From kite surfing to cool festivals, a new heritage site to some supreme privates villas here’s why 2016 is the year to go to Anguilla.
Tucked away in the Eastern Caribbean, Anguilla is the most northern island in the Leeward Island chain, measuring just 35 square miles with a population of 15,000 people. It boasts pristine white sand beaches, tempting turquoise waters, theatrical dramatic sunsets, mouthwatering cuisine, a genuinely cool vibe and a pace of life so calm and relaxed, you can do as little or as much as you like.
In other words, you don’t really need any extra reasons to visit this gem of the Caribbean. But we’ve got some anyway so pay attention.
1. AMERINDIAN FOUNTAIN CAVERN AT SHOAL BAY EAST
This month (November) sees the opening of a new national heritage site in Anguilla, the Amerindian Fountain Cavern at Shoal Bay East. This incredible underground cave, 50ft beneath Anguilla’s surface, was once a site of pilgrimage and worship. It is an exceptional pre-Columbian archaeological site and is home to one of most complete examples of early indigenous Amerindian art in the world. The art is beautifully illuminated from the natural light pouring in from the entry hole in the cave’s ceiling. Fountain Cavern is the oldest known and longest used ceremonial cave site in the entire Caribbean and now there is a visitor and interpretation centre, showcasing artifacts and providing information on the historic site, to make the most out of any visit.
2. 33 PERFECT POWDER BEACHES
Anguilla boasts some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, but don’t just take our word for it – the Travel Channel ranks them as the best all round beaches in the world. We’re talking picture perfect white powdery sand and stunning azure waters. Key spots to catch some rays include Rendezvous Bay, which is perfect for strolling along the blinding white sands and trying out the colourful beach bars dotted along the way; and the secluded Little Bay if picturesque romance is more your thing. With 33 beaches to choose from in just 35 square miles of island you’re bound to find a favourite.
3. FOODIE PARADISE
The culinary scene in Anguilla is something to behold. With a population of less than 15,000 the island still boasts over 100 restaurants – one for every 150 Anguillians – so there’s something to please every taste. And in 2016 even more eateries are opening. The Zemi Beach House resort launching in February 2016 is just one with six brand new restaurants to eat at offering farm-to-table dining, using vegetables and herbs grown in the surrounding garden.
4. SURF THAT KITE!
Anguilla is now one of the world’s hottest destinations for kite surfing. There are multiple kite surfing schools opening up across the island – one of the newest and best is Anguilla Watersports, offering not only kite surfing but every other aquatic activity you can think of including paddle boarding and scuba diving. Anguilla has a well-deserved reputation as a great place to learn to kite surf with highly qualified instructors and the latest in quality equipment and technology.
5. PUMP UP THE VOLUME
The island has a thriving and globally respected music scene with festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the annual reggae festival, Moonsplash every April (2016’s 26th edition of the fest takes place from 21-24 April). It has been described as the Western Hemisphere’s full moon party and could be considered the very opposite of Coachella with it’s uber-relaxed, unpretentious vibe. The festival gets bigger and better each year, attracting an array of international artists so get your tickets and head over to the best beach bar and venue around, Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve, for some driftwood-set drinks and dancing. The legend that is Bankie Banx himself, Anguilla’s answer to Bob Dylan, might just be performing too.
Where to stay in Anguilla
The pool and terrace at Ricketts Luxury Properties’ Sandcastle Villa in Limestone Bay
The view from a bedroom at CéBlue