A tiny island in the Caribbean, Anguilla has been making a splash in the travel realm over the last few years. Most major travel magazines do not hesitate to use the word “luxurious” when reporting on this island.
In 2016, the prestigious Viceroy Resort was replaced and rebranded as the Four Seasons Resort and Residencies. Four Seasons is often viewed as an essential establishment for luxury destinations, so it makes sense why the island attracts a wealthier range of travellers.
Even though this may be true, it can be exhausting to hear solely about the elegance and lavishness of the island. As someone who has spent two summers in Anguilla, I’ve experienced first-hand how this island offers more than simply being a playpad for the rich and famous.
Anyone and everyone can enjoy Anguilla. Here’s why:
You Don’t Even A Need Visa
England’s colonial past is nothing to rave over, but it is undeniable that is has created perennial ties between certain nations and territories. Legally travelling from England to Anguilla is pretty simple because Anguilla is an overseas territory, so no visas are needed!
Constant sunshine and strong mixed drinks on the beach make Anguilla a wonderful place if you are looking to escape the gloomy winter season of London. Flying to Anguilla in the wintertime is so common that there is even a term for those who leave the U.K. to come to Anguilla: snowbirds! Although, it’s not certain if this term is used for Black British people as well… so you may need to travel quickly and change the stereotype!
The Carnival Season is Vibrant
Although Anguilla has a smaller population (14,900) compared to other Caribbean islands like its neighbour St. Martin (36,000), its carnival season is just as magnificent!
From mid-July to June, the Summer Festival schedule is packed with activities for all types of party goers. If you prefer extravagant affairs, then you will enjoy the Miss Anguilla Pageant or the Miss Tiny Tot Pageant. For you adore the back of your neck soaking up sunbeams, beach events like the August Monday’s Boat Races are ideal. Night owls can enjoy an overnight fête like Eyes Wide Shut.
Regardless of your mood or style, Anguilla’s Summer Festival does not fall short on it offerings.
Two of Anguilla’s most attention-grabbing events are J’ouvert and the Grand Parade of Troupes.
J’ouvert is a four-hour long commitment to waking up before the sun rises and marching from one side of the island to the other. After a lengthy expedition of dancing and marching, J’ouvert ends on the beach, and the Beach Party begins!
The Grand Parade of Troupes, a massive performance and celebration with colourful and elaborate costumes, begins to close out the week of events. Groups or “troupes” get together with coordinating ensembles to march throughout the island as they share their love and pride for their nations.
There are 33 White Sand Beaches to Choose From
This has always been Anguilla’s best selling point. It is only natural for your jaw to drop once hearing even the possibility of such a picturesque landscape in such a tiny amount of space.
Although there are 33 beaches in Anguilla, some of them require alternative forms of transportation – like riding a boat or kayaking – to get to. A few personal favourites include:
If you’ve immediately fallen in love and want to see the rest of them, you can find them here.
The Food and Locally-Owned Businesses are Fun To Explore
The streets of The Valley, also known as the capital of Anguilla, are lined with locally-owned shops.
Barbecues and grills are also extremely common, so you will find them throughout Anguilla. An area in The Valley that steals my heart is The Strip, which holds a number of shacks that serve freshly-prepared food. This area has jerk chicken skewers, rice and beans, and don’t forget the curry chicken!
If you can, make sure to get a hold of recently fried Caribbean Johnny Cakes. Then follow up your meal with some fresh fruit!
An exhaustive list of food and lounge options on The Strip can be found here.
The Locals are Super Friendly
Beside the food, the other best aspect of The Strip is that you will always make a friend. Whether you are relaxing, having a drink or eating dinner, you’re bound to have a welcoming local strike up a conversation with you.
Every time I visit, I am often greeted by warm faces who are genuinely interested in learning more about me. Of course, the most common question I receive is “where are you from?”
Since the population is under 15,000, new faces are so easy for the locals to spot.
After telling them my name and that I am from New York, they say, “Are you sure you don’t have family from Anguilla?” I never understood why they asked this until I realised that Fleming, my last name, is extremely common on the island. If only having a common last name could get me permanent residency on the island…
Little conversational situations like this happen often, and they make me excited to chat with locals.
Also, it is my pleasure to support locals. Unfortunately, it is easy to be entirely consumed by the foreign-owned luxury that Anguilla offers. Beach resorts like Four Seasons, Malliouhana, and Zemi Beach attract the traveller who wants to “get away.” Although getting away is a relaxing experience, it should not deter you from getting off of the resort and meeting the people who call this island their home. If you would like to support a black-owned business, Paradise Cove is a close-to-the-beach resort that is great!