First settled by Amerindian tribes over 4000 years ago, the people of Anguilla lived peaceful lives reliant on the abundance of the sea until they were colonised by English settlers (coming from nearby St. Kitts) in 1650. After a brief interlude of French rule in 1666 the island was regained by the British and would go on to become a rich territory with rum, sugar, cotton, indigo, fustic and mahogany and its main exports. In 1980 it separated from St. Kitts and Nevis and has limited self governance.
Anguilla is a low-lying island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Saint Martin and east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Its landmass consists mainly of coral and limestone, reasons cited for its poor soil quality. What Anguilla lacks in farming capacity it certainly makes up for with its spectacular beaches and coral reefs; its diving and snorkelling are truly world class. In addition to the main island of Anguilla, a myriad of smaller islands and cays are included in its territory. Most of these are uninhabited, but day trips can be arranged for diving and sunbathing.
Anguillans pride themselves on their relaxed, enjoyable quality of life, and the ocean plays a large role in their seafood heavy culinary traditions, festivals and leisure time. Like many Caribbean countries, Carnival (or Summer Festival) is celebrated with gusto, and the lively beats of soca and reggae can be heard all year long. The island is home to 15 art galleries, a thriving artistic scene and stunning arts, crafts and souvenirs. In addition to its local flavour, many British customs, holidays and traditions are still observed, such as the Queen’s Birthday.
If you are planning to head to Anguilla, the first thing you need to plan to do is to relax! Life moves more slowly here, and part of the joy of visiting the Caribbean is letting your shoulders drop, breathing in the sea air and enjoying every moment. If you want to truly achieve inner relaxation, beachside yoga and meditation are offered by many of the hotels.
Sunbathing on the sand, swimming in crystal clear waters, and snorkeling and excursions are all highly rated – make sure you traverse the island and visit different beaches and take boat trips to the stunning cays. There are diving options available for divers of all levels, and many dive shops offer PADI certification courses if you want to start a lifelong fascination with the deep blue sea.
For a little bit of nightlife, head to Sandy Ground’s many bars and beachside nightclubs to enjoy live soca music, grilled seafood and a rum drink – or three. If a culinary holiday is more your speed, you’ll find high end restaurants catering to even the most discerning palates at the island’s many five star hotels. An art gallery crawl will help you to meet some of Anguilla’s most creative types – not to mention fill your suitcase with one of a kind souvenirs.
Bankie Banx (reggae singer AKA the "Anguillan Bob Dylan"), Adolphus Connor (cricketer)
Sumptuous seafood, rhythmic reggae and a mandate to relax!