Anegada — The Drowned Island

We were very fortunate (thanks to Alison!) that we could get on the Dive BVI tour to Anegada.  This island is straight north of Virgin Gorda, and is the only coral island in the volcanic BVI chain. The Spanish named it Anegada, the “Drowned Land.” Measuring 11 miles by three, its highest point is just 28 feet above sea level. The island is surrounded by Horseshoe Reef, one of the world’s longest at 18 miles.

Our boat picked us up at Marina Cay just after 8:30 a.m. and made a quick stop in Leverick Bay before heading north to Anegada.  On the way we got a great view of Richard Branson’s Necker Island, and a whole load of boats sailing in the beautiful blue waters.  Not many of them go all the way to Anegada and all but the most experienced avoid it anyway because the reefs are very dangerous.  You can see why there are a lot of shipwreck sites off of Anegada because you really can’t see it like you can the other islands, the most you see is a few palm trees, and then you’re there!

We waited around at the Anegada Reef Hotel for what seemed like eternity until our taxi showed up for our ride to Loblolly Bay.  We had to laugh, it’s a pickup truck with benches in back, except this one has the benches set like the Safari Ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom safari ride.  Well, this one is not as new, and is held together with baling wire and string in some places.  The road is newly paved, and not all the way.  So riding in the back of the truck, bouncing up and down, swaying back and forth, was very much like the safari ride indeed!

When we got to Loblolly Bay, we ordered our lunches and then made our way to the beach to swim and snorkel.  This beach is beautiful white coral sand, clean, and unspoiled.  We headed straight for the water with our snorkels, and started out to the reef.  We swam out for about 10 minutes and found a reef and swam around and when we got over to the far side, we spotted a sea turtle grazing on the sea grass and tried not to scare him.  He spotted us and continued to graze for a bit, but got fed up with us and went up for air and swam slowly away.  It was wonderful to get so close…it was a shame I didn’t have an underwater camera, having already used up two on the previous snorkeling trips!  We also spotted a giant parrotfish.  At lunch I looked at a book that Meron (our Dive BVI guide) brought over and learned that there are about 40 species of parrotfish that get quite large, but I don’t know what kind it was.

Our lunch was Caribbean lobster (for Tony), shrimp (for me), and chicken for Amy.  Our lunch was good, and we enjoyed visiting with Meron and her friends from England.  After lunch we had a short walk down the pristine beach and then back to the reef for more snorkeling.  Amy came with us and just as we came up to a sort of deep spot in the coral, we spotted a large Barracuda hanging around.  It was beautiful, if not a bit scary, because he was 3 or 4 feet long.  Amy got spooked and wanted to go back, so we swam back with her (it’s about a 5 minute swim).  I must admit, they’re a bit scary for me, too, but they are not aggressive, and they just swim slowly away, taking no interest in us at all.  When Tony and I went back out to the reef, we saw him again, and more giant parrotfish, too.  The reef is beautiful…but the current was pretty strong and the water was choppy, so it was difficult to swim too far out. 

Meron told us later that the reef in that area has been bleached by the sun and killed off a lot of the coral that is in shallower water, so many of the fish have left the area.  If we could have gone further out we would have seen more.

All to soon it was time for our safari ride back to the Anegada Reef Hotel, and it sure was nice to get back in one piece!  We had a little time to stop in at the Purple Turtle gift shop (didn’t find anything interesting) before a quick stop to buy a couple of beers at the bar and set back to Tortola.  One interesting note, when we returned to Marina Cay there are these signs stating that they can’t sell alchohol until afte 6:00 p.m. because it’s Good Friday.  It seems that Anegada didn’t get the memo!  We were buying drinks all day long and the bars, at both Anegada Reef Hotel and Loblolly Bay were doing a brisk business.  I think they’re just so far out there in more ways than one, they don’t worry too much about things…such as roads, truck maintenance, blue laws, what have you….it’s a good life on Anegada!

When we got back to our room, we were pleasantly surprised by a lovely bottle of bubbly and a nice note from Alison and Jim — very touching and sweet of them to remember us.  We arranged for our ferry at 8:30 a.m. the next morning, as it was time for us to say goodby and our lovely vacation had come to an end.  We spent the evening at Pusser’s restaurant, packed up our things, and had another pleasant night with a cool breeze, and beautiful moonlight shining through the window. 

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