Pristine paradise

Malliouhana Resort, AnguillaMalliouhana Resort, Anguilla

Independent local travel advisor Jack Leaf presents a guide to Anguilla, which, following the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, has invested heavily in tourism and raised the benchmark.

Anguilla is a beautiful British overseas territory in the Eastern Caribbean – just 16 miles long and three miles wide at its widest point – jutting out of the sea in the shape of an eel ('anguila' is Spanish for eel) and in between Antigua, Saint Martin and Puerto Rico. The island welcome is as warm as the clear waters that lap the 33 pristine, powder-white sand beaches.

Anguilla may appear low-key but, basking in over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, this jewel of the Caribbean is a haven in which to find respite from the world whilst enjoying the very best of international style and service. Famed for world-class guest accommodations, including the Four Seasons Hotel and CuisinArt Resort, plus a truly enviable selection of small boutique hotels such as Zemi Beach House and Frangipani, Anguilla boasts a number of high-end designer villas available for holiday rental too.

Following the impact of Hurricane Irma last September, there's excitement for the coming winter when Cap Juluca reopens after a total renovation under its new owners Belmond (formerly Orient Express Hotels). I'm also waiting on an imminent announcement regarding the new ownership and reopening of Malliouhana Resort.

As tempting as it may be to pass the days lazing on the beach, Anguilla also offers a wealth of sea and land activities. The ocean provides a gleaming playground for sailing, kitesurfing and paddleboarding, while surfing and snorkelling show off the Caribbean Sea from all angles. On land, try walking or hiking, take a stroll or a gentle cycle ride through The Valley; the island is mainly flat, so it is easy and comfortable to explore. Browse the island's art galleries, visit Anguilla National Trust heritage sites, practice yoga on the beach, enjoy a round of golf, join the evening turtle patrols to see the sea turtles nest on the beaches – be luckier still to see the hatchlings scuttle down to the waters – or enjoy a history tour of the island. Go bird spotting on Sombrero Island – also home to the critically endangered Sombrero Island lizard – or Prickly Pear East, home to the recently reintroduced Lesser Antillean iguana.

When it comes to cuisine, it's hard to name a Caribbean island that offers more or holds dining-out so dear to its way of life. With over 120 dining options, there is always a new favourite spot to discover, and with some of the Caribbean's most talented chefs and incredible self-taught cooks on hand, Anguilla is a true gourmet's paradise.

With soft white sand and crystal blue waters, Anguilla epitomises Caribbean island bliss.

jlJack is based in Snaresbrook – visit destiny-travel.co.uk or call 020 8989 6764. For more information on Anguilla, visit wavidi.co/anguilla


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