Sandy Ground in Anguilla © Public Domain
The Caribbean is abuzz with tourists, ports packed with cruise ships, beaches coated with glistening baking bodies and wharfs beset with souvenir stalls and busy bars. There is one place in this bright holiday region though, where tranquillity reigns supreme and unspoilt beaches spill down from discreet exclusive resorts to the crystal clear sea. This is the island of Anguilla, situated in the British West Indies about 150 miles (241km) east of Puerto Rico, and nine miles (14km) north of St Martin.
Anguilla, a British overseas territory, is a tiny, flat sliver of an island with scrubby vegetation, 16 miles (25km) long and three miles (5km) across at its widest point. The main island is surrounded by a collection of low islets and coral cays, all administered from The Valley, the capital of Anguilla.
This small landmass boasts 33 amazing beaches that many rate as the best in the world and most certainly in the Caribbean. Each is special in its own way, from Shoal Bay East with its mile of soft sand and wild Windward Bay to serene Little Harbor or secluded Captain's Bay, reached only by a narrow gravel track. Some of the most popular beaches include Cove Bay, which offers waterside horseback rides and weekend barbecues with live bands; Maundays Bay, home to some of Anguilla's premier resort hotels. The beaches, together with a set of stylish villas, resort hotels and delicious cuisine served up in a disproportionately large number of top class restaurants, have made Anguilla a favourite hideaway for celebrities, particularly movie stars, as witnessed by the private jets often parked on the airport runway.
Far from the madding crowd, Anguilla is the perfect retreat for an indulgent, exclusive getaway for the discerning traveller, dedicated to the simple pleasures of basking in the sun, taking sunset strolls, sailing and snorkelling. It is also a popular venue for weddings and honeymoons, and is fast becoming recognised as a useful tax-free haven.
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