If sugar-white sand and crystal-clear water sound like cliches, then you've never seen Anguilla's beaches. Many of the island's 33 exemplary shorelines are straight from a Caribbean postcard. A stay here may even induce boredom of all that beach perfection. (Yeah, right.) Good news: All beaches are public, so feel free to park your towel wherever you wish. Here are a few of our favorite sunny shores around the isle.
Shoal Bay East
Not to be confused with Shoal Bay West or Upper Shoal Bay, this is one of the most popular beaches on the island, thanks to a handful of small resorts, an array of restaurants and rental equipment for snorkeling and diving the offshore reef. Many day-trippers from St. Maarten settle here, so it tends to get crowded. The road that leads to the beach dead-ends at Uncle Ernie's: The classic beach bar boasts the cheapest beer on the island and a world-famous rum punch. Add sustenance with barbecue ribs, chicken, burgers or freshly caught fish. Be sure to bring cash — the unpretentious eatery doesn't accept credit cards.
This crescent-shaped swath on the island's Caribbean side overlooks neighboring St. Maarten. With over 2 miles of sand, it's a prime spot for a nice, long stroll. A few resorts, including CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, line the shore, but the beach never feels overly crowded. Plan a visit to Dune Preserve, the restaurant owned by musician Bankie Banx. The eclectic hangout is made from shipwrecked boats, driftwood, and coconut trees, and it features live music most nights, with Banx himself performing. The Preserve is also the host of the annual Moonsplash music festival, an island staple since 1991.
While this beach doesn't fit the typical Anguilla stereotype (the sand is more on the brown-sugar side), this is where the locals come to party. Home to the main commercial harbor, this hub is known for its boat races, beach bashes, bar scene and nightlife. Get your rum punch fix at Elvis' Beach Bar, a 16-foot boat converted into a watering hole. Johnno's Place and The Pumphouse are other happening spots; both feature live music and strong cocktails.
Spend a day lounging at this pristine strand, where the calm water is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. A singular resort, Cap Juluca, with iconic whitewashed, Moorish-inspired architecture, fronts the wide stretch of sand. (Bonus: Free public parking can be found near the property.) When evening falls, spring for a fancy dinner at Pimms, the resort's open-air restaurant.
This remote beach and snorkeling haven takes a bit of effort, but it worth the journey. Getting to the minuscule beach involves hiking an unmarked trail then climbing down a steep cliff with a rope as your only safety net. Afraid of heights? There are usually local boaters who will pick you up at nearby Crocus Bay and speed you over for around $15.
Hop aboard Happiness, the daily shuttle boat to get to Sandy Island. You won’t find much on this tiny spit of sand, save for a restaurant that serves freshly caught seafood (the grilled lobster is a must) and potent rum punches. Spend the day snorkeling the surrounding reefs or just pretending you’ve been marooned on one of the prettiest islands ever.