Anguilla, northernmost of the British Leeward Islands, is the quintessential Caribbean getaway. A flat sixteen miles long and 4 miles at its widest point, the island is blessed with expansive beaches, abundant foliage, brilliant blossoms, a variety of unusual birds and a spectacular underwater panorama.
The Leeward Islands are a geographical grouping of small, mostly volcanic islands in the northeastern Caribbean. They include French, Dutch and British colonies and ex-colonies and combine within a small area very varied and rich cultures. Whereas in colonial times they were nearly all sugar producers, today they rely on tourism for a large part of their foreign exchange earnings and jobs. From luxury resorts to intimate guesthouses, gourmet restaurants to barefoot beach bars, there is a wide range of attractions on offer. Sailing, diving and other water-sports are well developed and highly rewarding. Only Montserrat is not currently recommended for the average traveler.
Near The Valley, its capital, visit The Fountain, an underground cave where Indian petroglyphs and ceramics were discovered. Or explore interesting historic churches, evidence of Anguilla's strong religious community. This is a fine place for rent-a-car sightseeing, with stops to admire and photograph the salt ponds and sleepy scenery -- and to discover a deserted beach to make your own.
Visitors can explore sleepy fishing villages along the coastline -- or stretch out on the sand and think about it. Vacationers often choose Anguilla for its serenity and slow pace.
Once tired of snoozing, take a yacht excursion or boat tour to Sandy Island, where the abundance of marine life fascinates snorkelers.
Anguillan hotels run the gamut from quaint guest houses to white Moorish "palaces" at the water's edge -- perfect places to pamper yourself with rest, romance and sumptuous fresh seafood feasts, for Anguilla, known as a prime producer of Caribbean lobster, can be the essence of indulgence. Its gourmet restaurants attract an enthusiastic repeat clientele.
There's a bit of nightlife at local clubs around Sandy Ground or in the larger hotels but it's best to count on making your own. Magnificent moonlit nights are a major mood enhancer.