How to avoid being an obnoxious tourist in Anguilla

Anguilla is a beautiful island; I don’t need to tell you that. We not only boast beautiful beaches, but we have some of the friendliest people in the West Indies. The thing is that often times tourists come down here and are inherently rude (whether on purpose or not). The following things will help you have a great holiday without being “that” tourist:

  1. The island is called ANGUILLA which rhymes with VANILLA– (ANGWILLUH) If you’re visiting and say “this is my ____ time in Angweeelah” I can guarantee that the Anguillian you are talking to is internally cringing. I cannot tell you how many times I have met people who, despite hearing me say Anguilla correctly to them, continue to say either Angweeelah or Ang-ee-yah. Please understand that we live here, therefore we know how to pronounce the name of our country.
  2. Do not enter our stores in your bathing suit or barefoot or full of sand or not wearing pants. This is just downright rude. The beach is about the only place you can dress like that; once you are entering our town or any shops, you will need to be properly attired. Keep a bottle of tap water in your rental so you can rinse the sand off before entering a store and always walk with clothing to put on after the beach.
  3. Our country’s currency is Eastern Caribbean Dollars. This is a real currency, not Monopoly money. It should not be surprising that our stores price in EC$ nor should you be rude when you receive EC$ change.
  4. Stop complaining that the island is expensive. I can’t understand why someone would come to Anguilla, which has NO factories, and express surprise that American products like Kraft or Nabisco are more expensive than they are in America. These items need to be imported and there are duties attached; of course it isn’t 99¢ like “back in the States”.
  5. Greet people when you enter a room or before you begin speaking to them. In Anguilla, it is customary to begin all verbal interactions with “good morning” or “good afternoon” or “good night”, depending on the time of day. Culturally, it is considered very rude to not greet someone in this manner.
  6. We drive on the left side of the road, not the “wrong” side of the road. Please do not mistake those two terms.
  7. Do not assume that everyone in Anguilla is on vacation. This is a society and as such you will see people in business attire.  Don’t be surprised by this or that we have a government and judicial system. Do not remark that everyone should wear sundresses and beach wraps– Anguilla is not a holiday theme park.
  8. Stop calling people who live here “natives”. The preferred term is “locals” or “Anguillians”. 
  9. Not every local works in the establishment you are visiting. The other night I was enjoying a glass of wine at a restaurant when a tourist walked up to me thinking I worked there. Once my husband was standing in line at Blanchards Beach Shack waiting to order when a tourist walked up to him and asked him for another daiquiri. This is just plain wrong, do not do it; I don’t need to tell you the dynamics behind these assumptions tourists make since that is a-whole-nother post.
  10. Do not take photos of our children without permission. These are our children, not indigenous animals. Sure, you may think your Instagram will look cute if you post a pic with a bunch of local kids, but get permission from parents before doing so. If parents aren’t around, don’t take the photo. Simple.
  11. Stop trying to rescue the farm animals. The goats and cows you see are free range livestock which will be eaten. They are not pets any more than any other quadruped you may see on a farm.
  12. Don’t ask why it’s raining. Precipitation did not cease in the region because you decided to come on holiday.
  13. Please exercise NORMAL cautions in terms of safety or securing your belongings. Yes, Anguilla is a very safe country, but you still need to be smart about things. To be honest I’m sick of people leaving their valuables out on a beach chair, walking a mile down the beach, coming back to meet the stuff stolen and then going on Trip Advisor telling everyone not to come to Anguilla because you will get robbed. Basically, if you wouldn’t do it in your country, don’t do it in ours.
  14. Leave the sea life at the beach. Do not try to take starfish or living conch with you to your villa or home country. Not only are you killing an actual sea creature, but you will end up throwing it out because in 24 hours time it will stink to high heaven when it dies. Leave only footprints, take only pictures.
  15. Don’t say “Ya mon”. No one says that.

23 thoughts on “How to avoid being an obnoxious tourist in Anguilla

  1. I once had someone SWEAR to me that I was pronouncing it wrong, that is was indeed pronounced Angweeela, because he had been visiting for years. This was after I told him both my grandmothers were born on the island. Smdh

    This is a great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol..thoroughly enjoyed reading this ….well said!
    Another observation is getting drunk that you’re unaware of what’s happening. Designate your driver to get home safely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am really enjoying your blog posts. When we have masterclasses at the Lit Fest successful authors talk about great working coming out of ‘finding your voice’ Your voice sounds clear as a bell in ‘Vanessa Explains” great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a shame you have to write this at all. It’s common sense, really. I feel your pain, though, as I live in a cruise ship destination, albeit in a considerably cooler climate. So, people do tend to be clothed in our places of business while visiting, but I once encountered an irate couple in the street b/c businesses were closed that day. It was a Canadian holiday. No, they are not the same as American or British holidays. Deal with it. I was also once asked what currency we used, American or French (French?!). We have our own, thanks, and no, it’s not Monopoly money. SMH.


