Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Anguilla Cruise Port Guide: Tips, Attractions, Weather

Anguilla snorkeling
Anguilla attracts snorkelers and other visitors from nearby St. Maarten. Credit: Pixabay license

The Anguilla cruise port of Blowing Point is small and therefore attracts small ships.

Only cruise lines with smaller ships such as Windstar, Seabourn and SeaDream make stops there. But that doesn’t discourage Caribbean cruise travelers from larger ships. The island of St. Maarten, a major stop on eastern Caribbean cruises, is less than eight miles away.

As a result, Anguilla is a popular excursion destination for St. Maarten visitors who want to visit or snorkel at Anguilla’s beautiful white sand beaches. St. Maarten is the name for the Dutch side of the smallest island in the world shared by two countries. The other half, St. Martin, belongs to France.

About 70,000 overnight visitors come to Anguilla per year. More than 2 million cruise visitors stop in St. Maarten. March and December are the most popular months to visit; September and October are the least popular.

While hordes of cruise ships visit the busy Philipsburg cruise port on St. Maarten each year, visitors to Anguilla will find one of the quieter Caribbean destinations.

Anguilla is a British territory in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico. The island is 16 miles long and three miles wide with a total land area of 35 miles.

The capital of Anguilla is The Valley. The island has a population of about 13,500. The main industries are tourism, fishing, and offshore banking.

Quick Travel Tips

  • The island is best known for its beaches.
  • Commercial attractions include one golf course and a dolphin facility.
  • It has fewer shops and restaurants than nearby St. Maarten.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Tourist Attractions

The cruise port of call for smaller ships in Anguilla is Blowing Point Harbour on the west end of the island. Blowing Point Harbour has few tourist attractions to see on foot. Most visitors will need transportation.

CuisinArt Golf Course designed by Greg Norman is a 7,063 yard and 18-hole par 72 course with water features on 13 holes. It is about three miles or less than 10 minutes by taxi from the cruise port.

Nature lovers can swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery. It is less than a half mile from the ferry terminal at Blowing Point Harbour.

The highest point on the island at a little more than 200 feet up is Crocus Hill near the Crocus Bay Beach. It provides panoramic views of Anguilla and nearby St. Maarten.

The Pelican Trail, an eco-park and water sport facility, is an active way to spend a day in Anguilla. The Pelican Trail is only a 150 yard swim away from Little Bay Beach. The Pelican Trail has glass bottom kayaks, snorkeling, places for bird watching, a 25 foot trampoline island and private gazebos available for renting.

Shore Excursions

Anguilla snorkeling
Snorkeling is popular in Anguilla. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

For St. Maarten cruise visitors, one of the most popular shore excursions to Anguilla is a day trip on a sailboat or catamaran. These excursions will last up to eight hours. They often include snorkeling, lunch and open bar. The average cost is about $130 to $150 per person.

The Anguilla National Trust Heritage Tour stops at some of the major sightseeing locations on the island. Stops include Big Spring Heritage Site, Valley Well, Ebenezer Methodist Church, and The Old Court House.

The average cost for this kind of tour is $50 per adult and $30 per child 12 and under.

Dolphin Discovery on Anguilla has about a half dozen swim-with-dolphin programs with prices ranging between $100 and $200 per person. Dolphin Discovery is easy to reach for ships that dock in Anguilla. The facility is in Blowing Point.

Cruise visitors to St. Maarten may want to visit a dolphin facility on another island. They can reach Blowing Point by driving from Philipsburg to Marigot and then taking the ferry. Because of the travel time, few cruise lines to St. Maarten offer Dolphin Discovery as a shore excursion.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Anyone wishing a quiet beach day will enjoy any of the island’s 33 spectacular white-sand beaches. Snorkelers should look for excursions that include beach time.

Thanks to our visit to Anguilla, I can say that Anguilla beaches and snorkeling together make up a great excursion.

Most of the major beaches have beach bars or dining options nearby. Some of the most popular beaches include Shoal Bay, Rendezvous Bay, and Crocus Bay, known for its coral cliffs.

Shopping and Restaurants

People don’t go to Anguilla for the heavy commercialism that dominates the bigger islands. They go to this lesser known island for the quiet beauty.

So passengers from small ships that dock in Anguilla may find better shopping and dining across the water at Marigot and especially at Philipsburg on St. Maarten.

Otherwise, shopping is concentrated at the West End, which caters mostly to resort visitors. Restaurants also are mostly concentrated in the resort areas outside of the Blowing Rock ferry and cruise terminal.

Shops are concentrated at George Hill, Sandy Ground, South Hill and West End.

Getting Around / Transportation

Ferries run every 45 minutes between the French town of Marigot on the north coast of St. Martin on the French side and Blowing Point on the south coast of Anguilla.

One advantage of the ferry for Anguilla visitors is the chance to see Marigot, which is a quaint French town with plenty of shopping and dining. Ferries are $20 one way plus a departure tax and security fee.

If Marigot isn’t appealing, a cheaper way to visit Anguilla is by excursion boats to the beaches, snorkeling and other activities.

Taxis on Anguilla are fixed based on 10 zones around the island, according to the Anguilla Tourist Board. Rates are somewhat expensive. Rental cars require a temporary driving permit for $20. Visitors to the ferry terminal will find several car rental agencies there as well as plenty of taxis.

Weather / Best Times to Go

The average high temperature ranges from 83 degrees Fahrenheit and 28 Celsius in January to 89 Fahrenheit and 32 Celsius from July through September.

The island has a dry season from January through April when it rains on average three inches or less.

Rainfall increases slightly in May, declines again in June and then starts to climb in July for the Caribbean hurricane season. Rain usually hits the highest point in November.

The most popular months to visit are December through May, which is the island’s dry season.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.
June 11, 2024