Anguilla is our last ‘holiday’ island in the Caribbean. Often overlooked, especially in the UK, this small island has the most stunning beaches and sea that we have seen anywhere. On top of that, the people are hard working, fantastically straightforward and beyond helpful.
A strange photo you may think but first impressions as we arrived. Customs and immigration on left of pic, all clearly signed and keeping to their stated hours. And public showers to the right – clean and virtually unused except by us. Joy!
It seemed a fitting end to our Caribbean interlude to visit an island with turquoise waters and white powdery sand that are conjured up in the travel brochures. We based ourselves in Road Harbour, a lovely sweeping bay full of visiting yachts and local fishing and tourist boats. Dora and I would go ashore in the late afternoon for a swim off the beach – which mainly involved me watching her underwater gymnastics display. Every day we saw the same seagull at the water’s edge, the same dog doing it’s evening rounds, the same two old ladies gingerly making their way in for their daily swim (make that daily gossip whilst submerged hopping gently from foot to foot), the same French couple taking their stroll along the beach, the same lady putting out the tables and chairs in preparation for the evening at Sunset Bar. And of course we became part of that afternoon routine – to me one of the pleasures of being longer term visitors is that opportunity to become part of the landscape.
I don’t know why Anguilla is overlooked by tourists from the UK. Those that have heard of it are likely to have done so because it was absolutely clobbered by Hurricane Irma in September 2017 (at about the same time that Maria was wreaking havoc in Dominica). My friend at the Watersports Centre, who I spent a happy morning with whilst the children scrabbled about on giant inflatables in the bay, told me about the damage (we were the only punters for the entire morning!). At the watersports office, she showed me where whole walls had been washed away and she explained that most of the the beach ended up in what remained of the building. Apart from putting the roof back on, she hasn’t rebuilt it to its former self. All around the island roofs were blown off and there are still many missing. There was little flooding this time but the island was without power (or ‘no current’ as my friend referred to it) for 3 months. Anguilla tidied themselves up pretty quickly, not having to wait for government approval back in Europe which has apparently hampered the efforts in neighbouring St Martin/St Maarten. They are a no nonsense people who mucked in and helped each other in order to get themselves up and running for the crucial start of the tourist season in Mid December.
Fortunately water based crime (and any crime in fact) very low in Anguilla.
This footage from our anchorage. Hurricane damage.
Beautiful as our bay was, we did want to do some exploring. All the other anchorages are a designated marine park for which one has to pay US$150 for the pleasure of spending the day there. So, other than Prickly Pear Cays, which Dora will tell you about, we rented a car and explored by land. No volcanoes to climb here, so we undertook an unforgivingly unshaded walk to Captain’s Bay, a remote beach in the far north with a swanky house at one end but otherwise deserted. Sea and beach insanely photogenic. We passed various villas perched on the cliff on our way, some inhabited but many still suffering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.
Not a volcano in sight….
But the quality of the sand made the journey worth while. When wet it is like liquid velvet. I’ve never seen or felt the like before.
We spent a happy day at Shoal Bay, with its boutique hotels and beach bars where all was uncrowded serenity.
Apologies for bizarre pic. But my toe nails matched the colour of the water so perfectly…. that’s Dora coming out of the sea
Anguilla likes a party as much as the next Carribean island and we had an entertaining evening at Elvis’s Beach Bar, having a beer and playing oversized Connect 4 and Jenga, whilst people watching at the bar. Group from New York – lady in long floaty dress and straw hat “Why don’t we have something like this in the Hamptons?”. Later, a completely bonkers 60 something year old woman in pineapple sunglasses who even the children realised wasn’t entirely with it. Then a little 2 year old on holiday with her family who came to play Jenga with Daisy. What was lovely about the place was that all these characters were more than welcome and rubbed along happily enough.
Beach Jenga at Elvis Bar
I’ll let the girls fill you in a bit more on Prickly Pear Cays and hurricane Irma but if I could only come back to one island, it would be Anguilla. Despite the lack of volcanoes! An amazing place to end our extended Caribbean adventure and the sudden realisation that we turn for home next week and there’s a lot of miles to cover.