By: James Henderson
The Telegraph UK
January 13, 2023
It was a spell-binding moment, perhaps the finest nature experience I have ever had in 35 years of travelling to the Caribbean. As I rounded the cliffs near Meads Bay, I snorkelled into a silver cloud of fish, tens of thousands of shimmering sprats hovering in the still water. They swarmed around me, darting and resettling, before swirling and shimmying away like smoke: small vortices that tore off and re-joined the school.
If you love exploring tropical waters, there is no Caribbean island like Anguilla, with its never-ending stretches of creamy sand, giving into gin-clear shallows. You are never far from one of these paradise shores, either: there are about 30 on an island that measures just 16 miles by three. Even the main port sits on an impeccable strand. After so many years since my first visit, my conviction remains firm that Anguilla has the finest beaches of them all.
The other thought that comes to mind about Anguilla – a British Overseas Territory north-west of Antigua and Barbuda – is that it is expensive. But there are ways to get the best of the Caribbean’s beaches without shelling out a fortune. To begin with, prices reduce by as much as a third out of season, so consider travelling in late April and May (or early December) when the weather is just as good.
And choose less swanky accommodation. Many smaller hotels don’t get on to the tour operator books, and yet they still sit on spectacular stretches of sand. Equally you could consider staying off the beach entirely if you are really keen for a better price. And finally there is self-catering. Part of the point of Anguilla is lapping up its decadent restaurant scene, and opting for accommodation with its own kitchen means you are not beholden to a hotel and its pricey restaurants.
In between eating, of course, you will no doubt be exploring. In many ways, Anguilla is the antithesis of the likes of St Lucia with its lofty pitons. It is a flat island of aromatic scrub, lying at the most northerly outpost of an ancient fault line of Atlantic-Caribbean tectonics. These volcanoes, eroded long ago, are now capped with limestone coral by the rise and fall of the sea.
And Anguilla is all the better for it, with a beach for every moment. Waking early one morning, I headed for Rendezvous Bay, which unfurls on superb sand for more than a mile. In the cool of dawn I set off for a morning walk, a dozen sandpipers twittering along beside me, scurrying in and out of the lapping sea foam. Here I met Moses, with a grizzled face and the neck and shoulders of a bull.
“I take a beach walk every morning,” he said. “The body needs it. You could do it too, sir.”
As I attempted to keep up with him, I discovered his secret. The sand in Anguilla is so soft and sumptuous that walking becomes a surprisingly aerobic exercise. Eventually we joined other Anguillians taking a “sea bath”: a daily custom involving a morning wallow and a gossip in the shallows......
.......Carimar Beach Club sits at the eastern end of Meads Bay, a series of simple one- and two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens, garlanded with pink bougainvillea and offering beach views. Kenwood Travel (020 7749 9245) is offering seven nights, room only, from £1,593 (based on travel in November), including flights from Heathrow.