The wind calmed again and yesterday we headed the few miles to Anguilla, the low-lying island just to the north of St Martin. Sailing around the western tip we could clearly see the reef between the mainland and Anguillita, although from a distance you would imagine you could sail between them!
The cliffs are a dramatic orange colour and higher than I expected, so afford some protection from southerly winds. You can only clear in at Road Bay but this is a lovely anchorage and we got right out of the slight swell by making our way near the front of the boats where there was still plenty of space and numerous patches of sand.
There is a good dinghy dock just by the Customs building. It has boards along it to stop your dinghy going under the dock and getting damaged.
Much is made of the costs here but it is free to anchor in Road Bay if you are under 20 gross tonnage. If you want to go further afield it costs 35 GBP to enter the marine park for the day and either use one of their moorings or anchor in specified zones. You can only stay overnight in Road and Crocus Bays as the marine park ‘shuts’ at 1900 and you need to pay another fee to overnight in Crocus Bay. As we wanted to go to Sandy Island and Prickly Pear Cays to snorkel, we stumped up the cash as this could be our only visit to Anguilla and it seemed a shame not to see more of it.
Road Bay is really charming with lots of great restaurants and bars along the beach. The road behind the beach is really quiet with more chickens than cars. As the island is still a British Overseas Territory at the islander’s insistence, there are many chefs here who have trained in the UK and produce high-class cuisine. Local food is also available in more down to earth establishments, which can be a lot more fun. Just depends what you are looking for.
There are a couple of diving operations in Road Bay and Sea Pro on the beach hire out paddle boards, kayaks and offer water-skiing and tube rides. We found fast WiFi in Roy’s Bayside Grill and all the bars have the usual daily Happy Hour, for 2 hours!
On second thoughts, it would be good to have a lot more time here as we so often only get to scratch the surface on a short stopover. Yet another island I could spend months in 🙂 Their history is quite a story. Britain decided to lump Anguilla in with St Kitts but didn’t reckon on the reaction from this little island. They actually shot at the Police Station (staffed by St Kitt’s personnel) and then invaded St Kitts which is 70 miles away. In the end Britain decided to listen to them and they remained British.
They have built up a successful luxury tourist trade and are one of the richest Caribbean islands with regard to GDP per head. Got to admire their spirit as way back the islanders were virtually left to die on the dry, barren island but took to the sea and made a life for themselves. They are all very friendly and obviously love visitors. We feel totally safe here and several dinghies with outboards remain unlocked on the beach for days. A long list of famous people come here on holiday, so they are doing something right. The ‘Welcome’ sign at the dock has information about the island, their national colours, bird and anthem, making a nice start to the visit.
Tomorrow we head off in Beyzano to Sandy Island, where there is a beach bar and restaurant on the tiny strip of sand, also to Prickly Pear Cays which is even more deserted. If we have time we will sail into Little Bay and Crocus Bay just north east of Road Bay before returning here for the night. Thursday we set sail for Antigua, leaving around midday and sailing through the night to arrive Friday morning. Not much wind is forecast and the swell is up to 2 metres and all over the place, so it could be an uncomfortable trip.