MY PARADISE: Anegada in the British Virgin Islands
Editor's Note: Let's just say this piece of paradise is not in your backyard. In fact, it's quite a flight.But after you read Anne Parker's story below, you may just find yourself buying an airline ticket to the British Virgin Islands. Anne, thanks for the great story. We can't wait to hear from others.
Upon my husband’s return from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, we wanted to spend some quality time together in a beautiful, serene spot.
We both had grown up as beach lovers and decided that remaining true to ourselves in picking a vacation spot for this special occasion would best suit us. After researching several options, we decided on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. And while our refuge of choice was appropriately named “Fort Recovery,” living up to that in every sense of the word, it was our happenstance journey to another place that ended up being the highlight of our trip.
This place, called Anegada, was recommended as a “must see” by a sweet British fellow we met while strolling in Road Town. He could not have been more spot on with his advice to us. He did mention that it was off the beaten path and not the simplest place to get to, but totally worth the trip in so many ways.
Being adventurous, we took a ferry to Anegada. Having no idea what sort of facilities or access to transportation might be available when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised.
As soon as we exited the ferry, a man and woman drove up and asked if we needed a rental car. After we answered yes, they both got out of their car, handed us the keys, told us they would be back to meet us for the last ferry at 5 p.m., and walked off down the road. They never asked for our names nor asked us to sign documents… they simply left us their car.
Not knowing where we were headed, we drove all over the island. We stopped at a place called Cow’s Wreck that was chocked full of character. We splashed through puddles on roads to nowhere and saw beautiful pink flamingos in ponds.
We had no agenda other than to eventually find Loblolly Bay, a place the Brit had mentioned. Eventually, we found our destination. To say that words could not describe this lovely place is an understatement. We were at once speechless and taken aback at the serene, unspoiled beauty of this land. It's the kind of place that literally takes your breath away and causes you to wonder if you are still with two feet planted on the ground or have gone on elsewhere.
As far as you could see in either direction, there were no other humans in sight. The unrealistic color of the water, the enormity of blue sky, and the peacefulness that immediately engulfs you as you step out onto this beach, are things I have not experienced previously in my travels.
I don’t want to diminish the unsurpassed beauty of this place with clichés, but it was absolutely "moving" to me. My heart, my soul, my senses, and my spirit were completely immersed in this most natural of places. And nearly the entire day, we were the only people on the beach aside from the islanders pulling the lobsters straight out of the traps to the shore for lunch.
This island was the loveliest place that I’ve had the opportunity to visit, and my words, nor my photographs, can truly do it justice. Anegada has something indescribable. This is one place that you must experience for yourself as there is not just one thing about it… there’s everything.
And for those of you who want some factual information on Anegada, I’ll include what little I know. It’s the second largest in the British Virgin Islands chain, but the most sparsely populated at around 200 people. Being the most northern British island, it is also the only one formed from coral and limestone rather than being of volcanic origin. It has the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean and the fourth largest on Earth. Snorkeling right off of the beach as we did was comparable to being submerged in a saltwater aquarium… beautiful, brightly colored fish everywhere!
Anegada translates to “drowned land,” as it is flat and low rather than mountainous as are the other islands in the territory. It is approximately 15-square miles in size and is well known for fly-fishing. There is a small airstrip on the island with charter service from some of the surrounding areas such as St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and San Juan.
To end my story, I will tell you this: The couple that so kindly gave up their vehicle to strangers turned out to be the owners of a small inn on the island. They trusted us with the car, and as we later discovered when placing our cell phones in the glove compartment, an undisclosed amount of cash that was left inside. When we returned for the 5 p.m. ferry back to Tortola, they showed up promptly and we paid them for the day’s rental fee.
I think it’s safe to say, it would be hard to find that kind of service and trust in many of our travels. And it says everything about our entire experience on Anegada... from beginning to end, a place like no other.