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Anguilla’s charm

The Caribbean island of Anguilla has many strings to its bow aside a high number of impossibly beautiful beaches. Anguilla Tourist Board’s director of tourism, Candis Niles, speaks to us

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While certain Caribbean spots have lost some of their exotic sparkle, Anguilla remains refreshingly authentic and distinctive. “Anguilla could be described as something of a Caribbean throwback; it represents the way the Caribbean used to be.  It’s unpretentious and unique with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, while it possesses natural beauty that encompasses crystal-clear azure blue waters and sand that is white and incredibly soft to the touch,” says Candis Niles, Director of Tourism at Anguilla Tourist Board.

Not surprisingly, the island regularly appears on prestigious lists covering the best destinations of the world, and although it often receives accolades due to its world-renowned beaches, the appeal of the island has more facets than first meets the eye. Many years ago, a major magazine voted Anguilla first among the top ten travel destination in the world. “When the award was announced, we were convinced that Anguilla had received the award due to its enviable beaches, but we were actually rated because of the sense of community the writer had experienced during his visit,” explains Niles. “When sitting down for a meal, the writer spotted a person waving, and the stranger politely asked if the diner was enjoying his holiday. It emerged that the man was the taxi driver who had taken the writer from the airport a few days earlier. This type of friendliness and warmth is typical of Anguillans. The people of the island are our strongest assets.”

Notable accommodation and cuisine
Friendly locals certainly add to the overall atmosphere of Anguilla, but the accommodation culture makes the destination even more worthwhile. Diverse in kind and anything but hastily developed, the very first concepts to emerge when the tourism trade took off in 1978 still set the tone. “Some of the original developments still exist today, and each one has its own unique character and architectural direction, which actually adds to the authentic appeal of the destination”, explains Niles.

Since the original set of lodging concepts landed on Anguilla, the selection has diversified to cater to different requirements and desires. The so-called Charming Escapes Collection has emerged over the past few years to offer unique intimate, affordable accommodation with a distinctive Caribbean flair; while uxurious boutique-style properties have been launched to offer luxury-inclined holiday makers and business travellers exclusive and private villa accommodation at the very top end of the spectrum. In addition to the many rental options served up, Anguilla aficionados are also invited to purchase luxury properties on the island.

In order to maintain the island’s exclusive edge and tranquil air, any new development plans are carefully considered before being approved. “Anguilla is a small island covering a mere 35 square miles, and its most precious quality is its glorious sense of its tranquillity.

People come here to experience a therapeutic sense of calm and beauty, therefore it is important that the island doesn’t get overrun and exploited,” Niles assures us.

Another definite draw of the island is that it boasts a diverse culinary culture deriving from the many cultures that have called Anguilla their home over the centuries. Anguilla’s strong ties to fishing are clearly evident and all manner of fresh fish and seafood can be sampled when dining at the many different restaurants operating on the island.

“Anguillans are very proud of their food heritage, and we are adamant never to give visitors a bad food experience,” Niles assures us.

The types of restaurants offered up are varied and many. Upper end dining establishments complement casual beach style eateries that are located right at the water’s edge. While notable bars such as Johnno’s Beach Stop, Elvis Beach Bar and the Dune Preserve are amongst the many bars that have been internationally acclaimed.

Aside from eminent beaches and award winning bars, music is another important component of Anguillan life. It’s not unusual to be treated to live music while dining, and sometimes entire orchestras are created using instruments converted from everyday items.

Tranquillity, spiked with optional action
Most visitors who steer their step towards Anguilla do so in order to immerse themselves in the tranquil ambience that is typical of the destination. But while Anguilla is certainly relaxing, there are several activities to enjoy. Snorkelling and scuba diving are two options, while those not inclined to get wet can study the beauty of the seas and the curiosities within while onboard a glass-bottomed boat or kayak.

On the sports front, Anguilla boasts a renowned tennis academy which is recognised as the best in the region, while golfing aficionados can tee off on the signature PGA-standard Greg Norman Gold Course. Boat racing is another prominent sport on the island.

“Centuries ago, the men of Anguilla went to neighbouring islands to work in the fields, and to entertain themselves they raced back to Anguilla – hence the strong boat  racing heritage,” explains Niles. “Whenever an opportunity arises to hold a boat race, Anguillans will take it,” says Niles and laughs.

For more information please visit: http://ivisitanguilla.com/

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