shoal bay sunrise anguilla

Shoal Bay and Gorgeous Scilly Cay – Anguilla, Lesser Antilles (British West Indies)

A Beach Among Beaches, and a Full-Scale Party on a Desert Island

Anguilla is a flat, scrubby island that’s light on interior scenery, but its confectionery 12-mile perimeter has some of the most picture-perfect white-sand beaches anywhere. These have conspired with incredibly clear water and undisturbed reefs to make Anguilla a favorite haunt for beach-and-a-book sun seekers looking for the Caribbean’s least-developed islands.

Among Anguilla’s thirty-some beaches, Shoal Bay ranks as anyone’s dream. Although your footprints won’t be the only ones left in the sand, partic­ularly in the high season or on weekends, escapists need merely walk a few feet into the diamond-clear water to submerge themselves in another world, where schools of iridescent fish and magnificent coral gardens are the only crowds to contend with.

Should hunger strike, Uncle Ernie’s is the archetypal shanty beach bar, where a beer and barbecued chicken, ribs, or catch of the day doesn’t get any better—unless it’s Sunday afternoon, when an island band manages to enhance the flavor.

For a more full-on party atmosphere, head out to Gorgeous Scilly Cay, which is on its own coral-sand islet. This popular watering hole/beach-shack restaurant can really get wound up on weekends, when day-trippers from St. Martin descend and a local band warms up; on weekdays it’s more like a Robinson Crusoe fantasy.

King Gorgeous (a.k.a. owner Eudoxie Wallace) entertains swim suited diners with tall tales and powerfully delicious rum punches while preparing an alfresco feast of simple grilled lobster or cray­fish marinated in his secret and justly legendary curry-based sauce. Most diners come for the better part of the day, snorkeling and swimming before and after lunch.

The ballfield-size cay now accommodates a helipad for the St. Martin set, but from Anguilla you can take King Gorgeous’s ready-when-you-are motor launch. Just stand at the pier at Island Harbour and wave, and someone will be by to fetch you.

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