Anguilla is the new hot spot of the Caribbean, the “it” destination. Once a kept secret thanks to its small size, isolation and seclusion, it is today a popular resort destination lined with luxury hotels, fine restaurants, and increasingly more and more tourists. Still, while it is no longer the dead tranquility and land of wild brush and unpaved roads that it once was, it remains less crowded and quieter than say Puerto Rico, Aruba, or the Cayman Islands. Those who come to Anguilla typically look for a vacation to themselves – just to relax and unwind while at the same time enjoying comfortable resort amenities.
For much of its history, Anguilla has been a quiet island left to itself. It was even skipped over by Christopher Columbus who did not feel the need to set foot on yet another Caribbean island. Columbus supposedly named the island as he passed by, calling it Anguilla after the Italian word for eel because of the island’s long and narrow shape. In 1650, the British arrived onto the scene and were the first to settle the island. 150 years later, the French tried to attack Anguilla but were unsuccessful. They were soon followed by Irishmen who landed and settled on the island. In 1825, Anguilla along with St. Kitts and Nevis were made a British colony. Anguillans were upset with this forced union, a sentiment that brewed for years until it finally boiled over in 1967. When the British that year combined St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla into one state and based the government out of St. Kitts, Anguillans seceded. To allay an outbreak, the British readopted Anguilla as a separate colony. In 1976, Anguilla was granted a separated constitution.
The island’s capital is The Valley, which has a population of less than 2,000 people. There aren’t many man-made sights and attractions. The only one worth mentioning is the Wallblake House at Cross Roads. This is a plantation estate that was built in the late 18th century. There are some legends connected to this house.
Not surprisingly, most tourists hit the beaches, harbors, and bays of Anguilla, an island known as the “swimmer’s paradise”. The beaches and bays in Anguilla are washed by clear turquoise waters and lined with waterfront resorts and hotels. If you are into boating and deep-sea fishing, you can visit Maunday’s Bay where you can make arrangements with tour boats and rental companies. Tennis courts and athletic clubs are dotted around the island as well.
In northern Anguilla, you’ll find popular snorkeling and windsurfing spots like Barnes Bay. Shoal Bay in the region offers the best beaches, which all have facilities that rent equipment for fishing, diving, and sailing. Scuba divers usually hit up Sandy Ground.
The southeastern part of the island is known as Sandy Hill. This is where fresh fish are caught by the local fishermen and bought by tourists. Snorkeling is also popular in Sandy Hill because of its clear waters.
In the west, you’ll find pristine beaches that are perfect for lounging and sunbathing. The beaches in this area include Shoal Bay West, Cove Bay, and Rendezvous Bay which offers views of the island of St. Martin.