If you’re planning on going on a vacation to Anguilla, and especially if you’re staying in one of the larger resorts, you aren’t likely to want for much during your stay. In fact, you can probably be as relaxed and pampered as you want to be with the wide array of spa services, dining options and stunningly gorgeous beaches available on the island.
However, if you decide to stay for a longer period of time, you may begin to notice that some things that you had at home are a bit harder to come by in Anguilla. Like, if you wanted to catch a current flick on the big screen? You wouldn’t have any luck in Anguilla, but you can take a 20-minute ferry ride to neighboring St. Martin to find a movie theater. Since Anguilla’s land is not amenable to farming, the vast majority of food products on the island have to be imported. Locals know the best days and times to hit the stores for the best selection of vegetables, meat and other goodies. On other days, you could be faced with some pretty slim pickings.
Even air conditioning is not found in as many places as you might expect. Quite a few stores, offices and restaurants are open-air, but natural breezes and ceiling fans are usually enough to provide a comfortable atmosphere. The larger resorts like Cap Juluca, the CuisinArt Resort & Spa, and the Malliouhana Hotel & Spa, do provide fully air-conditioned rooms, but many of the smaller hotels and villas either provide AC only in the bedrooms or not at all. Of course, for the a lot of the year, the weather in Anguilla is so pleasant that many people prefer to open their doors and windows to enjoy the ocean breezes than to turn on air conditioning anyway.
Beware of doing what I did though! My last visit took place in early August, which happens to be the start of the hottest time of the year in Anguilla. There were a few days during my trip with heat indexes in the high 90s (F) and pretty oppressive levels of humidity. On one such day, I complained to one of my local Anguillian friends that the living area in my hotel room was too hot for me to really use it (I had bedroom-only AC). My friend sweetly nodded in sympathy with poor poor me and my very sad situation. However, when I then asked her if she had AC in her house, she said no but followed up quickly with “but we are accustomed to the heat” so as not to make me feel bad for complaining. It’s very common for Anguillians to show this kind of concern for your feelings, so I appreciated her efforts, but I felt like complete wimp and a spoiled brat anyway.
Of course, there are also a lot of things that you can find in Anguilla that may not be as easy to get at home. How many other places in the world can you find such amazingly beautiful beaches that are also uncrowded? If you’re a fan of seafood, you will be oh so very pleased with the freshness of the Caribbean lobster (different from New England lobster) and various other locally-caught offerings from the sea. Extremely talented local and internationally trained chefs head up a surprisingly wide variety of restaurants for such a small island. Sailboat racing is the national sport of Anguilla, and being a spectator at a boat race is unlike watching any other sport, especially during the excitement of a close finish. You will also find a very special openness and kindness amongst the Anguillian people, and if you make efforts to get to know them in anything more than a superficial manner, you are likely to find brand-new friends for life. They live a relatively simple life and they take great pride in their work, their families and themselves.
In the end, it’s up to you to determine what you really need and whether you can be happy on a small island like Anguilla. Can you live without the big box stores and wholesale warehouse shopping clubs? Can you trade in the faster time-sensitive pace of city life for a more laid-back and unhurried one? Are the beauty and benefits offered by small island life enough to outweigh those of wherever you’re from? If you spend more than a casual vacation in any place that isn’t home, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to get homesick for something at some point, but you need to determine what you’re willing to give up and what you have to have every day. One person’s paradise is not necessarily everyone’s paradise!