Have you ever been to Anguilla? If not, now is the perfect time to get to know this tiny but mysterious island.
Anguilla isn’t exactly the most visited, most heard-of Caribbean vacation destination. In fact, some may not be able to locate it on a world map, and some may have never heard of it at all!
So, let’s start with location. Anguilla is a Caribbean island, which means it lies in the Caribbean Sea, east of Puerto Rico and north of St. Martin. It belongs to the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.
Now that you know where it is, here are 10 more facts you probably didn’t know about Anguilla!
1. Anguilla is a British overseas territory
As a British overseas territory, Anguilla recognizes Britain’s monarch as their head of state, and has not become independent. While, it is internally self-governing, Britain handles the country’s foreign relations and defense.
Although it was originally populated by Amerindian tribes from South America, Europeans began to explore the island in the late 1400s or early 1500s, among them the French, Dutch, and Spanish.
However, it was the British who officially colonized Anguilla, beginning in 1650. By 1653, Africans were brought there, and forced to work as slaves. For this reason, about 90% of Anguilla’s population today is of African descent.
2. It’s the only country to feature a dolphin on its flag
The national flag of Anguilla has a blue background and a British flag in the canton. It also features Anguilla’s coat of arms in the fly, which contains three playful orange (or golden) dolphins leaping in a circle. They represent endurance, unity, and strength. Below them, the turquoise-blue base represents the Caribbean Sea.
Before 1967, the British “Union Jack” was flown over Anguilla. For a short time, a “mermaid flag” was used, featuring two mermaids with a shell between them, but it was very unpopular. Soon after, the dolphin ensignia was introduced and incorporated into the flag that Anguilla flies today.
3. It was once known as “Snake Island”
Before you cancel your flight to Anguilla for fear of serpents, let us assure you that Anguilla was NOT called Snake Island because it’s overrun with these slithering creatures. In fact, there aren’t very many snakes at all on the island– just one species of snake has ever been known to live there.
The reason why Anguilla was given this curious reptilian name is because of the island’s elongated shape. The word “Anguilla” itself came from the Spanish word “anguila”, which means “eel”.
4. English is the official language- but it may not be what you’re used to
Even though Standard English is Anguilla’s official language, many word pronunciations and meanings that they use there may be very different from the English you speak. Anguillian English is closer to that which is used in the United Kingdom, rather than American English. In addition, syntax and grammar used in common speech may be different as well.
Furthermore, Anguillian English incorporates many words you may not have heard of, such as:
- Booloonjee: an eggplant.
- Boot-up: to collide
- Apsy-clapse: difficulty or confusion
(Definitions from whatwedoinanguilla.com)
5. It has some of the best beaches in the world
Believe it or not, it’s true! The Travel Channel stated that Anguilla is “the best country to find the world’s all-around best beaches.” What’s more, there are at least 33 of them on the island, and all of them have that powder-white sand that you may have thought only existed in magazines. Best of all, they are all public beaches. Here are just a few examples:
- Shoal Bay. This pristine beach is undoubtedly one of the most famous beaches in Anguilla. The water is the perfect shade of turquoise-blue, the sand is as soft as a plush pillow, and the waves are calm. It’s a great place for snorkeling with the whole family. A few beach bars and other establishments dot the coast, so visitors can grab a quick bite to eat or rent snorkeling gear. To many, this beach is the best in Anguilla, and even the entire Caribbean.
- Meads Bay. This popular spot is located near a few luxury resorts in Long Bay Village. Many believe that this beach should take the number one spot for the best beaches in Anguilla, because its gorgeous sand is seaweed-free. Here you’ll find nothing but crystal-clear water! A 15-minute walk will take you from one end of the beach to the other, and several restaurants are open nearby.
A few other notable beaches are Cove Bay, Captain’s Bay, Maundays Bay, Little Bay, and Rendezvous Bay Beach.
6. The entire island is only 16 miles long
In addition, it’s only about 3 miles wide! That means it won’t take too long to get from one side to another. However, there isn’t any public transportation in Anguilla, so if you’re planning on hopping from one end to the next, rent a car or a bicycle (unless you’re ready for a nice long hike!)
7. A few famous folks have lived there
More and more celebrities have been hanging out in Anguilla to escape the crowds and paparazzi. Chuck Norris used to live there in a seaside mansion. Paris Hilton called it her “secret island”. Denzel Washington bought a villa on beautiful Shoal Bay. Other celebs are frequent visitors, such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Michael Jordan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Liam Neeson. Sandra Bullock has been known to rent out a private villa by the beach.
8. There are only around 20 hotels on Anguilla
That’s actually great news! It means that Anguilla is more secluded and less “touristy” than other Caribbean islands. As a less well-known destination, it’s not as popular with travelers. That means that there are plenty of opportunities for you to have the beach all to yourself! Check out some fabulous accommodations here.
9. There might be more goats than people on the island
Ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but there are a lot of goats on Anguilla. There are so many that you’ll need to be careful when driving, and you may even spot them wandering around on luxury resorts! Considering the fact that there are only about 14,800 people living on Anguilla, perhaps the goats might outnumber them sometime soon.
10. There’s plenty to see and do
Good things come in small packages– and that could describe Anguilla. This small island sure packs a lot of fun! Read about some amazing activities to do in Anguilla here.