Anguilla is known as the island for celebs looking to escape the paparazzi. But a wallet that size is not a prereq for a visit.
Play for $0-$18 a Day
There’s no stumbling onto this beach. Arriving by boat is one way, but climbing down the rope (read: not rope ladder) from the top of the cliff is the fun (and free) way. At the bottom, a curve of sand ensconced by mighty cliffs is all mine. Rent snorkel gear at the Arawak Inn for $10.
The trail we chose in Island Harbour should’ve been marked “advanced,” but nothing’s marked on this unspoiled part of the isle. Not trail heads, nor beaches, so it’s ripe for exploring. After a few forward topples, I get the hang of dodging rocks and sliding through sand. Which I’m thankful for when spots like Captains Bay pop into sight. Rent bikes at Arawak Inn for $18.
Shoal Bay, named one of the world’s top 10 beaches by The Travel Channel, is worth seeing in the morning, but I like Scilly Cay for staying all day. The short boat ride is free from Island Harbour; just wave and they’ll pick you up.
Eat for $5 to $55 a Day
Eat for $5 to $55 a Day
First-class food without the pomp is the culinary vibe on Anguilla, which has more than 90 restaurants. On Da Rocks: The Saturday $5 crayfish nights drew me in, but it was the view of Scilly Cay, the locals and the rum punches that kept me there most of the night.
Lobster quesadillas stuffed with melted Gouda; goat soup (try it!); shrimp creole with scalloped potatoes and rice and peas — all served out of a van that looks like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo… and all less than $12 each. Owners Irad and Papi open the doors at 11:30 a.m.
A car-battery-powered grill on a spit of sand just happens to serve the best Anguillan lobster on the island, and it’s the place to splurge a little. Split the $55 lobster; it’s huge and comes with rice and peas, seashell pasta salad, slaw and fresh greens.
Stay for $150-$175 a night
Reasonably priced digs aren’t the norm, but they do exist, and mostly on the eastern end. It’s just a 10-or-so-minute drive to hot spots like Sandy Ground, home of the famous Elvis’ and its rum punch.
Arawak Beach Inn
Staying here isn’t about five-star luxury or over-the-top amenities. It’s about laid-back simplicity and superior service. It’s about grabbing a beer at the bar on the honor system. It’s about those beers costing only $3, and an oceanfront deluxe room with a wraparound balcony going for less than $200. For 2014, low-season rates start at $175 per night.
Set high on a bluff above prime Shoal Bay East, all four rooms have water views (it’s worth a few extra bucks for the top floor). Milly’s daughter, Samantha, and her husband, Vince, run the inn and are a powder keg of info on island do’s and don’ts, like the fact that taxis are a rip and it’s cheaper to rent a car. This location in high season at a price tag of just $160 a night (for top floor) can’t be beat. Low-season rate is $150.
Did You Know? Fly nonstop into St. Martin from Chicago, D.C., Atlanta and Miami. Locals refer to east as “above” and west as “below.” Four of the seven endangered sea-turtle species are found here. No one can be a citizen of Anguilla. Born here? Then you’re British.