The Path Less Travelled

9 November 2010 By Joanne MacKenzie

When I worked on a charter boat in the Virgin Islands, we used to visit an anchorage in the BVI on the north side of Tortola. Although entering the anchorage had to be done precisely to ensure safety, it wasn’t until the vessel made it through that you could fully appreciate what beauty lay tucked away out of sight. Other than the sea turtles and resident Nurse Shark, there was rarely another boat anchored there.

Some owners and guests prefer out of the way locales when they charter in the Caribbean. But with all of the vessels headed down island for the season, which islands offer the less-frequented, almost deserted feel?

There are a lot of protected bays just a short sail from each other in the Virgin Islands. One of them lies to the northeast of Virgin Gorda: Anegada. It’s the only non-volcanic Virgin Island. Anegada is a coral sand island surrounded by a reef that has wrecked a lot of ships, but these days it makes for some great snorkeling and diving.

Once intimidating due to random coral heads that captains had to navigate through, it is now easier to find your way to Anegada as visibility has improved. Well lit markers to safely show the way in to the main anchorage in front of the Anegada Reef Hotel. You can either pick up a mooring ball, for a fee, or moor in the sandy anchorage almost directly in front of the hotel.

The hotel is famous for its barbecued lobster and ribs – one among the many reasons people like to go there. It also could be the snorkeling on the other side of the island, the pink flamingoes seen on the way in or the miles of secluded coral sand beaches. You can walk for hours knowing nothing but endless, turquoise ocean stand between you and Africa.

Another out-of-the-way anchorage is Oles de Saintes, Guadeloupe. A lovely anchorage lies in front of the main town, Bourg des Saints. Boasting intriguing little shops and lovely restaurants there is plenty to do including a hike up the hill from the town to the fort for more active guests. Formerly part of Brittany, the islands were known for fishing. These days, they rely more on tourism and dive excursions, but the Saints have retained their French Caribbean charm. You can also anchor behind Pain a Sucre and over by Ilet Cabaret.

If isolation and nature are what your guests seek, First Mate Aaron Mullen, says head to Barbuda. “It’s really special,” comments Mullen. “Barbuda is perfect for beach days and is the perfect place for a beach barbecue for the guests. They love it. It's like they have their own private beach.” And there are miles and miles of it.

Barbuda also is a great place for bird lovers. It’s considered the most important nesting areas in the world for Frigate birds. Check out Cocoa Point, just north of Palmetto Point and Spanish Point for the best anchorages. The main town, Codrington, offers you a look back to the Caribbean as it used to be.