Here are five things you may not know about Anguilla, a laid-back Caribbean island situated near Saint Maarten in the northern Leeward Islands.
- Anguilla’s got a long history of invasions. Right from the beginning of Anguilla’s history, it’s been the subject of invasions. The Caribs started it, pushing out the original Arawaks. The Dutch forced them out, followed by the Brits in 1650. The French attacked next, then gave it back to the English. One of the most intriguing – and recent – invasions involved British paratroopers and police officers. Taking place in 1969, this incursion resulted in zero casualties.
- Anguilla is named after an animal. When Christopher Columbus first saw Anguilla, it was occupied by the warlike Caribs. He wisely didn’t land, and, maybe even more wisely, stuck with their name
for the place: “Malliouhana” meant “eel.” Unlike the nearby islands that Columbus named for saints, he chose not to mess with success. Anguilla is Spanish for “eel.”
- Anguilla’s got a lot of islands. From an islet boasting alabaster sands to a lonely rock guarded by a lighthouse, Anguilla’s not just a pretty oasis. It’s a whole collection. There are actually eight islands here, not counting Anguilla itself. Ride a boat to Prickly Pears; dine on lobster and rum punch. Head to Scrub Island to snorkel. No shortage of fun things to do on Anguilla. And no shortage of neighboring islands to visit.
- Anguilla knows reggae.
- The island hosts one of the Caribbean’s longest-running music festivals. Hosted at a beach bar CNN’s rated as the World’s Best, Moonsplash Music Festival is the brainchild of international reggae star (and owner of the bar in question), Banky Banx. Tied to the full moon this Dune Preserve happening has featured every major reggae performer in the last 20 years, along with the likes of Jimmy Buffet. It’s billed as the longest running independent music festival in the Caribbean.
- Giant rodents used to roam Anguilla. If you book your Anguilla vacation the good news is that you’re unlikely to encounter one since they’ve been extinct for thousands of years, but gigantic beasts did once roam the island. Called “Giant Hutia” or “Giant Rat of Anguilla”, these animals were the same weight and size as your average gorilla. But don’t worry about giving up your beach chair. According to scientists they’ve been extinct for a hundred thousand years.