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Though quite small, Anguilla has made a name for itself as a fashionable, luxurious Caribbean destination. Fantastic snorkelling, diving and swimming opportunities, offered by some of the Caribbean's finest beaches, are Anguilla's prime attractions. Travellers can enjoy trips to nearby deserted islets, the waters of which are beautified by amazing coral structures. Being within a ferry ride's distance of populous Saint Martin, Anguilla is perfectly suitable as a day trip from that island, but Anguilla's fine aquatic treasures make it an excellent destination for those in search of a short, relaxing holiday.
It is pretty certain that the Island of Anguilla has been inhabited since 1300 B.C.. Remains of an old settlement dating back to around 600 B.C. have been found. There are claims that Columbus discovered the island in 1493, whether that is true, remains the question. The first settlers were the Dutch, who built a small fort here in 1641, which was destroyed two years later by the Spanish. The English arrived in 1650 from Saint Kitts. In 1656 they were driven out by the Cariben. In 1666 Anguilla was occupied by France for a short while, before it turned British again in 1667
The British founded some plantations on the island, and imported slaves from Africa to do the labour. These plantations were not successful, and after the abolishment of slavery, most landowners returned to Britain, leaving the slaves behind.
Until the early 19th century the island was incorporated into a single British dependency along with Saint Kitts and Nevis. Several attempts at separation failed. In 1971, two years after a revolt, Anguilla was finally allowed become independent in 1980, becoming a separate British dependency.
Anguilla is a flat island on which there is not a lot of vegetation, due to the poor quality of the soil, which is a mixture of coral and limestone. It lies about 7 kilometres to the northwest of Saint Martin, separated from that island by the Anguilla Channel. The island has a length of around 25 kilometres, and is not much wider than 5 kilometres at the widest parts. Surrounding the island there are coral reefs. Apart from the main island, there are a number of other smaller islands.
Apart from the main island, Anguilla, there are numerous smaller islands, many uninhabited.
Some of these are:
The Prickly Pear Cays have some of the best diving on Anguilla. The Cays are basically an underwater cavern, where you can have close encounters with creatures like nurse sharks and barracuda which both swim through rock formations not far from several sunken shipwrecks. There are several daytrip options, either organised or by yourself and activities inlcude snorkelling and diving. Most leave from Sandy Ground.
The Fountain is a famous sight on the island of Anguilla. In this large cave you will find some tracks of the history of this small island. There are 1,600 year old Indian rock paintings and it seems that this place was used in the past for religious rituals.
Captain’s Bay is located in the northeast of Anguilla. It is a quiet beach to relax and compared to many other beaches there are not so many tourists here. You will find an abundance of tropical fish though. From here, you can see Scrub Island en Little Scrub Island. If it is the Robinson Crusoe experience you want, try and get to Scrub Island, that can be reached from Shoal Bay. The only inhabitants are wild goats and you can makes some fine walks here or just relax even more of course on one of the deserted beaches.
The ‘ABC’ host of this late February floral exhibition is the Anguilla Beautification Club, which judges floral displays from the island’s most talented gardeners and vegetable growers. Prizes are given for student art, student miniature gardens, best vegetable gardens, and best home gardens.
For more than 15 years, famed Anguillan reggae artist Bankie Banx has hosted this annual reggae festival at Rendezvous Bay’s Dune Preserve at the end of each March. The event consists of two days of lively performances by some of the world’s finest reggae musicians followed by an even livelier beach bash at Dune Preserve.
Each April, Anguilla honors its maritime heritage with this festival dedicated to the sea. Competitions in triathlons, seafood cooking, fishing, swimming and boat racing all play an important part in this popular Island Harbour event, which also features dry land activities such as volleyball and concert performances.
Sandy Ground hosts the biggest and best known of Anguilla’s many boat races during three fun filled days in the middle of March. Not only do visitors get to watch Anguilla’s finest race to the finish during this celebration of the island’s national sport, but they can also party the night away at one of Sandy Ground’s bustling beach bars. All of the regatta’s proceeds go towards the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club, which has taught the sport to more than 400 of the island’s most talented young sailors over the years.
Like most Caribbean islands, Anguilla celebrates its own vibrant Carnaval between the months of July and August. The festival’s loudest and liveliest event is J’ouvert, a giant street party beginning at the crack of dawn and lasting until noon. J’ouvert participants follow live soca and calypso bands down the streets until the parade ends with a massive beach party. The Miss Anguilla Queen Pageant and Swimsuit Competition winners are crowned during the island’s largest event, and other activities include boat races and calypso contests.
