Sandy Island Anguilla is located only about a mile offshore from Sandy Ground Beach, the site of the island’s main harbor and port for cruises. You would come to Sandy Ground to catch the boat to Sandy Island and many of the cruise ships that dock here will offer half- and full-day shore excursions to this little patch of land surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.
The boat to Sandy Island is free, and departs Sandy Ground Beach approximately every 30 minutes. Since all beaches are public property (as they are on virtually every other Caribbean island), you can also visit here if you are on a private snorkeling or scuba diving trip on a chartered yacht. Around the reef are numerous colorful tropical fish, including sergeant majors with their yellow and black stripes, neon tang, and sea urchins. It is possible to rent the entire pavilion and bar facility for weddings and other special events. While the beach on Sandy Island Anguilla may still have a few visitors, your wedding party will otherwise have the island to itself.
This is the classic example of a deserted tropical island, and the beach on Sandy Island Anguilla comprises almost the entirety of the sliver of land that is not much more than a cay. A cay (pronounced “key”) is a small low island or atoll that is formed entirely of coral pieces and coral sand. Before 1995’s Hurricane Luis, there were several tall swaying palms poking out of the scrub-like vegetation clinging to the coral rock, and (quite literally) nothing else but sand. New ones were planted a few years later, and the rapidly growing trees get taller every year. These trees complete the picture of a classic deserted island.
In 1999, management of Sandy Island Anguilla was taken over by Oliver MacDonna, who runs one of the few truly gourmet restaurants on the main island, located on Long Bay, just north of Meads Bay Beach. Because of this enterprise, it is also possible to catch the boat to Sandy Island from Meads Bay. The facility is called simply Sandy Island BBQ. It consists of a large roofed dining pavilion with plenty of shade and a full bar. It is open six days a week (closed on Saturdays) and offers local calypso and reggae music that is especially lively on Sundays. It opens for business at noon, and closes down around 4:00 p.m. when the last boat leaves for Sandy Ground Beach. In order for the staff to also have time off, the Sandy Island Anguilla dining facility closes for a full month (beginning August 15) after the island’s Carnival.
Swimming and snorkeling off the beach on Sandy Island Anguilla is excellent, as the little island is protected by reefs and the shallow water is quite warm. Due to this protection, it is great for children on family vacations. The island is only about 150 by 25 yards in size, and you can walk its full circumference in about 15 minutes. There is a small lagoon on one side that is great for tide pooling.