Lying in a remote comer of the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico, Anegada is the second largest of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). With a population of just 200, the remoteness of Anegada is one of its main attractions.
Most visitors come to the island to simply unwind and relax on the beautiful but relatively deserted white sandy beaches. The clear warm waters around the island are home to a large population of bonefish, making Anegada a popular destination for flyfishing. In fact, the marine life is so plentiful here that local fishermen provide the majority of the fresh fish and lobster catch for the British Virgin Island.
Anegada is also known for the large salt ponds that cover the west end of the island, or more particularly, the creatures that live there. In the 1830s, thousands of roseate flamingoes inhabited these ponds, but after decades of being hunted for their feathers and meat, the population had all but been wiped out by the 1950s. The flamingos are currently being reintroduced, which offers a great draw for tourists. Too great a draw, in fact, as scientists are trying to reduce the impact of tourism on the bird population.
Anegada is the only island in the chain which has formed from coral and limestone, rather than volcanic rock. While the other islands are steeply mountainous, Anegada is flat, rising to just 8.5 m (28 ft) above sea level at its highest point; its name translates as ‘the drowned land’. Extending south-east from the end of the island is the Horseshoe Reef. At 29-km (18-mi) long, it is the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean and the third largest on earth.
Many tourists hire charter boats while visiting the Virgin Islands, but some yacht-hire companies forbid clients to sail to Anegada because of the dangers of running aground on its shallow reefs. Many vessels have come unstuck here, including the HMS Astrea which ran aground in 1808. There are many shipwrecks on the reefs, which make this the perfect spot for scuba diving.
Population: 200 (2001)
When to go: December to August
How to get there: Fly to the small Auguste George Airport or by ferry or private boat.
Highlights: Relax on a pristine white sand beach. Flyfishing – there are goal populations of bonefish here.
See the flamingoes – they are being reintroduced into the salt ponds at the west end of the island. Scuba diving – the many shipwrecks on the reef make this an interesting place for diving.
You should know: If you intend to do any fishing, you must buy a recreational fishing permit.