The Magic of Anegada – Don’t Miss Island Destinations

Neptune’s Treasure restaurant and beach resort
Neptune’s Treasure restaurant and beach resort

Some may say there’s nothing on Anegada. No fancy clubs, casinos or chauffeur driven limos to brand name shops and Broadway shows. That’s the point. It’s the fantastic reefs, toes-in-the-sand beach bars serving some of the best seafood in the world, and a natural beauty and serenity that’s hard to find in this fast-paced world that offers everything a visitor could want and more. If you think you’ve cruised the British Virgin Islands, but skipped this far eastern island, then re-chart your course now. 

“Anegada is the only coral atoll amongst an archipelago of volcanically formed islands,” says Kevin Faulkner, of Anegada Fly-Fishing Guide Service, which specializes in bone fishing and reef fishing on the island’s flats and lagoon. “It is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by Horseshoe Reef; the fourth largest barrier reef in the world. On the Caribbean side a pristine and seemingly endless seascape is dotted by mangrove islands. Because of this protected marine habitat, Anegada boasts arguably the best fishing, sight-seeing and snorkeling excursions in the territory.”

The dock at Setting Point, Anegada Reef Hotel
The dock at Setting Point, Anegada Reef Hotel

Located an easy 11-mile close reach from North Sound, Virgin Gorda, Anegada is the second largest of the British Virgin Islands at 15 square miles. It’s also the flattest, with an elevation of only 28-feet at the highest point and among the least populated, with less than 300 permanent residents. Most folks live in the island’s only town, The Settlement. However, visitors head to Anegada’s claim to fame: the 18-mile long Horseshoe Reef. Snorkeling is incredible here, as it is around the entire island.

“Snorkeling, kayaks, stand up paddle boarding and kiteboarding are what we offer at the Anegada Beach Club,” says Tommy Gaunt, who runs his namesake kitesurfing school out of the palapa-style resort located beachfront near Keel Point on the Atlantic side of the island. Gaunt hosts the Anegada Kite and Paddle Festival here each February.

Chilling over lobster and beer at the Cow Wreck bar
Chilling over lobster and beer at the Cow Wreck bar

This spectacular marine environment provides great seafood and lots of it. Lobster and conch are two favorites. In fact, the island’s 6th annual Lobster Festival will be held November 24 and 25. This two-day food fete is a crawl that takes lobster lovers to many of the islands dozen-plus beach bars and restaurants for a taste and their take on this spiny crustacean. The festival isn’t the only time to find lobster on the menu. For example, the Wonky Dog, a family owned restaurant at Setting Point run by Peter and Desne Penman, serves Anegada lobster year-round in a half dozen ways. This includes simply grilled with garlic butter and local citrus to fancier Thermidor and Rockefeller style.

Anegada is famous for its lobster and lobster fishermen
Anegada is famous for its lobster and lobster fishermen

“Plan to stay on Anegada for more than a day or one night,” suggests Olivia Soares Haidle, whose three generations of family members own and operate Neptune’s Treasure, which offers discounted room rates for sailors and a restaurant where signature dishes are tuna and swordfish caught by the family, who are also commercial fishermen. “Besides the beaches and snorkeling, take a trip to the east end to see sights like the conch shell mounds.”

The beach viewed from The Wonky Dog bar and restaurant in Setting Point
The beach viewed from The Wonky Dog bar and restaurant in Setting Point

Anegada’s conch shell mounds, which mark where fishermen have separated meat from shell for centuries, are an attraction worth visiting. Ditto for the lookout tower at Salt Heap Point near Setting Point, where a telescope stands ready to help spot the elusive flamingos. Bright pink flamingos are usually in abundance at Flamingo Pond. Other wildlife is the Anegada Rock Iguana, an ancient species of iguana. Young iguanas start life at the Anegada Iguana Head Start facility located in the Settlement. This facility is a conservation program to prevent the iguana’s extinction due to threats from feral cats. Anegada also has a small botanic garden, the Vanessa Faulkner Botanic Gardens, located near The Settlement and named after the woman who planted this oasis on an island known for scrub vegetation.

Beyond the spectacular reefs and beaches, Keith Dawson, marketing manager for the BVI Tourist Board invites, “we promote Anegada as a great place for culture, history and environmental tourism.”

Catch a Tarpon with Kevin Faulkner, Anegada Fly-Fishing Guide
Catch a Tarpon with Kevin Faulkner, Anegada Fly-Fishing Guide
Carol_Bareuther
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.