Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

The tiny British island of Anguilla, three miles from St. Martin in the Caribbean, is so exclusive that it’s like a country club in many ways. For one thing, anyone familiar with the island clearly has money, or has prioritized their annual budgets to include a trip here because they know it’s worth it. And members of this exclusive club can talk “island talk” to each other, as my doctor did to me today during my visit. “Ah, Anguilla, he sighed. “Uncle Ernie’s is the best,” referring to the little beach-front ribs shack that is so popular and famous on the island for reasons still unbeknownst to me (they’re just $8 chicken and ribs, they are tasty, and I suppose they come with an ocean view). It was once one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean, a beautiful strip of tranquility without the cruise ships, the mobs of tacky tourists, the noise of casinos and the drunken stupor of college kids at a strip bar. Anguilla is above all that, and on purpose, too: in the 1980’s, the island government made a deliberate decision to target the high-end customer and never to build a casino. In exchange, it welcomed travelers who would not only respect the island and beautiful azure waters and white sand made of crushed sun-bleached seashells, but to grow to love Anguilla as much as the locals did. Outsiders are “guests” of the island, not tourists, and everyone treats each other equally.

Sure, entrees at the award-winning restaurants start at $40 and it cost us nearly $100 just to get off the island back to St. Martin (taxi to the ferry, ferry ticket, departure tax). But why leave the island at all? Jon and I seriously contemplated never coming home while we were there on our ocean-front studio with kitchen, snorkeling and sunning and getting sand between the pages of our paperbacks. When the tide was fierce outside our studio, we took the rental car to a random trail and ended up at quiet Junks Hole Bay for a morning of swimming and seashell gathering. For a few days, we were island folk, people who lived a simple life out of a single carry-on suitcase and two backpacks. And of course, my ever-growing bulky camera bag, which caught a few Anguillan moments when I wasn’t too lazy on my beach chair.

Junks Hole Bay

Scilly Cay fishing village

Sunset over Shoal Bay East

Church in Island Harbour

Sunset over Shoal Bay Villas

Palm trees, Shoal Bay East


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