  5. I hate that you had to Post this but I am glad you did. Could not agree more. I have also had people mispronounce Anguilla right after I have said it correctly. I can’t imagine how annoying it is to people that live there.


  6. Help me Jesus! This post was amazing! I cannot stand when people pronounce “Anguilla” wrong and actually just mini-ranted about it yesterday after seeing it on some Disney show!

    I do feel guilty about 2 things, I once accidentally took a shell with me that was a living animal and I felt AWFUL when i noticed it dead! I looked inside and I couldn’t see anything! I literally teared up at random for the next few days. That shell is still in my fish tank at home and I routinely think to myself that “he” did not need to die for that fate. Second thing, I have often contemplated how expensive tampons and sunscreen are in AXA. I do not complain however, I DivaCup and BYO Sunscreen. Solved!


  7. This blog post needed to be said. As an African-American woman who travels frequently to the Caribbean, I have been mistaken for a waitress, shop girl, local tour guide, you name it. And when I point out that I am on vacation too, I get the “Ohhh I thought you lived here” line. Sigh…I just can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great list, and one that can be continually expanded on. As someone who has visited the island every year for the last 20 years the best advice that I can give is ” the more “Anguillian” that you make your visit the more you will get from it. Enjoy interacting and meeting Anguillians, eat local food, act like a visitor not an invader. Thats just the start, in a word RESPECT Anguilla.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful, clear and necessary. I wish they would print your simple and logical “rules” and hand out with the nice welcome materials we receive @ Blowing Point!! Thank you! I will share with my friends who plan to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well Vanessa, you really sparked an outcry on Trip Advisor with 90 percent of the people in favor of your post and 10% who took offense. I suspect those are the folks who must be guilty of your “finger pointing”. I for one, thought it was a refreshing and succinct post on proper island etiquette. I appreciated that you took the time to try and properly school the tourists as to proper behavior. I did not take offense, I was happy to learn, and I was glad you did not try to sugarcoat, it was a well written piece designed to educate.
    Thank you again for your time.
    My very best wishes.


    1. Hi Ellen,
      Thank you for your feedback. I’ve seen some negative backlash from some people, but like you said, those who are guilty will probably take offense. I still don’t see what the offensive nature of the post is; where they are seeing condescending tones I am seeing humourous snark LOL.
      Thanks again and continue to be an ambassador for Anguilla.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice article! I agree with almost everything you said. I spent some time on the island and think I will write a blog on “How Anguillians could prosper more from tourism” starting with being nice…second stop assuming all Americans want burgers and pizza…third if I show up at your local bakery for breakfast it’s because I want breakfast too and I’m not some freak of nature.

    Some other key concepts on making more money:

    Hey Kalvin, you charged me $15 dollars to get to little bay, don’t be so upset when I gave you $15. And yes, I could hear you swearing at me.

    Hey, lady who works at TJ’s bakery…a smile goes a long way.

    If I ask you what pot fish is it’s because I don’t know what it is. It’s a legit question. No tude please.

    Hey airport customs… if you want to charge duty on food coming in with tourists use a proper duty form. Don’t be upset when I get here and haven’t declared anything…you have given me no way to declare items.

    Hey dive shop & random dive providers… petition your government to allow diving without a certified guide…to include shore diving. It may seem counterintuitive but certified divers know how to take care of reefs and how to protect them. It’s also a great way to generate incremental income for the economy.

    Shout out to Falcons Nest you guys are awesome along with the lady who serves up BBQ road side in the valley who got my rice request despite not selling it… These two business know how to treat tourists right,& keep them coming back… others take notice.

    Lastly, No… I’m not from Zemi beach club- Please don’t assume that.


  12. ☺️🔆 We drive on the left in the UK too (not the wrong side of the road lol). I also can’t stand it when people keep saying ‘Ya Mon’ jus because they’re in the caribbean (plus it’s not really pronounced like that when it’s spoken anyway).


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