Ticked off Trinidad and Tobago? Been to Barbados and The Bahamas? Done the Dominican Republic?
It’s time to try the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla - aka one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets.
On Anguilla - whose name means eel (an apt description for a long, thin island measuring a mere 16 miles by three miles) - you’ll findturquoise seas together with gastronomy, history and culture in spades.
Of course Anguilla’s biggest draw is arguably its beaches. Situated in the British West Indies, around 100 miles north west of Antigua, 150 miles east of Puerto Rico and nine miles north of St. Maarten, this laid back little island boasts some of the best beaches in the entire Caribbean. There are 33 to choose from including Shoal Bay East with its 2.5 mile stretch of sand, watersports facilities and restaurants, the secluded Captain’s Bay (accessed along a dirt track) and Little Bay - the latter of which is memorably accessed by boat from Crocus Bay. But regardless of where you decide to stretchout your beach towel, expect impossibly soft, squeaky sand the colour of icing sugar.
But Anguilla offers so much more than just a day on the beach. Once you’ve had your fill of the eye wateringly beautiful beaches, it’s time to take to the sea: sailing is one of the most popular pastimes on Anguila but you’ll also find yachts, windsurfers and kayaks available for hire while, for true adrenaline junkies, water skiing can easily be arranged.
Yet as enjoyable as activities above the water are, it’s what lies beneath that is of real interest. And if you’ve never snorkelled or dived on a Caribbean coral reef before, you’ll be wowed by the beauty and incredible diversity...
Anguilla is known as the ‘Wreck Diving Capital of the Caribbean’. The big headline grabber is the Spanish galleon, El Buen Consejo, but there are nine shipwrecks in its surrounding waters that are home to a wide variety of corals and marine life including angelfish, barracudas, margates, sharks, snappers and turtles.
Back on dry land, the region’s gastronomy is a further pull. Food isn’t just for mealtimes on Anguilla - it’s a culture of its own. The island has over 100 restaurants - loved by the A-list likes of Robert De Niro and Paul McCartney - offering international and local cuisine, created by award winning chefs.
And don’t worry about your waistline (you are on your holidays after all). Simply work off any excess calories consumed by following one of the numerous walking tracks around the island from the rocky coast line of Windward Point in the north to the ‘rain forest’ trail at Katouche. With jaw dropping view after jaw dropping view, you’ll want to get married just to have a honeymoon here.
Or take to the fairways at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa’s 18-hole, 7,063 yard golf course. Designed by Australian golfing legend Greg Norman, this US$50 million course has been hailed as the Caribbean equivalent of Pebble Beach thanks to its gorgeous oceanviews and water features on no fewer than 13 holes. For those who like to stay where they play, the prestigious neighbouring resort (www.cuisinartresort.com )with its five restaurants and first rate spa, should fulfill every desire imaginable.
Other upscale accommodation options include the much loved Malliouhana - which is re-opening on a bluff high above Meads Bay and Turtle Cove as an Auberge Resort(www.malliouhana.aubergeresorts.com) in November 2014 following an extensive three year refurbishment. Whether you choose to stay at CuisinArt, Auberge or one of Anguilla’s other resorts, villas and intimate hotels, you can look forward to the sort of attention that makes you feel, even if only for a week, that you have entered a different world.
So how to reach this idyllic low lying island? Currently, there are no direct international flights to Anguilla. However, from the United Kingdom, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic all have excellent services into Antigua and St. Kitts with onward connections to Anguilla. Flights are also available from Puerto Rico (one hour by air), which is served by several US and inter-island carriers.
All told Anguila may be a good nine hour flight ride away from the UK, but that’s not much at all when you factor in how much fun and sun lies in store...
For more information on Anguilla, please visit www.ivisitanguilla.com