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Entering Anguilla was less easy than I thought. I had a pretty hard time convincing the customs lady officer that I was not there for a particular dark reason. My brand new passport with barely any stamps did not help.
“Where were you staying in Saint Martin?”, she asked.
“The Love hotel”, I said, knowing what was coming.
“Are you making fun of me?”, she said, changing her tone and ceasing to smile.
No, I said. This is the real name of the hotel.
Distrustful, she looked it up in her PC.
“Tell me why you are here, really”.
“Sightseeing”, I said politely, knowing that when it gets tough the less you say the better it is.
“What’s in your sack?”, “Where are you going next?”…

“What are you going to do now?”, she said finally, as if I was confronted with a very difficult decision.
“I am going to go out and rent a car and go to ALL the beaches”, I answered smiling, citing the name of the car rent company I had thankfully looked up in the Internet the day before.
That worked like a miracle (maybe she is the sister or a relative of the guy holding the company, I thought) and I was free to go. And keep my promise:
go to ALL the beaches!


Anguilla may be just opposite Saint Martin, but the scenery is quite different. It is a flat coral island, as opposed to hilly or mountainous volcanic islands in the vicinity. There is no natural luxurious vegetation, and the island is covered mainly by scrub. No rum distilleries ether, as sugarcane was never grown here.
Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory, and Anguillans are British citizen with the right of abode in the UK. The island was colonized in 1650 by the British, and in 1967 formed an Association with St Kitts and Nevis. But Anguilla quickly changed its mind and a breakaway movement from Great Britain followed. When negotiations failed, the British Metropolitan Police (!!!) arrived to take control (operation Sheepskin, also known in the press as “The bay of piglets” , and stayed for three years. I wish I had been there to see that, Bobbies patrolling the empty streets in shorts! Their presence, initially resented, eventually contributed in building much needed infrastructure (i.e. the port). There was never much wealth on the island, apart from livestock and salt and fishing, but nowadays the island lives from tourism.

On the spot

Being a British place, Anguilla has its own very particular rules you need to be aware of. First of all, you need a car. There are no buses, and taxis are expensive. You drive on the left, after buying a local driving license by your rent car company. Then you’re free to go. But you cannot hire your car at the airport… Someone needs to come and get you, usually a car from your hotel, or bring your rented car (you can rent your car at the port though, without hassle or too many formalities at Hi, I’m Andy).
There are very few signs on the roads. The few points of interest remained a mystery to me until I left… I never found them, and I thank God I did not rent a bike. The heat was unbearable, and hiring a convertible was of absolutely no use.
Despite being a British OT, the currency here is American dollars, so be warned, especially if you come from eurozone French Saint Martin!

I have never, ever seen beaches as sublime as in Anguilla. The sand is perfect, made of crashed coral that does not fly away with wind. The color of the water is unbelievable, due to that white sand. The palm trees on the main beaches turn them into a paradise for the photographer in you.  There is not a single piece of trash, anywhere, not a single cigarette butt on the beaches. The vast majority of the visitors are Americans, and smoking is not their national vice, thank God. But although cigarette smoking may be rare, everybody I asked for instructions seemed to be high; polite and helpful, but blissful as one can only get from smoking marijuana and barely hiding it. Which of course is so much in contrast with the old American money and the hotel clients the place lives on. Hotels are extremely expensive, probably because people who go to Anguilla just choose the place without really caring care about the prices. In many ways, Anguilla, the Eel island, offers the perfect holiday spot for an earthly paradise vacation as most people, myself included, imagine it.
Food is excellent, although if you are looking for a restaurant that does not belong to a hotel choice is not huge. There is good live music during high season, and there are a few pubs with live music all the year through.
You need the highest protection factor possible for the beach, and a good pair or dark, very dark sunglasses. As this is a coral island, sand is white and the light is blinding. There is not much you will be able to do during the day, because of the heat. And if you forget your swimming suit home, chances are you are going to have a very hard time buying a new one. There are no malls and hardly any shops. And you can imagine that if clothes you may want to wear are hard to get by, buying camera staff or a pair of sunglasses is even harder.

Anguilla is the safest Caribbean island. I totally loved the place, and vowed to return.

Last but not least, you should bear in mind that Anguilla, even more than other Caribbean islands, is not really made for solo travellers. Sunbathing and your favorite book may be an excellent pastime, but unless you spend your whole day on the beach you may feel a little bored in the end.


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