Exploring on Anguilla is mostly about checking out the spectacular beaches and resorts. The island has only a few roads. Locals are happy to provide directions, but using the readily available tourist map is the best idea. Visit the Anguilla Tourist Board, centrally located on Coronation Avenue in The Valley.

You can take a free, self-guided tour of the Anguilla Heritage Trail, comprising 10 important historical sights that can be explored independently in any order. Wallblake House, in The Valley, is the main information center for the trail, or you can just look for the large boulders with descriptive plaques.

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  • 1. Maundays Bay

    The dazzling, platinum-white mile-long beach is especially great for swimming and long beach walks. It's no wonder that the Belmond Cap Juluca, one of Anguilla's premier resorts, chose this as its location. Public parking is straight ahead at the end of the road near Cap Juluca's Pimms restaurant. You can have lunch or dinner here (be prepared for the cost) or, depending on the season, book a massage in one of the beachside tents. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: sunbathing; swimming; walking.

  • 2. Meads Bay

    Arguably Anguilla's premier beach, Meads Bay is home to many of the island's top resorts (Malliouhana, Four Seasons) and a dozen fine restaurants. The powder-soft Champagne sand is great for a long walk and is as beautiful now as it has ever been. Park at any of the restaurants, and plan for lunch. Several of the restaurants offer chaises for patrons. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: sunbathing; swimming; walking.

  • 3. Shoal Bay

    Anchored by seagrape and coconut trees, the 2-mile (3-km) powdered-sugar strand at Shoal Bay (not to be confused with Shoal Bay West, at the other end of the island) is one of the world's prettiest beaches. You can park free at any of the restaurants, including Tropical Sunset or Gwen's Reggae Bar & Grill, most of which either rent or provide chairs and umbrellas for patrons for about $20 a day per person (some offer chairs and umbrellas free of charge with lunch). There is plenty of room to stretch out in relative privacy, or you can bar-hop. The relatively broad beach has shallow water that is usually gentle, making this a great family beach; a coral reef not far from the shore is a wonderful snorkeling spot. Sunsets over the water are spectacular. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

  • 4. Captain's Bay

    On the north coast just before the eastern tip of the island, this quarter-mile stretch of perfect white sand is bounded by a rocky shoreline where Atlantic waves crash. If you make the tough, four-wheel-drive-only trip along the dirt road that leads to the northeastern end of the island toward Junk's Hole, you'll be rewarded with peaceful isolation. The surf here slaps the sands with a vengeance, and the undertow is strong—so wading is the safest water sport. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude.

  • 5. Heritage Museum Collection

    A remarkable opportunity to learn about Anguilla, this tiny museum (complete with gift shop) is painstakingly curated by Colville Petty. Old photographs and local records and artifacts trace the island's history over four millennia, from the days of the Arawaks. High points include historical documents of the Anguilla Revolution and photo albums chronicling island life, from devastating hurricanes to a visit from Queen Elizabeth in 1964. You can see examples of ancient pottery shards and stone tools along with fascinating photographs of the island in the early 20th century—many depicting the heaping and exporting of salt and the christening of schooners—and a complete set of beautiful postage stamps issued by Anguilla since 1967.

    East End at Pond Ground, AI2640, Anguilla

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Closed Wed., Thu., Sat. and Sun.
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  • 6. Island Harbour

    For centuries Anguillians have ventured from these sands in colorful handmade fishing boats. Mostly calm waters are surrounded by a slender beach—good sightseeing, but not much for swimming or lounging. But there are a couple of good restaurants (Hibernia, offering dinner, and Falcon Nest, a casual spot for lunch and dinner). Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: partiers.

  • 7. Island Harbour

    Anguillians have been fishing for centuries in the brightly painted, simple, handcrafted fishing boats that line the shore of the harbor. It's hard to believe, but skillful pilots take these little boats out to sea as far as 50 or 60 miles (80 or 100 km). Late afternoon is the best time to see the day's catch, and there are a couple of good, laid-back beach restaurants here.

    Island Harbor Rd., Anguilla
  • 8. Little Bay

    On the north coast, not far from The Valley, this small gray-sand beach is a favored spot for snorkeling and night dives. It's essentially accessible only by water, as it's backed by sheer cliffs lined with agave and creeping vines. The easiest way to get here is a five-minute boat ride from Crocus Bay (about $10 round-trip). There are no amenities, so take some snacks with you. The only way to access the beach from the road is to clamber down the cliffs by rope to explore the caves and surrounding reef—for young, agile, and experienced climbers only. Do not leave personal items in cars parked here, because theft can be a problem. Amenities: none. Best for: snorkeling.

  • 9. Rendezvous Bay

    Follow the signs to Anguilla Great House for public parking at this broad swath of pearl-white sand that is some 1½ miles (2½ km) long. The beach is lapped by calm, bluer-than-blue water and a postcard-worthy view of St. Martin. The expansive crescent is home to three resorts; stop in for a drink or a meal at one, or rent a chair and umbrella at one of the kiosks. Don't miss the daylong party at the Dune Preserve, where Bankie Banx, Anguilla's most famous musician, presides. (Jimmy Buffett recorded a concert there several years back, too.) Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: sunbathing; swimming; walking.

  • 10. Road Bay

    The big pier here is where the cargo ships dock, but so do some impressive yachts, sailboats, and fishing boats. The brown-sugar sand is home to terrific restaurants that hop from day through dawn, including Roy's Bayside Grill, Johnno's, and Elvis', the quintessential (and rather famous) beach bar. This beach is where the famous "August Monday" annual beach party takes place. There are all kinds of boat charters available here. The snorkeling isn't very good, but the sunset vistas are glorious, especially with a rum punch in your hand. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: sunset.

  • 11. Sandy Ground

    Almost everyone who comes to Anguilla stops by this central beach, home to several popular open-air bars and restaurants, as well as boat-rental operations. This is where you catch the ferry for tiny Sandy Island, 2 miles (3 km) offshore for about $40 round-trip.

  • 12. Sandy Hill

    You can park anywhere along the dirt road to Sea Feathers Bay to visit this popular fishing center. What's good for the fishermen is also good for snorkelers, with a coral reef right near the shore. The beach here is not much of a lounging spot, but it's a favorite spot for local families to picnic. For those with creative culinary skills, it's a great place to buy lobsters and fish fresh from local waters in the afternoon. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; walking.

  • 13. Sandy Island

    A popular day trip, tiny Sandy Island shelters a pretty lagoon nestled in coral reefs about 2 miles (3 km) from Road Bay/Sandy Ground, with a restaurant that serves lunch and great islandy cocktails. From November through August you can take the shuttle from Sandy Ground ($40 round-trip). There is mooring for yachts and larger sailboats. Small boats can come right in the channel.  The reef is great for snorkeling. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming.

  • 14. Shoal Bay West

    This glittering bay bordered by mangroves and seagrapes is a lovely place to spend the day. The 1-mile-long (1½-km-long) beach offers sublime tranquility with coral reefs for snorkeling not too far from shore. Punctuate your day with lunch or dinner at beachside Trattoria Tramonto and you can use their chairs and umbrellas. Reach the beach by taking the main road to the West End and bearing left at the fork, then continuing to the end. Note that similarly named Shoal Bay is a separate beach on a different part of the island. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: solitude; swimming; walking.


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