Anguilla is an island that uses the East Caribbean dollar as its usual currency. It is a British overseas territory. While some such territories use the currency chosen by the country that holds jurisdiction over them, this isn’t the case here.
The East Caribbean dollar is, as you’d expect, a decimal currency. It is also comprised of 100 cents to the dollar, so many of the coins it provides its users with will already be somewhat familiar to you.
For example there are coins denominated as 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents apiece. There is also a dollar coin and a two dollar coin, both of which are in regular circulation in Anguilla. There are a further five banknotes available too, and these are the 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes.
Anguilla is one of nine states that form the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, commonly abbreviated to OECS. Eight of the nine states (with the British Virgin Islands being the only exception) use the East Caribbean dollar. The currency was brought into use in 1965, at which point the British West Indies dollar was taken out of circulation.
You should find you can order some of this currency from a regular bureau de change in your own country prior to travelling to Anguilla. It does depend on where you go however; they may not all provide this currency.
Either way you shouldn’t run into too many problems once you get to the island itself. As soon as you step off the plane you have the option of using the cash machines in the airport, and there are others around the island as well.
Traveller’s cheques are welcome on the island but you’ll get a better deal if you make sure yours are denominated in US dollars. Since the East Caribbean dollar is pegged to the US version it makes sense to work this way.
You should know that you must declare all currency to the authorities upon entering and exiting Anguilla. There are no limits on the cash you can take in, but you can only return with that same amount or less, so bear this in mind.
As for credit cards you can use them but you may find not all outlets will accept them. If you are thinking of using this method to pay for something, you should check before proceeding (especially if you’re at a restaurant where you pay at the end of the meal).
One thing worth remembering is that the East Caribbean dollar is pegged continuously to the US dollar. At the time of writing the agreed rate was one US dollar to 2.70 East Caribbean dollars. However if you want to work out the exchange rate of the East Caribbean dollar with any other currency it is best to use a currency converter.
The East Caribbean dollar is represented by the letters XCD so you should be able to type these in to find the dollar on the converter. If it isn’t present you will need to find a more extensive converter that is pre-loaded with more currencies. It might also be worth looking for one that frequently updates the exchange rates to ensure you always see the latest rates. You’ll need to adjust according to the fees you’d pay when exchanging your own cash for the dollar, but at least this provides you with a good place to begin.
There is an official website for the Anguilla government in London. This has some useful information regarding visas and whether or not they are required for travelling to the island. You can find out more at http://anguillagovlondon.org.
Generally speaking the island is a safe and pleasant place to visit. However there are instances of petty crime here, most notably the usual suspects – pickpocketing and opportunistic bag snatching. It makes sense to keep the amount of cash you carry to a minimum, just in case. Some people like the idea of wearing a money belt since this is much harder for a pickpocket to work with; they may not even realise you have one. If you don’t want one of these try splitting whatever cash you have into different pockets. This will ensure your losses will be minimal if you are unlucky enough to have someone dip into a pocket.
Ideally your choice of accommodation should offer the use of a safe in your room. This will be the ideal place to keep all your travel documents, your passport and any excess cash you have with you. It is a good idea to keep jewellery to a minimum as well, not to mention other valuables.
We already know Anguilla is an island in the East Caribbean, but what else can we learn about it? Well, it lies to the east of Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, while further round to the south-east of the island itself is a string of other islands including St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Guadeloupe.
The capital of the island is the rather unusually-named The Valley. This is not a city but rather it is known as a town, and it sits roughly in the centre of the island. This is also where you can see the oldest building on the entire island, known as Wallblake House. This is 200-years-old and you can arrange to have a tour here so you can learn more about it.
Elsewhere on the island you will find what many visitors come for – the beaches. Locations such as Shoal Bay East and Meads Bay Beach are quite stunning for their long and unbroken stretches of sand leading down to the rolling waves. There are usually plenty of sun umbrellas provided for people to use, not to mention sun loungers as well. Meads Bay is probably the better choice for swimming and there are some great places to eat in the area as well.
If you like the idea of exploring a beach that is a haven for yachts to come and anchor near, try Sandy Ground Village. This has the advantage of being in a gently curving bay, so the waters are incredibly calm and ideal for the kids to enjoy. This is in sharp contrast to the rather too-playful waters at Shoal Bay East.
Speaking of the water, many divers love coming to Anguilla thanks to its huge array of spectacular dive sites. There are a few sunken ships around the area too, including the El Buen Consejo, a galleon that dates all the way back to the 18th century. Today it is home to marine life but if you are an experienced diver you can head down there to see what remains. You should have your certification to dive at this site, but if you do you’ll be allowed to explore.
If you happen to be anywhere near the East End Pond, do make the time to head into the Heritage Collection Museum. This is a charming place that is well worth exploring, since it has many artefacts that date from various periods in Anguilla’s history. They date from ancient times on the island as well as far more modern times.
This is also a great island to visit if you have a passion for bird watching. You can expect to see many different birds here throughout the year. Some birds call the island their permanent home, while others are only here as they are passing through en route to somewhere else. Watch out for all kinds of birds as you navigate the coastal areas of Anguilla, as well as visiting the salt ponds which attract many more of them too.
Clearly many people come to Anguilla for the experience of seeing and enjoying one or more of its many beaches. However there are plenty of other activities you can enjoy here, perhaps most notably water sports. Indeed if you love to explore beneath the waves as well as above them, this could be the ideal place to go.
Anguilla certainly has plenty going for it and it makes a good destination for families just as much as for solo divers. It is this ability to seemingly please everyone that puts it high on the list of worthwhile islands to visit in this part of the world.
If you have an urge to explore this side of the Caribbean, you could certainly do far worse than to start with Anguilla. As a British overseas territory it has connections with Britain as well as being defined by its own unique character.