Each November, the Temenos Golf Club and CuisinArt Resort and Spa host this annual celebration of music and the putting green. After golfers finish their challenging Temenos Course rounds each day they head to the lawn for nightly jazz performances to relax. Some of Anguilla’s smaller beach bars have also begun hosting jazz performances of their own.
The Anguilla Optimist Youth Club hosts this annual race to raise awareness and support for AIDS treatment and research prior to International World AIDS Day in November. Participants can choose to run, jog, or simply stroll during the race’s half marathon, 10 km, or five kilometer runs.
Anguilla has a hot and humid tropical climate with average daytime temperatures between 28 °C and 30 °C and average nights around 23 °C. Most rain falls between June and October with a change of hurricanes from August onwards. Therefore, the drier (and slightly cooler) December to April period is the best time to visit weatherwise. Unfortunately prices rise sharply during this period and the months of November and May still have good weather. So budgetwise these latter months may be a good option as well.
Planes depart and arrive in Anguilla Wallblake Airport (AXA). Trans Anguilla is an air charter serving most destinations in the Caribbean between the British Virgin Islands and Trinidad and Tobago. Other airlines which fly to and from Anguilla are Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) to Antigua and St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands, Winair (Windward Islands Airways) to Sint Maarten and Antigua, Coastal Air to Saint Barthélemy and American Eagle to San Juan on Puerto Rico.
In season, ferries operated by the Anguilla Ferry System run between the islands of Anguilla and Saint Martin. They leave daily between 7:00am and 7:00pm roughly every 20 minutes between Blowing Point (Anguilla) and Marigot on the French part of St. Maarten/St. Martin.
Although it takes a little longer compared to Saint Martin, there is also a convenient route between Anguilla and Sint Maarten directly. Ferries travel between Blowing Point in Anguilla and Philipsburg in Sint Maarten. For more information about prices and schedules of this trip can be obtained by calling (264) 497 6665.
Getting around by car is usually the best way if you want to explore the more remote corners and don't want to rush too much and enjoy the beaches. There are many international and local agencies at the airport, seaport and the capital The Valley. The main road is tarred and a bit potholed, while gravel roads lead to most beaches. You need a temporary driving permit, which can be bought at the rental agency and remember that driving is on the left side of the road.
Island Car Rental, +1 264-497-2723, is an easy walk from the airport, tucked into Anguilla Motors. They can arrange for you to pick up the car after hours, and do the paperwork next day. Hertz-Triple K, +1 264-497-2934, is also nearby. Other agencies include Avis, +1 264-497-2642, and Bass Car Rental, +1 264-497-2361.
Many visitors find it convenient to take a taxi on arrival, arranging for a rental car later. Taxi service is unmetered, with set rates. If leaving from the airport, a dispatcher will issue a slip showing the fare.Taxi drivers offer island tours lasting several hours. Fares must be paid in cash and or credit card.
You can also rent bikes and mopeds if you want, cheaper and as distances are not that big and the island is almost flat, this is not a bad option either. The roads do not have shoulders. Traffic is heavy on many main roads from the Valley to points west. Traffic is light in the Shoal Bay and East End areas, but there are some hills.
There are no buses on the island, but taxis can take you almost anywhere. There are also possibilities to rent a taxi for several hours at a fixed price. The drivers double as guides but time is limited and most tours are 2-3 hours maximum.
There are no regular passenger services, but many tours that go out diving or snorkelling have boats that take you to some of the offshore islands like Prickly Pear Islands in the west.
Anguilla is overseas UK territory and no visa is required, just a valid passport.
See also Money Matters
The currency of Anguilla is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, or EC$. It has existed since 1965 and is used by 7 other states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States as well. Only the British Virgin Islands (the nineth member) doesn't use it, but uses the US$ instead. The EC$ is subdivided into 100 cents and has been pegged to the United States dollar at US$1 = EC$2.7 since 1976. The EC$ comes in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents and a coins of 1 dollar. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar.
English is the official language, spoken everywhere.
Pigeon peas and rice is often considered as the signature dish of the island.
Choose from an array of hotels, villas, guest houses and apartments to rest your head at night.
High season is from January to April.
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Anguilla. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Anguilla) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Anguilla. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccinations, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
Anguilla is a safe island with a low crime rate. But please take necessary precautions—lock your doors at night, don't leave personal belongings in your unlocked rental car and don't give rides to pedestrians.
The Police station is in the capital, The Valley. Also, the hospital, Princess Alexandra Hosipal. There is only one hospital in Anguilla, however, there are many private doctors, including Hughes Medical Center located in West End. There are many Medical Clinics located in many villages such as, The Valley, West End, East End and Blowing Point.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to Anguilla is: 1-264
To make an international call from , the code is: 011
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