Anegada has traditionally been somewhat of a hidden gem for charter guests visiting the British Virgin Islands. For many years it was off-limits because of its remote location away from the main cruising grounds and the dangerous reefs surrounding it. In recent times this has changed. A marked entrance to the only anchorage at Setting Point is now available and while the 12 nautical miles from the North Sound to Anegada still make it one of the longer distances on a typical BVI cruising itinerary , many sailors know that it is well worth the effort. Especially post-hurricane Irma, which Anegada has survived with a lot less damage than originally anticipated, it is now a very popular must-see stop when cruising through the BVI.
We have put together an overview for you of sights and tastes to explore while visiting this beautiful island on – and off – the beaten trails.
While being the second largest island within the BVI, Anegada only has about 300 full-time residents, making for its very laid-back island ambiance. The island is connected to Tortola and Virgin Gorda via ferry connections, used by many of the locals to get to and from work and school.
With an elevation of only 28 feet, Anegada is distinct from the other rather hilly British Virgin Islands. The North features beautiful long sandy beaches and the reefs around the island provide for spectacular snorkeling and diving while the interior is dominated by scrub vegetation.
Setting Point is Anegada’s only mooring point. Due to its convenient location close to the arriving sailors, many hotels and restaurants have established their place of business here. The Anegada Reef Hotel as well as Hotel Neptune’s Treasure have an intimate feel to them and offer their guests full-service restaurants. Right next door and the first thing you see when you get to the main dinghy dock is the popular restaurant “Potter’s By The Sea” providing its customers with freshly caught lobster and lively entertainment in the evenings. Its walls are covered with signatures and doodles left by visitors from all around the world.
Gift shops, as well as a small supermarket and some other establishments, line the small main street. Taxis, as well as jeeps, bikes or scooters to rent, are readily available at Setting Point.
The Northern Beaches
Loblolly Beach is one of the two main attractions on Anegada’s northern coastline. It is hard to find any pictures or videos that can do this amazing beach justice. Miles of white sand stretch as far as the eye can see and the Big Bamboo Bar is the perfect location to serve as your base camp while exploring this beautiful piece of the island. Four beachfront villas are also available.
The other jaw-dropping beach that pulls visitors to Anegada time and time again is Cow Wreck Beach. Famous for its wealth of conch shell decoration, Cow Wreck Beach Bar is another quaint little gem on the island. The extraordinary view combined with scrumptious food and drinks makes you forget everything else and hope that the day will never end.
For those who’d like to enjoy Anegada’s beaches for more than just a day the contemporary Anegada Beach Club close by is a great place to stay. It offers everything from stunning hotel suites to beachfront luxury tents, delicious dining, and a spacious pool.
The Local Cuisine
Anegada is famous for its lobster dishes. No visit to the island would be complete without enjoying some of the amazing, freshly caught Caribbean (Spiny) “Anegada” lobster served at the local restaurants. Strict rules and regulation protect these animals and only licensed commercial fishermen are allowed to catch lobster outside of the season, which changes every year, but generally runs from the beginning of November to the end of July in the British Virgin Islands. In contrast to its Northern American relatives, the Caribbean lobster does not have any claws and is not as sweet as the famous “Maine” lobster, however its meaty tail, generally served with butter and lime, make for a delicious, unique experience.
Flora and Fauna
Anegada is home to the critically endangered Anegada Rock Iguana whose population has been in serious decline since the 1960s due to feral domestic cats killing many of the juvenile iguanas and habitat degradation from other domestic animals. An Iguana head start facility has been created in the center of the island to protect the iguanas until they reach a certain size and efforts are made to establish a national park and control non-native mammals on the island.
Another species native to the Caribbean and roaming the salt lakes of Anegada is a flock of roseate aka the “greater flamingo“. When taking a tour by taxi or scooter around the island the observation deck with a telescope at Flamingo Pond offers a great spot to have a look from a distance at these beautiful shy birds. Pro Tip: Bring your binoculars.
Horses, provided by Francis Family Farm in West End, are a novelty attraction on Anegada and enable you to explore the amazing shoreline sitting high in the saddle, on a relaxed and engaging ride. Morning and evening excursions, as well as 10-minute-rides for curious beginners or kids, are available.
The last species worth mentioned when speaking of this remarkable island is conch. On the East End of Anegada piles of thousands of conch shells, rough and grainy on the outside, shiny and smooth on the inside, remind the visitor of the importance of conch as a food source in this part of the world. Scientists have found that the first shells on the bottom of the piles date back hundreds of years, and new shells are still being added by fishermen every day. Inaccessible by charter boat due to the reefs surrounding the island the piles can only be visited with local tour operators. Overharvesting is threatening the slow-moving conch snails all over the Caribbean and rules and regulations to protect them are in effect. Here on Anegada, only a handful of fishermen provide the catch for the local restaurants and in small numbers for export, ensuring with their careful approach to fishing that the population remains stable. The “artificial” conch reefs act as a nursery for stingrays, nurse sharks, and other sea life.
While Anegada is a great place to just enjoy the Caribbean flair and “do absolutely nothing” for a while it also offers its visitors a wealth of natural beauty to explore. The local taxi drivers are happy to help arrange tours to the main attractions of this wonderful, laid back island that you shouldn’t miss next time you are in the BVI.
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