh glamour over a decade later. Not much had to change when the Four Seasons took over in 2016, but the property shines brighter than ever with its 181 accommodations, a mix of guest rooms, suites, villas, townhomes, and stunning, stand-alone residential villas located on the west side of the property, separated from the rest of the property by a sea cliff. While the resort is the island’s most family friendly—two family pools, a rock-climbing wall, and a kids club with everything from treasure hunts to cooking classes provide entertainment on an island that’s otherwise mostly about relaxing and unwinding—a stunning endless-edge adult pool adjacent to the Sunset Lounge and an expansive spa with its own pool and treatment rooms with outdoor showers ensure grown-ups are pampered. This spring the acclaimed mixologist of Four Seasons Surf Club fame, Valentino Longo, comes for a pop-up March 13–25, and check the property’s website for full details on spring break residencies from major names in the culinary and fitness worlds.
View this post on Instagram
Malliouhana Auberge Resorts Collection
As the first resort developed on Anguilla in the 1980s, the Malliouhana claims a unique clifftop setting, one of the few vantage points for dramatic sea views on the mostly flat island. Auberge came on in 2014 and entrusted the clever hand of designer Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studio to give the 63-room property a head-to-toe makeover, completed in 2019. Colorful walls, vibrant prints, trademark yellow umbrellas, and massive collection of Caribbean art scattered throughout the common areas and into the rooms give the resort an unparalleled energy. You could spend all day just hopping around the property’s many dining and lounge spaces, sipping rum punches and gazing at the views. Breakfast and dinner are best enjoyed at Celeste, the fine-dining venue (order the short ribs or regret it for life); have light fare poolside for lunch; head to Leon’s at Meads Bay for sundowners and Johnny Cake burgers with live music and beach volleyball; cozy up at Bar Soleil for handcrafted cocktails and floor-to-ceiling framed works of art. This spring, the resort launches Flavors of Malliouhana, a year-long series of chef residencies with new menus, cooking classes, and events. Should you wish to leave the property, grab one of the complimentary bikes or rent a brightly colored Moke.
- The Anguilla Culinary Experience debuts May 11–15 with a series of events throughout the island’s resorts, including the opening night Ultimate Barefoot Luxury Party at Cap Juluca and an afternoon Rosé Soirée party at Malliouhana.
- To get a true feel for local culture, come in August, when the island’s annual boat races see scores of sailboats race around different points and then finish with parties on the beach. It also coincides with Carnival, Anguilla’s most celebrated holiday.
- Rent a boat for the day and explore Anguilla’s nearby secluded islands: Sandy Island, a swath of sand just 10 minutes from Anguilla that is just large enough to accommodate a beach bar and some lounge chairs; Prickly Pear, 20 minutes away and offering two restaurants and bars; Scrub Island, known for ruins, like an abandoned hotel and plane-crash site, as well as great snorkeling and diving in its underwater caves; and Dog Island, about 30 minutes away and completely uninhabited, except for thousands of nesting birds (9 different species breed there).
What to Know
- Current entry procedures call for a negative PCR test taken five days ahead of arrival, or a negative antigen test taken two days ahead. Upon arrival, you’ll be swabbed at the airport for an Antigen test and asked to stay at your hotel (although not in your room), until you receive the results, which usually happens by that evening.
- You’ll also need to apply for entry through the country’s tourism website, ivisitanguilla.com.