09 Dec Top Caribbean Beaches: Shoal Bay East, Anguilla
"Milly's Inn," the worn sign reads. Inconspicuous, it rests at the end of a steep, sleepy hill on a quiet, rustic part of Anguilla. With just a passing glance, you would never guess where this off-road might take you.
On a hot, sunny afternoon, I ventured up this way. Passed "Milly's Inn," back down the hill, a sharp turn to the right, and soon this pleasant path turned ominous. As I approached a worn bed of wet leaves and a thick canopy of low tropical trees, I began to feel like Snow White wandering through the Haunted Forest. My Mom was in the passenger seat. Her senses were tingling, too.
Just as we were getting nervous, we rounded a corner and and found ourselves gazing at the most picture-perfect window to the sea. Amazed, we quickly realized that we had discovered a shortcut, a hidden path to our favorite location, "the point" on Shoal Bay East.
Shoal Bay East is one of Anguilla's prized beaches, the one that's known around the world. Having graced "top 10 Caribbean beach lists" over and over. You only have to step foot on this soft, white sand once to "get it."
Here, I've watched spotted eagle rays dance in the gentle surf, children skimboard along the rougher winter waves, couples snorkel in the shallow reefs and even seen Penelope Cruz unwind in a beach chair at the water's edge. I've devoured my fair share of BBQ crayfish, lobster, chicken and ribs, and sampled a rum punch (or two) from the colorful beach bars that dot the shoreline.
Unpretentious and relaxed, this beach has a happy, laid-back vibe. Perhaps the most tranquil and serene spot of all is "the point" where the two mile beach bends in its middle.
Nothing but greenery and palm trees on one side, and sand and surf on the other, at "the point" you are removed from the "busier" parts of Shoal Bay (busy is a relative term here in Anguilla).
A wide spit of sand that sticks out into the ocean, waves wrap around this bend in the beach from both sides. The water rolls in, cresting waves caress, overlap momentarily before quickly retreating, moving in different directions. The edge of the blue sea is met by blue sky and the endless horizon. In front of you, an off-island cay in the distance inspires day-dreams. Behind you, the wide open ocean washes in and out, gracefully. Its effect is soothing.
Equally calming and comforting is knowing that this relaxing location, a perfect spot to open up the blankets and lay out a picnic, can be accessed so quickly and immediately by that secret shortcut.
The little adventure through down through the jungley thick was well worth what waited on its other side!
By Nori Evoy
Owner of anguilla-beaches.com