It's your quintessential Caribbean island in the sun. Anchored to the seamless blue sky, by tall palms, Sandy Island is a little-known haven for lovers of sun, sand and snorkeling.
To get to Sandy Island, take a 10-minute flight from St. Maarten or the 30-minute Marigot ferry ride to Anguilla. Go to Sandy Ground beach and wait at the pier, by Johnnos Bar, for the Shauna Two. The free shuttle boat travels between Anguilla and Sandy Island every 20 to 30 minutes.
As we approach, we can't help but think of those cartoons of the two bearded men, stranded on an island, making wry observations about the state of the world, a fallen coconut at their feet.
|Couple relax on beach|
|Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll|
Calypso music greets us as our ferry reaches the alabaster beach. (There's live music on Sunday afternoons.) We follow the beach to an open-sided wooden pavilion sheltering a bar and picnic tables.
Sandy Island BBQ serves rum punch, beer and piña coladas, along with plates of barbecued chicken, ribs, fish, crayfish and lobster. Prices are in US dollars.
The sea seduces us, so we quickly don masks, snorkels and fins, and swim through the bathtub-warm water toward the reef.
An armada of yellow and black-striped sergeant majors hovers at our fingertips, while iridescent blue tangs weave between fingers of coral. Schools of fish, the color of burnished pewter, scatter before us, then regroup to investigate the strangers in their midst.
So enthralled are we with the spiky black sea urchins, the tiny neon fish and other creatures, that we overstay our visit and emerge, wrinkled as prunes.
To dry off, we hike around Sandy Island. At a leisurely pace, it takes less than 10 minutes. We then spread our towels on the talcum powder sand, where the long fronds of coconut palms are shadow-boxing.
Within minutes we're asleep. But not for long. Our dreams of being stranded on a pristine atoll vanish, like a mirage, when the shuttle arrives to bring us back to Anguilla.
Sandy Island is open six days a week, for lunch, with live entertainment on Sundays, starting at noon. Sandy Island is closed on Saturdays, and for one month after the Anguilla Carnival (Anguilla Summer Festival) ends in mid-August.
Anguilla Tourist Board: www.anguilla-vacation.com