Are you dreaming of escaping to a deserted island? Who can blame you? Anguilla has been designated as “Very Low Risk for Covid-19” by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even their ‘bubbles’ are better than our ‘quarantine bubbles’ here at home.
In Anguilla, you enter a “vacation bubble” – a period in which protocols guide and facilitate visitors’ movements on the island staying at hotels and villas. It is designed so hotels and resorts can offer tourists access to a variety of amenities and activities within safe environment certified areas. The goal of the measures is to ensure all residents and tourists feel as safe as possible.
Get ready to escape to the sun, and these four off-shore cays are guaranteed to be the highlight of your vacation. Start preparing now for the sun on your shoulders, feet in the sand, and a drink in your hand.
Prickly Pear Cay
Yes, you read the name correctly. Prickly Pear Cay is a small island located six miles from Anguilla’s mainland and is popular among swimmers and snorkelers looking for a more private experience. The “Eastern Caribbean Natural Area Management Programme” has classified the cays as ‘wildlands.’ A boat channel between Prickly Pear East and Prickly Pear West divides the small pair of uninhabited islands. Visitors can swim between the rocky coral reef and shrubs on the Western smaller cay. On the northern side of the Eastern Cay, indulge in long, beautiful white sand beaches with crystal blue waters ideal for snorkelling. Marine fauna includes schooling goatfish, crabs, lobsters, barracuda, angelfish, nurse sharks, and more! Scuba diving enthusiasts will enjoy discovering the several sunken ships in the area. After your swim, enjoy bird watching, as nesting birds are a common sight along the coastline. BirdLife International has identified the two cays as an Important Bird Area because of their breeding seabirds. Hiking/Bird Watching tours are available on the cay upon request.
While visiting Prickly Pear, check out Prickly Pear Bar and Restaurant, which has been in operation for over twenty years! The Chef has curated a delectable menu that includes BBQ chicken and ribs, freshly caught Lobster and Crayfish, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. As well as an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to further compliment your meal. Don’t be shocked to see ground lizards scurrying around your feet, waiting to catch spilled food. Sugar Birds will be darting around in search of rice or sugar too, and if you’re lucky, they may eat directly from your hands.
After lunch, rent water sports equipment including, paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and a Seabob to round out your secluded day at the cay. If relaxation is what you’re looking for, then book a cabana, umbrella, or beach massage instead. Prickly Pear Bar and Restaurant has partnered with Calypso Charters Anguilla to offer excursions. The fleet, comprised of twelve boats each different in size and capacity, offer sunset cruises, bar and beach hopping, and sportfishing tours
After two years of clean-up and rebuilding what Hurricane Irma demolished, Scilly Cay is finally open again! This family-owned and operated restaurant and private island has been welcoming families for the past 35 years. Located on the eastern part of Anguilla, this offshore cay is not to be missed. The 180-foot-long island is about a quarter-mile from the mainland and accessible by boat from Island Harbour. If you don’t see a boat at the dock upon arrival, wave at the island, and it’ll be there in a few minutes to pick you up. The waters within the bay are always calm, making it the perfect setting to spend the afternoon snorkeling, swimming, or lounging on a floatie. The restaurant is open for lunch on Wednesdays and Sundays with a live reggae band from noon until five. Indulge in lobster, crayfish (native to Anguilla), and their famous potent rum punch. The lobster is served on a bed of coconut leaves and drizzled in mild curry sauce and many call the rum punch at Scilly Cay the best on the island. The restaurant was built by native Anguillan and former professional tennis player Eudoxie Wallace. Wallace’s sons have since taken over, following Wallace’s passing.
Sandy Island is a small cay off Sandy Ground beach in Anguilla and a popular getaway. Many tourists have called Sandy Island one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit. Catch a boat ride at Sandy Ground to the island, where you can spend from 10-4 as a castaway in paradise. Pristine white sand, beach chairs accompanied by umbrellas, and beach beds tell you you’re home for the day. Don’t’ miss out on the delectable food available on the island. The restaurant is open daily serving fresh seafood, grilled meats, and amazing rum punches. The bar, always fully stocked with ice-cold beers and spirits from all around the world, is awaiting your arrival. Bring a towel, and don’t forget your sunscreen as you spend the day snorkeling and suntanning among crystal blue water.
Scrub Island, a British Overseas Territory, is a privately owned small island located off the eastern tip of Anguilla’s mainland. With no electricity and plumbing, the island can feel like a remote escape from the stresses of life. The expansive white-sand beach is an excellent spot for a picnic and swim. Take a short hike over the dunes, and you’ll find a salt pond where several land birds, waterfowl, and shorebirds gather. The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because of its nesting seabirds. The Caribbean Elaenia, pearly-eyed thrashers, and laughing gulls all call Scrub Island home. Continue exploring, and you’ll find the remains of an old plane, several abandoned homes, and an abandoned airfield. Be sure to snorkel the caves filled with beautiful reef fish and nurse sharks. Keep your eyes peeled on the western part of the island as tourists have been known to spot whales! Try to book your boat to Scrub Island for a calm day. On days with high seas, it is sometimes not possible for the boat to make the trek.