Anguilla is located in the British West Indies, 150 miles east of Puerto Rico and nine miles north of St. Martin. Anguilla is the most northerly of the Eastern Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. The name Anguilla means “eel,” an apt description of this long, thin island, which measures 16 miles by three miles. Anguilla has a flat landscape and because annual rainfall levels are low, vegetation consists mainly of small trees and bush.
Anguilla’s historic sites include the Heritage Collection Museum, which displays the island’s most important documents, photographs, letters and other items. The collection spans the island’s history and features articles ranging from Arawak artifacts to present-day political campaign materials. The Old Salt Factory and Pumphouse, located at Sandy Ground, recall an era when salt production was one of Anguilla’s main industries. The historic Manse Building is a three-gabled house built by an Anguillan planter in the early 1900s; the building has been restored and now features two art galleries and a gift shop.
Anguilla offers visitors 12 miles of powdery white-sand beaches plus tranquil, transparent waters ranging from aquamarine to cobalt blue. All 33 beaches are public. Many feature distinctive characteristics including rock and coral formations and picturesque tropical plants. The island offers many beachside bistros and bars overlooking the long ribbons of sand. Nude and/or topless bathing is not permitted on the island.
Boat racing is Anguilla’s national sport, and the island hosts a series of regattas each year. Visitors can also cruise and/or sail to one of Anguilla’s offshore cays or secluded beaches for picnics ashore. Several tour operators also offer sunset cocktail cruises, along with snorkeling trips and excursions to sand cay restaurants. Sport fishing lovers will find Anguilla’s warm and calm waters filled with Wahoo, marlin, swordfish and yellow and black tuna, which can be tackled on any of several regular fishing charters run by experienced Anguillan operators.
Other aquatic activities are also available, such as parasailing excursions at Shoal Bay, which also offers paddleboats, sailboats and windsurfing rentals. Anguilla is surrounded by a fringe of coral reefs and cays, making it a premier snorkeling and diving destination. Anguilla also features seven marine parks — Dog Island, Prickley Pear, Seal Island Reef System, Little Bay, Sandy Island, Shoal Bay Harbour Reef System and Stoney Bay Marine Park —home to everything from living limestone walls to century-old shipwrecks.
Anguilla offers more than 70 separate dining experiences ranging from elegant gourmet eateries to casually chic beachfront bistros and bars to festive roadside grills. Anguilla’s fare features eclectic flavors reflecting the island’s Caribbean, French, Mediterranean, Continental, Creole, Italian, American and Indo-Chinese influences. Additionally, many hotels on the island maintain large wine collections. Two of the largest wine cellars are located at the Malliouhana Hotel & Spa and the Koal Keel Restaurant.
Anguilla is served by Wallblake Airport, which accommodates moderate-sized aircraft. Services connect to various other Caribbean islands, but the airport cannot receive large jets and there are no direct flights to or from continental America or Europe. Regular ferries link Anguilla and the neighboring island of Saint Martin, with a journey time of 20 minutes. Aside from taxis, there is no public transportation. Cars drive on the left.