Only sixteen miles long and three miles wide, tiny Anguilla (pronounced an-gwi-la) can surprise travelers with the breadth of variety of its luxury amenities. This flat island, whose name derives from the Spanish word for “eel,” boasts two Leading Hotels of the World, stunning private villas, excellent golf and some of the best food in the Caribbean – this last a real irony, given that the thin soil supports almost no agriculture. But perhaps it is because, not despite, Anguilla’s lack of natural resources that the British territory has become such a desirable place to visit. The local economy, which traded salt bagging for offshore banking years ago, seems a good deal more buoyant than those of tropical territories that rely on tourism alone. As well as a low crime rate, a vibrant culture and beaches that rival the world’s loveliest, Anguilla has a relative stability that makes it an obvious choice for travelers who want all the beauty of the Caribbean without the corruption and heartbreaking poverty of other islands.
Or maybe it’s just the beaches. In a part of the world known for its beaches, Anguilla stands apart. No matter how hot the day, the sugary sand never burns your feet. And if the ocean’s spectacular shades of turquoise don’t differentiate this particular corner of the Caribbean, the amazing clarity of the water does. No need to bring your snorkel equipment; I watched schools of fish swim around my ankles as I waded off the beach at Cap Juluca. The island’s beauty has seduced everyone from Beyoncé to discreet billionaires who retreat to the Moorish-inspired mansions that dot the beaches. Visit once and you’ll understand what keeps them coming back.
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