Anguilla, British Overseas Territory
ENJOY A GLIMPSE OF ANGUILLA
Anguilla's main attractions are uncrowded white-sand beaches, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, fishing, fine restaurants and very friendly people. Spas and art galleries add variety.
Go to Anguilla if you want to get away from everything, enjoy the beach and watersports and be pampered in quiet luxury at an elegant hotel. Those who want to leave crowded streets and sprawling shopping malls behind will enjoy the quaint shops scattered amidst the picturesque island setting. Anguilla is close to St. Martin/St. Maarten in size and location but is nearly 90% less populated.
The island was inhabited as early as 1500 BC by Arawaks, who called it Malliouhana. The Carib Indians later drove out the Arawaks, but they were no match for the British, who arrived in 1650. Slavery and disease eliminated the Caribs, but the British needed their navy to hold on to Anguilla during several attacks by the French in the 1600s and 1700s. France quickly lost interest in Anguilla, however, and the island became another quiet outpost of the British Empire.
In 1967, the British attempted to join Anguilla with the neighboring islands of St. Kitts and Nevis to form a State in Association with the United Kingdom. Anguillans rebelled against the plan, fearing they would be overwhelmed by St. Kitts. After a two-year standoff, they were able to arrange a separate relationship with Great Britain, which took until 1980 to implement.
Today, Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory with an elected House of Assembly and a governor who is appointed by the Crown. The governor chooses a chief minister to lead the cabinet, someone who appears to have the support of a majority of Assembly lawmakers. Anguilla Day is celebrated as a national holiday on 30 May. It was on that date in 1967 that the St. Kitts police were removed from Anguilla.
In an effort to diversify the economy, which is heavily geared toward tourism, the British and Anguillan governments have launched aggressive programs to establish the island as a reputable and well-regulated center for offshore banking. These measures have begun to attract new revenues and diversify the economy, though tourism remains important for many islanders. The Anguilla Commercial Online Registration Network (ACORN), which originated in 1988, allows instant electronic incorporation and registration of companies and limited partnerships. Fishing also remains important.
INTRODUCTION to Anguilla
Anguilla sits in first class and has a first-class price tag. There are certainly more affordable ways to enjoy the sun and the sea, but for those desiring impeccable service and an exclusive atmosphere, this island is one of the premier vacation spots in the Caribbean.
Before you plunk down your money to vacation on Anguilla (and it will likely be a big plunk), know the ground rules: The rich and famous who go there do so because it is one of few places where they can be assured of a carefree, hassle-free holiday. If you happen to see, say, Janet Jackson sitting at the next table, you will not get her autograph nor ask about her next album. It just is not done.
There are no restrictions about fawning over the island's immaculate white-sand beaches, however. There are 33 to choose from, and many offer excellent snorkeling around coral reefs. Other watersports are in abundance: scuba diving, sailing and windsurfing. When visitors have had their fill of beach and ocean, there's a wide range of fine restaurants to round out the evening.
Don't expect an island that is lush, full of activity and replete with charming architecture, however. Anguilla is very dry, and until recently, life was hardscrabble there for centuries. The benefits of this are almost-constant sun, enduring simplicity and a cohesive populace whose confident self-reliance is the basis for an attitude you might want to bottle and take home.
Although a number of day-trippers arrive from St. Martin/St. Maarten, which lies only 4 mi/7 km to the south, Anguilla (pronounced ahn-GWIL-lah) remains relatively uncrowded compared with other islands in the area. Those who have sampled its relaxed and refined atmosphere seem to like what they've found: They tend to adopt the island as if it were their own private hideaway, returning year after year.
Sights—The historic district of The Valley, home to some of Anguilla's oldest and most architecturally interesting dwellings and public buildings; scuba diving the reefs and wrecks along Anguilla's north (Atlantic) coast; any of Anguilla's 33 beaches, all free and open to the public.
Museums—Colville Petty's quirky and fascinating collection of artifacts from the Anguillan Revolution at the Heritage Collection; learning how salt was produced from Anguilla's ponds and became a major island industry at the Old Salt Factory and Pumphouse; discovering the island's architectural heritage at Wallblake House.
Memorable Meals—Grilled lobster washed down with rum punch on the beach at Scilly Cay Restaurant; off-the-boat fresh seafood and cold drinks on the picnic tables at Johnno's Beach Stop; upscale dining and great views in an eye-catching seaside dining room at Hibernia; grooving to the music at the Dune Preserve's late Sunday lunch.
Late Night—Johnno's Beach Stop for reggae, calypso, soca and zouk music till the wee hours; The Pumphouse with its spicy music and atmosphere that sometimes lasts till dawn; drinks at the beach bars of Shoal Bay.
Walks—Bird-watching hikes in the salt marshes of Sandy Ground; following the interpretive nature trail at the Cap Juluca resort; strolling along the sandy beaches of Maunday's Bay or Rendezvous Bay.
Especially for Kids—Snorkeling the coral reefs at Junks Hole; collecting shells at Maunday's Bay; swimming the calm waters at Sandy Ground or Shoal Bay West.