Perhaps you’re reading this because you’ve never heard of Anguilla. Or perhaps you have and are interested in finding out more. Whatever your reason I am sure these bite-sized Anguilla titbits will surprise you.
Recently I spent 3 days in Anguilla, the world’s leading luxury island destination (as voted by the World Travel Awards). Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Eastern Caribbean, a 20-minute ferry ride north from Sint Maarten, immediately east of Puerto Rico.
Lined with miles of white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, it’s easy to see how it’s laid back vibe and hypnotic sapphire blue sea beckons holiday makers from all corners of the globe.
So let’s get better acquainted and discover 21 things you may not have known about Anguilla.
1. Anguilla is only 26km long (16 miles) and 5 km wide (3 miles).
2. Anguilla is a popular tax haven, since there is no capital gains, estate, profit or other forms of direct taxation.
3. More than 90% of the residents are descendants of slaves transported from Western Africa. They are a friendly and cheerful people.
4. They eat a lot of seafood, but goat is the most popular meat.
5. Anguilla enjoys an average annual temperature of 27°C (80°F).
6. They accept US dollars, but the official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar which is pegged to the US dollar at US$1 = EC$2.68.
7. It’s crazy expensive. Supermarket items are priced highly since the majority are imported. Restaurants can be quite pricey and accommodation costs can be steep.
8. They have super luxurious accommodation. While snorkelling I spotted a beautiful cliff-top property. My guide reported it is a vacation rental priced at around US$10,000 to US$35,000 per week.
9. While super luxe hotels are easy to find, you can also pick up budget-friendly accommodation. Budget ranges start around US$100 - $150 per night for a couple.
10. For US$10 round trip (on a boat shuttle named “Happiness”) you can get to Sandy Island, a small cay off of Anguilla – secluded paradise within paradise.
11. They have a Heritage Trail, where you can visit beautiful old churches and interesting historic features of the island.
12. The food is amazing – see my favourite places to eat.
13. You can snorkel any time. Anguilla is renowned for its spectacular and ecologically significant coral reefs and beaches. We spent one morning snorkelling, and while it might not have been as impressive as the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, but there were plenty of colourful tropical fish and beautiful cave systems in the cliffs.
14. You can get there by charter plane – but why fly when you can ride the waves?
15. You can get there by ferry from Sint Maarten. In just 20 minutes you will be stepping onto Anguilla’s sandy shores.
16. There are goats. Lots of them. As the locals’ primary meat source, you will find goats all over the island.
17. Stray (or ultra free range) chickens abound – like most of Central America.
18. The locals all know each other. With a population of approximately 13,500 (2006 estimate) it seemed everywhere we went our guide was greeting a friend or neighbour.
19. There is no cinema. Maybe that’s not important to some people, but I love movies. If you want to watch the latest blockbuster, you’ll have to head to Sint Maarten. Not far, but a whole other country.
20. Most locals shop online or visit Puerto Rico. The local post office has a US address to make “domestic” delivery easy. But there are not many retail shops on the island so most of the locals head offshore. The lack of sprawling retail landscape also adds to the rustic charm.
21. There are no real streets or letterboxes. Post is delivered to the post office for you to collect.
BONUS: You’ll need more than 3 days. To truly enjoy the island, relax and soak it in, plan at least a week or more.
Anguilla’s relaxed pace and remote island vibe allows visitors to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It truly is a Caribbean sanctuary for the soul. If this list has piqued your interest, go ahead and check out my 5 worst things you can do in Anguilla.