‘In a Gadda da Vida, Honey’… It’s the first line of that famous rock song of the 60s played and recorded by the band Iron Butterfly. Translated it means ‘In the Garden of Eden, Honey’ and unsurprisingly has been linked to Anegada. And for those who have visited this magical island, no-one is arguing about it.
Anegada is the island of beaches. In fact, the whole perimeter of the island is one long beach. On the north side, the fringing reef provides a spectacular barrier of frothy breakers allowing for a turquoise lagoon between them and the powdery sand beach. Dotted around this lagoon are banks of coral providing exceptional snorkeling and exciting kite boarding. The gin-clear waters entice one to take a cooling dip between thirst-quenching libations at one of several beach bars. The sound of breaking surf, the beauty of the panorama, and the wafting aroma of grilling lobsters or conch fritters have visitors returning time and time again.
It is not only the idyllic destination that acts as a magnet for sailors on chartered yachts but the exhilarating sail across from Virgin Gorda or Tortola. The easterly trade wind makes for a delightful reach of two or three hours on relatively calm water protected by the length of horseshoe reef. If yachts depart early, crews will enjoy most of the day exploring Anegada, then enjoy a delicious seafood dinner; the famed Anegada lobster being the favorite choice.
There are many options for exploring this unique island. One of the most fun is to rent a scooter, or several if you have a large group, and ride along flat roads, with the warm breeze in your face. Alternatively, new Mini Mokes will take four, open-air pick-ups with bench seats and awnings will take up to nine persons, and large shuttle buses run regularly at a per person rate. Self-drive vehicles will give you the freedom to explore the whole island at your leisure. Stay as long as you like at favorite stops. Enjoy a long lunch perhaps or a delicious rum smoothie or three.
There are exclusive attractions on Anegada. The island is home to a unique iguana, the Anegada Rock Iguana. It’s a fairly large species in terms of average iguanas and it is endangered. There’s a nursery and incubation facility at The Settlement, which is open to the public. If you’re into unusual animal species, particularly reptiles, check them out.
Perhaps you’re into fishing the flats. Bonefish are plentiful in the mudflats on the island’s southern shore. Guides are available and will show you the best places to exhibit your fly-casting skills.
Pink flamingoes are some of the most exotic birds in the world and after becoming extinct on Anegada, they were re-introduced in the 1990s and have been flourishing ever since. Now there is a large flock making their home in the salt ponds. They are rather shy creatures but if you’re lucky you may be able to spot them. They need to be respected and given space so as not to frighten them – they disappeared once, let’s not make that happen again.
Anegada’s name is derived from the Spanish for ‘Drowned Island.’ A large portion of the interior is made up of salt ponds and the surrounding sea is shallow, especially on the south side. The sandy bottom is covered in seagrass, much loved by the conch, the seashell typifying Caribbean-sea-life and whose meat is much prized and delicious if prepared properly. At the eastern end of the island, there are gigantic mounds of conch shells originating from pre-Columbian times – quite an extraordinary sight.
A day trip exploring Anegada will start at the anchorage of Setting Point. Here you will find the vehicle of your choice and then set off along the southern road heading east to The Settlement. From here your first stop will likely be Loblolly Bay, home to the Big Bamboo, the original north shore beach bar and restaurant. The lunches here are excellent and an ice cream bar will please the kids, both young and old. Freshwater showers are available for an after-swimming refresh. The open-air beach bar serves ice-cold beer and a wide selection of tropical cocktails. Try the Bamboo Teaser!
Time to hop into or onto your rented vehicle of choice and head west to the Anegada Beach Club. The ride along hard-packed sandy trails alongside the salt ponds will have many eyes peeled for flocks of pink flamingos. Soon you’ll see the Club exuding Pacific island charm with thatched roof beach bars and attractive beach tents on sturdy wood decks. The adventurous can take in a stint of kiteboarding or for the uninitiated, a lesson. What fun! Alternatively, a spa is available for those wishing for total relaxation.
The Cow Wreck Bar is famous for its name. It was taken from a shipwreck of cow bones on its way to a glue factory in the States. The spectacular beach, which is purported to offer the best snorkeling, is sprinkled with comfy beach chairs and shade umbrellas. Their Cow Killer, a derivation of Painkiller, is a heavyweight drink and as such you are limited to only three (in case you forget who you are). Seafood like conch fritters and grilled lobster are readily available.
As you complete your Anegada tour, wend your way around the west end of the island and back towards the anchorage. Pomato Point beach bar overlooks the islands to the south on the longest pristine stretch of white sand. Newly opened after extensive renovations, the restaurant has been getting rave reviews.
Neptune’s Treasure is an Anegada institution. Owned and operated by a fishing family, it’s the place to go for fresh fish, conch and lobster. They’ve been supplying Anegada with fresh fish and seafood for some fifty years and regularly go long lining for swordfish, tuna and mahi. Neptune’s is super friendly being a family-run establishment. Pam, the matriarch, operates a bakery, offering delectable treats like cinnamon rolls, chocolate brownies, banana bread and more. Better get there early (7:30 am) or they may be sold out.
The anchorage is lined with seafood eateries. Besides Neptune’s there’s the newest, and fast becoming the most popular on island, Wonky Dog. Owner-operators Peter and Desne make a perfect team. He is a masterful professional chef while Desne has a wonderful, bubbling personality. The food is always excellent and the service happy and smiling. This relatively new establishment is an absolute pleasure.
Continuing along the beach you come to the Lobster Trap, hub for the free shuttle to the Anegada Beach Club and fine restaurant in its own right. Guess what their main special is: yep, it’s lobster!
The Anegada Reef Hotel is where it all started. Lowell Wheatley, a Virgin Gorda born lobster fisherman saw an opportunity. In 1976 he leased an abandoned building at Setting Point and resurrected it into what is now an attractive bungalow-style hotel, beach bar, and restaurant. It became the first establishment to offer grilled lobster, bbq baby back ribs, fish and conch and soon became a favorite stopover for visiting yachtsmen. Sadly, Lowell is no longer with us but wife Vivian and son Lawrence and daughter Lorraine are continuing the family legacy. The latest attraction at the hotel is Mini Mokes. These open style vehicles are perfect for the flat roads of Anegada and are fast becoming a favorite with visitors.
Next to the public dock is Potters by the Sea. The restaurant is built out over the water in an attractive setting. There’s a bar and dance area and after dinner is served, the music is pumped up and disco dancing attracts a large crowd. Sam, the lobster chef, is also a supple limbo dancer and every night he is challenged – with little success.
Anegada is unquestionably unique; it is another fatal attraction that makes the BVI such a special destination. Every year more and more yachts are discovering Anegada and its many delights. It is just one more arrow in a BVI quiver full of arrows.
Note: On any tour of Anegada, bring snorkeling kit, sunscreen, towel, camera, a good thirst and a healthy appetite.