Travel Diary: Anguilla

White-sand beaches. Crystal-clear turquoise waters. Beach bars and restaurants dotting the shoreline, serving up frosty drinks and delicious barbecue. The warm and welcoming people. And the steady thrum of an island-reggae beat in the background. Not the tourist trap that many would expect of an island in the Caribbean, Anguilla is a sliver of paradise if you’re looking for a relaxing, restful beach vacation. You won’t find a lot of the glitz or glamour (or swimming pigs, like you get in the Bahamas)here, but that’s what makes this British West Indies island a true gem. Pro tip: The peak season in Anguilla is December through April, and you’ll want to avoid hurricane season in August and September. We recommend October and November, when island is a bit quieter.

Stay: One of the best-known places to stay is the Belmond Cap Juluca Resort—and with good reason. Situated on what is widely considered Anguilla’s best beach, Maundays Bay, the Moorish design of the place really takes your breath away and transports you to another time. A recent renovation updated the 97 rooms and suites, and with three restaurants, five cabana bars, and a wine bar, you’re spoiled for choice. We also love the Mediterranean style of the sprawling CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, on Anguilla’s Rendezvous Bay, and Shoal Bay East’s stunning Zemi Beach House Hotel & Spa, a rum enthusiast’s paradise that boasts a bonafide rummelier to oversee the resort’s more than 100 small-batch single-estate rums. And for those that like to splurge, check out the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla.

Eat: At Meads Bay, you can grab a great meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) at the iconic The Straw Hat, the laidback beachside restaurant where they serve up cocktails and Caribbean classics including prawns steeped in red curry and all manner of seafood, too. For more easygoing options, there’s Breezes Beach Front Restaurant & Bar, at the Reef at CuisinArt (the pizza is fantastic!) and the quintessential beach bar the Sunshine Shack (don’t forget to try the rum punch). Or, for a more formal evening out, try the elegant treehouse-style setting of Veya Restaurant.

Do: Rendezvous, Meads Bay, Barnes Bay, Sandy Ground, Shoal Bay Beach. Pick a beach, any beach—one of 33, to be exact—and you’ll experience an afternoon to remember. You can stay close to your hotel, or rent a car, hire a taxi, or even hop a bike (make sure to plan your route first or even look into getting a guide) to explore Anguilla’s white-sand paradise. Any way you can experience the beach and the water is your best bet, so we suggest getting on a boat or grabbing your snorkel gear to explore the spectacular reefs (like those around Dog Island) teeming with sea life the island is known for. Companies like Calypso Charters offer everything from snorkeling and sightseeing excursions to deep-sea fishing trips to sunset charters.