When it comes to pristine Caribbean beaches, Anguilla is one of the most unspoiled. This small limestone bump in the sea is a mix of old clapboard shacks, stunning new vacation properties, and a rich array of cultures. And the 33 beaches offer mind-blowing views of turquoise waters and powdery white sands.

It’s easy to see why this “hidden gem” has been popping up more and more on feeds and “For You” pages across the globe. The island’s untouched beauty, luxe resorts, and exhilarating excursions have created an influx of visitors seeking true peace and tranquility. It is no wonder that the island is considered to be one of the best Caribbean islands for a getaway.

The first Europeans to set foot on Anguilla arrived in 1650, and colonized the island for 150 years. Cotton and then tobacco were the primary crops, but slavery was crucial to their success. The emancipation of slaves was declared on August 1, and that day is still celebrated as a national holiday in Anguilla.

Today Anguilla is a self-governing British overseas territory, and has an internally-focused system of government. Executive power rests with the governor, who is appointed by the monarch. The island’s unicameral House of Assembly has seven seats, four elected by universal adult suffrage to five-year terms, and three appointed by the governor (plus two ex officio members). There is no sales or income tax, but Anguilla does collect fees for services, corporate registrations, and licensing fees.

With its glistening white beaches, crystal clear waters, and secluded coves, Anguilla is an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. The island is also chock-full of awe-inspiring natural and cultural attractions, from limestone caves to the Heritage Collection Museum. Visitors can explore the island’s colonial past on a tour of Wallblake House, and visit a plantation and sugar warehouse to get an idea of how life was in Anguilla’s heyday.

After a 1967 rebellion, Anguilla was reincorporated into a British dependency along with Saint Kitts and Nevis. In 1980, Anguilla regained its independence as a separate British overseas territory. Today, the nation is a popular tourist destination and an international tax haven.

Anguilla’s weather is largely sunny, but it does experience rainy seasons from June to November, and can be hit by hurricanes during that time as well. Temperatures average in the low 80s F throughout the year. Visitors can expect to find a number of bars and restaurants, but the island’s best food can be found at local family-owned eateries like Claude’s Restaurant. Anguillans are very friendly and welcoming, and many visitors say that they have never been treated badly by locals. English is the main language, but many people speak both French and Creole. Most of the island’s population is Christian, and there are also a few Hindu and Muslim communities.

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