A slender strip of coral and limestone fringed with white sand and lapped by calm turquoise waters, Anguilla is one of the Leeward Islands east of St Kitts and a short hop north of Saint Martin. Its pristine beaches and unspoiled natural beauty have made this enchanting island paradise a perennial winner of travel awards and an increasingly popular Caribbean destination.

The Anguillians’ eloquent national anthem declares that they are “proud, strong and free,” and it’s impossible not to feel the same when you visit this enchanted island. Its residents are warm and welcoming, a trait that is reflected in the way visitors are treated. During their time on the island, guests are invited to share in the culture by taking part in family-style meals and celebrations with locals.

A mixture of British and African influences are woven into Anguillian culture through songs, foods, music and language. Artifacts and remains of early Amerindian settlements can be seen in museums across the island, while important stages in the island’s history are recalled through legends and stories, passed on to younger generations. The island’s rich heritage is also evident in the architecture, with a number of traditional plantation homes that are now restored as luxury hotels and restaurants.

In spite of its small size, Anguilla is a diverse and vibrant island. The economy is based largely on luxury tourism and offshore banking, with lobster fishing an important industry as well. In addition, Anguilla is a major hub for the yachting industry and its proximity to the US makes it an easy place for companies to establish offices.

Like other Caribbean destinations, Anguilla has its fair share of hotspots, but there are also countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered by the adventurous traveler. In fact, some of the most impressive sights are found outside the major resorts – in the form of spectacular rock formations, caves and wildlife.

Aside from the natural wonders, Anguilla has a thriving entertainment scene. The country is home to a number of popular reggae, calypso and soca musicians. Check out the Dune Preserve at night for a jam session with Bankie Banx, who has performed with music legends such as Jimmy Buffett and Bob Dylan, or visit any of the island’s top restaurants, including DaVida’s, Elodia’s and Gwen’s Reggae Grill to catch a live performance.

The best time to visit Anguilla is from November through April, when temperatures are comfortable and sunny. During this time, the hotel scene is at its most lively and the island is busiest, with many of its luxury properties offering special events to ring in the New Year. After the Festive Season ends, the island begins to slow down as temperatures dip and rain becomes more intermittent.

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