Beach-Lover's Guide to the BVI: Anegada
Fewer than 200 people live on what translates from Spanish as "Flooded" or "Drowned" Island -- so called because compared to all the hilly BVI, this 11-mile-long flat chunk of coral appears to be slipping underwater. If you're a beach-loving, snorkel-happy escapist looking for mind-expanding vistas of nothing but sand, sea and sky, Anegada is your island. There's very little else here other than some lobster-dishing beach bar/restaurants, casual lodgings, gatherings of bonefish and flamingoes and miles of dusty, enthusiastically cow-pattied roads.
Loblolly Bay/Flash of Beauty
The entire north shore of Anegada is basically one long, undulating beach with mile after mile of very white sand tinged pink in places where enough forams have washed ashore from Horseshoe Reef. The eastern section of beach is best known as Loblolly, with the eastern part of that stretch called Flash of Beauty. Drive to the end of the wavy roads (you'll see signposts) to either, and you'll find a beach bar, hammocks, more beach than you can walk and good-to-superb snorkeling. Inside the main part of the reef are large coral bommies -- outposts that concentrate marine life -- surrounded by sand. When it's calm enough to snorkel over the actual fringing reef, you'll find the full range of tropical fish and other creatures.
Where to Play: Big Bamboo beach bar/restaurant ($$; 284-499-1680), Anegada's most popular spot for day-trippers, is on Loblolly proper. Flash of Beauty ($-$$; 284-495-8014) is to the east. Both spots specialize in locally caught lobster, which, despite the casual atmosphere, is pricey -- but it's worth the splurge when it's fresh. Conch fritters and anything recently yanked out of the nearby waters are also recommended.
West End/Cow Wreck
On the west, sunset-y end of Anegada is Cow Wreck Beach and, naturally, an uber-friendly beach bar/restaurant ($-$$; 284-495-9461) of the same name. It's extremely hard to recommend one spot over another on this island of world-class beaches, but some notable things about Cow Wreck are that the bar and hammocks here have a view of the beach and water, while on Loblolly they're behind a copse of sea grapes.
Where to Stay: Scattered along a secluded West End beach, Anegada Seaside Villas ($170 low season, $200 high; anegadavillas.com; 284-495-9466) are brightly colored one-bedroom cottages featuring complete kitchens and covered patios. On the south side of the island, near the anchorage, is Neptune's Treasure ($95 low, $105 high; neptunestreasure.com; 284-495-9439), a family-run hotel, bar and restaurant just behind the beach. The clean, simple rooms have air conditioning and porches; hammocks are strung from a line of palms at the edge of the beach.
CTL Beach Report
Barefoot Factor: The sand in the BVI ranges from the powdery, ivory-colored coating of the assorted White Bays to the pink-hued, foraminifera-speckled crushed coral and coralline algae on Anegada to the finely ground gold-and-gray stone of Cooper Island.
Access: All beaches in the BVI are public to just above the high-water line. Private resorts, however, request that day visitors use certain beaches or sections.
Getting Around: If you're not touring by boat, you'll need a rental car to beach-hop Tortola and a rental or taxis on Anegada and Virgin Gorda. Ten Toe Turbo with an occasional taxi ride will be good enough for Jost Van Dyke if you don't mind hills.
Undress Code: Public nudity is a no-no in the BVI -- though a segment of the yachting crowd makes it their mission to seek out secluded spots to strip down.
Best Snorkeling Beaches: Sandy Spit; Loblolly, Anegada; Smuggler's Cove, Tortola; White Bay, Guana; The Baths/Devil's Bay, Virgin Gorda
Best Sandy Sunsets: Cane Garden Bay, Tortola; Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda; West End, Anegada
Best People: Watching: Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Best Beachy Day Trips: Sandy Spit; Sandy Cay; Anegada; The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Best Beach Bars: Soggy Dollar, One Love, Sidney's Peace & Love, Foxy's -- all Jost Van Dyke; Cow Wreck, Anegada; Stanley's Welcome Bar, Tortola
Best Beach Parties: Foxy's Old Year's Eve; Cane Garden Bay Music Festival (May 26-28); Full Moon Party at Bomba Shack; Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication