There are 12 miles, 45 beaches, of fine white coral sand and crystal clear water. Most of them are protected by a ring of coral reefs and offshore islands. The beaches are clean, and many of them are relatively unpopulated, but nude (or topless for women) swimming or sunbathing is not allowed.
Shoal Bay is the most popular beach and claims to be one of the most beautiful in the Eastern Caribbean. There are hotels, snack bars for lunch, although only one has a toilet. The snorkeling is good, with the closest of two reefs only 10 yd from the shore and you can rent snorkeling equipment. You can also rent lockers, beach umbrellas, loungers, rafts and towels. Mead’s Bay is also popular with more expensive bars, hotels and watersports. Road Bay/Sandy Ground has most nightlife and restaurants and is the starting point for most day trips, dive tours and a popular anchorage for visiting yachts. Watersports equipment rentals can be organized here.
Scilly Cay is a small cay off Island Harbour with good snorkeling. A free ferry takes you to the bar on a palm-clad beach where walls are made from conch shells. Live music on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Smitty’s Bar, across the water at Island Harbour is less sophisticated, tables made from old cable barrels, TV, pool room, popular with the locals. The restaurant was rebuilt after Hurricane Luis flattened the first one in 1995. Smitty gets his fish, crayfish (US$20) and lobster (US$25) straight off the boats. Beach chairs and umbrellas are complimentary and snorkeling is good just off the beach. Captain’s Bay is rougher but the scenery is dramatic and not many people go there. The dirt road is full of potholes and goats and may be impassable with a low car.
At Crocus Bay the rocks on both sides have nice coral and underwater scenery. There is a bar/restaurant and toilets. At the end of Limestone Bay is a small beach with excellent snorkelling, but be careful, the sea can be rough here. Little Bay is more difficult to reach but eagle rays and turtles can be seen and as well as excellent snorkeling it is a birdwatcher’s and photographer’s dream; turn right in front of the old cottage hospital in the Valley, after about half a mile there are some trails leading down to the water, fishermen have put up a net for the last bit. Glass bottom boats and cruise boats also come here or you can get a boat ride from Crocus Bay.
Windsurfing and sailing are readily available and some of the hotels offer water skiing, paddle boats, snorkeling, fishing and sunfish sailing. Parasailing can be arranged at Shoal Bay. Anguilla Watersports offer water skiing, T5821. Jet skiing is prohibited. There are glass bottom boats which can be hired for one or two people to operate themselves or crewed for groups. Sport fishing is available, contact Gotcha, T2956; Johnno’s, T2728; Rampoosin, T8868; Sandy Island Enterprises, T5643; No Mercy, T6383. Yacht or motorboat charters are offered with beach and snorkeling cruises around the island or trips to St Phillipsburg, St Maarten, charters to Saba, Statia, St Barts on request. Operators change frequently but in 2000 the following were in Anguillian waters: Captain Kasha Brooks of Island Yacht Charter Co, T3743, F3738, has Pyrat, a 35-ft power boat and a 30-ft Beneteau sailboat, Eros; Adventure Star, a 32-ft motorboat, T4750; El Tigre, Sail Anguilla catamaran, T3304; Chocolate catamaran, T3394; Sandy Island Enterprises has a motorboat, T5643; Gotcha, 30-ft motorboat, T2956; Sail My Way, 30-ft sailboat, T6655; No Mercy, motorboat, T6383; Its Fun Time, 32-ft power boat for day trips and fishing, T/F6511, funt...@yahoo.com
Boat racing is the national sport, the boats being a special class of wooden sloop made in Anguilla. There are frequent races, but the most important are on Anguilla Day (30 May) and during Carnival Week in August.