From kite surfing to cool festivals plus hotel openings and a new heritage site – UK Women explore why 2016 is the year to go!
Tucked away in the Eastern Caribbean, Anguilla is the most northern island in the Leeward Island chain and is one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, measuring just 35 square miles with a population of 15,000 people. The island boasts 33 pristine white sand beaches, tempting turquoise waters and world-class restaurants.
Anguilla is the secret gem of the Caribbean and a magnet for celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Liam Neeson craving a chic retreat. With powdery white beaches, theatrical dramatic sunsets and a genuinely cool vibe, it’ is a destination holiday hot spot where just one social media post will incite serious envy from friends.
NEW NATIONAL HERITAGE SITE
November 2015 sees the opening of 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. There is now a visitor and interpretation centre, showcasing artifacts and providing information on the historic site.
33 PRISTINE BEACHES
Anguilla boasts some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. The Travel Channel ranks them as the best all round beaches in the world. Choose from over 30 with picture perfect white powdery sand. 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 picturesque romance. Also, as the island is just 35 square miles and has only six traffic lights, it’s easy to find a few favourite sandy spots, even if staying for just a week.
The culinary scene in Anguilla continues to flourish. 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 budget. Even more restaurants will be open for the 2016 season: Zemi Beach House resort in February 2016 will feature six places to eat. The restaurants will offer farm-to-table dining, using vegetables and herbs grown in the surrounding garden as well as a specialist rum room.
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 aquatic activities from kite surfing to paddle boarding. It’s a great place to learn as instructors are qualified to the highest standard and all equipment is brand new and of the highest quality.
The island has a thriving and globally respected music scene with festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the annual reggae festival, ‘Moonsplash’ in 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. The venue is the ‘home’ of Bankie Banx- the Dune Preserve, a beach bar made of driftwood, with bags of rustic charm.
Up and coming singer-songwriters such as Omari Banks and Ruel Richardson are making names for themselves on the international music scene (Omari has recently completed his European tour), yet regularly perform at many of Anguilla’s intimate beach bars and world-class resorts.
With all of that going on, why wouldn’t you want to visit? If this has tempted your interest, for more reasons to visit in 2016 – check out www.ivisitnaguilla.com.